Tag: share

Queer South Asian gender-fluid womxn share their story

Queer South Asian gender-fluid womxn share their story

What does being queer look like for South Asian womxn? We never knew. We grew up thinking we were the only queer Brown womxn because LGBTQ+ representation was (and still is) heavily Western-normative and constructs a gay narrative that isn’t conducive to South Asian culture. I repressed my queerness by age 14 for safety reasons, but ventured into the LGBTQ+ scene when it became possible to “live a double life.” I was—and still am—constantly heterosexualized by a colonial gaze due to my Desi features and Brown body. This turned the pride for my Gujarati roots into shame, and pressured me into assimilating. The microaggressions grew stronger, as I was unable to fully disassociate from South Asianness without being exiled from my culture. The inability to be queer in culturally conducive ways was extremely invalidating, invisibilizing and infuriating.

Queer South Asian gender-fluid womxn share their story Alyy and Praanee, co-founders, Queer South Asian Network featured on Equally Wed, the world's leading LGBTQ+ wedding magazine Photos: Michelle Fernandes, Fox Photography

In 2018, I participated in Pride Toronto’s Dyke March wearing my “not all lesbians are white” shirt to contest the assimilationist narrative of queer spaces. A year later, I was connected to a fellow queer activist who had seen me at that March, and was inspired to decolonize her own sexuality. And here we are now—rejecting assimilationist queer rhetoric together.

Queer South Asian gender-fluid womxn share their story Alyy and Praanee, co-founders, Queer South Asian Network featured on Equally Wed, the world's leading LGBTQ+ wedding magazine Photos: Michelle Fernandes, Fox Photography

This set of photographs signifies and celebrates the blossoming into my queer South Asian self without compromising either identity; peaceful acceptance that I may never be able to ‘come out’ to my family as anything but an activist; and achievement of self-love and happiness.

Queer South Asian gender-fluid womxn share their story Alyy and Praanee, co-founders, Queer South Asian Network featured on Equally Wed, the world's leading LGBTQ+ wedding magazine Photos: Michelle Fernandes, Fox Photography

Queer South Asian gender-fluid womxn share their story Alyy and Praanee, co-founders, Queer South Asian Network featured on Equally Wed, the world's leading LGBTQ+ wedding magazine Photos: Michelle Fernandes, Fox Photography

To anyone who needs to hear this: You are valid without performing Western-normative sexuality. You are not living a lie if you are not out. Anyone who says otherwise is reproducing colonial ideologies.

Queer South Asian gender-fluid womxn share their story Alyy and Praanee, co-founders, Queer South Asian Network featured on Equally Wed, the world's leading LGBTQ+ wedding magazine Photos: Michelle Fernandes, Fox Photography

“We’re both second generation and grew up in different regions surrounding Toronto. We share an alike story—we both had a strong sense of Desi identity growing up, repressed our queerness at a young age due to an inability to conceptualize it at the axis of queer invisibility in South Asian culture and South Asian invisibility in culture, and felt like the only queer brown person ever. The pressure to assimilate and shame for our Desi identities intensified upon entering mainstream LGBTQ+ spaces.

Queer South Asian gender-fluid womxn share their story Alyy and Praanee, co-founders, Queer South Asian Network featured on Equally Wed, the world's leading LGBTQ+ wedding magazine Photos: Michelle Fernandes, Fox Photography

It took us about a decade to finally meet another queer South Asian womxn, but it finally happened. At PrideToronto 2018’s Dyke March, Praanee saw Alyy challenging assimilationist narratives in queer spaces by wearing a “not all lesbians are white” shirt. A year later, at PrideToronto 2019, she saw Alyy on a mutual friend’s IG story and asked for a formal introduction.

Queer South Asian gender-fluid womxn share their story Alyy and Praanee, co-founders, Queer South Asian Network featured on Equally Wed, the world's leading LGBTQ+ wedding magazine Photos: Michelle Fernandes, Fox Photography

We immediately bonded over our alike narrative, individual work within LGBTQ+ communities, and strong emotional attachment to our queer Desi siblings that we’ve never met. Importantly, we finally had enough people to hit the ground running for the QSAW network (yes, two was all we needed, and we are still lovingly bringing on anyone else across Canada that wants to volunteer). Our wholehearted goal is to create the anti-assimilationist visibility that we never had.

Queer South Asian gender-fluid womxn share their story Alyy and Praanee, co-founders, Queer South Asian Network featured on Equally Wed, the world's leading LGBTQ+ wedding magazine Photos: Michelle Fernandes, Fox Photography

It took us about a decade to negotiate our intersectional identities, and accept that we may never be able to ‘come out’ to our families as anything but activists—but we are here now. This is what our queerness looks like. This is what our South Asianness looks like. This is what our Queer and South Asian identity looks like—and we proudly embrace it.”—Alyy and Praanee

Photos: Michelle Fernandes, Fox Photography

Makeup artist: Shobia 

 

Gay guys share the lessons they’ve learned from their relationships / Queerty

Gay guys share the lessons they’ve learned from their relationships

Happily-ever-afters aren’t just the stuff of fairy tales. Sure, there might not be a magic wand for long-term relationships; but commitment, communication, and collaboration can work wonders, as the words of wisdom below attest.

These responses filtered in after a Redditor asked his fellow “gaybros” what lessons they’ve learned from their past and current relationships:

“Open your mouth and speak. Your partner isn’t a mind reader.”

“Conversely, shut your mouth and listen, too! Pay attention to your partner.”

“And when you speak, say what you actually mean. Don’t say something is fine when it’s not. Don’t ‘lay traps’ for your partner to fail if he doesn’t respond the way you want him to something. Be honest with yourself and how you feel and act on your honest feelings. And the biggest one is to trust your partner to take care of you when you do need something, not make things worse by pretending you are OK when you really aren’t.”

“Me and my boyfriend have a ritual that every Thursday after hitting the gym together, we would go to a shisha bar, get a bit high, and talk about all the stuff that’s bothering us, with both one another and different things.”

Related: Should you wait for Mr. Right to come along? Gays aren’t so sure…

“All relationships are a series of ups and downs. Don’t let the downs get you down. Learn when to let the small stuff go, accept the things you can’t change, or get out. The thing you think will break you is rarely the end once you’ve built a life together. Get better at communication. Sit down, put the phones down, and really open up about how you’re feeling.”

“You have to let go of the idea in your head about what a relationship will be like, which is most likely based on popular media. (You are not going to be living in a Hallmark Channel TV movie.) There is no such thing as the perfect relationship either, so don’t base it on some fantasy checklist or comparison to others. It’s also not a 50/50 thing most of the time — sometimes its 80/20, and then the next day 10/90. Don’t get caught up so much in who needs to do what, or whose turn it is next for some chore. Also, realize that people show and express love in different ways. Some people are very verbal and [about] big romantic gestures, while others might be quiet and about the smaller things. They may not say it out loud, but maybe in other ways that are just as meaningful. Spending time apart doing separate things is just as important as shared activities. It’s OK and healthy to have a hobby or interest that doesn’t involve the other.”

“It’s OK to break up and try again. There is no use wasting time on a lost cause. But if anyone meets about [around] 80% of your criteria for an ideal match and you meet [around] 80% of theirs, then you two should try as hard as you can to keep that going, because that’s about as good as you might reasonably expect to ever find and more than enough to build a happy life with.”

Related: Gay guys offer rules for a couple’s first threesome

“Talk about sex and talk about it often. I see too many posts about dead bedrooms and no conversation between partners, as though it’s some taboo thing to talk about it. I’ve been with my husband since we were 18 (31 now), and sex has never been taboo. I want to make sure my husband is fully satisfied and I want to keep it exciting, so we try new things [and] I listen when he doesn’t like something and pivot to something else. Communicate your needs and try different things. Don’t let the intimacy fade away. There are so many people that just don’t work at it and assume it’ll just always happen but strong deep intimacy requires a lot of work and effort. Same goes for romance. Relationships will ebb and flow. Low times will challenge your love for each other but it can make you stronger as a unit. You’re a team as much as you are lovers so help each other out. Be the person they can lean on and vice versa.”

“Relationships are built, not born. They require work and sacrifice. You don’t just meet someone and your relationship miraculously works. You both have to want it and work at it, for however life takes you. Also: forgive easy, love hard.”

LGBTQ+ couples share fond memories and kind words about their Stroudsmoor wedding

LGBTQ+ couples share fond memories and kind words about their

Stroudsmoor Country Inn is nestled in the serene Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. In addition to being host to stunning overlooks and magical scenery, Stroudsmoor Country Inn has six venues for your wedding and reception, as well as a turn-of-the-century boutique hotel to host the couple, wedding party and out-of-town guests. Each venue at Stroudsmoor is dedicated to one couple on their wedding day, featuring its own ceremony site, reception area, execution staff, and services to ensure the utmost privacy.

When asked about the Stroudsmoor experience, Linda Forte, director of event operations at Stroudsmoor Country Inn, says, ““Many things come to mind. Our matriarch, Mrs. “P”irone’s recipes and culinary expertise bring guests from far and wide. The 350-acre mountain property is meticulously manicured by a team of committed nature lovers. Our charming accommodations, our six dedicated event venues, our rejuvenating spa, host to all types of celebrations. Most importantly, the Stroudsmoor team of professionals love to help you make memories. This means providing quality, ensuring value, and supporting the well-being of each and every guest of the Inn. We are honored to read these heartfelt accolades and recommendations offered by our guests. Glimpse the Stroudsmoor experience through their eyes.”

Stroudsmoor Country Inn has hosted many weddings over the years. This article includes reviews written by some of their LGBTQ+ couples. Read on to learn more about their experiences and memories expressed in their own words.

Jacqueline + Mary’s September wedding at Woodsgate

Jacqueline + Mary’s September wedding at Woodsgate

“There are no words to express just how perfect our wedding weekend was at the Stroudsmoor Country Inn! We had been planning our wedding for well over a year and it all was beyond our expectations! I am an extremely particular person and I also am a creative person who had some unique visions for our event. Never once did anyone tell us ‘no.’ They got creative and worked with us to make every detail perfect! They also tended to us and our guests like royalty every second of the weekend.

Every staff member was top notch and friendly! Our Stroudsmoor wedding planner was incredible! The floral/decor team was phenomenal (even when I think I was torturing them a little while working on getting it “just right A”)! In the end it was truly just right!!! The coordinator for the rehearsal BBQ (which we made into a 6-hour party in the pavilion… AMAZING!!) was wonderful. The day of our actual wedding, our floor supervisors were dynamos! They checked in regularly to make sure we didn’t need anything and our personal attendant was magical with her tool belt! She facilitated our wardrobe changes (I had three, my wife had two!), re-did my hair when it was coming out, touched up our makeup, fixed my wife’s shoes, kept a drink in our hands always, etc., etc., etc.!!!!!

There are other staffers that were working behind the scenes who I know I’m forgetting to mention by name, but know that every detail mattered and we thank you!! The food was delicious, the venues (Woodsgate and the pavilion) were beautiful, and our room was comfy. This weekend was nothing short of PERFECT! We are filled with so much love for each other and our family and friends, and we got to celebrate that love without any distractions! I am already scheming to plan a weekend-long five-year anniversary party there! (I just need to get it passed by the budget committee: my wife.)”

Jeffrey + Jason’s summer wedding at Woodsgate

Jeffrey + Jason’s summer wedding at Woodsgate

“The day of the wedding came and it was a whirlwind! There was never a glitch or if there was we didn’t know about it because of the Stroudsmoor Team. The grooms-women went to the spa to have their hair and makeup done and they looked beautiful! The weather was gorgeous and the beautiful autumn day was exactly as we hoped! We had a great wedding manager who really made sure that our day was perfect. Anything we needed he took care of professionally. I wanted him to come and manage our day to day life! The reception was such a blast! The food was fantastic and the cake was a thing of beauty. We highly recommend Stroudsmoor Country Inn to anyone thinking of getting married! We were never treated any differently for being a same-sex couple; they treated us just as they treat everyone . . . like family.”

We highly recommend Stroudsmoor Country Inn to anyone thinking of getting married!

Shanna + Melissa’s fall wedding at Woodsgate

Shanna + Melissa’s fall wedding at Woodsgate

“We could never thank Stroudsmoor enough for all the hours of work put into making our big day exactly what we imagined it would be. We waited so long to be able to get married, then find the perfect place and all the anticipation was well worth it. The Stroudsmoor team of professionals were all so welcoming and willing to do anything to make our day perfect! Every trip up there always felt like visiting family. Thank you for all your hard work putting everything together for us, from favors and food to decorations and details, it was all amazing. We had an extraordinary day that we will always remember. Thank you for making all our dreams come true, (outdoor ceremony and all!) it was all breathtakingly beautiful! With all of our gratitude.”

We had an extraordinary day that we will always remember.

Jessica + Joanna’s fall wedding at Lawnhaven

Jessica + Joanna’s fall wedding at Lawnhaven

“We picked Stroudsmoor because it made us feel like we were fully accepted into everyone’s life like family. Everyone was sweet and caring and made sure our special day was exactly what we dreamed of. We will never forget how beautiful our special day was. From the flowers to the venue. Even the small things like having our family who couldn’t join us in pictures on the mantles. We love how beautiful the Stroudsmoor team made us feel, and how wonderful our day turned out to be. We appreciate everyone who helped us make our day so special. It is definitely a day we won’t forget.”

Katie + Julie’s summer wedding at Lawnhaven

Katie + Julie’s summer wedding at Lawnhaven

“We both wanted to thank you and the Stroudsmoor team so, so much from the bottom of our hearts. You all played a huge role in our wedding day and you honestly made it a dream come true. Julie and I cannot thank everyone enough. You truly do have the kindest of hearts and all made us both feel so welcomed. We hope that we will visit Stroudsmoor again in the near future. Thank you for making everything perfect and for treating us like family!”

You truly do have the kindest of hearts and all made us both feel so welcomed.

Sheila + Lynn’s spring wedding at Auradell

Sheila + Lynn’s spring wedding at Auradell

“Our wedding was so much more than we could have imagined. The Stroudsmoor Team did such an awesome job. Our colleagues who attended the wedding are still talking about how beautiful the Stroudsmoor Inn is and how wonderful the food was at the reception. We could not have been happier. We intend to return for future romantic dinners and a romantic weekend or two. Thank you for everything, Lynne says to stay BUFFED, PUFFED AND POLISHED! It was definitely a GOOOOOD TIME!”

Allyson + Rebecca’s summer wedding at Terraview

Allyson + Rebecca’s summer wedding at Terraview

“The Stroudsmoor team has been such a pleasure to work with. Very helpful, again and again! Thank you so much! We can’t wait to celebrate back at Stroudsmoor!”

Michael + Sean’s summer wedding at Terraview | Stroudsmoor weddings

Michael + Sean’s summer wedding at Terraview

“Sean and I are getting ready to leave for Italy this afternoon, but we wanted to take a moment and thank you again for all of your help making our day so special for us and our guests! Our guests really enjoyed the food, accommodations, and service! I could not have imagined a more perfect day and it was truly the best day of our lives for us. We can’t thank you enough . . . The Stroudsmoor team was so kind and helpful. Words cannot express how happy Sean and I are with how everything played out and we are so grateful that we worked with the team over a year to make all of this happen. Thank you again for everything!”

Victoria + Deirdre’s July wedding at Lawnhaven | Stroudsmoor weddings

Victoria + Deirdre’s July wedding at Lawnhaven

“It was lovely meeting the Stroudsmoor team. You helped us narrow down where we should be with our theme. From start to finish, our vision of ‘Christmas in July’ came through without being cliché. Thank you again for helping us through planning during the pandemic.”

COVID-19 changes

During the 2020 wedding season, Stroudsmoor has worked hard to serve its couples. “This year unlike others was filled with many challenges and changes for our couples,” says Forte. “Throughout the COVID-19 restrictions, we maintained the Stroudsmoor mantra to never cancel a wedding. We continue to see many wonderful couples say their vows in 2020. While their original wedding vision was altered drastically by the pandemic, a new vision on a beautiful day emerged and they were married safely. We are proud to have played a small role in ensuring their happiness.”

Choosing a wedding venue at Stroudsmoor

The six wedding venues at Stroudsmoor are Ridgecrest, Auradell, Woodsgate, Lawnhaven, Terraview and the SCI Pavilion. Ridgecrest is seated at the highest point of the Stroudsmoor Mountain. With breathtaking views for miles, souls can soar to the clouds, and hearts will fill with the magic created by the union of two kindred spirits in marriage. Dedicated to Life, Love and Happily Ever After.

Intimate celebrations are key these days, but while small in size, intimacy plays a key role in every aspect of an Auradell wedding. Its Gallery and Hearthside Suite are filled with the warmth and charm of a century-old Inn, while dancing in its Solarium makes for a GOOD TIME! With five lovely suites on its upper levels, the Auradell couple become the innkeepers on their wedding day.

Woodsgate is the first of our private event venues. More than 200-years-old, this restored barn has seen celebrations that run a gamut of themes, from zombies in the woods, to visions of Arwen and Aragorn in the reunited kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor.

Lawnhaven’s walls of glass look out onto verdant gardens, a water lily–filled pond, and green lawns where couples play cornhole and quoits. Formal and fun come together wonderfully at Lawnhaven. The venue has the added attraction of converting from a closed environment filled with natural light, to an open-air forum providing fresh air and safety.

With two ceremony locations, the Cherry Valley Overlook and Terra Gardens, Terraview is the castle atop the Stroudsmoor Mountain. Couple’s find the breathtaking views and dramatic waterfalls inspirational and calming.

At SCI Pavilion, couples and their guests will enjoy a wedding ceremony under towering black walnut trees, surrounded by the woods and fields of wild flowers. Rustic chic vibes abound in this country setting.

Stroudsmoor invites you and your partner to tour their venues and meet their planners. Call (570) 421-6431 or visit stroudsmoorweddings.com.


This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Stroudsmoor Country Inn. If your business is interested in supporting Equally Wed’s award-winning editorial mission of showcasing gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, queer and allied couples’ weddings through advertising via sponsored posts, banner ads, other partnerships or you have any other ideas for us, please reach out to advertising@equallywed.com.

Photo credits from top down: Jessica Manna; Stroudsmoor Photography Studio – John Blancato; Stroudsmoor Photography Studio – John Blancato; Stroudsmoor Photography Studio – Kyle Ohocinski; Stroudsmoor Photography Studio – David Coulter; Stroudsmoor Photography Studio – Josh Miller; Stroudsmoor Photography Studio – Kyle Ohocinski; Stroudsmoor Photography Studio – Susie Forrester; Stroudsmoor Photography Studio – Kyle Ohocinski

Anyone else look back on photos of your significant other and realize how lucky you are to have them in your life? Share your favorites ladies!! : actuallesbians

Anyone else look back on photos of your significant other

A place for discussions for and by cis and trans lesbians, bisexual girls, chicks who like chicks, bi-curious folks, dykes, butches, femmes, girls who kiss girls, birls, bois, aces, LGBT allies, and anyone else interested! Our subreddit is named r/actuallesbians because r/lesbians is not really for or by lesbians–it was meant to be a joke. We’re not a militant or exclusive group, so feel free to join up!

Todrick Hall, Lance Bass and others share their hometown LGBTQ recommendations / GayCities Blog

Todrick Hall, Lance Bass and others share their hometown LGBTQ

Travel booking company Orbitz is marking LGBTQ History Month in the US by teaming up with some LGBTQ celebrities and influencers.

The corporation has launched its own micro-site, Orbitz.com/Pride, to showcase hotels dedicated to welcoming all LGBTQ guests. It’s also asked its influencer partners to recommend things to do for visitors who may be touring their respective home towns.

The featured tours include LGBTQ highlights in New York City, Austin, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Miami.

“The pandemic has impacted so many parts of our daily lives, including the travel industry and the destinations and small businesses that rely on it,” says Carey Malloy, Brand and Marketing Director at Orbitz. “While many of us are still at home right now, we wanted to find a way to celebrate the places that bring joy and meaning to so many in the LGBTQIA community.”

Related: Explore these iconic New York gay bars from home, plus other virtual experiences

If you check out the Orbitz Instagram, you’ll find virtual tours of each city throughout this month, led by the featured influencers. New stories will be added and highlighted using the hashtag #HappyPlace.

For example, here’s NSYNC’s Lance Bass giving you a tour of his favorite parts of Los Angeles.

Amongst Lance’s recommendations are the Mondrian Hotel (“my go-to place to host friends and family that visit for years”), the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the dog-rescue center, Vanderpump Dogs. Unsurprisingly, he also highly recommends Rocco’s WeHo (“the most inclusive bar and restaurant on the planet”), the bar he happens to own!

Todrick Hall also offers his West Hollywood recommendations on Instagram, which include The Abbey, the Los Angeles LGBT Center (“a great resource for the community but also visitors as they host live events”), and the Matthew Shephard Human Rights Triangle.

Hall also offers a rundown of things to do in his home state of Texas. Among his recommendations are the lesbian-owned Hotel San Jose in Austin, the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas (“the largest predominately LGBTQ church in the world”), and the Round-Up Saloon in Dallas (“A favorite of mine. It was the first time I saw gay men line dancing.”).

Also featured in the series are travel influencer couples Allie and Sam (@allieandsam), who offer their lowdown on Miami, and Matt and Beau (@ProbablyThis) on New Orleans.

New York City gets two tours: one from Ravi Roth (above) and lesbian couple Gabi and Shanna (@27travels on Instagram).

Finally, trans entrepreneur Chris Rhodes offers recommendations for Austin, Texas. Rhodes namechecks gay bar Cheer Up Charlies and the queer-owned Austin Motel among his highlights.

Lil’ queer unicorn I drew for my friend’s gay ass (as part of a birthday gift). Just wanted to share it with you peeps🏳️‍🌈 : actuallesbians

Lil' queer unicorn I drew for my friend's gay ass

A place for discussions for and by cis and trans lesbians, bisexual girls, chicks who like chicks, bi-curious folks, dykes, butches, femmes, girls who kiss girls, birls, bois, aces, LGBT allies, and anyone else interested! Our subreddit is named r/actuallesbians because r/lesbians is not really for or by lesbians–it was meant to be a joke. We’re not a militant or exclusive group, so feel free to join up!

Same-sex couples share their pandemic-era weddings / Queerty Ever After

Same-sex couples share their pandemic-era weddings / Queerty Ever After

Same-sex wedding during COVID pandemic
Michael and Josh ordered customized ‘Just Married’ face masks for their wedding (Photo: Chrystal Stringer Photography)

Almost every country has implemented social distancing measures because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The measures have thrown many large-scale family gatherings into disarray – especially weddings.

Queerty caught up with four same-sex couples who all wed in the last few weeks to find out how the virus had made them change their plans.

Michael and Josh

Michael and Josh on their micro-wedding day
Michael and Josh on their wedding day (Photo: Chrystal Stringer Photography)

Michael McPhee, 32, and Josh Stock, 30, live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. They met via a dating app in 2012 and got engaged in 2017.

Their original plan was to hold their wedding over two days, with a ceremony for 30-40 people on July 11, followed by a community hall reception the following day for 100 people. The ceremony would take place on Edmonton’s historic High Level Bridge streetcar, followed by a gathering at a nearby restaurant.

“We started getting nervous about what would happen to the wedding halfway through March,” says Josh. “The province of Alberta started to shut down on March 17, 2020.”

The men paused their wedding planning until May, to review the situation.

“We gave some thought to postponing the date to later in 2020, but I had zero confidence that gathering restrictions would be lifted to the degree we needed them to go ahead with our plans. The streetcar service notified us they were likely to not operate and offered us a refund. We accepted.”

“I was reading local news when I saw a story about physically distanced mini-weddings for up to 15 persons (the largest number of persons allowed to gather at the time under Alberta’s restrictions) at Edmonton’s historic Fairmont Hotel Macdonald. The hotel was offering a space for a ceremony and a reception if needed. I called to reserve immediately,” says Josh.

“Fifteen persons meant 15 persons: this included us, photographers, and wedding officiant. This meant we were allowed just nine guests. We decided to have two sets of friends for our wedding party and immediate family only (e.g. no spouses). This was extremely difficult to do, and it wasn’t possible to eliminate hurt feelings.”

The men purchased CA$500 of customized face masks for the wedding party (“We decided we might as well have fun with this and it would make the event even more memorable”), along with hand sanitizer.

Josh got permission from his work to set up a Zoom call using his workplace account to capture the ceremony for those unable to attend. He also sync-ed the speakers to his Apple Watch so he could control the music (e.g. going down the aisle, etc).

Besides some nerves and ensuring all the Zoom and other tech was working, the ceremony itself went without a hitch. In the end, they were also able to increase the guest list to 20 as restrictions were eased slightly just days before the ceremony.

Afterward, Josh says they, “Went home and went back to work after just a couple of days off. We wanted to go on a honeymoon, but it’s obviously not the right time to travel. We will revisit this in the years to come, perhaps as an anniversary idea in the coming years.”

Jordan and Javontre

Jordan and Javontre
L-R: Jordan and Javontre (Photo: @peytonsmithphotos)

Jordan, 26, and Javontre Booker-Medley, 23, like in Winston Salem, North Carolina. They met in High School

“I was working on a musical and needed some extra stagehands and our mutual friend introduced us,” remembers Jordan. “We started working on the show and texting all the time about girl problems, etc, etc. Like most middle/high school boys our age that haven’t yet admitted that they dream about rainbows and unicorns!

“We eventually started going out a lot, with friends and then alone. Those hangouts evolved into dates and eventually into us dating on and off for the last six years. We even went to the same college for dance!

“Everyone knew we were gonna be married one day and I couldn’t be happier to have found my soulmate.”

They got engaged on July 1st, 2019, and planned to marry July 25th, 2020.

“When the pandemic hit we initially canceled the whole event!” says Jordan. “It wasn’t until restrictions on gathering started to ease up in June that we decided to put the event back on! We reduced our guest list from 160 to 31 people. We also had to change our venue which was originally in uptown Charlotte, NC. We ended up doing a small backyard wedding in Winston Salem NC, where we currently live.

Two men get married during the pandemic
(Photos: @peytonsmithphotos)

“We did everything ourselves instead of hiring a planner. The only vendor we needed was for the cake and the food. We literally designed everything ourselves from the centerpieces, table arrangements, floral arrangements, down to the napkins on the tables.

“We had to significantly change our plans but it turned out amazing and we cried so much on the day! The love that surrounded us was more than anything we could have asked for!”

Jay and Ames

Ames and Jay on their wedding day during the pandemic
L-R: Ames and Jay (Photo: Jackie Hubschman)

Ames, 36 previously lived in New York City. Jay, 49, lives in Atlanta, GA. They met in June 2019.

“Jay was visiting NYC for World Pride and we met through a mutual friend that thought we would get along well and I could give him a nice tour of the city,” recalls Ames.

“When the pandemic hit, Jay flew to NYC to pick me up and drove me back to Atlanta with my dog and two cats,” he continues. “We have been inseparable since.

“We knew we wanted to get married in the near future, but we had so many hoops to jump through just to live in the same state! We didn’t have a formal engagement. We pulled into a parking lot and I had no idea where we were going, and Jay said, ‘time to look at rings!’ It has been really important to us to support small business during the pandemic, so we purchased our rings at Worthmore Jewelers, which is very LGBTQ-friendly!”

They got married on July 31.

(Photo: Jackie Hubschman)

“The date is important to me because it’s exactly five years from the day that I took my first shot of Testosterone to begin my medical transition!” says Ames.

“The ceremony was on our front porch. Our close friend Ben officiated, Luke was the witness, and Jackie photographed. We did not pre-write vows, just spoke from the heart.”

L-R: Jay and Ames – husband and husband (Photo: Jackie Hubschman)

“Before the pandemic, we talked about what we would want our wedding day to be like. We wanted it to be an intimate celebration with our friends and family,” says Ames.

However, the pandemic made them reconsider.

“We were too worried that if we announced our plan to get married in advance that family and friends would travel, and we didn’t want to put anyone at risk or to feel guilty. Maybe we will have a celebration later, but we are very content with everything. The pandemic brought us together under one roof and we can start our life together.”

Keith and Chris

Same-sex gay couple wedding photos
Keith and Chris (Photo: jpandco.ca)

Keith, 34, and Chris, 33, live in Langley, British Columbia, Canada. They met online just over four years ago.

“We got engaged last summer at our favorite camping spot: Sombrio Beach on Vancouver Island,” says Chris.

“The pandemic put a fairly large wrench in our plans. We had to cut the guest list down from 105 to 45. We also had to organize our own food and rentals because our caterer couldn’t promise us they could fulfill their contract. We ended up cooking our own food for all the guests.

“We both have fairly large immediate families so even at 45 guests, we weren’t mixing too many groups of people who don’t already see each other.”

The men had always planned to marry outdoors. The location was the backyard of Keith’s parents in Aldergrove, BC. The men’s dog, Gus, acted as ring bearer for their July, 4th, wedding.

Two male grooms on their wedding day
Keith and Chris and ringbearer, Gus! (Photo: jpandco.ca)

Were they disappointed at having to downscale?

“Initially, we thought we may not even be able to have a wedding… then British Columbia went into phase 2 COVID restrictions which meant gatherings of 50 or less were OK as long as you could keep your distance,” says Chris.

“I think the hardest part for both of us was taking an already-small, planned wedding of 105 and trimming it down even more. We had to tell a lot of people we love that they couldn’t come anymore. This is after the invites went out. There were a lot of tough phone calls, but in the end, everyone understood. We had done so much planning and ultimately decided to just move forward with a smaller group. We have a super hands-on family and everyone was a huge help!”