Emily Rizzo

April 1999

The White Wedding Dress

I remember the first time a mom I'll call Laura came to our PFLAG meeting. She couldn't stop crying because her daughter had just come out to her as a lesbian. Laura told us how for years she had been putting aside money is a special bank account for her daughter's white wedding dress. Laura hadn't had a fancy wedding but she wanted to make sure that when her daughter met Mr. Right that the money would be there for that long white wedding dress.

Over the years Laura "got over it" and came to love and accept her daughter. I still remember the first time she joined in a gay pride parade. She began the march by cowering behind our banner afraid that someone in the crowd might recognize her. But there is nothing like marching past thousands of cheering folk and pretty soon Laura uncovered her face and joined us in the front ranks. By the end of the parade she was carrying one end of our banner and throwing kisses to the crowd.

Over the years, Laura has been a good PFLAG soldier. She's sat at tables at street fairs and gone to speaking engagements at schools and churches. She's spoken out at Freedom to Marry rallies. She and her husband are the kind of parents every PFLAG chapter needs to survive and prosper. And yet, in the back of her mind there was always that nagging regret over the white wedding dress fund.

Well, surprise! Her daughter met Ms. Right, a lovely girl whom Laura has come to love. And in April they are getting married. It won't be a legal marriage in the eyes of the State of New York but it will be a holy union blessed by the Unitarian Church and the happy couple can at least register in New York City as domestic partners. Alas for the white dress: Laura's daughter will be wearing a black tux and her partner a red dress. But there will be bridesmaids in matching outfits, and ushers and a bang up reception to which our entire PFLAG chapter has been invited. And one more thing: the happy couple are registered at Bed, Bath and Beyond which doesn't seem to have any problem with same sex couples.

Maybe some day if Laura and a lot of other folks keep on working we'll all be able to watch her daughter get legally married with all the full benefits that comes with a wedding license. They won't have to rely on a liberal city such as New York to give them automatic hospital visiting privileges, or depend on a benevolent employer for domestic partnership benefits (which, unless spousal benefits, are taxed as "extra income."). And maybe some day we won't have PFLAG anymore because parents simply won't care if their children are gay or straight or something in between.

For questions on coming out parents, please write to Emily.Rizzo@nyu.edu. All questions will be answered confidentially.

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