On Friday I traveled to Portland with my hubby to attend the wedding of my best friend Josh. He and I have been best buds since we met as freshman in college and bonded over Tori Amos, being the only two poor kids on a rich-kid campus and just generally being interested in things outside the “norm” (for him it was being openly gay on a very conservative, small college campus in the midwest, for me it was being an openly liberal, feminist punk rocker).
Josh and I are the kind of friends that when you meet that person, it’s like you’ve known them your whole life. I call him my “brother from another mother.” We can talk about anything. And it’s the kind of friendship where you feel that you can be completely vulnerable and the other person won’t judge you (in a bad way) and that is so hard to find in our modern, cynical times. We’ve been friends for 13 years and though we’ve had our share of hot and cold friendship moments, there was never a fear (at least on my end) that our friendship would go away. And it never has.
When I pick up the phone and call him, our conversations are as if I just talked to him 5 minutes ago. He remembers details I don’t even remember sharing. He’s read my almost-finished play. He’s bolstered my confidence before big-time job interviews. He’s listened as I cried and tried to make sense of bad test results.
And I like to think I have always been there to return the favor. All the phone calls during the adoption proceedings for his kids — all the way back to that first quick call at work when he got two adorable foster kids that he had no idea what to do with. The not-so-nice end of his last relationship. And all the good stuff like his MSW, his ground-breaking work with youth leadership in San Francisco and Portland … And the first stomach butterflies of the relationship that has turned into his marriage.
Long story short, we’re best friends.
So it was a real delight for me and my hubby to attend his wedding on Saturday. It was our first same-sex wedding ceremony and the first Buddhist wedding ceremony either of us had ever been to. And it was glorious — outside on a perfect Northwest summer day. The wedding was at a house with a lovely backyard and most people just kicked off their shoes and walked barefoot in the grass. The ceremony was at a Buddhist altar where the couple sat on beautiful pillows while everyone stood around them in a semi-circle.
The officiant was a 70-something-year-old monk who told us he’d been married to his partner for 54 years (take that Christian conservative fucks who are against same-sex marriage!). He spoke of the true love and commitment you often hear about at weddings. And he also spoke about the specialness of this wedding, since it was for a gay couple. He reminded us that just 10 years ago many gay couples would have been afraid to have such an open display of their marriage and that families and friends (gay or straight) might have also been afraid to attend because of the negative views in the world.
The monk’s speech, a brief digression from the normal “lovey” parts of weddings, got me thinking about the truth of his words. As much as I like to embrace the positive changes that have happened for my LGBT friends and family, sometimes I forget about the hardships. My husband and I both feel that being gay, bisexual or transgendered is as biological as being human, having blue eyes or being black. It isn’t something you can change and why would you?
Often my husband says to me that he doesn’t understand why our gay friends always comment on how “supportive” we are. He doesn’t feel like we are being supportive. He just feels that we are doing what is right and treating people with respect because that is how you should treat all people. He doesn’t care if someone is gay because to him it is a non-issue. It’s the people who are bigots who aren’t right.
The ceremony reminded me that I take for granted that since I love and support my friends — no matter their sexual orientation — the world does too. But the monk’s words reminded me (perhaps pulling me out of my denial) that my bestfriend and his husband will face discrimination and bigotry just for being who they are. I always cry at weddings, but I think I started crying a little harder when the monk was talking about this. I hate to think about my friends being attacked in any way because of who they are. And I hate to think that my friend’s love for his husband isn’t valued the same as my love for my husband. (And I haven’t even touched the legal stuff.)
I don’t know many other couples (gay or straight) who are as truly and deeply in love and committed as my friend and his partner are, but that is not how all of the rest of the world sees them. There are going to be days that some asshole mouths off to them or says something to their kids or does something to try and harm them, just for being two married gay fathers. There are people who hate everything they represent. And that seems sort of ironic to me, since those kinds of bigots usually use the Bible or “God’s love” or some other perversion of religion to back up their hatred. It’s ironic because those closed-minded assholes say they are about love but they are blind to the real love right before their eyes — the love embodied in my bestfriend’s marriage.
I felt so privileged and happy to be at my friend’s wedding. Not only was it a beautiful wedding ceremony and reception; not only was it a beautiful day; not only was it great to just be present and share in my friend’s joy — but it was a great day to just gather together and encircle these two men with our love for them and our shared happiness that they had found each other and were brave enough to openly declare their love in a wedding. How powerful for them! How powerful for their children! And how powerful for us to be able to go into the world and share that with others.
I still believe in the ability to change the world, one small pebble at a time. It’s not the big-bang changes that stick, it’s all these little days that add up to the big stuff.