My daughter was an uninvited guest at a gay wedding and I’m 100% okay with that.
Let me backtrack: The three of us traveled to Washington DC for Memorial Day Weekend. After spending Saturday walking all over the city (i.e., from Georgetown to Foggy Bottom to the White House to the Smithsonian Castle to the National Gallery to the Metro Station and then back to our hotel!), we needed to take a little rest before dinner. Isabelle didn’t want to nap (Shocker!) so we allowed her to play quietly while we laid down.
I heard beautiful string music coming from the courtyard outside our hotel room. I peered out the window and discovered a wedding procession. “Isabelle, come look! It’s a wedding!”
Isabelle scurried over to the window as the flower girls made their way down the aisle. Next came the ring bearers. “The bridge will be coming out next!” I squealed.
The music didn’t change as a young man walked down the aisle escorted by a slightly older woman. Where was the bride? Once the tuxedo-clad man and the woman who was escorting him down the aisle arrived in front of the minister, the music stopped and the minister had everyone sit down.
What’s happening? Why is everyone sitting? Is there going to be some kind of break before the bride walks down the aisle?
I looked at the minister to see what he was doing next and that’s when I realized there were two men — both in tuxedos — standing in front of him. A same-sex wedding. How would I back-track from the bride thing and clarify to Isabelle what was happening? And that’s when I made a connection to a book I’m thankful she picked up in my office and has had us read to her over 50 times.
“There’s not going to be a bride,” I started.
“No bride?” she asked.
“That’s right. Remember how Stella had two daddies in Stella Brings the Family?” I asked.
“Yes,” she replied.
“Well, this wedding is kind of like Stella’s family. Before Stella her daddies probably got married. This wedding has two grooms and no bride.”
“Okay,” she said.
Isabelle watched the wedding for a few minutes and then went over to the hotel room desk to color, peeking out the window every few minutes to spy on the wedding. She returned to the window for the recessional and then watched the new family’s photo session after the ceremony was over.
* * * * *
On the very day Ireland became the first country to legalize gay marriage, I assumed the wedding taking place in our hotel’s courtyard was between a man and a woman. It’s 2015 and I feel badly for that, but my assumption is probably because of the way I saw marriages growing up. I didn’t have to have a complex conversation with Isabelle about why there were two men at the altar, rather than a man and a woman, since she knows families look different from ours. We’ve had those conversations because we read Stella Brings the Family to Isabelle after she begged me to read it to her once I finished writing craft lessons for it for my forthcoming book. Initially, I thought the content would be too sophisticated for her, but reading the book led to important discussions. I realized reading Stella to her at age four was a good decision since it allowed her to learn about different family dynamics.She accepted the same-sex wedding. Unlike those who oppose gay marriage, she doesn’t think there’s anything weird or unholy about what the two men were doing in the courtyard of our hotel on Saturday afternoon. I’m sure she’ll have questions about gay marriage as she gets older, but for now, she accepts it. And I am thankful.
Isabelle accepted the same-sex wedding she witnessed. Unlike those who oppose gay marriage, she doesn’t think there’s anything weird or unholy about what the two men were doing in the courtyard of our hotel on Saturday afternoon. She saw two people pledge their love to each other as she watched from our room. While I’m sure she’ll have questions about gay marriage as she gets older, she accepts it now. And I am thankful.