I'm A Radical Feminist Who Still Loves Weddings

Photographed by Maria del Rio.
By Najva Sol

It just happened one day. I was your average radical, sex-positive, feminist, non-monogamous, queer, activist-cum-artist. Then, two months ago, I started working at A Practical Wedding, and I had to come out to all my friends as a wedding-lover. What?

It’s not considered radical to like weddings. They’re heteronormative, they’re traditional, and they feed into the state-sanctioned relationship structure. They can serve as a distraction for major civil rights issues that marginalized people face. So damn the Man; who needs him?

On a personal level, weddings are these tiny microclimates that can intensify the ways in which being queer makes you "Other." The first level of this is obvious: Until recently, gays and lesbians have been denied the legal ability to wed for so long, it was easy enough to just convince ourselves we never wanted it. Then, there’s family. So much of a traditional wedding ceremony focuses on birth family, and for many LGBTQ folks, the situation with birth family can be complicated. When my dad was getting married a few years ago, he included a stipulation that said, “My daughter is queer — and will have her partner present — and if that makes you uncomfortable, please don’t attend.”

I’m proud. Proud to be part of the people you count on to make your celebrations even more awesome.

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Not everyone is so lucky. It’s not uncommon for certain relatives to disown out LGBTQ family members, and a wedding can serve to highlight (and deepen) that absence. Plus, you really need allies to watch your back during the wedding-planning process, as well as the day of. I’ve heard horror stories from friends who have been asked to temporarily assimilate and/or present as genders they aren’t comfortable being, tasked with fielding many drunken and invasive questions, or left out of the festivities to spend the whole evening feeling judged. Suffice it to say, having — or even attending — a wedding while queer requires tough skin. So it makes perfect sense that we might want to avoid them.
Related: 8 Things All LGBTQ-Friendly Wedding Businesses Should Be Doing

But what’s also true is this: Weddings make me cry. I feel inspired by hearing others share vows and promises. Getting dressed up and dancing with a room full of people celebrating the same humans gives me inexplicable joy. I can’t even begin to comprehend the amount of self-awareness and intimacy necessary to enter a true partnership.

On a personal level, weddings are these tiny microclimates that can intensify the ways in which being queer makes you 'Other.'

The way I figure it, if you strip down a wedding to what it really is — without the costs and expectations — what you’re left with is a party in honor of love! Who doesn’t love love? (If you don’t, well, I’m sorry for the breakup/heartbreak that’s made you feel that way. We’ve all been there.) But when I say I work for a wedding site, I get the “look” that says: You must be more conservative than I thought. Why?

Hold on. I know tons of badass creatives — chefs, stylists, designers, farmers, DJs, and others — who make their bread and butter off the wedding industry. I’ve been a wedding photographer, server, bartender, dress designer, and planner. My new position just takes my participation to another level, and you know what? I’m proud. Proud to be one of the people you count on to make your celebrations even more awesome. It’s time we reclaim weddings. They are ours. They are what we want them to be. They can be feminist. They can be radical. The institution of marriage? Yeah, that’s a complicated piece of law and politics. But weddings? They’re the fun part.

Next: We Can’t Reach A Compromise On The Damn Honeymoon

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