What if every gay designer stopped working on straight couples’ weddings from now until Proposition 8 is repealed? This is the question that 28-year-old designers ChadMichael Morrisette and Mito Aviles have been asking each other ever since the proposition to ban gay marriage passed several weeks ago. While others have designated December 10 as a shopping day without gays, Morrisette and Aviles are calling for a gay boycott on straight weddings. And if they get their way, there’s going to be a whole lot of ugly happening each time man takes woman to be his lawfully wedded wife.
“From caterers, to hair stylists, to florists, to invitation designers, to makeup artists. ... It sounds clichéd, but a lot of designers are gay in this city,” Aviles says.
“We get pulled in to do fabulous stuff for weddings all the time. Why should we use our talents to make other peoples’ dreams come true?” Morrisette asks. “If I can’t marry the person I’m in love with?” He stares at Aviles, who’s been his partner for two years. “We are one of the vertebrae in the spinal cord that supports the wedding industry, if not multiple vertebrae.”
Weddings represent a quarter of Morrisette and Aviles’ combined income. For those who work weddings full-time, a boycott would, they admit, be exponentially more difficult. “It does take sacrifice,” Morrisette says. “We’re not asking for 100 percent. We know the economy is bad right now. But just cut out the ones that are not worth it. Cancel your subscription to Weddings magazine or Bride.”
He pulls up on his computer a photo of a little white wedding chapel Aviles built, by hand, for a “really rich Republican couple” in Beverly Hills. “This is a modern version of a wedding cake,” Morrisette says, pulling up another photo, “with pears and some cream deliciousness.” He scrolls through image after image of weddings he’s made fabulous, including his straight brother’s, where Morrisette stapled live ivy to the buffet table for a garden theme. “It’s like, good luck trying to find a designer who’s not gay!” he says, sinking back angrily into his chair.
“That reminds me of that movie, with John Stamos,” says Aviles. “You know, the one where he’s a wedding planner and he boycotts the wedding?”
“Really?” Morrisette says. “How come I haven’t heard of that one?”
“Wedding Wars, it’s called. We should have a screening of it when we have our meeting.”
“And it’s such a shitty thing, too, Prop. 8. Because the wedding industry was eeee-lated when they legalized gay marriage.”
You may remember Morrisette and Aviles from their infamous Sarah Palin mannequin. They strung her up with a noose for Halloween beside Jack Skellington and a severed vampire head. She wore a red Neiman Marcus coat, vintage glasses, a brunette wig and black shoes. She dangled from the roof of their West Hollywood home, inflaming Republicans, titilating Democrats, causing a minor international media tempest. The local TV news got wind of it, and for 72 hours, crowds of people pilgrimmaged to their house, digital cameras in hand. A man drove by with a thin, blond, male dummy in a noose hung on a makeshift gallows on his truck. The dummy’s shirt said “CHAD. HOW DOES IT FEEL?”
Secret Service agents pulled up in a sedan, and left satisfied, having ascertained that the Palin-in-a-noose was part of a Halloween installation and not a death threat on the governor of Alaska. “Oh my god. Babe, it’s the Men in Black!” said Aviles, who opened the door. The ACLU offered to defend Morrisette and Aviles’ right to free speech, which, unlike the gay designers’ right to marry, is definitively protected by the U.S. Constitution. The NAACP came knocking and politely asked them to please take the Palin mannequin down; it might affect Obama’s chances at the polls.
Even the anti-Proposition 8 organizers worried about a Palin mannequin-inspired backlash, what, with her proximity to Morrisette and Aviles’ “No on 8” cardboard lawn sign.
As he speaks, Morrisette alights upon the idea of a wedding -boycott-related installation. Something artistic, political and attention-getting, just in time for Christmas. Retail windows are his specialty. (The house he shares with Aviles is filled with clever little vitrines and displays.) Visions of a black Santa Obama Claus surrounded by same-sex couple mannequins dance in his head. One man-on-man couple will say, “All I want for Christmas is marriage.” One woman-on-woman couple will cry, “All I want for Christmas is my rights back.”
Just the other day, Morrisette turned down a wedding job at a house in Woodland Hills. The caterer asked him to redecorate the place. When he declined, she said she understood completely, then asked if he might recommend someone who could take his place.
“But I wasn’t mad at her,” he insists. “I was more proud of myself for refusing to contribute my talents to the furthering of a double standard.”
For now, he and Aviles are planning the first meeting of their boycott-marriage network. In a tough economy, if designers are to forfeit their wedding work until Prop. 8 is declared unconstitutional, they will need each others’ help finding alternative gigs. Both gay and straight designers are invited to participate. Details are forthcoming at Aviles and Morrisette’s Web site, www.iamsquaredesigns.com.
“After the ban passed, I was so pissed off, I wanted to do an installation right away,” Morrisette says. Let’s get up on the roof and put something up, he told Aviles. “They want to ban our love? Let’s put, ‘Fuck that.’”