I’m on the phone with my mom and she’s crying. I hear her sucking in her nose, then blowing it, then proceeding with a, Por qué me haces esto, por qué me haces esto. POR. QUE. Outside my window a homeless man is yelling, But I love you Joanne! Then the clink clink clink of bottles being dug from the garbage bin. I scratch my belly and look at my hands imagining the wedding band that I will showcase forever in a few weeks, then roll my eyes as my mamá continues her plea in a prime-time telenovela voice—which I imagine also includes hair flips and too many Kleenex. It is Tuesday, I have my period, and I’m getting married in a month.
I was not supposed to get married. A ver cachaco, cómo te explico: my long relationship record is at an outstanding one person in twenty-six years. Even today (already after-the-fact) every time I see pictures on Facebook of my straight girlfriends posing next to their lightly bearded husbands under a cathedral arc with a smiling priest, I make a run for the bathroom and throw up a little. When I was eighteen I swore to myself to never look like my tías (tía if you are reading this, I love you girlfriend, but no). To never settle down. To never be a housewife. To never highlight my hair and wear pearls at the same time (wink to my Colombian readers). To never say things like: Juanpis y yo nos vamos a vivir juntos a un apto di-vi-no. To never have a Juanpis. To fear commitment and monogamy like the ebola virus (too soon?). To be fucking around for as long as I could because, have you been outside mi amol? Have you seen them dykes in their tight pants and outrageous fashion? Plus, why would a twenty-something lesbiana want to get married anyway? It’s not like I had my (incredibly fundamentalist religious) family looking at their watch going: a ver niña, when are you gonna seal that homosexual relationship with a lesbian wedding? Na-ha, mamita! Na-ha.
And so, I got responses like, for instance, my friend Matt: Married? You are getting married? (Chuckle chuckle chuckle.) Okaaaay, dude (chuckle).*
What’ so funny?
Then there was the why-would-you-involve-the-state-in-your-relationship response from several of my friends (in the struggle!) Hinting at: you are a radical feminist, and radical feminism aims at re-imagining the nation-state, not giving in to its patriarchal heterosexist ideals. You are just entering the homonormative discourse that is erasing difference, and ceasing to see… blah blah racist, blah blah, hegemony. ADM! (The fact that I ENGAGED in all these conversations, arguing for my Marriage Cause, seems outrageous and unreal).
I defended myself: But I am taking down The Man from the inside! Duh. But if straight couples have those privileges, I want them too (this one, of course, didn’t land well. It’s about dismantling the patriarchy, not about cheering on the White Man). But I am desperately in love to the point where my bones ache every time I see her and I want her to stay close to me forever and ever. Okaaaay Romea. Whatever, join the hegemony.
Then there was family. My biological family. Now, let’s pause here for a second, go get some water, go pee, breathe deeply, you good?
My family. The ones who share some of this third-world blood with me. In my head there was NO WAY IN HELL I was going to tell them: Si, alo, tía? Me and my compañera sentimental are getting homosexually married. No, cachaco, no.
On the one hand, we have pious Catholics (not the “cultural Catholics” that only go to mass when someone is dying and have a Virgen de Chiquinquirá somewhere hidden in the kitchen)—the real old-school católicos, praying a weekly rosary, going to a weekly mass (I have an aunt who is a nun), confessing regularly with a minimum of three communions per month, the ones that hate the new pope. Those. On the other hand, we got a matriarchy of the mero mero new trendy Colombian Evangelical Christians (say whaaaat? Those exist? I know), that own CDs of Christian salsa, and have T-shirts with Got Jesus? on them. Those.
I love my family dearly, I do—but I also live thousands of miles away for a reason, and one of those is: In their minds, Papi Jesús doesn’t really get down with the gays (Dios hizo a Adán y Eva, no a Adán y Esteban, etc.)
So there I am: crazily in love, wanting to commit forever and ever to loving her, and building stuff with her, and braiding her hair at night, and watching reruns of The L Word till death do us part. I know it sounds like an utter lesbian cliché, but I’ve never felt more sure of anything in my entire life. Ever. So, why do I care about what people say? It’s not so much about caring (although I do), but more about this urge to tell them, right? They are my friends, my family, people who mean something to me. I was raised thinking that is what you do: you share important moments with those you care for, including (but not limited to) your lesbian wedding. I grew up in a family that overshares everything and gets butt-hurt when you don’t (Example número uno: Picture 1995, a congregation of my tías in the bathroom smoking cigarette after cigarette complaining about their husband and their tits and their bodies while one of them peed, the other plucked hairs, the other sized her breasts in the mirror). Also, it was going to be impossible for anyone to ignore the Facebook pictures of two loving brides making out in front of city hall. And I wanted to scream it at the top of my lungs that yes, mi reina, I liked it and I put a ring on it.
Pero mi vida, marriage is a strange thing. Before these virginal babes from the Altiplano Cundiboyancense promised everlasting love, joined-tax returns, and world peace (as lesbians do), I understood marriage either through a feminist lens (patriarchy) or a cultural lens (papito plus mamita equal hogar). Maybe this is me not being up-to-date with the newest Feminist Theory on affect, or maybe it is my own naivité, but—ADM—there is this FEELING, this certain recognition, that creeps through your body once people begin nodding at you and once the judge signs that paper, and again when some of your homophobic family members text you: Felicitaciones! Now we welcome you. Now that you are going to get married, even if you’re a gay. That weight. It is a creepy yo no sé qué. I’ve sat with this feeling for hours questioning its existence, at times uncomfortable, at times comforting (Is this what straight people feel? It can’t be! But, is it? Is it compromising my queerness? My radical politics? Am I going to buy those pearls and highlight my hair? What does it mean to enter a normal in your family and why is it so creepy? Etc., etc., etc.) But that feeling, señoras y señores, is itself another post, not this one (to be continued).
My mamá and I are on the phone in silence for what seems like a freaking lifetime. While she reignites her sobs, I text my girlfriend to come home and hug me. She’s in this and that meeting, but she’ll get out of it as soon as she can, si? Okay. The homeless man returns with a song for Joanne and he sings his love to her while smashing cans and lightning half a cigarette. Come back to me, Joanne.
It is 2014, I think, and I’m still dealing with homophobic shit. What. the. fuck. man. I remember my art teacher, my first girl crush in kindergarten in Bogotá, I have a picture where I’m wrapping my left arm around her (I was five), my right arm on my hip, smiling with paintbrushes and watercolors laying all over the table in front of us. I loved her. I begged my mom to do my hair in two ponytails every time I had her class. I rolled my eyes to every kid in her class who did not get her. Because I got her. And now, I roll my eyes pretending not to care that my mother is crying because I’m marrying the true love of my life. I roll my eyes and stare at the beautiful sun rays peeking through my window: San Francisco covering me with its blanket of warmth.
* Of course not everyone was skeptical or critical about the wedding. Some (most) of my close friends were in utter awe, but incredibly happy (and also delighted to attend their first lesbian wedding—and in Spanish! ADM!), and were crying and screaming and sending all sorts of heart emoticons our way. I felt blessed. Also, only one of my exes deleted me from Facebook (lesbian triumph!), while most sent messages all in CAPS and with many (happy) exclamation points. My sister cried tears of alegría and excitement and came all the way to San Francisco and hugged my girlfriend and hugged me and said she was sooo proud (in a genuine way).
(Next up: Matrigay Part II: Lesbian Feelings Post-Wedding)