Personal Essay

How Getting Engaged Changed my Views on Marriage

Since I can remember I’ve always said, to anyone who wants to hear me, that I don’t want to marry and will never have kids. I never questioned it. Why would I question something that felt like an unavoidable truth for me?

It wasn’t until I got engaged, and started planning a wedding, that I realized how much I did want all the things I had sworn time after time I didn’t. The white dress (well, it’s more a pantsuit with a cape. I’m still a tomboy lesbian), the huge reception, the awkward speeches, the religious ceremony. The uncles getting drunk and embarrassing themselves on the dance floor. Fights about who to cut from the invite list, and resigning yourself to overpaying because everybody would get mad if you don’t let your cousins take a +1.

I would look up venues, card designs, dresses. And get more and more excited. It was then that I had to question myself. Did I really never want a wedding or did I trick myself into not wanting one because I’m gay? I know my mom won’t jump with happiness when I tell her I’m getting married. I know she will go, she has always supported me to the best of her limited ability. But I also know she would pass out at the prospect of inviting any of my uncles and aunts, my distant cousins or my grandmother. “What will people say?” “Keep your private life private, nobody needs to know your business.”

Did I never dream about a catholic wedding before because I didn’t want to get married; even though I’m a devoted Catholic as most Latinos are. Even though I wear a gold cross necklace every day, a San Benito (Saint Benoit) medal bracelet in my left wrist and still pray every single night before going to bed. Or was it because I know I can’t have it, even if I wanted to.

More and more, I’ve started to realize it’s the second. And I’ve had to remind myself every single step that my love deserves to be celebrated too. It sucks to realize how much society influences us, even without us realizing, even when we don’t want it to. But at least, now I can fight against it.

I know I shouldn’t seek validation from outside sources, but it’s hard not too. Every time my mom tenses up when I mention my fiancée or getting married within earshot of anybody else, it cuts a little. In the same way, every time my fiancée BFF tells me all about how she can’t wait for us to get married, or every time one of my friends reminds me that I better make her my maid of honor, I can’t help feeling happy.

The first step is always accepting ourselves. And I do. I have for a very long time. I consider being a lesbian a fundamental part of who I am. it’s not only about who I love. I think being a lesbian, colors every one of my interactions and perceptions of the world. From what I read, what I watch, to how I relate to other people.

I am out to all my friends and coworkers. To my parents too. But I have never say anything to my extended family. I’m not that close with them so it has never felt necessary. But I don’t want to feel like I’m hiding. Because I’m not ashamed of who I am. And I’m not ashamed of my relationship or my partner. Quite the opposite. She is quite the catch. I would love to brag about it. One day, I will.

I guess I should tell you why I got engaged if I thought I didn’t want to marry. Well, that was before I fell in love with someone that lives in the United States. If we want to build a life together, one of us has to move eventually. We’ve decided it will be me. And when that moment comes, I will have to marry her. I mean, there are other options. But getting married is the “easier” one, as easy as the complicated American immigration process can be. And is the one that makes sense to us, because we are sure of our commitment to each other.

For a long time, we didn’t worry about that. Neither of us had any interest in getting married or moving from our hometowns. We were, are, perfectly happy doing long distance. Then our 5 year anniversary together came, after a lot of talking and discussion I told her I was willing to move one day. We started making plans to get married. We got engaged in a romantic trip to Italy with some of our friends there to celebrate with us.

Still then, after getting engaged and walking around with a ring on my finger, I thought we would probably just go to a courthouse and do the paperwork. No-fuss. Then we started talking. “Maybe we can do something small. A destination wedding so both our friends can attend and it will be just a few people.”

The more we planned, the more excited we got, the bigger we wanted the wedding to be. That was almost 3 years ago, and in that time we’ve seen some of our friends and family, mostly hers, get married. I can’t help but feel jealous. Not of the process itself, but of how it’s a given people will want to be there for them.

I sometimes think about each one of my family members. I don’t want you to get the wrong impression. My family is traditional and catholic, but they are extremely loving and supportive too. I honestly don’t think any of them would scream at me or think I’m going to hell or anything extreme like that. They may comment about how they never imagined I was gay, even though I’m over 30 and have never had a single boyfriend, or they will say how youth nowadays doesn’t follow traditional roles. But I know, I’m a 100% sure they will still love me.

They will gossip, for sure. But I don’t really care about that. I care about my mom and how she is still ashamed of me being gay, even if she hides it under the guise of “privacy”.

I’ve been engaged for almost 3 years now. And the wedding is still pretty far away. But when the time finally comes I’m going to invite my distant cousins and their girlfriends, my aunts and uncles. My grandmother and her noisy old friends. Some may get scandalized, my mom will have a fit, for sure. But I actually think a lot of them will be happy and even if they are not, the first step to showing the world lesbian love deserves to be celebrated, is for me to believe it too.

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