Tuesday, August 18, 2009
My Son's Big Gay Wedding
Saturday, August 15, 2009 was a day that will go down in my family history as a memorable and joyous one. That was the day my son, Nicholas, married his beloved, Tarik el Babarti. It was a very hot (90s for those of you in the US, 30s for those in Canada), humid day for a garden wedding, but the heat did not dull the happiness that radiated from everyone attending that day. It's a cliche, but it's true, a picture is worth a thousand words, so I will not go into a step-by-step description of the day. Aside from the pictures here with this blog, you can get a fuller idea and see lots more photos here.
What really struck me about this day was that it was the first gay marriage I had ever been to. Apart from being the father of the groom and the person who officiated at the couple's ceremony (a great, great honor...a high point in my life!), I was struck by one thing for this "big gay wedding:" and that was not that it was so unusual or so different. No, what struck me was that it was so like every other wedding I've ever been to. Here were two young people, bubbling over with love for one another and who wanted to pledge their lives to one another, who looked forward with great optimism to a shared future. That was pretty much the same as all the weddings I've been to. And here were the happy families and friends, their eyes maybe a little blurred by watching two people they cared about make their commitment public and asking for their support throughout the coming years. There was a wedding cake. Dancing. Champagne (and some wonderful dark rum imported from Cuba--another very sensible thing legal in Canada but not here!). Laughter. Simply, there was a palpable sense of caring, joy, and the feeling that something important had happened that hot August day.
And how could that be any different from any other wedding?
After being a part of this, I wonder even more how there are hordes of people out there who would deny my son his happiness, deny him the same rights that they enjoy and benefit from...and why? Why, when there are so many ills, hatred, crime, and suffering in the world, would large groups of people invest so much time, energy, and resources into ensuring a young couple in love can not make a commitment to one another? A commitment that, indeed, I am forbidden to make to my own partner.
I don't know. I really don't.
In closing, I would like to share with you the words I wrote especially with Nick and Tarick for their wedding.
Back in 2004, Nick and I were invited to submit to an anthology of essays about gay marriage. For our piece, we both wrote letters to one another explaining why we hoped that the far-off possibility of marriage for a same sex couple would one day become a reality.
At the time, I didn’t know if it would ever happen.
And now here we all are.
From I Do/I Don’t Queers on Marriage:
“I’ve since grown used to the fact that you are who you are, just as I am. And now I can look back with a wry smile at my initial reaction. A gay father is the last person one would expect to experience shock when his son comes out to him. But I remember one of my first thoughts was, “Well, there go the dreams of dancing at my son’s wedding.” It’s hokey, I know, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was one of my initial thoughts.
A thought I did NOT have was, “Well, maybe that will change.””
And now here we all are…and a possibility that did not even occur to me as little as a few years ago is now before us. I like to think that we are all gathered here today not as two separate entities: a couple pledging their lives to one another and an audience, but all as one, together to help Nicholas and Tarik celebrate and affirm their love and commitment to each other.
There aren’t many absolutes in this world. But one thing I believe is an absolute is love. Creating a partnership of two people in love is one of the most powerful statements we can make…both to one another and to the community that surrounds and supports us. Nick and Tarik, you are taking a giant step, making a leap of faith, committing yourselves for the long haul. It won’t always be easy. It won’t always be a celebration, as it is today. It will sometimes be just a simple decision to stay together. But I have watched both of you, and I know one thing you share—absolutely—is love. And perhaps when the road gets tougher, or you wish the other would just shut up for five minutes, you’ll remember the love that brought you together and the love you feel today.
I hope what all of us can do here today…as loving family and as friends, is come together to give you the support and caring soil you deserve, so that your love will continue to grow and flourish.