I fell in love with a woman, named Dawn, who values diversity as much as I do... I had to marry her. So what a better way to celebrate our union than to have a Big Fat Queer Wedding! When we talked about a theme, there was only one logical answer for both of us, Let Your Freak Flag Fly! We wanted to celebrate in the way we live our life. Being true to ourselves and creating a space for all of our people to do the same. And we sure did create that space. We created an event like none other. An event that was enveloped in love and acceptance of who ever you are. You see, I'm a transgender man and my career revolves around activism and education. My wife supports me fully in this and values creating a safe space for people to be themselves as much as I do. This wedding reflected all of this.
First comes love... When I publicly announced transition I had a couple of friends tell me that it would be near impossible to find love as a trans person. It was like they were warning me or trying to prepare me for a life of loneliness. This experience is a testament to the fact that love can win. Even if you are in a rare, mostly misunderstood, portion of society that many are afraid of. Even as a person who pushes hard against the social norms of our time, I am proof that LOVE WINS!
Then comes family... I came from a biological family that is from the South. Due to many complicated things I did not have one biological family member attend our wedding. Dawn comes from a hippyish, accepting of all kinds of people, family. Which was really weird to me. But wonderful. They opened their arms to me, embraced me and took me in as one of their own. Without question. Her family was there, in full support, doing all that they could to help make our wedding wonderful. She grew up in that, it seemed strange to me to grow up in such an accepting environment. They never made me feel like I didn't belong or was not accepted. They just asked what can we do to help, something my family has never asked. I was marrying into a family, two sons, a grand-daughter, two sister-n-laws, parents, who are all nice to me. This was a cherry on top of an already sweet cake.
And then came the wedding... Our theme was "let your freak flag fly" which was meant to give people an opportunity to be all of who they are. Whether they be a little out of the box or way out of the box. Whether it be exactly who they show the world on a daily basis it maybe someone they never feel free to be. Without judgement. Even though this theme was meant to be freeing there were a few people who came to us, so sweetly, and were stressed by this theme. One literally said to me, "Mac, I have been thinking and thinking about what my freak flag is and I have yet to come up with anything. I don't know what to do." I said, "Just be YOU, whatever that is to YOU. It is not meant to stress, but to free people." It opened the door to interesting conversations around this and what being true to self means. Some people discovered they are already exactly fully expressing themselves and others took the opportunity to explore other aspects of who they are.
Washington Supreme Court Justice Mary Yu was our officiant, she was the first out LGBTQ Justice on Washington's Supreme Court. As I stood at the altar waiting for my bride, Justice Yu spoke words to me that will never leave my heart. She was looking out over the crowd that had gathered for the wedding. She said "What a wonderful and beautiful diverse group of people. They are all here in love and support of you and your love. Mac, look at this, remember this, this is for you, and it's amazing." She got me choked up before the ceremony ever started.
My wife works in the auto industry and several of her work colleagues came to the wedding. They were a little nervous to come to begin with because the wedding was at a gay nightclub in Seattle called "Neighbor's." Most of them had never been exposed to such a place and definitely not such a diverse crowd of people. Her co-workers and families are 1st generation children of immigrants or are immigrants from China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Mexico and Brazil. And are in the auto care industry. They hadn't had much exposure to the queer community at all. And they got to be immersed in it and experience the beauty of people they never had had a opportunity to get to know, as well as add to the diversity being who they are.
This event brought so many people together that normally would not have been in the same room. There were politicians, city officials, police officers, social activists, newscasters, all of the LGBTQ rainbow, people from the sex positive community, people in drag, people from all different cultures, races and religions. All just people, together, in a safe place to be themselves, celebrating love. Like our lovely flower girls who are Sisters from the Mother House of Washington, drag queen nuns who do charity work and dedicate their lives to help their communities. Our wonderful Seattle Police Chief, who was coming up to the stage after the wedding to take a couple of pictures with us, was a shining example of the diversity in the room and how we all come together. She joked, "Mac, this is so much fun, but I have to admit those sisters scare me a little, I went to catholic school." We laughed and then she insisted on the Sisters being in our group photo.
Several interesting encounters happened at the reception as well. One of which was a handsome young man walked up to Dawn and I, hugging us and congratulating us. Then he grabbed my arms and held me close in front of him, as Dawn stood by. He said "Mac, you probably don't recognize me, as the last time you saw me I looked very different. I want you to know that because of who you are and the work that you do, I found the courage and freedom to be fully me. Thank you for all that you do, it made a huge difference in my life." He had transitioned since I had seen him last. Wow, how beautiful. It choked me up. Dawn and I hugged him again. Many times you do this kind of activist work and you mainly hear from those who are spewing hate. This was a deep affirmation that living true to myself and teaching with grace does make a difference. And he got to witness what can happen when you create a world where diversity is the reality.
Playing with our theme -- one dear friend who identifies as a mostly straight, and I would say Cis-gender dude came to our wedding in total Drag. He looked fabulous. He hugged us, thanked us and said, "I have wanted to try this my entire life and never did, thank you for giving me this opportunity. It is so freeing!" It was beautiful to watch him play with his feminine side. He danced, laughed, made new friends and had a ball. This, the feeling of safety and acceptance to be himself was everything we were shooting for with our theme.
Many people in the community gave to us in gifts of sharing their talents and giving help to pull this event off. It was like a big queer talent show! There was amazing performances and abilities shared at the reception and wedding by so many and in such loving support. There were phenomenal singers of every kind, even opera. Guitar playing, stand up comedy and drag performances. A bit of everything. Friends sharing talents of things like cake making, flower arranging, photography, helping to coordinate, muscles to lift, haul and arrange. Everyone came together and made it an event to remember for all. I felt all the support from so many, reflecting all of the things I had put my heart into over the years of activism and community engagement. It filled me up with love and appreciation. We felt the love and passion I've put out there, coming right back to me.
I went to see a friend who made our wedding cake the week after the wedding. She is a person who is very involved in diverse parts of the community and has attended a great deal of events. She told me something that touch my heart about our Big Queer Wedding. She said, " It was beautiful how some many people from very diverse backgrounds and parts of the community were really engaging with one another and kind to each other." Yes, we can be from very different places and still be kind and even learn from one another. How beautiful.
And now comes... life, love, parenting and the pursuit of happiness for this queer, unicorn family. LOVE WINS!!!