Waymon Hudson

Changing Hearts and Minds One Wedding at a Time

Filed By Waymon Hudson | July 18, 2009 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Living, Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: marriage equality, weddings

I recently posted about the backwards and hypocritical fact that my husband and I were on our way to a wedding which he was officiating, IMG_0574_2.JPGwhile our marriage isn't recognized in that state or our home in Florida.

The discussion around the blog was very interesting, with some people wondering why Anthony was performing the ceremony at all and "perpetuating the discrimination" on our community. The truth is these are our friends who have always supported us. They were getting married and they wanted him to do the ceremony, much like my sister did when she asked him to do the same.

Little did I realize that by going and just being ourselves at the wedding, we would change so many people's views about gay couples.

I'll admit to being a bit wary to travel to Milwaukee to a wedding that would be populated by somewhat conservative Midwesterners and ex-frat boy football players. I tend to stick out like a big gay thumb in situations like this- the gender variant, out of the binary, sissy boy with a fauxhawk and rather fierce eyebrows (if I do say so myself).

While we were the only gay people at the wedding, most were wonderfully accepting after feeling us out a little bit. There were a few eyebrows raised when we introduced each other as husbands and some comments that were less than amusing about my gender expression.

The most hostile attitude came from a middle aged man, who wore an evangelical "get ready for the rapture" bracelet. He steered mostly clear of us (although his wife loved hanging out with us during the weekend activities). His side comments would leave me fuming from time to time: small things like how could the wedding possibly be legal if Anthony was doing it or being incredulous that we were actually legally married and foster parents.

We simply wrote him off as another small-minded person that wouldn't accept anything about us.

As the weekend wore on, everyone became more open with us, asking us about our life and families, curious about our wedding. People seemed to really open their hearts to us as we spent time together and were just another dorky couple at a wedding.

Everyone except the evangelical.

The big day arrived and Anthony officiated a beautiful, funny, and moving ceremony. Everyone laughed, cried, and seemed to really enjoy the vows. As the reception got under way, the new bride and groom thanked us for being there and for letting them base their vows off of the ones we used for our ceremony. The party applauded and people began to really get comfortable and open with us (a combination of just being used to us and champagne, I'm sure). Anthony even got a few more requests to officiate weddings for some of the other attendees.

I never would have guessed, however, what happened next.

Anthony and I were laughing arm in arm with some of the bridesmaids when the evangelical approached us and asked to speak with us. With tears in his eyes, he complimented the ceremony and asked for Anthony to renew his and his wife's vows right then. He wanted the same vows we (and the new bride and groom) had used.

Who would have thought that something as simple as just being there and being open would start to change someone's mind about our community. While the state we were in may not have recognized our marriage legally, the rest of the wedding party, including one of the most close-minded people I had ever met, did.

Who could have asked for a better wedding gift.


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OMG. Thanks so much. Great story. We are moving my daughter to Milwaukee next week. (MedSchool) She recognizes the pier in the pic and will read this.

Thats what I kept 'screaming,' in my little way, all before the vote on H8.. Show families, nice couples, how 'just like other couples' gays are... but no. EQCA wasted $20,000,000 on dark anti-hate ads, never got anyone on screen or in streeet showing real gays.
GAAAAA!!! (Ummmm, there, little rant, still upset about that as you can tell.)
At least yours is leagl, well here.

Wow. Amazing story, Waymon. I wasn't expecting that ending. As this story and this one from my Blogging for LGBT Families Day event also prove, though, even being an evangelical doesn't mean one can't change one's mind--and it is often a personal connection that makes it happen.

If Helen and I weren't already married, we'd have Anthony (and you, of course) pay us a visit here in Mass.

It wasn't the ending we were expecting either, Dana. I was just really surprised at the common human experience you can find with people no matter how much they have their minds made up about you.

The best to you and Helen!

Jack Landers | July 18, 2009 3:12 PM

What are the vows that moved teh Evangelical to request them?
Could you publish them? Or have you published them somewhere?

You know, I've never posted them anywhere. I should work on that. Thanks for the idea!

Jack Landers | July 19, 2009 1:48 PM

You're welcome for the idea. :-)

Seriously, I'm researching vows and that is why I am interested in seeing a copy of these vows. Please let me know when you publish them.

And congratulations: it is true. We can change the perception of those who oppose us one at a time, with personal contact. It's really how it works. Thanks for moving one more person's perception.

Auntie Mamie | July 18, 2009 3:13 PM

You rock my world dahling !!!

Firstly, you love BBQ (where are my darn pics btw?), then you make me laugh and cry with a story like this...

Your hubby is one lucky fella and your kids are too...

Love you babe!

Your Auntie Mamie

Your story is an example of why it is so important to be out.
My partner and I married last summer in California, while still legal there. I have found that many straights relate better to gays, to us, as "married to married". I would prefer that it were not necessary for them to have us married to connect with us. However, I think that this is a step in the societal evolution towards more acceptance of gays by the straight majority.
I also think that whether you are for, against, or neutral on the subject of same sex marriage, that the fact is that no other issue has ever put the gay agenda on the front burner for so many straights to see. Every newspaper in the USa, every talk show, every TV show has discussed gays, marriage, and the gay agenda these last few years (since Massachusetts legalized gay marriage in 2006) as never before. This has been a tremendous plus for the entire movement, no matter what your stance on marriage. We live in Washington, DC, which now recognizes same sex marriages from other jurisdictions. The marriage and Don't ask, don't tell repeal will do more for gays than any other legislation. Although there are plenty of other very important issues, maybe some more important, these issues are the politically smart ones that are getting the straight majority on our side, which will in the long run, pave the way to address the other issues.

You make a critical point here. Straight people want a way to connect, and marriage provides that link. So much of "gay life" is hidden—out of necessity—that its mystery prevents the straight population from finding our common bonds. You and I know that we have more in common than not, but most people don't have that understanding yet.

Marriage provides a form of commonality no matter what your sexuality. Singleness does not define a person, but being married does. There's a whole new dynamic going on, and when you join that community, it is something which binds us together. I think many straight people are thrilled to have this commonality, some point on which to connect. This is why your stories are crucial to marriage and civil equality everywhere. Tell everyone you meet, use the word "husband" in every context, and you will begin to change hearts and minds.

Thank you so much for sharing your story, I know this to be true..."You can't hate someone who's story you know", for the most part anyway, if both parties have a good soul.

We must get our stories out and touch as many people as we can. I also believe we must be sympathetic to those who are not open to us and not hate them or pass judgement on who they are.

I agree with Drake's comments about gay marriage, I know there are those in our community who believe gay marriage is not that important, but if we can legalize gay marriage everything else will fall into place, or at least the fight is bringing everything else to the forefront!

Great post Waymond! It brought tears to my eyes.

My own situation is different in that I'm a transsexual and, even though I generally blend, I live "out" because of my children and my work.

I've found that acceptance often comes about when people get a chance to interact with us in everyday situations. Out in the open. Without making our queer nature the focus of those interactions. Just by being ourselves...

In time, I believe we will win this war of oppression. One act of kindness at at time. One heart at a time...

A great story and I think a good lesson for all of us about tolerance.

My partner and I are having a lot of discussions about this topic as we consider who to invite to our Sept wedding in Iowa. Do you only invite those you already know are supportive of gay marriage, or those for who it might be a challenge.

http://www.bilerico.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=2&limit=20&search=loren+a+olson

Loren, I think you and your partner are the only ones that can answer that. When we had our Commitment Ceremony I did not invite my mom because I was worried that even if she knew where the venue was she might show up just to make a scene. Maybe that was an unwarranted fear, but I was not willing to take the risk.

Loren, my husband and I got married in our Unitarian Universalist church, and his mother and dad and older sister attended, as did his aunt and uncle. The parents and sister are Mormons and the aunt and uncle are conservative Presbyterians.

Even though they all have problems with the idea of gays marrying, they still attended our wedding and his parents hosted the reception at their house afterwards. So I'd say it's one of the best ways to open eyes, hearts, and minds. If you invite people who love you, even if they don't "get" you, you're more likely to open their eyes, hearts and minds.

I wish you the best!

Fantastic story! You, sticking out like a "big gay thumb?" Naaaah! I don't believe it. (giggle)

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 19, 2009 9:28 AM

Honey!

This was just beautiful and what all of us should do. I have long felt that by not appearing as couples we allow ignorance to go unchallenged. You obviously had a lot of support from those who wanted this occasion to go well for the bride and groom. Your happiness and contentment broke down walls and the times you were fuming were rewarded by a new ally.

You and Anthony are one classy couple.

Now, put that big Gay thumb back where it belongs.

(zip!) :)

Rick Sours | July 19, 2009 5:30 PM

My Partner and I have in a loving long-term relationship for over thirteen years. During that
period of time we have had a commitment ceremony,
taken part in a mass non-legal ceremony conducted
by MCC in Washington DC and been registered as
Domestic Partners in Arizona. We have discussed
getting married but even if we got married we
still would not have the rights afforded to
heterosexual couples. Saddly, we are and would
continue to be Second Class citizens in the United States of America.

Bill Vayens | July 20, 2009 8:42 AM

I thought the most important part of this was the early paragraph:

"..with some people wondering why Anthony was performing the ceremony at all and 'perpetuating the discrimination' on our community."

You have to pick your battles when boycotting. A large public boycott of a homophobic organization can have a powerful impact.

Straight couples announcing they are not going to get married until their gay friends can get married can have a powerful impact.

However, in situations like this, the greatest power comes from being ourselves and showing to our friends and family (and their friends) the positive natures of our relationships.

The significant strides we have made since Stonewall have been primarily because of our willingness to come out to those around us. We will win the long term battle by letting others fully see us, come to know us. It is much more difficult to hate or discriminate when there is the face of a person we know of love attached to that hate or discrimination.

Fan-frigging-tastic. I've always believed that there is one sure fire way to get bigots to change their mind about homosexuals. Meeting one.