This post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings.com, the leading online resource dedicated to serving same-sex couples since 1999. Kathryn is also co-author of the groundbreaking book, The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography. Follow her on Twitter @madebykathryn.
Just over twenty years ago, my college girlfriend invited me to go to Gay Pride in Philadelphia, PA.
The phrase “out of the closet” didn’t exactly apply to me in my first month of dating someone of the same gender so I look back — amazed — that I was willing to go at all.
I suspect that I didn’t really understand that attending Philadelphia Pride with folks from my university meant that I was going to actually *walk* as an “out” contingent in the parade. Nor did I really let it sink in that there would be other people there who might see me and know me. I thought it was just a fun group day trip and I could spend a bit more time with this woman on whom I had such a huge crush.
I certainly understood, however, the implications of my choice once I arrived in the City of Brotherly Love.
I participated with the group, posed for pictures, bought myself a set of Freedom Rings (a popular pride souvenir at the time), and even added a few pithy buttons to my t-shirt. And, though I remember enjoying myself well enough, my girlfriend-now-goodfriend still likes to remind me of how freaked out I was about the whole thing. And she was right. I floated above my body like a Macy’s Day Parade balloon for the majority of the day.
As overwhelming as my coming out experience and first gay pride event was for me, both acts of courage were a significant and healthy part of my development. The longer I was “out” and honest with myself about whom I loved (women), the healthier and happier I became. And, since that day, I’ve played soccer in the Gay Games and attended Pride events in Washington, DC, New York City and, doing me two better, my straight mom, who founded our gay wedding business, can add Minneapolis, MN and Dallas, TX pride events to her list.
These days, Pride events can be found in all major cities across the country and are much less a protest march — a tradition hewn in the difficult circumstances of New York City’s Stonewall and Harvey Milk’s assassination in San Francisco — and more a conscientious celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer (LGBTQ) culture, imbued with statements of examples of persisting legal inequality, statements of support by allies, and calls for action and change.
This year, I’ll celebrate Pride as a gay wedding expert, speaking at a local wedding expo in Washington, DC. I’ll also enjoy sharing in the celebration with our wedding allies here at WeddingWire who take as much pride in serving same-sex couples as my mom and I do.
I’ll also think about how much has changed since 1991, when I was fearful about — yet willing to — identify with the LGBT community.
My life has expanded because of the love I welcomed into my life, which makes it all the more satisfying for me to celebrate with every engaged same-sex couple who seeks out our wedding planning resources and to welcome with pride every one of the 40,000 plus Wedding Pros who has offered their services to same-sex couples via our groundbreaking, LGBT friendly directory.
We have room for many more of your inspiring wedding stories and know that the wedding market will be all the richer thanks to your open-hearted participation.
Arm in arm, we’ll be with you every step of the way.