A couple weeks ago, Katie and I had the distinctive honor of witnessing 1 of her cousins get married. This was the first of 2 weddings this summer that we both were nervous about. Our anxiety was rooted so early on, we even discussed these weddings in The Outing. I need to point out that this means in the moment that Katie and I were discussing how gender was going to rip apart our marriage, we were also equally worried about how Katie’s family was going to understand her, about how our lives could impact their ability to enjoy momentous moments like a wedding. We didn’t want Katie’s gender identity to cloud what should be a magical day for not just her cousins, but their families and friends. The tension and fear of rejection surrounding these weddings tangibly impacted every decision we have made about coming out since. The last thing we ever wanted was for Katie’s family to watch these 2 women walk down the aisle toward the happiest moments of their lives, angry at Katie for wearing a dress to their wedding. I recognize how incredibly selfish it is to think that would even be a possibility. Why would the world revolve around Katie’s gender identity? That said, this is the world we have lived in since September, a world doused in lighter fluid, ready for the match of shame to ignite our worst nightmares. Some of those dreams have been a reality. We have been asked by some why we would be so selfish as to inform the family about what’s happening with Katie’s gender so cavalierly. Why would we have such disregard for what are important memories for others?
To prepare for the moment we walked into a room for the first time with family we hadn’t seen since The Outing, I did what one does: I took Katie shopping. I wanted Katie to feel confident in her appearance and in who she is, even though we both knew it meant wearing masculine clothing. We did not want to draw attention from the bride with the drama of Katie wearing a dress. At The Gap, I helped Katie pick out clothing from the men’s side that had more feminine flavors: pink, pin-striped shirts, light blue khakis, and floral button downs. I wanted Katie to feel like herself, to feel feminine, but still feel like she wasn’t being distracting. We went to Payless on a whim and found shoes in the women’s department in her size: red flats, black wedged shoes, and a pair of sneakers. The cashier gave us a discount and the total was $40! Then, the idea hit me! “I know what we should do,” I told her. I knew the ultimate confidence boost.
She followed me a bit giddy with excitement for the surprise, but also apprehensive with not knowing. It took me a while to find it, but eventually I found Body Jewelry Plus. Yep, Katie was going to get her ears pierced! This was something she had wanted for a long time. I felt if Katie was going to have to mute who she was in physical appearance for a wedding, she should at least have the boost of confidence that comes with a great outfit and pierced ears. The people at the shop were so nice! They informed us their piercer had just left for the night, but insisted on calling him to see if he was still close by. He came back to oblige us! Katie looked so excited to be experiencing a ritual most women go through as little girls with their mothers in the early years of their lives. It felt so good for me to be part of this moment with her, to help her feel like her best self in preparation for a day that we had been anticipating for 9 months, that we were terrified wouldn’t go well.
The following morning, Randy (RandellLoveSalon.com) did our hair. I asked him to fix Katie’s hair so it looked intentional, masking the “I’m growing this out” phase it’s stuck in now. Randy put it into a ballet bun, mounting each stray hair to the side of her head with enough hairspray to require 2 shampoos the next day. Long before the wedding, Katie and I had decided we would drive and not stay the night. The location was close enough for us to drive home and we wanted to 1) save money, 2) not drink too much, and 3) have the flexibility to leave if something went wrong. This wedding was the first time we were seeing the entire family since they learned their loved one was she and not he. We were nervous of the awkwardness, of the potential rejection, of the fire.
I’m relieved to say that everything went better than our fears prepared us for. We hugged each family member that would have us with the warmth of acceptance. We danced. We drank wine. We ate very good wedding food. Katie and I had such a great time! She looked so great in her pink, striped shirt, with her ears pierced. She looked confident and radiated such a positive energy. I’ve never been to a wedding where I was equally worried about my significant other’s experience as the bride’s. I must say, the bride and groom looked like they had a wonderful time also. I’m glad we could be invited to such a great moment for them, one I hope they remember and value for the rest of their lives. I know that Katie and I will, albeit for different reasons. This wedding was the first of 2 that have been a focus of our transition since the beginning. The family touched by the wedding and our Outing are very important to us. I’m grateful that we didn’t need to use our worst-case planning, that the match was never lit. The only fire that night was from the sun setting over Bellingham Bay, the orangey glow of summer days getting longer, of our memories fading into the horizon.