Saturday, September 1, 2012

How Wedding Media can be Significant for LGBTQ Individuals

Woman in a large hat and colorful shift stand in the foreground. Behind her her son holds a rainbow pride flag.
Barbara Sinclair of Brooksville, Fla. and son Dean Whitcomb march in the St. Pete Pride parade representing the Hernando County chapter of PFLAG.               Photo by Laura Herrera
Because of Monday’s lecture, I began to think about what is worth telling through multimedia.
After watching the MediaStorm piece, A Thousand More, it is really hard to imagine anything I might work on in J2150 as significant in comparison to the story of 9-year-old Philip Mayer who has Spinal Muscular Atrophy. But I'm working towards it.

I have a guilty pleasure when it comes to anything wedding related. From alternative wedding blogs, like Offbeat Bride, to ‘Say Yes to the Dress,’ I love seeing weddings come together. One of my favorite indulgences is the New York Times’ Vows section.

NYT Vows is basically soon-to-be-wed couples telling the stories of how they found each other. While these are beautifully put together multimedia stories (I wouldn’t expect anything less from the New York Times), I’d categorize them as fairly insignificant. How does a couple getting married compare to the unique story of Philip Mayer?

While it would be unreasonable to ever compare the two, I realized NYT Vows does inadvertently add important social commentary when it comes to sharing the stories of queer* couples.

Most wedding coverage is really hetero-normative. It’s rare, though not unheard of, to see queer couples featured on mainstream wedding shows. NYT Vows is not only more proportional in the population they feature, but because queer couples are able to share their own stories they have the ability to politicize their story as much or as little as they want.

Interestingly enough, every story of a queer couple I have watched has included a political reference. Some talk in-depth about how they never imagined marriage would be a legal reality for them. For others, it is as simple as “Thank you, Governor Cuomo.” This shows the unique cultural environment queer relationships form under in the United States.

To me, that seems pretty significant.

*Queer in this context is used as an umbrella term for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and other identities.

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