Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay-Friendly: Gender, Equality, and the WIC, Part 1

Category: From the Cat Perch | Published on: June 5, 2015

Why I don't consider myself a gay-friendly wedding vendor: People who say gay friendly mean well but probably aren't sensitive to the real needs of an LGBTQ couple.

June 2015 could be the month. Earlier in the year, judges (again) heard arguments about the state of marriage equality in the US. And with a majority of states (36 plus the District) not only recognizing but performing gay marriages, those of us on the side of equality are eagerly awaiting a pro verdict.

Since lesbian and gay weddings began in 2004 in Massachusetts, wedding professionals have been jumping on the band-wagon. Today, there are tons of vendors out there who say they support marriage equality, or that they're "gay friendly." According to some numbers, 82% of wedding pros say they support marriage equality.

"Gay-Friendly" Wedding Vendors

Not that it's a bad thing! Increasing support for marriage equality can lead to some great things down the road. But just saying you support marriage equality doesn't mean you're really a supporter of equality. There's tons of reasons vendors start marketing themselves as "gay friendly":

  • Stats show that vendors who openly oppose marriage equality lose business from straight couples, too.
  • Some vendors just want a slice of the pie—LGBTQ couples spend a lot of money getting married.
  • They mean well, but don't really know yet what it means to support equality.

So, how can you tell if you're working with a vendor who's "friendly" but not "literate"? They can't let go of gender roles. This typically manifests itself as a, "Which one is the bride?"-type question. (You know, something like, "Who's wearing the dress/suit?" or "What about the bridal march... who's walking?" Vendors who aren't equality literate are stuck in a one-bride-one-groom mindset, and think of you and your partner in those terms.

Two grooms photo by Enrique Mendez via Flickr

How to Handle Gay-Illiterate Vendors

Most vendors who are "gay friendly" but not "gay literate" aren't trying to offend you. They just don't know what you need—yet. Many vendors have been in the industry for decades, and that means they learned their trade when there was only one bride and one groom.

Give them a chance to learn. If they ask a gendered question, correct them. If their contract has a line for "bride" and "groom," ask for a corrected one.

While it's true that vendors can't legally discriminate against a couple based on orientation, it happens. If you find yourself with an unwilling vendor, it may not be worth the stress to stick with them. It's up to you to evaluate the vendor-client relationship as you go.

CharmCat's Welcome Policy

CharmCat has always been a welcoming business, offering services to any loving couple in need of charming stationery. This month, I'm debuting the official Welcome Policy!

This is my commitment to you:

CharmCat will never discriminate against a couple’s race, age, nationality, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

What does that mean for you? It means you should feel safe asking me about services or for advice on any wedding that celebrates love.

— Ashleigh

See other posts about: WIC, gay weddings, gender equality, lesbian weddings, lgbtqia, marriage equality, priorities, queer weddings, welcome, why I don't

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