An evening of two affronts
Over the weekend, my boyfriend and I attended the wedding of a friend of his. Knowing the time between arriving at the ceremony and sitting down to dinner would be rather long, we opted to grab a slice of pizza before getting back to his place to change into our semi-formal garb.
We went to a pizza joint around the corner from his apartment, a place he visits frequently enough that he was greeted by name by the man behind the counter. Yet as we sat awaiting our order, a grizzled older man came in and, walking right by us, greeted us with a “hello” and a strangely mischievous smile. Unsure how to react, I offered him a “hi” back and hoped our exchange was over, but to my dismay he decided to follow up with a nasty look at our joined hands as he spat out the normally innocuous word “girls.”
Under normal circumstances I would find it laughable to hear such a childish insult, but I was taken aback by the vitriol with which he said that one word. I angrily told him that it was not acceptable to talk to us that way, and he left us alone for the few minutes it took for us to get our food and leave, though not without staring at us in an unsettling manner.
My boyfriend was very upset with the situation, particularly by the lack of a reaction from the other few customers and a couple of workers in the parlor, the latter of whom he knew. But what really struck me was the exchange’s juxtaposition with the Catholic wedding we were about to attend. Little did I know how frightfully homophobic the loving union of two could be!
Fast-forward to us driving to the church, in my air conditioning-free car, in wool suits. We arrived about 10 minutes before the ceremony began, and were soon treated to over an hour of what to me sounded incredibly like a tirade against gay marriage. For some reason, the priest officiating at the wedding thought it necessary to mention several times that “marriage is between one man and one woman” and for the express purpose of “procreating, not recreating.” (I assume he was referring to recreation in the playful sense, as opposed to cloning. But one never knows.)
Now, I am not and have never been Catholic, and I respect the church’s right to marry (or not marry) whoever it likes (or doesn’t). But I didn’t see its place in this particular couple’s wedding, and it stuck out like a sore thumb in an otherwise apolitical ceremony. It was particularly hard to bear given what had happened just before; the fact that the two of us are legally barred from getting married; and because we were the only gay couple there.
Later, at the reception, I was relieved to learn we weren’t the only ones who felt the priest had been needlessly anti-gay, and we had a wonderful time. But the day was a sobering reminder that even if I sometimes feel that our country has made tremendous strides in acceptance of the LGBT community, we have a long way to go, and there are plenty of those among us who will fight any progress tooth and nail.