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Sunday 09 April 2017

Wedding Belles: Straight and narrow (minded)

Posted in: Weddings & Civil Unions
By Jacqui Stanford - 18th April 2012 writer Jacqui Stanford is planning her civil union and is taking readers along for the ride. In part two, she grapples with everything being so damn straight.

T-shirt design:
It’s been a long time since I have felt like a real outsider. But searching for civil union materials that don’t scream ‘man and wife’ and happily straight ever after, or even just trying to buy wedding items in stores, has left me feeling like a stranger in a strange land.

It started with the ring. Dee proposed to me, and gave me a beautiful white gold number with rubies set in diamond clusters, to reflect red being my all-time obsessively favourite colour. When I went into the jewellers a few weeks ago to get a matching copy, with emeralds instead for my green-obsessed fiancée, the sales assistant was utterly fantastic, said it would look ‘fabulous’ and was full of congratulations for what was obviously a big day ahead for us.

However she was busy when we went back to the suburban Auckland jeweller to pick up the now-ready ring, and an older lady served us and brought the ring out for us. “Oh it matches that one,” she said noting my left hand. “Is it a birthday present?” Of course I replied “ah no, it’s an engagement ring,” to which the flustered woman stammered,” oh, oh … ahhhh,” looking at us in lot of shock and a little disgust, only to be saved by her much more accomplished colleague with her ‘oh let me see them together, they’re beautiful’.

It’s just a small thing. It’s not being abused on the street as a ‘fucking dyke’. It’s not being gay-bashed. But it still hurts. The bluntness of being ‘weird’ in someone else’s eyes really bruises.

If someone shouted at me on the street I would have no qualms about shouting back. Fucking dyke? “Well yes I am,” is the usual response. Or “piss off back to the viaduct, this is our road,” as I told the pack of tanked up guys on K’ Rd one night wanting to see ‘some fuckin’ trannies man’. But being treated like a freak by a shop assistant is different … I could hardly tell her to piss off to the viaduct could I?

There have been better times. We turned up to a counter of a clothing store with two matching dresses and two matching ties, clearly for a wedding. “Ooh lovely, who is getting married?” the assistant asked. “We are,” Dee replied. “Both of us,” I added, in case there was any confusion. “Wow beautiful colours,” she replied, “when’s the big day?” We chatted away and she was genuinely interested and polite. Give her a raise, I say.

Gay people who don’t like the institution of gay marriage and civil unions throw around the term heteronormative a lot. And they’re right. Everything to do with marriage and civil unions is heteronormative. Try finding an invite that doesn’t scream out “Mr Blank and Ms Blank [insert bride and groom’s names here] would like the pleasure of your company as they get married and have babies without a turkey baster and are so much more socially accepted than you, hah!”

Ok that’s an over-dramatisation, but you get the point.

Yuck. (Although it was a little fun filling them out to see what they looked like, and Dee and I fighting about who would be the bride and who would be the groom each time).

The beauty of the process though is the people who stand out in comparison. My straight bridesmaid and best friend since fourth form ranted angrily to me the other day ‘well maybe I should get a bloody civil union too, it’s stupid you can’t get married. I mean what’s the difference?’

Dee’s mum is forever proudly introducing me as her ‘daughter-in-law to be’ as we run into friends while out shopping for the civil union.

And because we are weird we get to do things a little differently, I mean a drag flower girl isn’t the norm is it? And while straight people plan their table seating around which family members aren’t talking to each other, we have the added fun of trying to have at least five tables between all the lesbians who have slept together and all their exes. Anyone get past School C maths who can help?

And of course businesses that are in the wedding industry sniff the incoming pink dollar from a mile away; it’s hard to tell if their grins are about our happy day or the thought of their happy bank balance. But at least they’re grinning.

But that’s enough negativity for something that really is just plain exciting. I promise the next instalment will be much more fun, as I present some of the worst and funniest wedding and civil union related materials we’ve found on the interweb.

For now, back to shopping. Sigh. I am yet to find my inner straight woman.

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Jacqui Stanford - 18th April 2012