I Posted Photos Of My Lesbian 'Wedding' Online And The Aftermath Shocked Me
This the story about a wedding that never happened. A few years ago, I was living in Rio de Janeiro, and I fell in love. The round mountains I hiked on met the sea I swam in. The beautiful houses were right next to the equally beautiful (yet massively unjustified) favelas.
The singing, the dancing, the creativity, the spirituality, the souls that fused themselves into mine, the way the setting sun elicited the most captive audience: I fell in love with a world of juxtapositions that always made sense.
But apparently, that's not all I fell in love with. At least, not according to the Internet.
A friend of mine was taking a photography course. She had asked if I minded being the subject of her shoot. It was one that she gave the theme of “hippie” to.
(Backstory: We had met while taking a raw food design course at the university I was studying at. The Portuguese language only has so many names for "bohemia.")
I invited my other American friend along, and we met her at the studio. The beauty school students did our hair and makeup as they got us ready for our glamorous debut. The shoot was fun, and the photographers got a kick out of making us pose without laughing. (Our faces hurt so much from smiling by the end that I understood why models make so much money.)
Fast-forward to the time I posted a few pictures from the evening on Facebook. I titled the album “my last name-her last name wedding.” The pictures were so stylized, I couldn't help but make fun of them.
That night, I got an e-mail from my dad, who was thousands of miles away. He was explaining how he loves me and will always support me, but that he is just one person and can't fight for me against the world. He told me to be careful about what I post on the Internet, and that was that.
I stared at my computer, sitting in my little room. I could hear the noises of the barzinhos below me. I was totally dumbfounded, and was racking my brain about what I had recently put up that could make my dad feel so embarrassed: some pictures of the beach, a post or two about spiritual realizations and the photo shoot album.
I actually found that album to be my most family-friendly post of all time. It was just my friend and I, dressed in flowers and covered in glitter.
My dad responded to my concerned and confused questions with the clincher: He had been getting calls and e-mails from relatives who thought I had eloped with a girl in Brazil. Some were hurt that I felt I couldn't be honest about my love affair. Others were disgusted and ashamed for my parents.
I started laughing: first nervously, then with shock and joy. LGBTQ+ issues were what had put me on the path toward social activism, and everyone was always confused about why I chose to champion a cause that didn't affect me.
It perhaps made sense to them, those pictures of me and a girl. They meant I was dating her (or, I guess, marrying her). My beliefs and personal confusion about sexual spectrum and marital institution are deep and complex, and I was just so jaw-droppingly astounded to realize that all the work I had done to fight against these prejudices was indeed for a reason.
What was it to these obscure people what gender I dated? I wanted to find out who they were so I could remove them both from social media and my life. But these are probably the kinds of people I should be in front of.
If I could shake them up a bit and make them a little uncomfortable, they'd maybe find a little more room to let love in. It is, in fact, a great responsibility to post things on the Internet. No one ever knows how they might be interpreted. It's pretty difficult to know what sarcasm reads like, or how one should react to a joke.
Blogs, Facebook and even e-mails are beautifully powerful. What we put out isn't always what is received. That's OK. I didn't get married to any girlfriend in Brazil, but I did learn quite a bit from that experience.
I had been seeing (another) girl during that time, and it was my first experience dating a woman. It was confusing, messy and very important for me to explore.
I needed the freedom to mess around with my own expectations of myself. I wanted to try to create love in different ways. But it made me so scared to think I could be judged so severely. It worried me that others couldn't find it in themselves to be happy for me, when my happiness could only increase their own.
The moral of the story? Voice is power, and technology gives us the perfect platform to use it: So use it wisely. The world we live in is a patriarchy – inherently messed up – and there is still so much work to be done by those of us who want to make the world a happier and safer place for all.
Every moment is perfect. As patriarchal as society may be, it's still teaching us lessons. We're supposed to go through these challenges so that we can come out stronger. It's forcing us to bond together, and little by little, we will tear it to pieces.
Everything exists in “oneness:” what we deem good, bad, ugly and perfect. All of it exists in this moment (which is all we have anyway). The only way to go about this nonsense of life is by shining the light that's already been created within every one of us.
So, I never ended up getting married. I'm not sure I ever will.
But if I do, I hope that no matter whether it's to a boy, a girl or someone who doesn't identify as either, the world is happy for me. Because if that moment ever comes, I know I sure will be.