by KATE WHITE
TO HAVE AND TO HOLD
Starting at age 17, I was the most wild, untamable femme in all of Detroit. I broke every heart I snared, leaving them smashed into millions of little pieces from the east side all the way to the west side, and everywhere in between. Butches alerted each other about me, even going as far to leave fair warning notes in each other’s mailboxes: “Kate will cheat.” I always pretended to be offended, or at the very least denied any accusation that I wasn’t perfectly innocent all the time. But in reality, I was a horrible girlfriend. Even though all I longed for was a true love, time after time, I drove everyone away.
The more masculine a girl, the more attractive I found her. I am a sucker for shorn hair, piercing eyes, and a wicked bad boi attitude. So naturally, when a butch came along that was butcher than mine, I was out of there, already on the heels of this newest bet. Everyone began to hate me. I lost friends, lost respect and began to wonder what was wrong with me. I started to get the reputation of cold, heartless, untrustable. As years went on, I developed a complex.
It never occurred to me that I was just really young. Too young to be in a committed relationship with anyone, and because I lacked any proper guidance, I never learned what it meant to let someone down easy, or to pace myself. So, older I grew, and along with my baggage came my bad habit.
And then I met her. She was as boyishly delicious as possible, biggest attitude I’d ever seen, dark hair cut close to her head, green eyes staring under heavily lashed lids. Full lips, high cheek bones, her pants hanging off her ass ever so slightly, and the kicker for me – boxer briefs peeking out from the waist band of her scuffed up jeans. Gets me going every time. But there was something different about her. Maybe because she straddled that line between really butch and transgendered, or maybe because she was the perfect balance of really bad and behind closed doors, quietly sensitive. I can’t exactly put my little manicured finger on it, but no matter, I was and still am hooked. And the unimaginable happened. Not slowly, but quickly, she tamed me. I stopped looking at other girls, I stopped caring about the next best thing, and the thought of cheating or losing her repulsed me. My whole world changed. I started to reflect on all of the damage I had done. I truly felt sorry and ashamed. Night after night I hoped that would never happen between us because oh, how I loved her, and for the first time, I felt what it meant to be vulnerable.
I was lucky enough to have her heart as she had mine. One day, while we were having an intensely passionate conversation about the way we felt, we decided we would get married. We would not wait. We would go as soon as we could afford it and be married. Hersband and Wife. She and I. The experience any femme wants. To be the princess in a queer wedding.
WE DO, WE DO
Everyone was so shocked at our decision, because we had only been dating for roughly six months. Rest assured, we both felt the gratitude at being able to marry anywhere in the states. This was not to be any Kim Kardashian or Britney Spears wedding, with annulment soon to follow. We knew what we had was brilliant, and we wanted to make official this immaculate love, brimming up and over and out.
Neither one of us wanted anything big. We wanted a private ceremony somewhere in nature, where the memories were to be as real as the marriage certificate. Planning a wedding, when you have no idea how, is not the easiest task. And like any couple, fights and stress are plentiful when assembling a wedding.
MAY THE BEST STATE WIN
The LGBT community only has so many options when choosing a state in which to marry. Unlike straight people, when we fall in love and want to make our love legal, we usually cannot get (officially) married in our hometowns or at tropical destination weddings. Instead, if we wanted a legitimate document declaring our love, there were five options from which to choose: Vermont, Iowa, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Each seemed like a beautiful option. Except, of course, Iowa. I don’t know many lesbians who would want to get married amidst blonde haired farmers and their corn, despite the stereotype that we are flannel wearing outdoors-women. We chose the state whose legalities concerning gay marriage best fit our lifestyle. We chose the state that when bigoted gay-haters no longer got their say, and gay marriage had become legal, would be best honored in our home state of Michigan. We chose Connecticut.
While it’s tempting to pick a state for it’s beauty, I urge everyone to really read up on the state’s gay marriage laws and decide which pertain best to your relationship and state.
FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT
There were so many things to get in line. Getting her suit, getting my dress. Which city we would chose, what denomination the officiant would be. There were photographers to sort through, hotels to book, deciding whether to drive or fly.
In the months before the wedding, we argued over every little detail. When she got angry over my indecisiveness, I wanted to boot her in the face with my gold, glittery high heel, and I could tell that when I just didn’t have an answer about anything pertaining to the wedding, she could have choked me out with her sexy butch leather belt. And I would have liked it. But never once did we reconsider. Not only did we want everything to be perfect because it was our wedding, our big day, but also because any gay wedding that happens anywhere on the planet just must be fabulous. Also, because we are representing our community, it must be completed with a certain measure of respect. I’m big on our history, and our wedding day was shared in my mind with all of the gays before me that never got the opportunity to even come out of the closet.
THE FOLLOW THROUGH
We got married on June 23rd, 2011. That day was stranger than fiction. It rained, and rained and rained and rained. Her mother drove me and got lost on the way. We had to make a port-a-potty stop for me, because when I get nervous I have to go number two. Picture it… a heavily tattooed bride, running down the side of a road and up to a Port-a-John. I was an hour late to my own wedding. I didn’t have any flowers. Despite a trillion dry runs, my veil would not stay angled just so, and instead of looking elegant, I looked disheveled at best. Her parents, newly divorced, trash talked each other instead of focusing on the ceremony. Passersby quietly called our gay wedding disgusting. It was really stranger than fiction.
But these were the reasons we were lucky: The rain stopped in exactly enough time for our ceremony and pictures. The woman at city hall was calm and kind, congratulating us profusely. Rain drummed the roof as we signed our certificate. Nothing could have been more romantic. She looked better than anyone has ever looked to me in my entire life. We made sure to document the day with lots and lots of pictures.
And I got to marry- I GOT TO MARRY – the woman in my life that means more to me than I mean to myself. I got to be the bride I never thought I would be able to be. She got to slide a ring on my finger, proclaim me as her own. We got to spend our wedding night in bed together, making love, rubbing our feet together and watching New York State legalize gay marriage. Despite all of the hassles and stressors that go along with a gay wedding, I couldn’t have been more fortunate for our experience, and I couldn’t have asked for it to go any differently. Because it is our memory to have, and it is a struggle and win we can add to the gay rights movement.
HAPPILY EVER AFTER
Not every LGBT person wants to get married, or cares whether or not we have the right to, and that is their choice. But for the ones that do, it is one of the most beautiful experiences life can hold. Sometimes when we’re doing mundane things like making Wednesday night dinner, or watching TV, I look down at her hand, and then at mine, and I see our rings, and feel this beautiful sense of finality, that my life with her is complete. We took a vow to stick it out with each other, to try instead of give up, no matter what. Through the good and the bad, the exciting and the boring, we will be there for each other. Because we love each other, and because we have been given a chance, like everyone else, to live the normal life. And we have taken that chance, and experienced it, everyday, to the fullest. Because of that, no matter what happens, it will have been the best move I have ever made.
Kate White is a queer writer and blogger who lives just outside of the Detroit area. She has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Ink Sweat & Tears and The Linor Project. She and her Partner Amanda are raising their first child together, who was born August 2013.