Monday, June 8, 2015

Dykes at Weddings

I’m currently in the beautiful maritime province of New Brunswick for my cousin’s wedding, which took place last Saturday.  As an unmarried, queer, almost middle-aged woman, it’s inevitable that any wedding will evoke a lot of emotions and self reflection in me.  This one was different for me, however, in that I’m now more than a year into a long-term relationship, and the girlfriend and I have started to dance around the topic of having a wedding of our own.

(A photo of the Same-Sex Marriage "Cake" at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights)

What struck me, as I made the inevitable comparisons between my cousin’s relationship/nuptials and my own, was how much shit my cousin doesn’t have to deal with because she happens to be in an opposite-sex relationship.  For example:
  • When discussing her life with someone she works with or has just met, she doesn’t have to make a split-second decision about whether the person will judge her or consider her to be immoral based on her relationship.
  • When posting photos on Facebook, she doesn’t need to screen photos of her and her partner to make sure that they won’t offend her conservative friends, whom she loves in spite of their ignorance and bigotry.
  • When planning a wedding, she doesn’t have to worry about whether or not she can get married in the church in which she was raised and baptized and which she attends every week.
  • When inviting people to her wedding, she doesn’t have to worry that people will refuse to come because they disagree with her “lifestyle choice”.

By simple virtue of being born straight, my cousin is privileged to avoid the relentless background noise of worry that my girlfriend and I live with because we’re queer.  And we live in one of the best countries in the world to be LGBTQ!  As of July 20 this year, it will have been ten years since our government legalized same-sex marriage.  I can’t fathom what it would be like to live in a country in which it isn’t legal to be married, or worse, where one can still be imprisoned or killed for happening to love someone of the same gender.

Ranting aside…I have to admit that there were also a lot of positive things about my time at my cousin’s wedding.  First, she was married in the United Church, which has an established history of performing same-sex marriages and even ordaining gay and lesbian ministers.  As we entered the church, I noticed that there was a Pride triangle on the door, as well as a sign indicating that the church was a safe space for gays and lesbians.  During the service, the minister replaced the usual statement that “marriage is a union between a man and a woman”* with “marriage is a union between two people”.  These were seemingly small details that none of my relatives noticed, but as someone who has spent most of her life feeling alienated from the church, it meant a lot to me.

Second was my family.  I don’t see this branch of my family very often, as we’re separated by many kilometers that require expensive plane tickets to cross, but they were still incredibly welcoming to me.  Almost every one of them asked why my girlfriend hadn’t come (pesky job), and many of them extended an invitation for the two of us to come and visit together in the near future.  There wasn’t a single moment of awkwardness, except for the time when I was showing family photos on my camera to my grandmother (who doesn’t know about the lesbianism or the girlfriend), and we came to some photos of the girlfriend. 

“Oh!  Who’s that?” she asked.  

Apparently there are still a few awkward discussions about sexuality in my future.

*I think I have my wording wrong here, but my Google search for the correct phrase yielded a list of mainly Christian websites discussing the immorality of same-sex marriage.  Because I like to not be crazy and angry while on vacation, I decided not to follow any of the links.


  1. One thing I've learned is that you have to just make it matter of fact. If you're uncomfortable sharing, people pick up on that, and you're enveloping yourself in shame. There is nothing to be ashamed about. If people judge you, that's their problem. The answer to "who's that" is "That's my girlfriend" and take it from there.

  2. I don't think I feel any shame about my sexuality; it feels pretty natural to me after so many years. For me, I think my hesitancy to talk about my girlfriend comes more from my intense dislike of conflict. Whenever I "out" myself to someone, I'm worried that it will lead to an unpleasant conversation that I simply don't want to be part of. (Although, in reality, all of my moments of "coming out" have been pretty good and without conflict...I'm just a really anxious person who fears things even when they never happen.)

  3. Thank you for writing this-such a beautiful and honest account. My best friend came out during our first year of medical school. He said during third year med school, he ended up doing rotations at Catholic hospitals or in rural towns and had to be very careful about what he said at times. He is one of the most compassionate and incredible people I know, and it infuriates me that some people are so close minded as to ignore what a great human being he is.

    Sorry, that was a rant!

  4. So... this is something that has been on my mind for a while now. I've been wanting to propose to my girlfriend of 2.5 years for the last half year. But here's the catch. I'm out to everyone in my life, everyone that is, except my parents. Living in a different country to them, for the past 13 years, has made it easier for me to hide this. My parents are religious and really traditional Asians which means I spent a large portion of my childhood years fearing them. The realisation that I am gay came a year or so before I moved to Australia for my university education. Coming out again and again has gotten easy over the years. Like your other reader Strawberry above, I've adopted the matter of fact way of saying "my partner.... she is...." very quickly into a conversation with new people. And I've never been bothered about the reaction because I really don't care what other people think. I have no idea why at age 33, I still can't muster the courage to come out to my parents.

    So I don't think I can propose, and subsequently get married, if I'm not out to my parents. Huge dilemma for me and something I've been grappling with for the past 6 months. Your post tonight made all those emotions resurface and I really, still don't know what to do.

  5. I really appreciate the work you did!! You are clearing paths for others too and that’s very good thing. One of my friends is gay and last year he got married with his love without any shame. Their wedding at the popular Malibu wedding venue
    was just a blasting event!