By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
There weren’t many family members in attendance when Joel Perry and James “Fred” Bowling got married last August at the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), a gay- and lesbian-founded church in West Hollywood. About 60 close friends were there, including members of the drag-queen troupe the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence — but Perry’s father and sisters noticeably weren’t. “I was on my way to pick up the flowers when I started bawling, and I realized it was because our families were not going to be there,” says Perry, a writer, who lives with Bowling just south of the Fairfax district. The couple has been together 26 years. “If either one of us had been marrying a woman, I know they would have found a way to be there.”
But Kathryn Hamm from gayweddings.com, a site providing same-sex wedding invitations and other ephemera, says that the weddings can help skeptical friends and families overcome their prejudices. “These ceremonies transform people,” says Hamm. “My 85-year-old grandmother from Texas was very unsure about coming to my wedding, but she did, and the next day all she could say was, ‘Where are my brides?’?”
Even so, the discriminatory climate has led some gay couples to actively boycott the institution, seeing it as a straight-world validation of a relationship. “Not many of our gay and lesbian friends are married,” says Tretta. “They don’t want to emulate the straight world, because the straight world doesn’t accept us. The straight world wants gay society to conform to what they consider to be ‘normal,’ but when we try, they won’t let us!” Likewise, some straight couples are boycotting traditional marriage in protest, and are opting to have commitment ceremonies instead. Last year Charlize Theron went on television and said she and longtime lover Stuart Townsend were holding off on getting hitched until the day that gays and lesbians can legally marry. “The day that law gets passed,” she said, “then we’ll get married.”
Even so, Minister Deb, a SoCal lesbian reverend who has blessed around 130 LBGT weddings in the past four years, has noticed a surge in the number of gay couples coming her way, and it’s something she wants to shout about. “I want people to know that we are indeed having commitment ceremonies,” she says. “Even though it’s not legal, we are going ahead and getting married anyway. It hasn’t slowed down since Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed our legislation, and it’s not going to slow down. Sorry.”
We’ll drink a toast to that.?
A Rabbi, a Minister?and a Lesbian Cleric
Nondenominational:Minister Deb has officiated at mass commitment ceremonies at L.A. Pride. “People come to me because I am liberal and I am not the typical male cleric with a collar,” she says. “I am completely nondenominational, which is what a lot of folks are looking for. In the gay community, there are lots of what we call ‘Recovering Catholics.’ They look to me as the complete opposite of what their church represents.” E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (800) 570-8573. www.ministerdeb.com
Jewish:Rabbi Lisa Edwards is based?at Pico Boulevard’s Beth Chayim Chadashim, “the world’s original LBGT synagogue.” She is herself a married lesbian, who has been marrying gay and lesbian Jewish couples — “about half a dozen a year, for 11 years. My congregation was founded by gay?and lesbian Jews in 1972, so same-gender weddings have always been part of the fabric here.” 6000 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 931-7023. www.bcc-la.org
Christian:Located on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, the Metropolitan Community Church has about five clergy who carry out more than 100 same-sex commitment ceremonies a year. Most are conducted by the resident Minister of Congregational Life, Rev. Pat Langlois. “Here I would say that in probably a good 60 percent of the people I do weddings for, one or both of them are people of color,” she says. “I did a beautiful wedding for two Latinas, and the whole family was there. The perceived stereotype is that it’s all about machismo, but for families that can get past it, they understand that their kid has found someone they really love.” 8714 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood. (310) 854-9110. www.mccchurch.org
You can also find ministers and rabbis for same-sex ceremonies at the following Web sites:
Kol-Ami Reform Synagogue, West Hollywood, www.kol-ami.org
St. Matthews Lutheran Church, North Hollywood, www.stmatthewsnoho.org
Christ Chapel of the Valley, North Hollywood, www.christchapel-la.org
The Celebrant USA Foundation, www.celebrantusa.com
Or ask a judge or justice of the peace to sanction your union symbolically.
Location, Location, Location
These days, same-sex partners looking to get married have a wide variety of venues to choose from. Last summer, for example, 100 gay and lesbian couples tied the knot in a mass wedding at the Abbey, a bar in West Hollywood. 692 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood. (310) 289-8410.
Dion Carlo Tretta has decided to get married at The Odyssey, a restaurant in Granada Hills, but he also gave us these recommendations, based on his own research:
“One place I really liked was The Silent Movie Theater. For someone who is really into film it would be great, and they have a lovely cappuccino lounge upstairs.” 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 655-2520.