This is a guest post from my good friend Jay Remer writing about my wedding
Two of my closest male friends married this past weekend here in beautiful Saint Andrews By-the-Sea. It was my distinct honour to be Master of Ceremonies at one of the most spectacular and beautiful celebrations of marriage one could ever imagine. There was a gigantic beautifully decorated tent, 200 guests from far and wide dressed to the nines in black tie and stunning dresses, delicious food, a 21-piece big band, perfect weather and an outpouring of love and friendship.
This much-anticipated wedding quickly transformed into a community event unbeknownst to the guests revelling under the big top. With rumours flying about who would be attending this party, many people from the community were naturally curious to catch a glimpse of any celebrities and to feel the vibe of the celebration. Dozens of people quietly set up lawn chairs and parked their cars around the perimeter of the property and watched for hours as the celebrations proceeded.
Despite the fact that there were no big stars of stage or screen in attendance after all, people were not disappointed. The speeches and toasts offered by a number of people left an indelible mark on everyone who heard them. The positioning of the large speakers allowed most of the town to hear the music and the remarks made throughout the night.
But there was one speech more than any other that impacted everyone in a way we will likely never forget. As one of the grooms began to speak, the significance of the fact that gay marriage is now officially a right could not be overlooked. Those of us who have suffered under the stifling and painful microscope of oppression, and who have dedicated our lives to fight for what truly are the rights of all mankind, have only recently been able to enjoy those freedoms so many people take for granted. He related the story of how his mother, now 97 year of age and unable to attend this event, struggled with the news that her son was marrying a man. Wanting happiness for her son, she began by politely acknowledging the idea. The next day, she was beginning to become more comfortable with it. The third day, she shared what was really in her heart, but the words to express it were a challenge to find.
This mother had lived through the atrocities of World War II. She had witnessed the unspeakable elimination of Jews, homosexuals and people with disabilities from society by the Nazis. She was torn inside as she reflected back on those wretched times because she wished she could have done more to help. This wedding provided her with a healing of sorts that she never imagined. She is proud of her son and of his partner for taking a stand and for doing the right thing.
Hearing those words and listening to this story left us in a state of awe, and revealed to all of us just how important this historical event we were all a part of was. But the story doesn’t end here.
The next day, two guests were walking down to the village and were stopped by a visitor. They were asked if they’d been to the wedding, to which they replied yes. The visitor went on to tell them how she was walking past the tent with her family the previous evening and stopped to listen to the words that were being spoken. She described how the people all around the fenced property were sitting in rapt silence soaking in the sentiments expressed. She went on to share how many of the people praised these men, rejoiced that they had moved into the community, and especially the fact that these men are now important role models for all of us. Their courage and commitment to one another touched every heart. The moment gave us all pause for thought and reflection – and real celebration.
Saint Andrews is a very open and accepting community. It always has been from its very beginnings. The fact that so many people could share in this celebration formally and informally, although not planned but most welcomed, is a strong testament to how societies can openly embrace ‘new’ ideas. If hearing the heartfelt words affords an opportunity for any amongst us to feel safer, more accepted, and able to step into their own destiny with grace and dignity, this event will have helped to change the world for the better, for good.