Today, the day of the landmark SCOTUS ruling that legalized gay marriage in all 50 status, I happened to have this post With my friends in full wedding gear scheduled. Like a free ride when you're already there, it's funny how timing works out.
I haven't been to a lot of weddings and even with this new ruling, I don't expect that to change.
In my circle of friends, "marriage" is one of those words you use in the same sentence as "mainstream" or "heteronormativity." We're those kind of hipsters. We talk about marriage in terms of "at some point" as opposed to the near future and weddings themselves as huge excuses to party -- not a day to solidify your need to own or to belong to another person.
Even today as we celebrate Ruth Bader-Ginsberg and her 12-piece band, we are simultaneously critical of how the marriage equality discussion has largely drowned out any number of other problems faced by folks along the LGBTQ spectrum, problems largely encountered by Black and Latin@ folks. Marriage equality, to many of us, is seen as assimilation of the queer community into mainstream heteronormativity (see I did it without even thinking about it) and we are critical of marriage as an institution built on capitalist commodification of love, an enforcer of gender norms, etc etc I'm running out of breath.
That said, there is undeniable beauty to a wedding. The dopamine rush that comes when two people you love proclaim their happiness and security in each other is a sort of affirmation that there are levels of connection deeper than friendship or comradery.
We can critique the building and re-work the facade without tearing down the whole thing.
Assuming the couple have made a good invitation list, weddings themselves can be a joyous reminder of your community and a damn good party indeed. My buddies/comrades Steph and Eddy, organizers of the Sunday Jump open mic series and leaders of the LA chapter of KMB, tied the knot on one of the first beautiful summer days of the year with a crowd of friends and comrades. In true Eddy and Steph fashion, they flipped some Filipino traditions on their head ("Traditionally the guy hands the girl these coins to symbolize that he'll take care of her, but damn both of us work!") and, because we're those kind of hipsters, read an amazing new piece of poetry they wrote as a one-time thing.
At our tables we caught up with old friends and met new co-conspirators. On the dance floor we got down to beats the DJ (a friend to most of us) threw out as aunties and uncles watched us, smiling and passing drinks between themselves and laughing as their friends jumped in to do the Electric Slide.
In my circles of friends, "marriage" may come with its hesitations, but weddings usually come with joy. As we all get older and find our our big brothers and sisters busier with their lives and we ourselves find ourselves pulled across the city to attend to the march of time and the organizations that need us, weddings are opportunities for us to come together without worrying about logistics or planning but just to celebrate. Weddings are those few hours that we can all share space and break bread without having to worry about agendas and check-ins.
There's something to be said about the fact that these moments of celebration are so significant. There's something to be said about the fact that these moments of togetherness without work come so infrequently and seem so rare.
I don't know if I'm going to get married. I set my "do not marry until" age at 32 some point in my life and that arbitrary number has guided my romantic decision making. But I do want to think about what it means to come together and just exist without the burden of organization and structure, which is not to discount the party planning that Eddy and Steph went through.
Today we are celebrating the right of everyone to create these moments of joy, but we are also reminding ourselves that it does not take a wedding, a marriage, and a license to bring a community together in happiness.