Or maybe we were. I know I was, at the strange prospect of getting officially married by a minister, in a church, and not in a "commitment," "civil union" or other faux-marriage ceremony gay couples have invented over the years to try to legitimize their relationships in a society that regarded them with disdain if not outright condemnation. Our marriage would have the official seal of both a minister and of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. And we'd receive that and much more: The warm wishes of family and close and distant friends, and even some strangers.
|New rites at an old church.|
Tree leaves had begun to change color. In case we lost our bearings along the way, highway signs pointed the way to Lexington and Concord, and even to an exit to Walden Pond should we have felt the need to channel Thoreau and ponder the meaning of life before or after our trip to the altar.
This is the kind of church that has its own Paul Revere bell (damaged and recast after the 1847 fire) that is activated by a rope hanging through the ceiling of the lobby. Turns out that after Revere's brief but notable career warning the locals about the oncoming Brits he set up a renowned foundry in Boston that cast bells destined for church steeples and other public buildings in many of the former thirteen colonies.
The floors of the austere, almost Shaker-like temple, were wide-plank wood that groaned softly with every footstep. Pews had small, rectangular boxes tucked underneath, decorated or upholstered in a variety of designs. "Kneelers?" I asked. Not by a mile. This is a Unitarian Universalist congregation where most members don't do kneeling and some even balk about too much talking about Him (or Her). The boxes are just footrests.
|Hutchins organ, built in |
1892 and recently rebuilt.
When we arrived at the church, past roadside stands of pick-your-own apples and mutant-size pumpkins, along with other end-of-season vegetables and fruits, two church volunteers were in the parking lot behind a makeshift table selling, yes, homemade apple pies.
The Rev. Thomas Rosiello, the minister of the church and who would later marry us, introduced us to the pie vendors who greeted and congratulated us with such warmth they could have been our own moms, except I'm not sure our real mothers would have reacted so effusively at the news of their sons marrying another man.
Perhaps they would have. My entire clan of Cuban relatives in Miami, including my step-mother, certainly treats Stew like one of the family, and we also received congratulatory e-mails from Stew's brother and his wife. Times change, sometimes astonishingly fast or slowly, depending on your perspective.
|Provincetown Town Hall|
Provincetown is beyond gay-friendly, even after the AIDS crisis killed a substantial proportion of the gay male population. Locals told us that gay women began to purchase some of the businesses previously owned by men which made lesbians more visible. Don't know if that anecdote is true but you certainly can't miss the large number of gay women and Subaru Outbacks in town.
|A Provincetowner's idea of a garden water feature.|
No problemas except possibly from a homeless man who sat next to his shopping cart on the steps of city hall, better to evaluate the stream of passersby. "Stop holding hands, goddamn it!" he yelled at two amorous guys walking by. "You're starting to look like a couple of lesbians!"
We then spent our three-day waiting period on Cape Cod, including a side trip to Nantucket Island, just about the primmest enclave Stew and I had ever seen. The year-round population is only about ten thousand and tourist crowds were down as the nippy autumn breezes blew. Nantucket has a rough, workman history of fishing and whaling a few centuries ago but today it looks like a fantasy village designed by Ralph Lauren and managed by Martha Stewart who makes sure the flowers in all the window boxes are regularly deadheaded and puffed up.
|A perfect Nantucket window box.|
We had thought of waiting for Illinois to approve marriage equality and have the service in Chicago but the requisite minority in the state house didn't materialize at the last minute during the last legislative session. So on to Massachusetts, which Stew had never visited anyway.
I had no notion of what to expect during the actual wedding ceremony which was small—the two grooms, the minister and a friend of the minister who took the pictures. That's about as small as a wedding party can get unless the minister is also one of the grooms and can officiate and say "I do" simultaneously.
Attire for the grooms was "snug business casual," as in suitcoats, dress shirts and pants that had been sitting idle in the closet since we retired eight years ago. It's amazing how garments can shrink while just hanging there.
|A wedding candle to hold forever.|
On the way out of the church, the photographer grabbed the rope of the Paul Revere bell and gave it a few joyful yanks to let the world know that after forty-one years together Stew and Al had finally married. Rev. Rosiello and his partner Malcolm treated us to lunch at a restaurant on the site of a short-lived Utopian agrarian community established in 1842.
|Rev. Tom Rosiello and the newlyweds.|