By Brandy Black | The Next Family
I’m reading “Lesbian and Gay Parents and their Children” by Abbie Goldberg and it got me thinking about my passion for gay marriage. I will occasionally get into this debate with gay friends who don’t understand why it was so important for me to marry Susan.
Before we got married (or had a “commitment ceremony” as some prefer to call it) I didn’t even realize what it would mean to me. Frankly, my mother talked me into it right after I “came out” to her.
The days leading up to my coming out were torturous. I was prepared for the absolute worst-case scenario. I expected my parents to be angry and hurt and quite possibly disown me. I made myself sick night after night worrying about telling them the truth. In my case it was the dishonesty that was the worst of it all, because once I actually told my parents that I was in love with a woman, all of the baggage and pain I had been carrying around suddenly dissipated.
In that conversation with my mom -- me weeping and my mother accusing me of being homophobic as she couldn’t understand why I was the one so upset -- she asked me if Susan and I were going to get married and have kids. It had never occurred to me that this might be an option; this was 10 years ago when conversations about gay marriage were barely stirring in the media. She then went on to explain the importance of committing to each other in front of friends and family. “It’s not just for you but for the people around you who don’t understand the blurry lines of gay relationships. It’s a way to tell everyone that you are pledging to one another for the long haul.”
I had thought about it a lot, what it would mean to “marry” Susan. In my eyes we’d be renegades, naughty girls doing what we shouldn’t (even though it felt so right). But my talk with my mother disarmed me, made me realize we weren’t rebels; we were following our hearts and allowing ourselves the life that we deserved. Now that I had “permission” from two of the people closest to me to feel proud of my relationship, I wanted a wedding more than ever.
After we had the ceremony in front of 80 of our closest friends and family -- when it wasn’t legal -- life was different. Something changed after we made those vows to each other. We opened up and let the other in, partners with a flood of trust and love for one another. I can’t explain the meaning of it all but she shifted from my girlfriend to my life, I mean wife.
Now having gone through all that a wedding encompasses -- a shower, ceremony, registering, and a honeymoon -- it was more than worth it. The constant validation from all of the people in our lives meant everything. Support came gushing our way in the form of eloquent speeches, notes in the guest book, tears from our friends’ eyes as Susan and I walked towards each other through the sea of people. Susan stood beautifully before me in all her glory, my best friend becoming my wife. It changed my life, which was the point.
In her book, Goldberg writes:
Qualitative research by Alderson (2004) provides evidence of some of the perceived effects of civil marriage among lesbians and gay men. Alderson interviewed married lesbians and gay men in Canada and found that, for many participants, getting married created an added sense of security that was deeply felt and greatly appreciated. Consistent with the findings of Solomon et al. (2005), Alderson also found that many participants felt that marriage brought greater depth and completion to their relationships, cementing them in both financial and emotional ways. They also understood their marriage as symbolizing monogamy and as providing recognition for them as a family.
This was true for me.
Brandy Black is Editor-in-Chief and Founder of The Next Family. She lives in Los Angeles with her wife and three children.