Marriage Project

Jill is lately married to a former radical-cheerleading, performance artist, addiction counselor who makes the best risotto on the planet. It was a Day-of-the-Dead affair.

This is a series of journal like posts made between xxxx and xxxx where I explored the feelings around the marriage equality act and …


December 15, 2012
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I saw the president’s speech before I’d read anything about Connecticut. We had just come back to the hotel to rest before dinner. I sobbed through his speech and then sobbed harder when I read the various, disparate, and sometimes inaccurate reports of the shooting. It is hard, sometimes, to love in spite of everything. To be joyful into the dark. To celebrate when there is so much suffering.

Children and their teachers dead in classrooms.

And today, I’m getting married. At a place called the Sanctuary, in Seattle. And my joy will be that much more fierce because my sorrow is so intense. We love, sometimes, into the dark. And into the light. We love cleanly, and poorly. We love because we must. We must love. The alternative is worse.

Here are my vows, brothers and sisters. Combined here with tragedy because that is what we bring to the world. Love even when you’re weary. Love. Love one another.

Mary, I think I’ve always loved you in this childlike way. You’re the lighted window — the way I know I’m nearly home. I love that you don’t remember meeting me. Like it’s this secret glimpse I got into a future I had to earn. I feel like my skills were honed so I’d be part of your family. That I play so hard because you deserve joy. And I know more words now. I don’t have to rely on metaphors with you. I used to dream of a wife, but I couldn’t be her. The foodie, the hearth, the tender, the woman who makes the house glow. The first time you made me risotto, I held the bowl like it was my fortune. Maybe I knew it was our dowry. And that I would be the other half — laughing and resilient. That I would remind you that you have a body — the most comforting place I have ever been. And that I will work all of my life to protect and nourish you. To make our family the center of all decisions, of all endeavors. I promise to love you with the best and the worst of me. In fire and drought. I promise to fail you and better my self. I promise to learn and never be finished. I promise, Mary. I promise myself. The shiny and the disastrous. I am yours. I have been yours. I will be yours. You are where I live.

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The plain plane

May 22, 2013
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Tonight I’m talking with the Queer Theory class at Eastern Washington University. Tomorrow at dawn, Mary and I fly to New Orleans for the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival. It’ll be our first plane trip together to the city where I became certain I’d marry her. The city of Zombie Brides.

My ideas about this book and marriage equality and being queer have a cohesion I hadn’t expected. Coming out is a second adolescence but there’s something else, there’s something so vital about coming out — about the universal experience of recognizing and naming your sexual self. This is true about me, we say. This is the story of where I was when I woke. When I startled up and broke open. Straight people have been telling me that they can relate to the story because they came out, too. Of course they did. We all name our sexual selves.

The difference here, for the queer person, is coming out and being in the statistical minority. Coming out and having to push against assumption and inequity and bigots. Of maybe taking longer to sort out your sexual self than your culture is comfortable with. But you like boys, right? So how are you a lesbian? Technically, you’re bisexual, aren’t you? I love you, but I just don’t get why you’re choosing to live like this. 

How gay are you? How gay is gay enough? You keep using that word and I don’t think it means what you think it means. Enough. You get to name your sexual self. And you get to name it for the rest of your life. It may vary and it may not. It may terrify you. It may be the purest vanilla. It’s yours, love. Nobody gets to feed it to you. Nobody gets to confine it, rename it, inhibit it. Name your sexual self without shame. Let it surprise you. Let its wingspan seem improbable. Let it be whatever beauty it is.

We talk about sex like we all agree. How fortunate that we don’t.

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