Beard Story: Marriage, beards, and bigots

Beard Story from June 16, 2008

(Historical context – this was the first day that gay marriages were allowed, for the second time, in SF.)

Went down to City Hall today, to see Del Lyon and Phyllis Martin get married at 5:01pm
There was a decent-sized crowd outside – out front of city hall and across the street. The queers/ queer-friendly folks and the anti-gay christian folks were all mixed in together, with their various signs and placards. It looked like some people were going inside, but it was a little unclear whether it was an invite-only thing. Dossie asked the cop standing by the doorway if we could come in. He said, “Of course.”
Dossie pointed out to me later that she had made a point to hold onto my arm, so that she would look queer enough by association – quite a role-reversal of me coattailing her through Leather spaces.
We walked into City Hall, got through the metal detectors. It seemed like people were going upstairs, so we followed them. There were clearly a group of people with lots of cameras gathered at one end of the 2nd floor, but it looked roped off. We wandered around trying to see if from various angles, and then saw that no one seemed to be policing who got into the apparently roped off area. So, I wandered in, waiting for someone to stop me. No one did. Apparently it was open to the public.
The crowd was maybe 10 people deep from the center, so we couldn’t see a thing. There was a woman who looked like a reporter, standing on a chair so she could see better. There had been folding chairs outside the crowded area, so I went to get one, again waiting for someone to stop me. Again, no one did.
With the chair, we could see to the center of the crowd. Jacob, Dossie, and I took turns (and shared with some other people nearby) watching Gavin Newsom speak, then hearing Del and Phyllis talk to a reporter, then Gavin again, then the city attorney, then Mark Leno. Lots of cheering. The whole thing was excited and festive and alive.
Somewhere in there Del and Phyllis cut the wedding cake. They’d had the ceremony in a private room and were having a private reception elsewhere, before they took off in a limo with a “Just Married… Finally” sign on the back. When the speeches were over, 3 or 4 fags set to cutting the cake into tidy little 2″ cubes, so everyone there could have a tiny piece of the historic cake. Jacob, Dossie, and I split a piece, after Dossie said hi to a few friends of hers who were there as part of the private party with Del and Phyllis. One of these friends had been Dossie’s “older woman” lover, way back when.
The crowd was starting to disperse inside, so we wandered back outside, to see what the crowds were up to.
As Jacob, Dossie, and I exited City Hall, with Dossie and me walking arm in arm, the whole crowd outside started cheering (and the few hateful hecklers booed and shouted other things). We looked around, trying to figure out who they were cheering for. Apparently, they were cheering for us. A bunch of people took our picture as we walked out – people were lining the ramp out of city hall, nearly blocking our way as we exited. Either the crowd was just so excited they were cheering for anything, or someone didn’t get the memo that there was only one gay marriage today. We watched for a while, and the crowd seemed to be cheering anyone who left city hall who looked anything like a queer couple.

The whole thing was fabulous and exciting and sweet and momentous. The Gay Freedom Band was playing, there were many more pro-gay folks than anti-gay bigots, so the assholes’ yells got drowned out easily, although they did have bigger signs. There was a woman in a cow suit hawking free Ben and Jerry’s, and there were people holding the four poles of a rainbow chupah. And, of course, there were plenty of fabulous signs. My favorites were:
-Married heterosexuals support you
-Yay gays! (Written with a marker on notebook paper and resolutely held up in front of a huge “god hates you” sort of banner, so you couldn’t take a picture of the hateful sign without getting the friendly sign in the picture.)

We wandered the crowd, said hi to a few friends, took photos of the pro-gay signs held up in front of the anti-gay signs. We were standing by one guy with a “god hates you” sort of sign, and he started yelling how there were no gays and lesbians, there were only men and women – and presumably they should pair off accordingly. So, to prove him wrong, Dossie and started making out in front of him. He yelled, “That beard doesn’t prove you’re a man!”  Dossie, Jacob, and I cracked up.
As we walked away, Dossie commented to Jacob , “the beard might not prove it, but the dick sure does a good job of it.”
As Dossie and I walked back to the car, arm in arm, a guy said, “Congratulations! I saw you come out [of City Hall] earlier.” We thought it was sweet to be congratulated by the random public on a marriage we hadn’t even had. And that we don’t intend to have, for that matter. We seem to be doing just fine skipping right over the marriage and on to the consummating.

It was fun to be at something that felt important and historic. I live around so many people who were at events that are now part of the cultural history, and I feel like I’ve missed so much – especially so much of the good, exciting stuff. So, even if this was the second time around for Del and Phyllis to get married, it still felt like a historic big deal, and it felt good to be there.

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