picture books · slice of life

Same-Sex Wedding

Isabelle watches the wedding from the floor of our hotel room.
Isabelle watched the wedding from the floor of our hotel room.

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.

* * * * *

stellaOn 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.

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com  for more slices of life.
Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com for more slices of life.

18 thoughts on “Same-Sex Wedding

  1. How wonderful is this story, Stacey, and it gives me goosebumps because a nephew and his long-time partner just officially married yesterday, too. How great to hear that to Isabelle, it was no big deal. Thanks for sharing, hope your weekend was a good one. I was just there with my students!

  2. What a lovely story! Children take their cues from their parents. You are preparing her well for the world in which we live. Your post was a great reminder to me as the mom of two boys to be open and honest with them in order to raise them to be accepting of all people.

  3. Now I really want to check out Stella Brings The Family! It is a good idea to have books like that as part of your home and school library. I need to make a more conscious effort to bring in books that celebrate all families and all people into both our home and my classroom library. My post today was about hurting no living thing and I can make connections to what you wrote. If we all could just put ourselves in another’s shoes, I think there would be so much more understanding and acceptance. My grandfather always had an expression, based on a book that I wish I remembered, “Why did the man kiss the cow?” It meant that we can’t always relate or understand to decisions people make but they are their decisions and not for us to question. I love how matter of factly you discussed the wedding with Isabelle and how she is growing up to so naturally understand that families can look different but the love underneath is the same for all.

  4. Thank you for sharing that moment and that book. Don’t you wish we could all keep the pristine acceptance of differences that children have. As the song goes, “you have to be carefully taught to hate”.

  5. Thank you for this book as well as Isabelle’s and your reactions. Books like Stella help so much. I’ll echo Sally and Bernadette’s responses. You have to be carefully taught. Books help us (as always) find and teach towards humanity.

  6. We do have to taught to hate, but we also have to be taught how to love and accept. Isabelle is certainly being taught love and acceptance through the books you share and the lessons you teach.

  7. Beautiful! I love how children react when we show how okay we are about things. I love your connection to the book. I had both of my children using a donor when I was single and then I married. I’ve always thought I should write a picture book about that choice so other parents would have it. Maybe now I will. Thank you for showing me the importance through your eyes.

  8. The world changes and people have to change to continue to live in harmony. The word family has changed so much from when I was a child, it makes me wonder what it will look like when my granddaughters are my age. Hopefully, acceptance will be the norm. Love Isabelle’s reaction and she had prior knowledge due to a story.

  9. You probably would have succeeded explaining the situation without the help of a book, but it was good to have it as a support. I wonder how many of us would have expected the bride appear just as you did. I suspect that majority, even when we know and accept that there are other possibilities.

  10. I absolutely loved this post! This topic is one that I have had some difficulty with in regards to Molly. Molly has a classmate that over the school year has repeatedly told her that, “boys don’t marry boys, and girls don’t marry girls.” She has said this to me several times, and the whole situation is really difficult for me. I am first of all disheartened by the fact that the classmate was most likely taught by his parents to think this way, and I don’t want to feed into it by correcting Molly in a way that she will go back to her classmate and express her opinion in a way that causes an issue. I want Molly to be accepting, and I support same sex marriage, but at times I feel discouraged on how to have this conversation with her. I think I will get her this book, this might be a great way to start the conversation 🙂

    1. Knowing Molly, I think this book is completely appropriate for her. Who knows? Maybe she’ll want to bring it to school and have the teacher read it aloud. Sounds like it would be a worthy use of time!

  11. This was a beautiful post, Stacey. Isabelle is so lucky to have the parents she has. She will grow up to be caring, loving, and tolerant, because that is what she sees.

  12. So important to begin these discussions early. She accepts this in a way we didn’t growing up simply because it wasn’t part of our every day world. Our children are so lucky to be growing up in a time of diversity, acceptance and understanding. We have to check out that book!
    Clare and Tammy

  13. This is such a great story. I would have said the same thing about the bride. I find myself correcting myself sometimes when I talk to Amelia about her future. “You’re going to have a million boyfriends….er, or girlfriends”. It’s ingrained in us and we are blessed with the task of making sure this generation we are raising will be accepting of differences and act and think with love and kindness first.

  14. I am so glad that there are books like Stella Brings the Family. Books help us see the way people live their lives. They may be very similar ways to our own or different. Books are perfect ways to have conversations with our children about the world and the people living here with us.

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