We are gathered here today

| October 17, 2011 | 2 Comments

By Allen Luther Wright

Photo: Donald Suggs

Photo: Donald Suggs

 Stephen and Joey married July 29, 2011

“This is revolutionary, absolutely revolutionary.  But, I never thought — in a million years – that the revolution would come with appetizers.”  Well, it wasn’t profound, but they did laugh.

Five days after the New York State Marriage Equality Act became law, I found myself standing in a beautiful Harlem restaurant, beside my friends Stephen Andre Williams and Joey Bernard Pressley, as former New York City Mayor David N. Dinkins officiated over their marriage ceremony. The former Mayor wrote the wonderful ceremonial vows that would join my friends in matrimony.  The entire ceremony was moving, but I particularly remember: “Love…delights in the truth.”  Yeah.  I know.  Wow!  Right?

The morning of the big event, before I had showered, shaved or packed a bag for a weekend in the city, it occurred to me that it might be appropriate to raise a glass to the happy couple and say something insightful, something memorable befitting such a momentous occasion. I would, after all, be one of four “Best Persons,” entrusted with one of the two rings to be exchanged, so such an expectation was not entirely unreasonable. And, despite how often this is called “gay marriage,” it really is just – marriage, with all of the corny (chided the single man with no prospects) traditions and expectations of any other wedding.  Still, in the unrehearsed whirlwind of the impending nuptials, it was not a done-deal either.

Yes, marriage equality has come to the Empire State.  It is the most populous state of the six in the union to acknowledge the truth of its citizen’s relationships and allow same-sex marriage. It has yet to be determined how this turn-of-events will resonate across the country, or if it is true that our fragile economy has drained its appeal as the conservative wedge-issue of choice.  Whatever the case, my two friends, also featured in the New York Times’ wedding announcements, would be exchanging rings that evening, and if there was a moment for me to commemorate the occasion, I thought I should be prepared.

My difficulty with this self-imposed charge, however, was my relative inability to wrap my brain around witnessing, what is often called, a sea-change in the culture. With a New York State Senate vote of 33-29, and a stroke of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s pen, the world was suddenly different.  Suddenly, same gender loving (sgl) men and women, my close friends and I possessed a right most people around the globe have long taken for granted.   A right I had grown accustomed to foregoing. Then, suddenly it was mine too.

Photo: Pavan Carter

It is a bit difficult to explain. But, with this law’s passage, I suddenly felt more whole, more present in the world, more legitimate, more grounded and real.  Of course, I had not actually felt any of this to be missing before and it rarely, if ever, plagued my day-to-day existence beyond the theoretical. Yes, I understood it as a matter of equal representation within a culture with which I have as legitimate a stake and responsibility as anyone else. Of which my tax dollars are always welcome and never pro-rated given my denial into the institution of matrimony and access to its considerable number of perks. Yeah, I got that.  But, there was a difference.  I felt, somehow, more firmly planted here.  More visible and viable in ways I had never noticed before, as I had, apparently, simply removed these intangibles from my version of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  And now, suddenly, they were laid out before me.

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Category: FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS, Lifestyle, Partnering

Allen Luther Wright

About the Author ()

Born on the Westside, raised on the Southside, lived on the Northside, only side left was East, but that was the lake. Allen Luther Wright left Chicago for New York when he fell in love with a man from Harlem. His work has appeared in several publications and he co-wrote Kevin’s Room Part 2: Trust and Kevin’s Room Part 3: Together, the provocative and educational television productions of Chicago’s Department of Public Health, also featured at numerous film festivals. Allen now lives in the Catskills town of Liberty, New York.

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  1. Pavan Carter says:

    I enjoyed the article Allen and was honored to be apart and capture apart of History!

  2. Fabian Thomas says:

    Allen, ‘thank you’ only scatches the surface of my appreciation for your verbal gift in providing me with a window into Joey & Steve’s momentous day….maybe when my heart is less full and my head less giddy (from the sweet wine of your words, I’ll be able to find a more fullsome response…. :-)

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