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.


  1. Absolutely lovely, Rick. Thanks so much for sharing this! I've got tears in my eyes but then I'm a sucker who always cries at weddings.

    Big hugs to you and the happy couple. Best wishes to them for a long and loving life together.


  2. Wow Rick that was beautiful written from your Heart & soul I could feel it. It's great now that there is Gay marriage in some states My cousin Shannon married her wife Roxann in Oct last year They live in San Diego, they met I think it was lil over 11yrs ago at a Gay pride day in Colorado & they've been together since. I couldn't be more happy for them. Im thrilled for your son & His New Hubby Tarik & i pray they have many good long years together.
    Peace to you Penney

  3. I never imagined anything like this was possible when growing up on the farm back in Ohio. Sharing your words means so much to guys like me. Thanks for your powerful insight and candor... and being brave enough to share your most personal thoughts. Blessings on you and yours!

  4. Lovely photos and wonderful text. Thanks for sharing, Rick.

  5. It truly astounds me that anyone could feel threatened by gay people getting married. The photos were beautiful and funny and sweet. It's so fricking sad that in the United States we can't have the same respect for people as they do in our often teased about northern neighbor.
    Congratulations, again, Rick.

  6. Lovely Rick. You made my eyes get all blurry, damn you. It also makes me very proud to be a Canadian. Sometimes in the midst of our own stupidities and hatreds, I think we're one of the most civilized places in the world. Who knew?

  7. I follow you on twitter - and so it was neat to be allowed to 'lurk' this past week - hearing your personal thoughts and such as the big wedding day drew closer.

    It amazed me how proud you were of Nick and Tarick. If everybody's parents were like that, the world would be a better place!

    I want to thank you for sharing that special day with us 'common folk', through your thoughts, the pictures and your words here. I felt like I was an 'unannounced wedding crasher' -- but what the hey!

    This all has inspired me to become even more actively involved with gay marriage issues.

    Everybody needs to be allowed this kind of joy.

  8. Thank you, Rick. Both words and pictures... priceless.

    I'm awed by the fact that, through our friendship, a legal marriage between two gay men has graced my life.

    I feel like the maiden aunt who's never been asked to marry; my heart is joyful for the "children" and their union brings me hope for myself and the rest of us.

  9. So absolutely beautiful. Your words brought tears to my eyes, they're so touching and filled with love. It's beyond heartbreaking that people are denied the wonderful joy that your son and his husband have now experienced. All the best wishes to them.

  10. Hi Rick
    Thanks for the link and allowing me to share in your joy and that of your son and Tarik. As P.A. Brown said, it makes me proud to be a Canadian, and realize that we are indeed given all the liberties and freedoms that are talked about in other countries but never given freely. A toast to the happy couple and their love.

    Great speech Rick.:) If the writing gig doesn't work out you can always become a toastmaster.

  11. Rick, your words were so lovely. I think the committed companionship you're talking about is a gift from the very creator that everyone is using to try to bolster their argument against it. It doesn't feel overly dramatic to me that those who speak of some sort of reckoning are likely to feel its sting, beginning with the loss of the very families they purport to cherish.

    People are so wise to cherish their children and let go of their dreams for them, to put their shoulder to the wheel and help them achieve their own. In your case, a gay son obviously wasn't a worst case scenario, but your words here can speak to people with less information and less experience and I thank you for sharing them. And thank you for sharing the beauty of your son's wedding and his obvious love for his husband with everyone you can.

    I wonder if we all have a family member, as I do, who would have looked at them and thought, "Maybe it's possible for me." I wish everyone could see them. I wish he had.

  12. Aw, bless you both.

    One day I really do hope that these ceremonies will be recognised as 'everyday'.


  13. Lovely, Rick. I enjoy all weddings and this one especially so because love did conquer and maybe, one day, people will not see gay marriage as a threat and instead embrace it as yet another way a family is formed with a desire to make a formal, legal pledge to stick with each other.

    There will be good days and bad. Joy and pain. But over all that is the love of two wonderful young human beings for each other.

    Blessed Be to yourself and your now two sons :)

    - Maura

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  15. That was beautiful and makes me wish, even more, that we could have been there to share in the celebration.

    I remember the day that you first shared your concerns with me about not dancing at Nick's wedding. To attempt to comfort your obvious distress I told you that it still could happen.

    But realistically I didn't think that it would be in a ceremony that was actually legally recognized, not in our lifetimes anyway.

    I'm happy to say that I was wrong. I'm sad that it took Nick leaving the U.S. for this to be a reality. And I'm happy to sneak in an 'I told you so.' (something that I am never happy to say unless it is about something positive and this most definitely IS)

    I was talking with a gay friend yesterday about Nick's wedding and your initial reactions to him telling you that he was gay. She said that if she had a chid she would rather the child be straight so that life would be easier. I said that if I had a child I would rather the child be gay because that would be at least one more gay child who was in an environment where she/he would be safe to be themselves.

    My guess is that Nick is thankful that you're his father for many reasons, one of which being that you have shown him that being gay is natural and wonderful. My guess is that this played a big part in shaping the brilliant person that he has become and that it has given him extra strength and comfort as he embraces love so bravely and profoundly.

    Those are guesses. What I know for sure is that I am thrilled for Nick and Tarick, thrilled for you and Bruce and all of the couple's loved ones, and that I love you.


  16. Rick,

    Beautifully said. I will never understand why or how anyone feels the need to refuse couples or more, the right to marry. Of all the stupidity this really does take the cake. You said it all, and it makes me glad to be a Canadian and sad for those who are still struggling for their rights.

    Congratulations to you all.


  17. Rick -
    The love that was joined last weekend and is shared between all that were present is a testimony to the power of love. May many blessings fall upon Nick and Tarik. And here's hoping that one day your son and his husband can dance at your wedding.

  18. I hope your two sons have many, many years of joy ahead of them.

  19. Congratulations Rick! I was thrilled to read your post and so happy for your son and his husband. Speaking as an American, yes, Canada is a much better place when it comes to freedom and human dignity.

    I've never been able to understand people's fear of gay marriage. It simply makes no sense to me. Unfortunately, there seem to be a lot of things, these days, that make no sense to me. I echo a previous poster's hopes that one day your son and his husband will be able to dance at your wedding here in the states.

    Best wishes to the happy couple and to the dad!

  20. Our son is getting married to his partner in two weeks and my husband was looking for the right words to say at the wedding,I think he has found them!! Thank you and best of luck to your son and son-in-law.