From proposals to matrimony and even divorces, Here Come the Brides! Reflections on Lesbian Love and Marriage is a collection of marriage-equality stories from more than 40 contributors.
It offers insights from lesbian, bisexual and trans women on life before and after the words “I do.”
“We were inspired by the rise of marriage rights for lesbian and gay men around the world,” says co-editor Audrey Bilger, a professor of literature and a writer for Ms Magazine. “In particular, we saw that marriage equality had reached a tipping point in the United States. The last two years have been transformational, from the ruling that Proposition 8, the California marriage ban, is unconstitutional, to the Obama administration’s refusal to defend the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act.”
Michele Kort, Bilger’s co-editor, is the author of three books, including Dinah! Three Decades of Sex, Golf, and Rock ’n’ Roll.
Kort and Bilger were inspired by reading wedding announcements of same-sex couples and seeing videos and photographs online. Here Come the Brides is dedicated to all stages of romance and matrimony.
“One particular favourite is our conversation with Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights,” says Bilger. “And Phyllis Lyon, who was able to legally marry her partner of 50-plus years, Del Martin, shortly before Del passed away in 2008.”
Bilger says Heather Purser’s tale of bringing same-sex marriage rights to the Suquamish Tribe in the Pacific Northwest is inspirational. She also recommends Patricia Cronin’s story about creating a sculpture of herself and her wife. Entitled Memorial to a Marriage, the sculpture sits in a New York City cemetery.
Canadian contributions include Susan Goldberg’s touching essay “Four (Same-Sex) Marriages and a Funeral,” a story of love, family and loss, and Katherine Arnup’s “Crossing Borders,” which explores the author’s uncertainty toward marriage and how it changed.
The editors say that Here Come the Brides took two years to create and that the process was a testament to heart and perseverance.
“The day we located Heather Purser and she agreed to write for us felt very triumphant,” Kort says.
Bilger adds, “And politically, while we were about to send the book off to the press, New York State legalized marriage for same-sex couples. Amelia Sauter, who contributed a cartoon for the collection, actually revised the ending of her piece to reflect that major victory — as did Patricia Cronin. It feels good to be a part of this popular civil-rights movement.”