As of September 25, 2015, I have been married twice. The first to my wife in 1996. The second, my husband. During the planning phase of both ceremonies, I felt as stressed as a homophobe receiving a mandatory prostate exam from a curious orangutan. However, preparation for the most recent ceremony caused an unexpected and unjust element of anxiety.
You see, media coverage (both social and news) of business owners and government officials denying service to same-sex couples has existed in the background of our almost-decade-long relationship. There’s the photographer in New Mexico, the bakers in Colorado, the bridal shop owner in Pennsylvania, the farm owners in New York, and the clerk in Kentucky that are among the growing army of demented moralists humiliating fiances in the name of a profitable crowdfunding website, a book deal, and/or the Most Christianist Award (voted on by their like-minded peers and allegedly hosted annually at the Biblical Times Dinner Theater in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee). The risk of a similar encounter was high considering our position within the Bible belt, just a couple of notches over from the buckle.
Stomach churning nervousness preluded almost every solicitation. My intention was not to test the morality of business owners; I just wanted to marry my favorite person on this planet. And this was how each business reacted:
Photographer: With the exception of selfies and dick pics, John Moore Photography is where I go for all of my photography needs. He already knows I’m swishy, so he didn’t hesitate about this job. As a matter of fact, he’s responsible for many of the pictures you’ve seen on this site such as:
Wedding Bands: I learned two things from purchasing a wedding band:
- My phalangeal joints are so large, it’s like having five short strings of anal beads hanging from my palms.
- I will make all future jewelry purchases from Erin at Mednikow. She not only treated us like any other couple, she mailed a sweet, hand-written card on store letterhead congratulating us.
Cakes: I’m not certain what angel cum tastes like, but I’d bet Mr. Tiddles’ life that it’s similar to the heavenly icing atop a Muddy’s cupcake. This is why Steven and I didn’t hesitate ordering our wedding cakes from Kat and her team at Muddy’s Bake Shop. When Kat learned that her cakes were being consumed by homosexuals and gay allies at a same-sex wedding reception, did she snub us? No. As a matter of fact, her and her staff literally applauded and cheered.
Catering: Alyssa, owner of Redheaded Chef, has been a friend of mine for well over a decade and makes the best fucking pimento cheese spread in this country. Unfortunately, we didn’t inform Alyssa that she was catering our wedding. As a matter of fact, almost every invited guest was unaware that they were attending a wedding ceremony. Invitations were mailed under the guise of a simple party at our house. At 8:15 pm, we gathered our guests and announced that:
- Steven and I are breaking up, and we wanted all of our friend together for a last hurrah.
- Just kidding. We aren’t breaking up, but we want to thank you for attending our engagement party.
- Now the engagement party is over, and the wedding will begin in five minutes.
- My cat vest was custom-made (pictured below on right) by Ashley, owner of Four-Eyed Girl. Ashley is also the talent behind the half-naked-men vest I wore at this year’s Ostrander Awards ceremony at the Orpheum Theatre (pictured below on left) because I have no shame and seek attention.
- While shopping for tuxedos, Steven and I met Courtenay, owner of Doggone Bow Ties. After we reluctantly shared with her that our tuxedos were for our wedding, she gifted us with one of her cool, hand-made wine bags. We visit her frequently not only because of her kind gesture, but because she has the coolest and quirkiest stock of hand-made bow ties I’ve seen in Memphis.
Wedding License: This was the scariest. Entering the County Clerk’s downtown office, I felt more nervous than a bareback whore getting an AIDS test. I could feel my heart beating in my throat as Steven and I sat down to request a marriage license. I tried to remind myself that I shouldn’t be nervous, that I had a right to receive a license to marry. I wasn’t this apprehensive when I requested my first marriage license, why should I this time? Also, we weren’t the first gay couple to ask for a marriage license in Memphis. If the clerk’s office or their staff refused, we would have heard news of it by then, right? But what if we were treated differently, disrespectfully, or crudely?
All of these worrisome questions were forgotten the moment we were greeted by the wide smile of the staff member that eventually issued our license. I will always appreciate how welcome she made us feel.
I could complain about how it’s not fair that I had to encounter these unnecessary anxieties that straight couples never have to experience. Sure, everything turned out better than expected, but “what if” always lingered because “what if” had happened before. Instead, I hope to share with every gay man and woman in love that their corner of the world in which they live may not be as cruel as the media coverage portrays. Yes, more work is required for universal acceptance and tolerance, but sometimes it’s healthy to stop and enjoy the world within your reach. If you allow the news to govern your mood, you’ll end up no happier than a social conservative.
I am grateful for the kindness of all parties involved for making September 25, 2015 special. Because of it, my husband and I are able to remember it as one of the best days of our lives together.