On marriage, being gay, and asking your born-again parents for their blessing on your (gay) marriage.

**Please note: This story first appeared in the March 31, 2017 print & online edition of The Dallas Voice. i’m sharing it here for National Coming Out Day 2018. May it find whoever it needs to serve. @brandiamaraskyy **

Our “faux” wedding. Our actual wedding was held in our house with only 2 other people there.

i was never the kind of girl who daydreamed about her perfect wedding day — the perfect white dress, the perfect location, the perfect bouquet . . . 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 and when 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 unconventionalist 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 better ;) ) and to never let being a girl 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 90’s early 2000’s. Things shifted, but never her love and support.

My father was born again many years after — 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. Last year, he was ordained as a minister and now ministers funerals, services, 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 accordingly 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 . . .

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 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, choosing to cling on to my naive hope of love conquering all.

Candace and i weren’t together on June 26 when history was made and 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.

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 — her.

i was in the kind of love i didn’t believe existed, the kind of love that makes you want to freely give your forever to. 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 parent’s blessing, their presence at our wedding, the dream of my father walking me down the aisle — i didn’t need it.

My parent’s words had broken me, yet i remained whole.

Whole because i already knew, loved, and fully accepted who i was.

With each exchange of dialogue 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 wedlock 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 — born — to be is never wrong.

But it’s not easy.

i still hurt. i still cry.

In fact, it’s the hardest fucking thing i’ve ever had to do — and will have to continuously 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.

Happy National Coming Out Day.

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