Certificate of Marriage. Registration #2006-59-020855. Ministry of Health Services. Name: Robert Birch. Sex: Male. Name: Mark Stevens. Sex: Male. Place of Marriage: Saltspring Island. “Given under my hand at Victoria, BC this 30 day of October 2006.” Illegible name. Chief Executive Officer, Vital Statistics Agency. This certificate is invalid if plasticized or altered.
I’m newly married and deeply confused and I’ve got the official generic piece of paper to prove it.
Queer and legal and losing it–and feeling loved all over.
We almost murdered each other the day before the ceremony. He swears the truck’s clutch always pops like that. The organic champagne bottle nearly wrenched my shoulder as I barely stopped myself from smashing it on the hood of his jalopy. I even had to fake tears at one point to get him to do what I wanted. Next time we’ll hire a wedding planner.
I’ve also discovered new depths of narcissism.
Last night we sat in front of our old TV, ate popcorn and watched my brother’s video of the wedding. We looked outrageously beautiful. Mark wore a flaming saffron silk dress shirt that fell below his knees. His matching paper slippers curled up at the toes and gave him blisters.
I wore a long, brocaded patchwork petty coat. The tight shiny electric blue velvet pants showed off my basket nicely. The wreaths in our hair were woven from hop vines, rosemary and flowers from our garden. We looked and felt like two Faery Princes.
The country hall is just two minutes down the road. This 100-year-old all wooden structure hosts the community’s most soulful gatherings: from funerals to bar mitzvahs, raves to Sex Fool Cabarets–and now, we are proud to say, its first queer country wedding.
One neighbor, a Hollywood set decorator, draped the walls and floor with rich antique rugs and fabrics. Another pillaged the last of our garden to fill the hall with giant floral bouquets, creating a riot of autumn colour.
It was a great Thanksgiving day. Table after table groaned with Tuscan-themed potluck foods lining one side of the hall to the next; 12 wood-fired roasted turkeys reminded us that this was a day of celebration and gratitude.
During the weeks leading up to the big day I would sit on the toilet, read and agree with feminist lesbian essays on why queers should not perpetuate the heterosexual institution of marriage. Like a good therapy session, I wiped my conscience clear for an hour or two.
But no sooner had I washed my hands than I found myself standing blindfolded at the back of the hall, listening to a dear friend singing us a wedding song. Then the flute began playing an Indian marriage raga and our wedding party started down the aisle. The lineup consisted of two cherubic rose petal-throwing flower girls, our queer best woman and best man, an in-law-to-be each as witnesses, and then, then came Cindi.
From the ground up he wore nine-inch platform pumps and sported his hairy gams from beneath a black mini, a defiled teddy bear knapsack, an Italian mourning veil with complimenting necklace of miniature skulls, and fierce-looking Fellini-esque sunglasses. The titters grew to raucous laughter as she gleefully upstaged the two grooms, swinging her basket of lollipops.
Holding up the rear came Mark, guided by his father, and me by my mentor-mother figure who walked us blindly to the grave of our Peter Pan past: the former life of single, fancy-free fags.
As we stepped onto the stage, our parents removed the blindfolds. We stole a glance at the crowd of 300 beaming back at us. Between us stood the Lutheran/Radical Faery minister in a black cassock, white collar and blue Mohawk. (He’s Cindi’s partner).
The day had begun in mist but just as we exchanged our vows the sun broke through and hit Mark’s robe. The room was awash in an Orangina-like glow. Apparently the straight men in the crowd cried the most.
When we kissed, the whole room cheered and we left the stage dancing to Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family.” It was a risk, but in moments of high emotion, kitsch almost always works.
As I waded to the back of the hall, one of my oldest friends from Toronto stood there crying. He gathered me into his arms.
Our best man baked the three-tiered wedding cake. He decorated it with a tasteful looking ceramic male couple on top, cascading with handmade, rose-blushed marzipan cherries. Stunning. Seven pounds of fresh almonds, 14 pounds of butter, 140 eggs… all organic. We owe him our firstborn.
I almost felt heterosexual while posing for the signing of the registry photo-ops. I kind of half-choked, half-blushed when I saw the word “husband.” But looking up I saw Mark’s dad dancing with the drag queen and got turned on–so I knew I’d be okay.
I have come to the conclusion that the conservative right is right. Couple by couple, queer people are changing the definition of marriage. We’re publicly allowing ourselves to be acknowledged, loved and adored in the ways we’ve always deserved.
Oh, we forgot to exchange rings. It wasn’t in the script. But we did take the opportunity to ‘explain’ Cindi. We asked the crowd to see her as a symbol for all people, queer or straight who, for whatever reason, could never express or receive the love they desired. We asked everyone to magically imagine that by exchanging these rings that somehow some of the healing and delight of this day go backwards, through time and space, and in some small way touch them, too.
It’ll be confusing for awhile, maybe a generation or two. Being married doesn’t make us less queer, but it can make marriage more queer.