Frank and Leon, those of us gathered here today are honored to witness and celebrate your commitment to each other in marriage.
As our society still strives to overcome its fear and prejudice we here have grown to recognize the validity and beauty of your love and commitment to one another.
May your love continue to grow sure and strong and true in the days and years of your shared life together.
On Saturday, October 25th, 2014 in a simple civil ceremony at our home and in front of a small contingent of family and friends, Leon and I said “I do” - taking one another as our life-long spouses, “to support, honor and cherish through all the circumstances we may face and to never stop celebrating our love.”
We exchanged rings “as a symbol of our love and commitment to one another and of the values we share together.”
Leon’s mom “gave Leon away” and my sister walked me down the aisle too. Four of our dearest friends who we’ve known for all twenty-six of our years together, Joyce and Robin and Ed and Jeff, were “Our Best Persons”.
Guests included Leon’s brother Marty and sister-in-law Debbie, his two sisters Brenda and Lisa, a nephew, Neil and his wife Mehgan and their daughter Ada. On my side was my sister MaryAnn, my brother Mike and his wife Claire, my niece Andrea and my cousin Rose. My nephew Joe had planned to be there but had to be in San Francisco on business.
The officiant was Justice of the Peace, Michelle, who is also a member of Chimney Crest Writers (the group that guided and encouraged me through writing my memoir). She performed a beautiful civil ceremony for us.
The ceremony included two songs by Jeff Krassner that I posted recently, “Strong for You” and I hear the Angels Sing”; my niece Andrea sang and played guitar accompaniment to “Make You Feel My Love” by Bob Dylan (a song which she chose for the occasion).
We ended with “Prince Charming” by Romanovsky and Phillips for a little levity, but at that point no one was listening - everyone was coming up with hugs, kisses and congratulations.
"Make You Feel My Love"
When the rain is blowing in your face,
And the whole world is on your case,
I could offer you a warm embrace
To make you feel my love.
When the evening shadows and the stars appear,
And there is no one there to dry your tears,
I could hold you for a million years
To make you feel my love.
I know you haven't made your mind up yet,
But I will never do you wrong.
I've known it from the moment that we met,
No doubt in my mind where you belong.
I'd go hungry; I'd go black and blue,
And I'd go crawling down the avenue.
No, there's nothing that I wouldn't do
To make you feel my love.
The storms are raging on the rolling sea
And on the highway of regret.
The winds of change are blowing wild and free,
You ain't seen nothing like me yet.
I could make you happy, make your dreams come true.
Nothing that I wouldn't do.
“Prince Charming” Romanovsky and Phillips
I met you on a rainy day
But the sun’s been out since
And I knew from that moment that you were my prince
Funny how life is always a big surprise
I thought the man of my dreams would have blue eyes
I thought you’d be taller
I thought you’d be rich
I didn’t think you’d be moody
And at times such a bitch
I thought you’d be brilliant
A real Einstein
But you’d rather watch TV than challenge my mind
I thought you’d be happy
And never complain
But you’re so neurotic
You make me feel sane
I dreamt about you
Did you dream about me?
You wore shinning armor
And you rescued me
Funny how dreams are not always as they seem
My handsome prince turned out to be more of a queen
You’re not as romantic
As I hoped you be
You never buy flowers
At least not for me
I thought you’d be athletic
With muscles for days
‘cause it don’t matter
‘cause I love you the same
But don’t fear my darling
‘cause it’s you I adore
And I know you can’t be blamed
If at times you’re a bore….
After the ceremony and we had a celebratory toasting with appetizers provided by Joyce and Robin and my sister-in-law Claire who also brought the Asti Spumante.
Around three o'clock we all went to Pagliacci’s, a local Italian-American restaurant where we had made reservations for a party. The waitstaff, especially Allison, was super and the food was excellent. They were gracious enough to serve our wedding cake (a remarkably good generic cake from Costco) and no Italian wedding celebration would be complete without cookies to take home, so I made 12 dozen of Aunt Margaret’s festive Italian cookies (mine are not so fancy) and my sister and Claire also made delicious cookies. Claire provided favors for all the guests.
After the reception Leon and I were off to a local hotel for one night of relaxation - can't really call it a honeymoon, now can we? - a well needed night of peace and quiet.
All in all, the day went off without a hitch - no I guess that's not accurate as we got hitched - it went off just about perfectly.
Now I have been hinting in past posts that a celebration was being planned, about ordering flowers, about it being a perfect occasion with all our immediate family being together in one place, about some “gay” love songs and about our love affair with the gold mokume gane rings. (Note: after much back and forth with jewelry stores, real and virtual, we purchased our Sterling Silver wedding bands at Ruby’s in Provincetown back in September – it just seemed fitting and serendipitous the day we rode our bikes into town and stopped in on a whim and saw rings we both liked at a fraction of the price of gold; we realized that our rings are symbolic, not a financial investment)
It seems that only Russ, over at Blue Truck, Red State had a clue, but I tried my best to throw him off.
Planning the event was fun. Choosing music, finding a nice reasonable restaurant, making invitations, programs and announcements, ordering a centerpiece and a corsage for Leon’s mom. The only thing that was work was house cleaning – like only Leon can do, and I try to do. We joked about registering at Neiman Marcus, and compared our plans to George Clooney’s recent extravaganza.
Now this was what I called a simple wedding, though it was slightly more than that.
So many people have been very excited when they find out: everyone we’ve told has reacted with loads of congrats and something like, “It’s about time.” or “We figured you’d do it sooner or later.”
We also kept talking about how weird it felt to be considering “marriage”. Neither of us had any wildest dreams, let alone dreams of getting married to a male partner. Same gender marriage was not even a concept when we were growing up. It was unthinkable when we were young adults. And it was unheard of back when we first met in 1988.
It still requires mostly unfamiliar mental calisthenics to wrap around the idea of marrying, even after 26 years.
But we see it as a way of protecting what we have built over those years. And I’m not talking about money, because we haven’t much of that. Having heard horror stories of partners being denied visitation or the right to make decisions or the right to even claim their partner’s dead body or make funeral arrangements, we both think marriage will offer some protection.
And there is for me, at least, the fact that it is a “political statement”. The fact is that legally we can be married; the fact that there are so many still who hate us – hate us no matter what our “legal” status; the fact that I want to be “in their face” with it to some degree. I want to flaunt it. I want to be able to say to someone who refuses to discuss with me an issue about Leon’s health insurance or whatever, “I’m his spouse. I’m legally able to speak to you.”
And I want us to be counted in the up-coming census. I want us to be added to the growing numbers of same-gender couples who are courageously “out” and visible and being role models in one way or another, whose visibility has begun to make our relationships a matter-of-fact reality.
And I want all the Ma Beckoff’s in the world to get off Arnold’s back and to know that Leon’s and my relationship is every bit as real, every bit as authentic, every bit as loving, as hers or as any male/female married couple’s. And that same sex couples who lose a spouse feel loss as deeply, as profoundly and as heart-wrenchingly as they do.
Being pronounced spouses feels kind of like Pinocchio being transformed by the fairy - now we are real.
Photos and more to come.