Archive | May, 2013

Searching for Masculinity in Wedding Planning

31 May

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I’ve always been the kind of person who LOVED helping other people plan their weddings, decision-making is easy when you aren’t held accountable for any of the decisions. Chris may have had the right idea, if he had his way we would have 10 people in our backyard and call it a day. I, on the other hand, I grew up Italian Catholic and have at this writing been in 8 wedding parties, not to mention attending umpteen weddings in the last five years. I can’t help but want a little piece of the spectacle. Yet the moment your fingers type in wedding planning in your nearest search engine you are bombarded with more information than any human could possibly handle or organize.

do not type wedding planning in google

do not type wedding planning in google

Then I made the mistake of going to my nearest bookstore to look for wedding books. My initial goal of replacing bride and groom with groom and groom did not work as well as I thought. I knew that they generally did not make books for our special brand of nuptials but I thought even if I have to cross out some gendered terminology there’s surely something I can take away. Yet while there isn’t exactly a queer perspective on wedding planning, there also isn’t a male perspective on wedding planning.

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First, everything written about weddings is written from the bride’s point of view. The magazines have women on the covers; the books and the self-help guides are all entirely feminized.  This I understand, it is a market after all and the market must cater to the widest possible demographics. However, this got me thinking: is a wedding just for the Bride?

I find it odd that not a single book, blog, or horribly organized website I’ve found or looked at speak to the wedding as something two people are doing. These treasure troves of gendered expectations come complete with phrases like “something you and your groom will decide,” or “once you’ve gotten your groom to do x, y, and z.” Worse yet  brides are encouraged to analyze their future partners in order to better maneuver the planning process. In these wedding websites men are generally associated with deciding the budget, and the woman is supposed to simply make do.  What do heterosexual men do during the wedding planning process? If a wedding is supposed to reflect the symbols of marriage then what does it mean that the role of traditional manhood in the ritual of marriage is to be seen and sign checks? Is there no unity to becoming united?

Hegemonic masculinity would suggest that a key part of the proper performance of masculinity is an absence of care in all that is supposedly  domestic.  Wedding planning, with its emphasis on fragility, flowers, and sentiment seems to be no exception. One wonders at the raised eyebrows and confusion that would result should the groom be more involved in the process than the bride. More troubling are the  supposed “survival guides” for men to “make it through the process.”  Masculine discourse on wedding planning frame wedding talk as the disastrous deeds of the wildly irrational female as she is slowly poisoned by the wedding industry.

According to these websites a wedding seems nothing more than the first chance for the stereotypical heterosexual dynamic to begin to form. The women slowly encompass all domestic decision-making, while the men sit at the sides and begin what I can only assume to be their coffee drip pace towards a steaming cup of resentment. You can see these men on any given Saturday surrounded by bridesmaids in some abysmal shades of pink and taffeta.

Aside from my cynicism there is an interesting conversation to be had about gender roles in wedding planning. As a CIS privileged male planning a wedding I recognize that  I am in uncharted territory as wedding planning books and websites are rarely written from a groom’s perspective. However, as Chris and I try to make our wedding feel slightly masculine to reflect our personalities I remain daunted by the gendered language and experience of the whole process.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/myeye/458651355/”>MyEyeSees</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Choosing to Stay.

30 May

As soon as I tell people I’m engaged they usually ask the same question, “where you are going?” Implied in this question is the understanding that in order for us to have a wedding we must go somewhere else. We must go to some province of liberalism where we will be welcomed with open arms, and our relationship is legally recognized. Of course I’m exhilarated and excited about the progress of marriage equality in New York, Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Iowa, Minnesota, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, Washington D.C. and Vermont I readily applaud all those who travel to hold their weddings in states that sanction legal unions. However, part of the fun of planning a wedding as a same-sex couple is that we are never required to do what is expected. So, Chris and I have decided to hold our ceremony in Birmingham Alabama. You read that correctly.  I’ll pause while you finish laughing.

photo credit: CarbonNYC via photopin cc

It’s ok, you can go ahead with the pictures I’m sure your mind is conjuring. Are you imagining women in hoopskirts? Confederate Flags? A reception catered by Guy Fieri or the cast of the Blue Collar Comedy tour?  I know this might sound a bit absurd to think of a clear Midwest cynic like myself, and a big silver fox from Jersey to be getting hitched in what I’m sure, to you, must look like the shooting locale from Deliverance. However, there’s an explanation, one that is as heartfelt as a Sally Field breakdown.

photo credit: CarbonNYC via photopin cc

Here’s our thinking, and its simple: no matter where we get married, it won’t be “legal” where we live. So we figured, let’s get married where our home is, where we fell in love and moved into a house together. To me, marriage is more than a signed signature on a piece of paper or a legal partnership that can be undone as easily as Kathryn Hegel accepts movie roles. It’s making a vow of commitment to one person for better or worse, in sickness and in health as long as you both shall live. The legal state of marriage is as unstable as Amanda Bynes psychosis so why go out of our way to make something “legal” when it can be frighteningly easy to take it away. Even if we did get married out of state federal law, thanks to the defense of marriage act, would ignore our marriage in taxes, healthcare, and other benefits bestowed to heterosexual couples.

By ErgoSum88 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By ErgoSum88 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Second, there is a symbolic element to hosting a ceremony in a state that refuses to acknowledge our union.  In Alabama, homosexuality remains on the books as a criminal act. We are not allowed to adopt a child as a couple, we are denied the ability to share the same healthcare, I cannot establish residency in this state for tuition purposes, and k-12 teachers are required to tell students that homosexuality is “not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public.” However Alabama is also home to a warm, welcoming, and inclusive community that helped Chris and I feel truly at home during the last three years. Alabama has a rich tradition of social justice work as The Black Panthers, The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Southerners on New Ground and generations of social change advocates started their journey in this place.  There is a power in our choosing to stay, in choosing to create a space that will encourage others to stay, to turn the tide of social injustice and to alter the public and civic imaginary of what Alabama is capable of. In this, we choose to celebrate our union in a place where so many fought for us to have the ability, and where there is still vehement opposition.
So we’re planning a gay wedding in Alabama, I’m sure it will make for some interesting stories.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/carbonnyc/3033956970/”>CarbonNYC</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/carbonnyc/496721450/”>CarbonNYC</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;
 

Hello world!

21 May

What is “engayged”

Over the past few days I’ve done a lot of thinking about what it means to plan a wedding in Alabama and while Chris and I have been engaged, or as we playfully call it “engayged” because while we deserve the same rights we are not the same as heterosexual couples. This blog is an attempt to chronicle the experience of wedding planning as it intersects with gender roles, male privilege, and the heteronormative practices of the wedding planning process. Also, it’s a chance for us to vent about the practical aspects of wedding planning from a queer perspective.

About Us

Chris and I met on match.com. Despite what you’ve read about grindr LGBTQ people do use traditional dating sites. I signed up for a free trial after moving to Alabama for graduate school. On the very last day of my membership I got an email from a match.com user with no profile picture from a guy named Chris. This sends up a red flag. Typically a person on a dating site, especially men looking for men, who does not have a picture is either (a) in the closet (b) married or (c) hideous. However the message was long, and in the world of meeting via messenger size matters.  Chris’ letter talked about how he liked my profile and the areas he thought we’d have in common with each other. Pretty soon I’d ascertained that he was neither (a), (b), and after trading pictures certainly not (c). I became infatuated with him. Our first phone conversation lasted 5 hours.

Do they have to have a man and a woman kissing on their logo?

We started dating and pretty soon fell in love. We are your classic case of opposites attract: Chris is a tall, car-loving man from Jersey who is passionate about design, horror movies, and classic vehicles, while I am a short, book-loving academic from the midwest who is passionate about television, competitive speech, and oscar nominated films.

Chris (on the left) and I on a visit to our favorite city New Orleans
Chris (on the left) and I on a visit to our favorite city New Orleans

Chris proposed in January at the spot where we had our first serious conversation about our relationship. It was the most beautiful afternoon I’ve ever had in my life. I cannot wait to marry him.

The day Chris proposed!
The day Chris proposed!
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