Journey

Almost two months ago, this happened.

It’s hard to describe how overwhelmed I felt. I’d wanted to bring attention to an issue I believed in, but I never dreamed I would get so much personal attention. People who didn’t know me from Adam said I was brave, or misguided, or right, or an asshole. “I hope you burn in hell,” one e-mail said.

One night, maybe three days after I’d published the letter, I sat on the couch with my husband and cried. And cried and cried. All of my overwhelmed-ness exploded out of me in tears and snot and embarrassing sobs. And when I was done crying, I told Dan, “If I’m crying right now, then I know Terri and Brooke have cried.”

I don’t truly “know” how Terri and Brooke, the Weddings Unveiled editors, felt when they sat at home at night. I don’t know if they cried, or rolled their eyes, or hated me, or wanted to hide from the world. But I imagine they probably did all of those things at different times. Just like I did.

See, just like Terri and Brooke, I’m a Southerner. I grew up in a conservative, traditional community. I was taught that being gay (or anything other than straight) was, at the very least, socially unacceptable; at worst, a sin. In high school, I interned for a photographer who told me that if a same-sex couple ever called and asked him to shoot their wedding, he would tell them he was booked. And that made sense to me at the time.

I didn’t really question these views until I was 19. I left Georgia for photography school in Massachusetts, and quickly made friends with one of the kindest, funniest, most creative guys I’ve ever known. And one night in the car, that guy came out to me. He told me he was gay. And everything I’d every learned and believed just… imploded. Because I KNEW him. I SAW him. I LOVED him. And the person sitting next to me in the car… well… he WAS me. We both had dreams. We both wanted love and to be loved. Who we were attracted to was irrelevant. All that mattered were our insides. And inside, where it counted, we were the same.

Since that night, I’ve been on a journey. My beliefs have evolved; my heart has grown; my eyes have opened.

The only difference between myself and the Weddings Unveiled editors? I started that journey sooner. And I walked it in private.

When Weddings Unveiled chose to write a public apology in response to my letter, I was floored. They could’ve stuck to their guns, defending their decision and sticking by it. They could’ve denied it happened. They could’ve had their attorney call me.  Believe me: I played each of those scenarios out in my head over and over again.

Instead they apologized and, very publicly, very bravely, they took a new stand. They offered to run my ad; and I accepted their offer.

And today, in the magazine aisle at Publix, I flipped through the spring issue of Weddings Unveiled magazine, and found my photograph:

Terri and Brooke printed a full-bleed ad, just a few pages in. They published the first EVER photograph of a same-sex couple in their very southern wedding magazine.

To those who supported my cause, but who said, “too little, too late,” I just have one request of you: go buy this magazine.

Because it is NEVER too late for anyone be better, to be braver, to be bolder. I am better than I was in high school, braver than I was in college, and oh-so-much bolder than I was before any of this happened. And I’m pretty sure Terri and Brooke are, too.

Because we are all on a journey.

Because we are all the same.

Life is a gorgeous, broken gift
Six billion pieces waiting to be fixed…

But the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard
Is that I don’t have to have the answers
Just a little light to call my own…

“Emphasis”, Sleeping At Last


 

This essay was also published on The Huffington Post.

11 Comments

  1. I cried when you were born. You still make me puff out my chest, proud to call you my child, my daughter.

    • Okay, your dad’s comment is going to make me cry!

      As a gay woman, I, too, have dreams of love and proclaiming it in front of loved ones. I applaud your courage in publicly posting your fears and emotions. Evolving means there is a point from which we begin. Beautiful image!

  2. I believe in loving people but it does not mean I have to love how they act. I do not believe God created us to have same sex relationships. I will dislike how people behave but I will never stop loving the person.

  3. Anne,

    I’m crying!!! I love the hell outta’ you, girl- I’m so proud of you and all you do to shine in the industry you’re in! You’ve always stood out to me as a pioneer, and it’s why I’ve been drawn to you from the jump! I pray God continues to bless your awesome gift of capturing the essence of people and their joyful experiences through photo. And I only pray, God graces me with a reason to call you for a special day, soon… in the meantime, let’s have that drink!!!

    Going to buy that mag this week!
    ~T

  4. This is so, totally, completely right, and wonderfully brave. I found your blog through that scandal, and stuck around for the photographs– and now I know I’m sticking around a while longer because of your morals. I am proud to be a photographer alongside someone with such incredible, well thought-out beliefs. I’ll go buy that magazine now, just to support them.

  5. This was such a brave act and I applaud you! Thank you for standing up for equality. I too will seek out this magazine to show support not only for you and the couple, but also the people who changed their minds and ran the ad.

  6. Anne, this is amazing. Thank you for always offering your voice, both personally and professionally. It’s incredible that you had such a tangible positive impact. I shot for two hours at the Supreme Court on the day of the equality rally, and it was a wonderful reminder that every day, things are getting better, whether on the national stage or in local communities. Thank you!

  7. Anne,
    My partner and I marry in 80 days. Denise Olivera is part of our wedding team (pre-quels) and that is how we found this. We had been struggling trying to figure out how to thank our guests for flying out to St. Croix for our wedding. The last page of our booklet is the thank you from the couple and after reading your blog,we now have the words; it goes like this:
    …[s]ee beyond your fear, and into the warmer, brighter future that WE are responsible for building.
    Someone has to be first.
    Someone has to forge ahead.
    Someone has to march.
    Someone has to refuse to move to the back of the bus.
    Someone has to see these two beautiful, brilliant women in love and know that there is nothing more right in the world than this couple.

    They didn’t have a “gay wedding.” They got married. They had a wedding. They share their lives, their joys and sorrows, and all the mundane daily things that we all share with our partners. They are just people. In love. Committed to one another.~ Anne Almasy

    We would like to have your permission to use it or if at all possible send us a direct quote. Thank you for your support and your spirit. Give your Dad a great big gay hug from us because you had to learn to stick to your guns from SOMEWHERE!

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