Nine months later, here are my closing comments from a wedding I officiated for two good friends (names altered to preserve privacy):
People characterize weddings as a beginning. As if to suggest that weddings – ordained by law and by culture – announce that you finally belong and are allowed to embark on a privileged course in life. As if to suggest that nothing begins without the privilege of being told that you may begin. I say – and I know you’ll forgive me – “Fuck that.” Today is meant to celebrate the ongoing liberation from someone else’s idea of when and how and between whom love can exist. Today is not a permission to begin; today is a celebration of what has already begun.
I’ve been lucky to know Carla for more than half a decade now, and less lucky because I’ve only known Kim for a year. Today is not a beginning for them, but rather a deliberate continuation of what they already have, who they already are, and what they will inevitably accomplish and do for the world – together. I feel immensely honored to be here, helping them deliberately continue that which began almost two years ago, that which started maybe even before it began. We should all hope to be as deservedly blessed as they are, to be able to come home everyday to someone that makes us feel like we are truly coming home.
I want to refer back to Dr. Angelou’s words about timidity and chains of fear. I want to talk about loneliness. (Now, I realize this is not a private therapy session, but bear with me.) I want to talk about these things that hold us back because there are forces in our society and in this culture that make almost every microcosm a place to negotiate who we get to be, and what we get to bring. We each know some version of this experience. We each understand that sometimes, life can make you painfully aware of those treasured aspects within you that matter, but are only allowed to matter secretly. Silently. This is where loneliness comes from. This is where fears multiply and thrive, where timidity sometimes wins out.
Together, Kim and Carla defy the very notion that timidity has even a chance to win. Most people pause to remember big moments in life. Today is certainly one of them. But what I’ve come to understand about Carla and about Kim is that just as real to them – perhaps even more so – are the moments they share that look small yet feel infinite. Whether they are cooking a meal, having a conversation, or simply in the same room, the greatest gift they offer one another is the gift of being heard. Heard through the silence, heard past the pain, heard at the very core where those treasured aspects that matter within also get to matter with each other. There is no sound quite like the sound of being heard. There is no freedom greater than the freedom to feel understood.
With that, and with each other, you won’t be lonely. Timidity is for those that must be silent. Because you have each other, you need never be silent again – not in the quietude of your home and haven, and soon, not among the aggressive noise of a world you will change together. Today is not a permission to begin; today is a celebration of what has already begun, and what will inevitably become of this love that you share and will continue to grow as the years go by. I am so proud to help you celebrate this deliberate continuation of a love that strengthens your voice and prepares you to jointly listen for and bring out all those voices in the world that are yet unheard.