On this Valentine’s Day, I thought I would share Megan and Andrea’s story. This holiday is so commercialized and that leaves a bad taste in some people’s mouths but I have always thought of Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to celebrate love. How cool is it that we have a day to make people around us feel loved and feel special? Answer: very freakin’ cool.
I get to photograph people on such a special day but in Megan and Andrea’s case, I had gotten to know the two of them throughout their relationship. I met them when they had just started dating. Then, as if no timed had passed, I was photographing them on their wedding day.
This wedding was full of personality and character. Megan and Andrea incorporated their family members and their personal traditions into their wedding. All of these things made for such a beautiful and meaningful ceremony. To top it all off instead of dinner, their wedding had brunch! YUP, this was a bunch wedding. gah! So cool.
After the ceremony, Meg made this speech and it brought tears to everyone’s eyes. No picture could do justice to the sentiment behind these words. I am including it here for you.
“I want to take a moment to acknowledge how we all got here today. Many of you know that I was previously married to a man; it’s been my experience that nothing tests a man’s character quite like his wife telling him, “listen, I’m gay and we’re getting divorced”. What I saw after that conversation was that he was kind when he could have been cruel and supportive when he could have been destructive; he showed me what it looks like to value your partner’s happiness even when it comes at the expense of your own. Some of us have probably learned these things from observation, but I had to learn them from experience, and what I am bringing to my marriage to Andrea is what I learned about love, commitment and support not only from my first marriage, but from its dissolution.
We would have celebrated an anniversary just a few weeks ago. I still celebrate that day for the optimism and hope I brought to my first marriage. Of course, some of that hope was that I wasn’t really gay, and here we are. Being openly gay is a privilege that many around the world will never experience. Andrea and I are fortunate to be celebrating with so many LGBTQ-identified individuals. And we collectively are fortunate that despite unequal rights, overt oppression, very real physical danger, lack of representation in everything except voting rights for the TONY awards, family opposition, and a heightened awareness of the risks and benefits of simply existing, we’re all still here.
We’re here because other people came before us: our ancestors who contributed the genes that made us so stubborn and so good looking, our families and friends who support us but still challenge us to grow, and our civil rights ancestors: the labor organizers, feminists, desegregationists, revolutionaries, and violent and nonviolent protestors whose work has brought us here today. None of their accomplishments are perfect, and none of their work is done, but it’s a start. We also owe a debt of continued remembrance to LGBTQ individuals who have suffered and died, and to those who have suffered, but lived.
And everyone here who is not an identifying member of the LGBTQ community is an ally. This means that you support us. You support our right to get married; our right to not lose custody of our children because of our gender identity or sexual orientation; our right to a life free from physical and sexual violence; our right to be addressed by our chosen names and pronouns; our right to not hide our identities to keep our jobs, find housing, belong to a religious congregation, or simply walk down the street; our right to access healthcare appropriate to our unique needs, and to document and celebrate our own history. If you didn’t know what you were endorsing when you came here today and you’re just here because you like brunch, don’t worry. We like brunch too (we might have invented it), and someone will be dismissing tables very soon.”