Gay Wedded Bliss at the PEM

by Pat Gozemba

Karen and I had a great time at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem on a panel focused on same-sex marriage that was part of the educational program of the beautiful exhibit “Wedded Bliss.” Here’s what The Salem News had to say about the panel.
Expert panel discusses same-sex marriage
By Joe O’Connell
June 27, 2008 05:45 am

SALEM — A documentary film followed by a panel discussion on same-sex marriages was held last night at the Peabody Essex Museum as part of the ongoing “Wedding Bliss” exhibit.
    The event was called to look at not only the events that led up to Massachusetts’ decision to allow same-sex marriages, but also at the effects that the landmark vote has had on our culture four years later.
    Close to 60 people came to view “The Gay Marriage Thing,” a documentary from 2005 by Stephanie Higgins. The film followed a gay couple, Lorre Fritchy and Gayle Green, as they prepared for the state’s decision and ultimately their wedding. It showed views from both pro- and anti-gay marriage individuals.
    The panel discussion that followed included Massachusetts state Rep. Byron Rushing, who helped pioneer the bill that allowed same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. He was joined by Chrys Ingraham, who wrote “White Weddings: Romancing Heterosexuality in Popular Culture,” and is chairwoman of the sociology department at SUNY-Purchase.
    Karen Kahn and Patricia Gozemba, a married couple from Salem, were also on the panel. They authored a book “Courting Equality,” which profiled numerous same-sex marriages in Massachusetts.
    Robin Abrahams, an advice columnist for the Boston Globe, moderated the discussion.
    Here is an account of some of the topics touched upon:
    What is the role of visuals in a wedding?
Gozemba: “Using all those photos in our book made the ordinary extraordinary. Photos would just make it easier to see what a gay marriage would look like.”
Ingraham: “I think that the pictures in your book, they normalize an intensely private affair.”
    What is the relationship between marriages and weddings?
Ingraham: “Weddings are the rituals that signal the readiness for marriage.”
Abrahams: “Weddings are the confirmation of a relationship that already exists.”
    What are ways to counter prejudice that is based on disgust?
Rushing: “I believe the disgust comes out of prejudice. We need the trendsetters to change the trend.”
    With marriages being so bride-oriented, what effect will that have on marriages with two men?
Abrahams: “Every wedding is a gay wedding.”
    When the words, “The power invested in me by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts” are said, to what extent is that a personal or social change?
Gozemba: “It makes a huge political difference. It was not just a spiritual moment, but a political one, too.”
Kahn: “When you go through that ritual, it changes you.”
Copyright © 1999-2008 cnhi, inc.

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