Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Petra in the USA: goin’ to the chapel

My best friend Sylvia got married to Jane Gillette on the 11 October 2008, and I am more pleased than I can say that I was able to fly home to Massachusetts, USA, to be her Honor Attendant (like Matron of Honor, but without being forced to be matronly). Sylvia met me at the airport with my parents when I arrived the Wednesday evening before the wedding, and we were basically together continuously from then until she and Jane took off for their well-deserved “mini-moon” at the end of the reception three days later: three perfect, amazing, exciting and joyful days.

Highlights, for me, included:
-Helping Jane’s dad select an appropriate wedding hat from his impressive collection,
-Enacting the wedding ceremony on Sylvia and Jane’s coffee table with Jane’s specially designed paper dolls – a sort of pre-rehearsal rehearsal,
-Constructing practice “bouquets” for the actual rehearsal from pipe cleaners, ribbons, shoe-box packaging and – if memory serves – at least one crystal doorknob,
-Doing Sylvia’s hair for the ceremony: 39 bobby pins!
-Plotting with fellow honor attendant (Jane’s sister Katie) to augment the …celebratory spirit and romantic atmosphere… of Sylvia’s car for the big day (balloons, streamers, bells, and a truly exceptional CD of love songs).
-That Sylvia and Jane asked me to lead the Passing-the-Light ceremony at the rehearsal luncheon and to give a toast at the reception. While I’m pleased that I seem to have pulled off both respectably, the highlight is the fact of their asking, which meant more to me than I can really express without devolving completely into embarrassingly melodramatic verbiage that would convince no one of my sincerity regardless of how genuine I actually feel.

And of course the biggest highlight was the wedding itself: being part of a great mob of nearest and dearest, dedicating time to celebrate the incredible fact that Sylvia and Jane have found each other, loved each other, and decided to build their lives together.

There was nothing 'political' about their wedding, but unfortunately politics encroach nonetheless. As the election results have come in in the weeks since the wedding, the memories of the celebration become even more poignant with California’s adoption of Proposition 8 and additional, equivalent bans in Florida and Arizona. The strength of Jane and Sylvia’s commitment is even more apparent in contrast to the fragility of its legal recognition (though since they live in Massachusetts, they are currently safer than they would be if they lived in California).

I hope that we can all renew our commitment to protecting same-sex marriage and the rights of same-sex couples, for the sake of Sylvia and Jane, for the sake of me and my wife Erika, and for all of the other same-sex couples out there.

Most of the best photos are credit the wedding photographer, Andy Taylor; others yanked from Facebook.


Shayn said...

jane's parents might be the most adorable people i've ever seen a picture of...

the prop 8 passage made me grieve for the country and for humanity in general a little bit, but the whole backlash and the backlash to the backlash and racist gay folks and the homophobic anti-racist responses to the racist gay folks - all of it is crushing my soul and i can't look away.

my vote for a not so catchy slogan goes to: 'only queer people should be able to tell other queer people not to get married!'

Jane said...

Petra, thank you for your beautiful post! I'm going to print a copy for our scrapbook...

In response to Shayn's comment - I am also very saddened about the racist and anti-religious tone that some people are taking. While angry about the lies and the exorbitant funding for Prop 8 that came from religous groups, I also believe that to return vitriol with vitriol will alienate good, friendly people, and it makes us as a community just look bad. Also, as a Christian (Episcopalian), and having friends who are Evangelical, and Catholic, and Baptist - who came and danced at our wedding, I know that labels do no one good. I can only hope that those of us who feel this way can be vocal enough about hating the injustice but not those who voted for it.

Sylvia said...


Thank you so much for this post... and much, ever so much more for being there. I can't imagine having got married with anyone else by my side.

Oh, and ditto on the above conversation (including the bit about my in-laws).


Rob said...

we're fighting the good fight for you out here petra. just spent saturday night protesting Prop 8 in Silver Lake.

-robbie wilson