Challenging (and Carrying on) Tradition

Same-sex couples, finding marriage now a legally recognized option, may move deliberately toward the world of weddings. In the aftermath of the DOMA decision, many observers (myself included) have speculated about the potential payday such celebrations may yield for the wedding industry. But this assumption, to some degree, assumes that queer weddings will follow the format of straight weddings. In reality, however, the gay couples face endless possibilities when it comes to their styles of celebration. And the NY Times chronicles that with this article, “Free to Marry, and Not Bound by Rites” (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/15/fashion/weddings/free-to-marry-and-not-bound-by-rites.html?pagewanted=2&_r=0&emc=eta1).

There are so many smart points made in this article – I encourage everyone to read it. And there are so many great, quotable lines. I’ll limit myself to this one: “Mr. Solomon wrote in an e-mail that he and Mr. Habich ‘wanted to have a wedding that echoed the weddings of our parents and of others,’ but without parroting heterosexual customs. ‘Everything traditional was nontraditional simply because we were both men,’ he said of their civil ceremony, which was followed by Christian and Jewish ceremonies. ‘The more of a ‘wedding’ it was, the more revolutionary it was.’ YES. This is a major point I make in my book As Long As We Both Shall Love. For those who critique marriage as a conservative goal and the celebration of a wedding as a mark of conformity, I’d argue that when a couple (two men or two women) who looks nothing like the expected couple (one man and one woman) take on these alleged hallmarks of conformity, they are immediately challenged and thereby robbed of their conformity.

The gist of the article is that same-sex couples have the opportunity to celebrate in as traditional or as non-traditional a style as they wish. Of course, I argue that couples – not just same-sex couples – have been doing this for years. The tradition that gay couples will carry on in their celebrations is the larger postwar wedding tradition of couples using the wedding to communicate their views of love, marriage, and partnership.

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