When my cousin invited me to his destination wedding in Savannah, Georgia, I felt honored. I knew it was impossible to invite everyone, and, because he’s one of my favorite humans, it meant so much to me that he invited me. But what I didn’t expect was his generous invitation to my children and nieces.
My three children and two nieces are all out LGBTQ kids. They’re creative, amazing children, and I love having them with me everywhere. But I know how expensive weddings, especially destination weddings, are. I asked my cousin if he was sure he wanted to invite us all. Without hesitation, he told me he wanted them to know they’re family.
I’m not saying it wasn’t an ordinary wedding. It absolutely was–a wedding where two people who loved each other expressed that love in front of the people who cared about them.
We come from a huge–no, enormous–no, ridiculously gigantic family. Mostly Italian and Irish, with over fifty–that’s 5-0–first cousins. But growing up, my cousin’s little branch of the family and my own were very intertwined. I babysat his older siblings, and his parents often babysat me. His sisters had parts in my wedding. My mom was in the delivery room for the birth of his youngest brother.
Even more backstory:
My brother passed away in early 2015 of colon cancer. So when my cousin said he wanted the children to know they were family, it pulled at my heartstrings in every way possible. I thought I couldn’t be more emotional about it.
I was wrong.
For LGBTQ kids, representation matters.
You can read a few stories on that here and here. But watching a movie or reading a book cannot possibly compare to the real-life experience of watching two men get married in a room full of people who love them.
I’m not saying it wasn’t an ordinary wedding. It absolutely was–a wedding where two people who loved each other expressed that love in front of the people who cared about them. It had a ceremony (two, in fact), a DJ, dancing, and a cake. It had speeches and a toast. Everything you needed for a wedding. It was beautiful in its familiarity (and it had an amazing, I mean a-ma-zing whiskey toast, a hand-fasting ceremony, and a groom who wandered the room with a microphone thanking his guests personally, so it also had touches of distinct originality.)
In addition to being an ordinary wedding, it set an extraordinary example of what life could be like for five LGBTQ kids. While my kids are active in their high school Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA), they still have to wonder if it’s safe to “like” someone at school. They don’t know if, when they go to a dance, they’ll get awkward looks because they happen to be with someone of the same gender. There’s never a guarantee they’ll even be allowed to visit certain states with their loved ones without being harassed or possibly arrested. Those are daunting issues for even the most out, proud LGBTQ kid to have to deal with.
But then you have a wedding like this one. One with many out gay couples, and where their genderqueer father could dress in their best blue gown and dance like no one is watching. Because no one is. It was a space safe from judgement (except that my niece picked the table called last for food. We judged her a lot for that.) A place where being queer was not unique or different. Even my eldest daughter danced. An intensely private, self-conscious (if seemingly self-assured) kid, she danced at this wedding, where her trans brother wore his best tuxedo and practiced how to ask a lady to waltz.
All five children took time to party in the same room where a married couple set a shining example of a potential future where people who loved you celebrated you for exactly who you are.
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