Keeping Families Together
The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog
July 15, 2011
For Them: A Commitment Ceremony. For Us: A Wedding
By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA
We arrived in Newark, New Jersey, bleary eyed from the red-eye out of Oakland. We came to celebrate the wedding of our son, Lance, to his partner of 15 years, Francis. Lance keeps reminding us that this is not a wedding, gay couples cannot marry in New Jersey. It is a commitment ceremony and they want to keep calling it that to emphasize the gap in America’s human rights promise. But with all the planning, expense, and pomp it sure felt like a wedding to us.
Tuesday, July 12.
Most members of the cast arrive from Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Chicago, and St. Petersburg. Tradition would call it a wedding party, but this is a Broadway themed wedding production, thus “cast.”
That evening, Lance’s two best guys took him out to Manhattan for a roving bachelor party that included the club where he met Francis for the first time. There was a surprise, his parents and sister plus husband were to meet them at that club. We were a tad apprehensive, what son wants to go clubbing with his parents? But the “secret” email was insistent: “Be at the club at 11:30 sharp, listen for Mariah Carey’s ‘Fantasy’ and then come down the stairs to the dance floor.” We did and Lance was surprised, shocked is probably a better word, but left shortly afterward–the place is a bit too raunchy–and ended up socializing and dancing someplace else.
Wednesday, July 13
It’s the day before the ceremony and the boys are checking their day-of checklist. “Oh the rings! Don’t forget the rings!” Everything must be buttoned up: music play-lists finalized, Mom and sister still to buy the flowers, and Lance is looking for pretty baskets to hold the pretty wedding favors. He found pride-colored thank-you-for-being-here gift bags. The whole day is permeated with that delicious chaos that precedes all weddings.
The couple and the cast met that evening for the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner. But it was really a: let’s visit where we’re going to have the ceremony, run through the script and go to the Thai restaurant for an intimate dinner. We have met many of Lance and Francis’ friends over the past 15 years and dinner felt like a family reunion. It was so great catching-up with people whom we met when young and now are well into their chosen careers.
Thursday, July 14
This was THE DAY. The weather cooperated and the boys could not have wished for a more perfect day. Sandwiched between Newark’s normal hot, humid days with occasional thunderstorms, this evening was an agreeable 78o, not at all humid, with an occasional gently cooling breeze. A guest was heard to say: “God wants this wedding to happen.”
The wedding as a Broadway production was called “The Ceremony.” All guests, 85 of them, received a playbill, complete with cast listing, tiny bios and headshots of the wedding party, and interesting tidbits about the two partners, for example, “Francis’ 15 favorite things.” The ceremony itself was spectacular and struck a near perfect balance between the conventional and innovative. Conventional: the boys dancing with their mothers. Innovative: the vows and the final: “I now pronounce you partners for life,” spoken by the mistress of ceremony. Dinner and dancing, schmoozing and laughing. What an evening!
We don’t care what they call it, it was a wedding. Lance is our last child to transform love into a life-long commitment. We have a sense of completion. We wish a few bishops and a couple of those tottering elders from Salt Lake could have made it. They would have seen love and a community of fabulous friends who truly care. On second thought, they probably wouldn’t have seen any of it entangled as they are in dogma.
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride www.apifamilypride.org