Every once in a while The New Civil Rights Movement departs from reporting the news to visit stories about the people we are actually fighting for. Achieving equality has been our goal since the first day we began publishing. We’re glad when we get a chance to share a glimpse into the lives of those to whom it means the most, and we’re glad when we can share with our readers an opportunity to help those who need it.
I hope to never forget the look on my fiancé’s face (let’s call him MW, Mr.Wonderful,) when he called his mother to tell her I had proposed. It was Christmas of last year, our very first together, and I had been wanting to ask for months. Every other sap will understand that I held off because I wanted to create something special; some magical memory that will last us until the end of time. So, I waited. I waited until he was opening his last gift that rainy morning beside our tiny, table-top Christmas tree, surrounded by wrapping paper, holiday songs in the air, and Santa hats on our heads.
As he opened the biggest box it gave way to a smaller one inside. And again. And again. Until the last one was a familiar looking box from Tiffiany’s. Then, when he opened it to discover that it was empty, he looked up to find me on my knees (I was shaking too hard to balance on just one) with the ring in my hand.
After we held each other for what felt like an hour, it was time to make phone calls. I had only met Mr. Wonderful’s family once, but I had kept in touch with his mom, and had called her recently to tell her I was going to pop the question. I secretly knew that she supported the idea. I also knew all about their family history.
I knew that after MW told his parents as a teenager that he was gay, his mother later came to him to say that his example gave her the strength to ask his father for a divorce. She told him that she hadn’t been happy in a long time, and if her son was brave enough to choose happiness even if it seemed scary and difficult, she could too.
Mr.Wonderful had grown up accustomed to disappointment (something that breaks my heart to think about.) He is the oldest of seven kids. With limited resources, he was constantly teased for being poor, having a family on welfare, not having nice clothes, and driving a car that “won clunker of the month every month of high school.” Additionally, he was also teased mercilessly his entire life. Being called names and getting hit and punished by peers for being perceived as gay was an everyday routine. To this day, when someone wrongs MW, I can see how part of him feels like there’s nothing that can be done, or that no one really cares when he is mistreated or under-appreciated. It just became easier as he was growing up to not make a fuss.
His parents had met when they were teenagers and had him young. It caused a rift between his mom and grandmother, and though there was love in his house among himself, his siblings, and parents, things were frequently estranged with extended family. Someone was always not being spoken to. When he came out of the closet, he was afraid it would be him. To this day, his being gay is an issue between his father and hm. They speak. Just not often, and not about much.
I mention all this because when, on that Christmas morning, MW picked up the phone to call his mother, even though she loved and supported him, he was afraid. It was visible. He was used to people in his family finding reasons to keep others at a distance, and he was terrified of the same fate. He called her first because he felt that of all the calls to his family members, the one to his mother would go better than those to his father and grandparents.
As he began to speak, his breathing accelerated, and he got flush. Then, as he listened for his mother’s response… he smiled! He exhaled a giant sigh of relief, and the happiness on his face lit up and shined brighter than any twinkle coming from the Christmas tree. His mother was thrilled, and so were all six of his siblings who were celebrating together around the table nearly 1,000 miles away.
Now, let’s jump forward to now. Our wedding planning is in full swing, and we are less than five months to the big day. His father is iffy at best on attendance, and his grandmother (someone who is not being spoken to by anyone in the family other than Mr. Wonderful) has told him that our getting married is “the same as committing a robbery,” and “I can’t witness that.”
In an effort to reduce costs to our already micro-budgeted wedding, we have decided against flowers, possibly a DJ, are not having the events in our beloved-but-overpriced New York City. We have entered several contests (I won a free suit!), but no matter how hard we pinch pennies, there is still one cost that I can’t manage: getting Mr.Wonderful’s mom, brothers and sisters to the wedding.
His mother, a woman who, it seems, cannot get a break, doesn’t have much money to begin with. On top of it, she has had a plethora of recent medical issues resulting in hospitalization, was forced to replace her car, and is working two to three jobs at any given time to try to house, feed, and clothe her six remaining kids. She is so freaking excited about our wedding, and tells me on what have now become frequent phone chats that they have started a change jar to pay for travel. I can hear her smile when she talks about the wedding, but a “change jar”? Really? I cannot imagine not having them there. Not only are they the most important people in the world to my fiancé, but they are the only family he has that have supported us without hesitation or condition.
So, it is with great humility that I am asking for the aid and kindness of strangers; people that I am hoping understand what it is to want to celebrate love and happiness with those who are closest to you, and how much more important it becomes when that love and support is only available to you from a select few people because your heart takes you in a direction that some may not give approval. I want to, yet again, make a beautiful memory.
My goal of $5,000 is to pay for the flights, as well as room and board of seven people; my fiancé’s mom, and his six younger siblings (all but one still live at home). The amount feels high, but there are no extravagant expenditures being considered. Only the bare minimum for attendance. Frankly, I am embarrassed to have to ask for help because I cannot provide for my family, but I know that in this instance my pride is not what’s important. The thing that matters more is that my in-laws be able to stand with us, in the names of pride, love, and family, on our wedding day.
If any of you would pass along this link and tell your friends about this article, or donate to the cause, that would mean to absolute world to me: www.fundly.com/helpmyfianceesfamilyattendourwedding
Thank you to all who have read this far. May you all know the beautiful feeling of having people in your life who want to go beyond what seems possible to try and make you feel special.
Editor’s note: Ivan is my fiancé’s friend, and a friend of mine.
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