This is the June of the gay and lesbian marriages. So many of my friends and acquaintances got married in the past week. Most went to California to take part of the new marriage equality that now exists there (perhaps for a limited time only, but we shall see). I have seen so many beautiful photos of men with men and women with women dressed up and married.
Last week when I was in Memphis, my friend (& Friend) and fellow blogger Joe Moderate married his partner in a lovely Quaker ceremony. Pomoprophet, who I met last year during the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference in Irvine, CA attended and provides a first hand account.
Quakers do their wedding ceremonies much different than most of us are used to. Yet most of us really liked it! Quakers have no pastor and no one lead the service. We all sat in this simple white room, sitting in a big circle with the grooms near the middle. We started off with all of us introducing ourselves and sharing our relation to the grooms. This really set the tone for the entire wedding. I’ve been a groomsmen in 6 different weddings and attended numerous more and most of the time people only talk to the couple people there that they know. This whole wedding was about us, as a community, supporting the grooms on that day and into the future.
Next came about 15mins of silence (one of the major tenants of the quaker faith). Then the two grooms stood up and exchanged their vows. Each looked deeply into the others eyes. It was wonderful. They exchanged rings and kissed and sat back down. More silence followed until one of the quaker leaders started the group sharing time. What followed was amazing. I don’t know how long it was. Maybe an hour. But most of the 100+ people in the room shared a story of one of the grooms or shared from Scripture or shared a blessing or words of encouragement. Joe’s husband’s family was in attendance and it was wonderful to hear them share of their support for their son. There were a few tears throughout the sharing but mostly smiles. I could tell that what was shared meant deeply to both Joe and his husband. And maybe thats why so many of us felt like it was an amazing wedding. I have seen beautiful ceremonies before, but it is always a pastor talking while the rest of us sit and watch. It’s meaningful to the bride and groom, sure… but this was meaningful to ALL of us in attendence. And how much more for the ones getting married getting to hear from their friends who are going to be there for them long after the ceremony ends!
The ceremony finished with shaking hands (another quaker thing) and all of us signing the marriage certificate. Illinois doesn’t have domestic partnerships so it was just a religious one. We then all headed over to the reception for an amazing dinner and a fun night.
Gosh, all this wedding talk is getting me tender. I hate that! 🙂
Pomoprophet goes on to write about his own personal feelings about gay attractions in light of years of ex-gay theories and treatment in his life,
On a personal note I admit that part of me is still uncomfortable with being gay. And with all the gayness I was surrounded by. I mean I spent almost 7 years in exgay ministries trying to change and thinking how horrible homosexuality is. That’s alot of residue to deal with. And i’m not just going to change over night. I wish I was alot more comfortable. I wish I was more secure in my relationship with Jesus over this stuff. So I haven’t arrived yet. I’m still a mess. And i’ve got to work on the negative feelings I still hold towards homosexuality. But what I saw in that wedding was beautiful. And I hope that it becomes alot more common place in the future and more people get to see how wonderful love can be.
I just spoke with someone the other day on the phone about this very thing. All those years of hearing a negative message literally shapes our brains and our thought processes. It is not a matter of simply “coming out” but of remapping our brains, displacing misinformation with reality and truth. It is a messy process and one that can take a long time. I know I spent the last 10 years detoxing. One powerful way of doing that is to see and hear new things that was once taboo for us.
Over at Beyond Ex-Gay we are planning on two upcoming gatherings (Nashville Oct 22-25 & Denver Nov 7-9 with a possible gathering in NYC Oct 17,18). For some of us getting together with others who have had similar experiences can help us gain some clarity about our pasts, what we attempted to do, why and the damage that came from it. We can also talk about ways to recover. At a recent gathering in Memphis this past February, a group of Ex-Gay Survivors and some therapists developed a list of some things we have found helpful in our recovery process. Check it out here.