In the past ten years, two similar movements have walked hand in hand toward larger goals — the equality push for same-sex marriage legalization and PRISM’s annual Queer Wedding. Comparatively, their sizes are dramatically different. Yet in scope, they advocate and embrace the same ideals that make their cause all the more worthy.
Here on campus, PRISM is the only organization devoted to nurturing the many sexual orientations of its students and members. They strive for acceptance and tolerance for all walks of life, regardless of “who they love.” Naturally, then, the 10th anniversary of PRISM’s Queer Wedding, held on Thursday, Feb. 28, cast the event under a particularly powerful light, a scene luminous with love and community, yet still carrying a torch amid society’s apprehension.
It was a close-knit ceremony. A small crowd gathered within the Allen drawing room to watch their dearly beloved friends marry lifelong partners — fictionally, of course. But the ceremony was set up to mimic the spirit of a real wedding. An aisle between the chairs, vows exchanged, even a sullen piano playing the intermittent score to a dramatic romance.
More importantly, the PRISM members leading the event were energized to lead a program so dear to them.
“Thanks for coming out tonight, no pun intended,” senior women’s and gender studies major Remy Lourenco said. “We’re here to show that if we can foster and produce love between friends, then we can also do it between couples.”
With that said, four couples were wed for the occasion, each representing a different cultural significance behind marriage. The first, a Hindu ceremony between a sophomore participant and freshman Jordan Stefanski, expressed the passage of love as a series of seven steps around a candlelit table, each movement propelling their union to a deeper spiritual level. As they finished, a particular line resonated with the ritual, “As the heavens are stable, as the mountains are stable, as the entire universe is stable, so too will our union be stable.”
Following the Hindu wedding was the Jewish rendition, wedding debonair freshmen partners Andrew Edelblum and Amanda Vuocolo. Their portion highlighted the notion that “everybody gets married at a wedding,” spiritually if not physically. In reality, though, the crowd was most excited to watch Edelblum triumphantly stomp on the traditional glass, cries of “mazel tov!” hailing from the crowd.
The third marriage was a special case — an Aztec pagan wedding between freshmen Disha Dass and Tommi Granados. Even without a formal religious code to follow, the couple professed their devotion to one another while sitting on an ornate throw rug spread on the drawing room floor.
Finally came the Christian wedding, on this occasion pairing two women: freshmen Hailey Marr and Sierra Shade Holland, with Marr donning the gentleman’s suit. This required some audience recitation of a blessing said in unison and bestowed upon the lovely couple. For the women, though, they were pleased just to be a small part of the ceremony.
“(The wedding) had much more of an effect on me than I thought it would initially,” Holland said. “I was so excited when Hailey p roposed to me, but couldn’t be more grateful to be a part of the beautiful ceremony that took place that night.”
Marr, too, was glowingly in agreement.
“It was a wonderful experience, and each of our ceremonies held similar elements of love, commitment and dedication to one another,” she said.
With a reception, dancing and lavish honeymoons in Eickhoff Hall yet to come, the ceremony came to a close, but not without leaving audience members with a few thoughtful musings.
“We are vulnerable, but that is not a bad thing,” said Lisa Caton, the campus chaplain. “It makes us need each other, and it is a sign of our humanity.”
Ultimately, these sentiments echoed through PRISM’s mission membrane and the larger movement at hand. The drive for same-sex marriage equality on a national scale is just as human as the matrimony witnessed here on campus. It is the definitive sign of faith and reliance that evokes the humanity mentioned above — anyone present at The Queer Wedding could stitch that intangible connection. And indelibly, it leaves a mark.
“By holding the Queer Wedding as an advocacy event, anyone in the audience can see just how simple the right to marry can be,” Holland said. “I was raised to believe that nobody should ever be discriminated against due to their sexual preference, gender, religion, ethnic/racial background or anything else that makes ‘ze’ who ‘ze’ is. This lesson is one I have and will continue to carry with me in my heart and through my life”
The Queer Wedding may not have the national stopping power to end discrimination against sexual equality, legal and real, but that would be an unreasonable request. What it accomplishes, though, is almost immeasurable— the bonding of different students of diverse backgrounds into spiritual unions unlike any other. If college undergrads can manage to fictionally commit themselves to one another, then those couples fighting for unorthodox marriage in reality deserve the love and support witnessed so clearly among PRISM’s members.