WEEKEND Beach Bum
|by Eric Morrison|
A couple of weekends ago, I attended my first commitment ceremony. My friends Gene and Vinny tied the pink knot and I could not be happier for them. They're both great people with a strong sense of pride and commitment to the LGBT community. They also both have a good sense of humor, which is why I could not resist writing inside their card, "I've known for years that both of you should be committed!" Now that I think about it, though, it's really not that funny, so maybe I don't have such a good sense of humor. I hope they got the joke.
Attending a same-sex commitment ceremony can be challenging. My first obstacle was finding an appropriate card. It's not so shocking, but the local Hallmark does not stock a supply of wedding cards that begin with, "When a man loves a man..." or "You're two special lesbians." I finally settled on a card that read "For a Special Couple" on the outside with a gender-generic, heartfelt message on the inside. Deciding on a gift wasn't much easier. Where do gay men register for wedding goodies? Macy's? Tiffany's? Homo Depot? Just for shits and giggles, I considered buying two sets of those obnoxious bride-and-groom bears, splitting them up, and pairing them off into same-sex stuffing-filled couples. The remaining two female bears would have left me prepared for a future lesbian wedding, but I decided on a gift card to a local store instead.
A very personal challenge for me in attending the ceremony was the fact that my boyfriend and I had broken up just two days before. There's nothing like screwing on a happy face for a wedding when you really feel like draping yourself in a black shroud and spitting on cute couples as they stroll by hand-in-hand. Fortunately, it was not an acrimonious split and we'd both felt it coming for some time. But when I walked in the door to find my place card and saw my ex's name next to mine, it did kill my appetite for finger sandwiches and punch being peed out by an angel. The good news is that I sat at a table with friends and acquaintances who had the sense to ask me how I was doing without digging for details.
I had a blast at the ceremony. It had a fun Hawaiian theme, and guests dressed in their island best. Everyone got "leid" when they walked through the door, and you can't ask for much more than that from any party. The place was decked out in beautiful flowers, colorful seashells, and more palm fronds than you could shake a coconut at. The food was fabulous, too, with lots of fresh fruits and veggies for my vegetarian pallet, and a crazy assortment of delectable desserts to satisfy my sweet tooth. The only thing I didn't care for on the table was a roasted whole pig. Still, he looked peaceful with his little legs tucked comfortably beneath his browned body, and his candied cherry eyes with flower petal lashes. I kept wondering how my alter ego Anita would look with flower petals for eyelashes. As hot as it gets underneath the bright stage lights, I'm usually roasting in my au jus by the end of the show, anyway.
I have been to more weddings in my life than I care to count, but they've always been in honor of a happy heterosexual couple. At my friends' commitment ceremony, I was delighted to scan the room and see so many faces of "family." For once, I wasn't stuck at "the gay table" with the other 10% of the wedding guests, and no one asked me to lead the conga line. In fact, I almost felt sorry for the heterosexuals at the party. I could imagine the DJ checking out the dance floor, wondering who was checking him out. (It was me.) My friend kept joking that one little boy was "a queen in training," as he sashayed around franticly waving palm fronds to "I Will Survive" and "I Love the Nightlife." Another friend of mine got a little tipsy and we had a blast cutting on some of the other guests' choice of clothing and hairstyles, until I realized that they were probably standing around saying the same things about us.
I kept thinking, too, about whether or not I'd ever stand underneath a thatch awning and exchange promises of forever with a special man. I've been blessed with some wonderful relationships, but none that seemed destined to last a lifetime. It could be "break-up speak," but I don't even know if I'm the kind to settle down with one man for life. In relationships, I love the companionship and the feeling that someone is always on your side, but sometimes I grow frustrated with the constant compromise required in a relationship. I have a strong sense of self and more than a handful of pride, which translates into a mile-wide streak of Scorpio stubbornness and independence. I also feel that I have a history of diving headfirst into relationships in which I'm giving more than my fair share, but that could be my martyr complex talking.
Aside from my self-centered considerations during the ceremony, I also kept thinking to myself that if anti-gay marriage crusaders had attended the function, they could not have kept themselves from recognizing it as a celebration of love and commitment, not a slap in the face to "traditional family values." The sad part is, some of them probably could have attended that joyful occasion and still not have felt rainbow-colored cherubs tugging on their heartstrings. Anyone who can picket a gay man's funeral with signs that read "God Hates Fags" and "AIDS is God's Revenge" obviously has no heartstrings left on which to tug. When my two friends exchanged their vows and shared a hug and a kiss, the room exploded in applause and cheers. It was a wonderful experience for my first commitment ceremony, whether or not I ever get "committed," and whether or not everyone in the world shared in the joy.
Alas, Eric is once again on the singles market with an open dance card. Drop him a line at email@example.com to join the long line of handsome suitors piling up at his front door.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 15, No. 5 May 20, 2005