Do you remember that time before marriage equality was ever a remote possibility? A time when it was a given fact that LGBT people would be alone, or create relationships that had no support from broader society? It's not that long ago, but we've come a long way since then.
One issue was that no one would take LGBT relationships seriously. No laws supported marriage equality, it was discouraged by our families, and society gave us no role models for what love and commitment looked like.
In newspapers across the country, wedding announcements for straight couples filled the pages while announcements for gay and lesbian couples were kept out. In 2002, GLAAD launched Announcing Equality, calling on newspapers to start listing wedding announcements for gay and lesbian couples. We listed a directory of newspapers who would and would not list the weddings of gay and lesbian couples. And we started encouraging couples to contact their newspaper with announcements for weddings, commitment ceremonies and other major life events.
One of the major wins occurred when the New York Times announced that it would begin publishing wedding announcements for gay and lesbian couples. This was years before marriage equality was a legal possibility in the state of New York.
Today, we have marriage equality in 13 states, plus the District of Columbia. Section 3 of the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" has been struck down. Momentum is on our side.
We also have had weddings of gay and lesbian celebrities. Jesse Tyler-Ferguson of Modern Family married his partner, Justin Mikita. John Berry, the newly confirmed U.S. Ambassador to Australia, married his longtime partner, Curtis Yee. In addition to these high-profile weddings, we have heard touching stories of gay and lesbian couples from Ohio and New Mexico getting married while fighting devastating health issues.
More recently and less known was the wedding of Chris Young, a digital media guru. Young's company, Alloy Digital, is a digital media company focusing on content for women, lifestyle, comedy, and gaming. Chris married his partner, Perry Edward, in a ceremony that was fit for a New York Times description, complete with Andrew Werner photographs. This is how one friend described the wedding:
It was a very sweet day and for an August wedding it couldn't have been a better weather situation. A large, beautiful tent and flooring had been erected on the lawn where the reception was to be held. Upon arrival guests were invited to enjoy a cocktail by the pool before the ceremony. Once all of the guests had arrived we found our seats around a custom made gazebo, waiting for the grooms to make their entrance. The doors to the barn opened on the other side of the pool and Chris and Perry walked hand-in-hand to the altar, where their friend Gordon performed the ceremony.
For their parts of the ceremony, Chris and Perry both managed to hold it together to seal the deal with a kiss (or a few). To robust applause they stepped out of the gazebo and embraced their families. Chuck and Carol, Chris' parents, were beaming watching their son marry the love of his life and wishing them well. Chuck later shared that he and Carol would be celebrating their 50th anniversary in about a week.
Following the ceremony, Chris and Perry received guests and well wishes by the pool as folks enjoyed cocktails before dinner. Not even the brief rain could dampen the spirits of everyone under the main tent. Tables were named after places Chris and Perry have visited during their relationship and decorated with pictures from that particular locale. At my table, Tokyo, we enjoyed pictures that noted that trip was to celebrate their engagement. One photo featuring Chris in a wooden booth also noted that the best time for ramen noodles was 4:30am.
Chuck gave a brief speech a he introduced Perry's best man, who gave a touching speech of just how wonderful Perry is and how much he means to his family and friends. Chris' best man followed with a speech summarizing how Perry brought out the absolute best in Chris, wishing them a life of happiness.
The dinner was delicious as you might expect, followed by a few hours of energetic dancing. As the night came to an end I caught a glimpse of Chris and Perry looking at each other and their excitement for each other was simply contagious.
The description sounds like something out of the social section of a local paper, which is just where it belongs. As marriage equality grows across the country, understanding that our weddings and celebrations are something that should be shared with others will be more and more important.
The world needs more stories of couples, weddings, and marriages, big or small. If you have a wedding story, please share it with GLAAD. We are looking for stories that are unique, reflect the love and commitment of the couple, and show others why marriage equality is so important to our lives.
Here's to the day when all marriages are not only legal, but recognized and celebrated as much as Chris and Perry's wedding!