I Do, I Do, I Do! Celebrating 2013
Earlier this year, I promised myself I was done writing about marriage equality and that I wouldn’t bore everyone with tales of our wedding.
Sorry, I changed my mind!
First off, my intention really was to make this column a look back at the year that was—a celebration of 2013—which I now realize, makes it impossible not to put marriage equality front and center. It is, after all, the defining accomplishment of 2013 for LGBT Delawareans.
Also, now that Steve and I have said our “I do, I dos,” I suddenly find I have more to say on the matter than I previously thought I would.
Legal same sex weddings in Delaware began on July 1 of this year. Based on the number of wedding photos we’ve received for Letters, however, quite a few of us decided to wait until the off-season to make things official. For Steve and me, that was a necessity, and we knew we couldn’t handle it until our summer publishing and event schedule was over.
Our personal wedding history goes back to earlier in the year when I wrote in a column that we had planned to elope until my nephew Drew said we couldn’t get married without him. Then, my mother, who always reads Letters, added her voice to the mix, and said we couldn’t get married without her, as well. From there it snowballed: brothers and sisters, nieces, nephews, and cousins—they all came! Their presence made it an amazing experience for us, which is, exactly what a wedding is supposed to be.
The funny thing for me is that I didn’t really expect to feel all that different after it was over. Steve and I have, after all, been together for 35 years—we, like many couples in our community, have felt married for decades. Nothing could have been farther from the truth. On that day, surrounded by family and close friends, we were changed forever by the ritual, the vows, and the love, support, and blessings poured out upon us. We had always been “life partners”; now we are husband and husband.
As I have also written about in these pages, my dad passed away back in the summer. After I told Mother that Steve and I were getting married, she gave me Pop’s wedding ring to use. I had to have it cut down a little for me, but was able to save the inscription written inside celebrating my parents love and the date they were married. His ring on my finger reminds me daily of the goodness of life, and the sure knowledge that love changes everything. Though only my Mother was on my arm as I came down the aisle of the church, they were both present for the service—and Pop was smiling from ear to ear, and his eyes were crinkled up and sparkling as they always did on such occasions.
The only other thing I will say about our wedding was that it just felt right. We have always felt God’s blessing in our union, and on that day, it was evident in every single moment.
Like many of us in our community, Steve and I have attended more weddings in the last few months than we did during the whole decade that preceded the passing of the Delaware Marriage Equality Act and the Defense of Marriage Act ruling by the Supreme Court. Suddenly this summer, marriage equality became not just possible for us, but real and meaningful. At every single same sex marriage I’ve attended, I—and most of the guests there—have been moved to tears.
Beyond weddings, 2013 has been another extraordinary year for CAMP Rehoboth. Our advocacy work, not just for marriage equality, but in diversity training, gender issues, and health and counseling matters continues to provide our community a strong center of support. We take our call to be “the heart of the community” very seriously, and we are the first place many locals and visitors turn for information, resources, and involvement in all aspects of community life.
In 2013, CAMP Rehoboth is still largely a volunteer organization. For our size and budget, we continue to have a relatively small paid staff, and are dependent on the amazing talents and support our volunteers bring to the organization. From office help to staff level positions, volunteers keep CAMP Rehoboth running. For that reason, we’ve spent a lot of time over the past year developing our volunteer training and finding ways to recognize and celebrate the roles volunteers play in our organization.
Sometimes it is easy to forget that our Board of Directors are all volunteers, as well, and yet each one of them takes on the extra responsibilities of chairing the never-ending committee work of the organization. During 2013, the Board tackled the tough matter of succession and emergency planning—not that Steve and I, or any of our top leaders are going anywhere in the immediate future—and we feel we’ve at least set in motion a process that will make future change easier to handle.
When Chris Beagle toasted us at our wedding, he joked that there would be an auction immediately following the reception. (Hmmm?…too bad we didn’t think of that! Kidding!) The truth, of course, is that non-profit organizations like ours are always raising money. We have to. Fortunately, we have incredible support from our community; in 2013, our CAMP Rehoboth members and event sponsors made a huge part of the work we do possible. As we ask every year at this time: please consider making an end-of-the-year donation or sign-up or upgrade your membership in our organization.
Over the many years we have worked to make CAMP Rehoboth a success, I have always been dazzled by the support we have received from this community. In 2013, there has been a strong feeling that our perseverance has paid off. The change is as real as the wedding ring many of us now wear on our finger.
A few days ago, Steve and I stood chatting in the hall of CAMP Rehoboth with the original Blue Moon owner, and long-time friend, Joyce Felton. Joyce and others like her, set the stage for the Rehoboth we know today. Standing there reminiscing about our early years in RB, reminded me that when the Blue Moon opened on Baltimore Avenue more than 30 years ago, gay life spilled out onto the streets of this town in a way it had never done before. It has never gone back into the closet.
To all who worked to make 2013 an amazing year for CAMP Rehoboth and for our community, thank you! This is one year we will not soon forget.
Murray Archibald, CAMP Co-founder and President of the Board of Directors of CAMP Rehoboth, is an artist in Rehoboth Beach.