I was never the kind of girl who daydreamed about her perfect wedding day — the perfect white dress, the perfect location . . . the perfect man.
Hell, I wasn’t even the kind of girl who thought about getting married period. Marriage was an antiquated tradition that I never wanted to be a part of.
If I thought about marriage at all, it was only to contemplate what it would feel like to love someone so much that you willingly want to devote your entire being — your entire life — to that one person. I had never loved someone that much and wasn’t even sure if I believed that kind of love existed.
Still, I would have my moments, like when I was watching a movie and all my convictions would melt away upon seeing a father walk his daughter down the aisle and “give her away.”
Even for a hard-core nontraditionalist like me, there was something so symbolic in that scene, the idea of growing beyond what one had been and into a self-made life with another. It was a profound symbolism that had nothing to do with tradition and everything to do with me being a daddy’s girl.
I love and respect my father so very much. He was the first person to teach me feminism — always telling me I could do anything boys could do and to never let my gender stop me from doing and becoming anything I wanted. He taught me the beauty and art of valuing people’s diversity — including my own.
My mother was the first to be “born again,” sometime in the late 1990s, early 2000s. Some things shifted, but her love and support never did.
My father was “born again” many years later, around 2013 if I had to guess. Someday I’ll ask him to tell me his story. Right now, I’m not sure I want to know.
In 2015, he was ordained as a minister and now conducts funerals and marriages.
By the time I reached my mid-twenties, marriage had taken on a whole new meaning. It became a world for the privileged few who lined up according to someone else’s definitions and beliefs. It became a world of protection under the law that I no longer had access to.
When Candace and I started getting serious about setting a date, every now and then I would allow myself to daydream about being the girl in the movies, arm-in-arm with her father, walking towards her future … .
Then those scenes would be broken by my memory of a sticker my parents had on their fridge. A sticker that, in the height of the 2015 gay marriage debate, gave me every answer I needed to know.
It was a foreshadowing that I refused to heed as a warning of reality; instead, I chose to cling on to my naive hope of love conquering all.
Candace and I weren’t together in the same place on June 26, 2015, when the Supreme Court handed down its ruling and history was made as gay marriage became legal. But I ran home as soon as I could to be with her. That night, I celebrated at her well at JR.’s Bar and Grill and in the streets with hundreds of my closest Dallas LGBTQ family and friends.
It was the day that love won everywhere — except my own home.
Asking each other’s family for our hands was extremely important to both of us. But when we sat down in our house to talk to my parents, my hands were shaking, and the pit that had made its bed in my belly began to grow.
I was nervous … and scared.
Scared that things were going to be said that would never be able to be taken back. Scared that I’d react in the manner of who I used to be rather than who I was now. Scared I already knew their answer and terrified to hear it said out loud.
My father was quiet for a second before speaking. What came out were words I expected to hear from my mother, but never from him:
“Our faith . . .”
“We love you. We love her. Separately. But as a couple, we can’t . . .”
“We can’t do that . . .”
“. . . between a man and a woman . . .”
There was no hate in his voice. No anger. Just jagged words that raked my ears as they went down and broke my soul when they landed.
My heart was shattered. I was shattered.
My mother cried. My father remained silent. Candace remained in a state of calm, but I could feel the fire of anger raging in my belly.
What happened next surprised me. Instead of rage, I returned his words and beliefs with love. How? Because I was sitting right across from it, from her, from Candace.
I was in the kind of love I hadn’t believed existed. The kind of love that eases the pain of not being accepted or acknowledged by your own blood family.
And even though I wanted it all really badly — my parents’ blessing, their presence at our wedding, the dream of my father walking me down the aisle — I didn’t need it.
My parents’ words had broken me, yet I remained whole.
I was whole because I already knew, loved and fully accepted who I was.
With each exchange of words with my parents, I walked myself further down the aisle away from the little girl seeking approval from her family and into the first energies of union with her, my future — a future my parents and many others may not agree with it, but one that is and always will be rooted and centered in love.
Love is never wrong.
Being who you are is never wrong.
Being who you are meant to be — who you are born to be — to be is never wrong.
But it’s not easy.
I still hurt. I still cry. In fact, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
But it’s also been the most rewarding.
Because I have given myself permission to love who I love and be who I am, I have been blessed with so much love in return. And strength. And confidence.
You have your own unique coming out and growing into your future self story(ies). Find them, share them, and unleash your bold, beautiful, fully “out” self to the world.
We need it. I need it.
Brandi Amara Skyy is a drag artist who writes and plays in magic. You can find out more about her and many projects at brandiamaraskyy.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 31, 2017.