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We're having 2 weddings because many of our LGBTQ+ guests don't feel safe going to Florida

Logan Gabrielle Schulman   

We're having 2 weddings because many of our LGBTQ+ guests don't feel safe going to Florida
  • We want to have a wedding in our home state, Florida, without ostracizing our queer friends.
  • Our LGBTQ+ friends said they don't feel safe traveling to Florida, and we won't make them do so.

In 2022, I was directing at a theater in Ithaca, New York, when my partner surprised me with a marriage proposal.

At the end of a breezy hike to the foot of Businessman's Lunch Falls, sitting on a sun-warmed rock in the middle of the creek, they popped the question. I said yes.

But as we began thinking about our future wedding, we had a conundrum: Our family lives in Florida and we'd love to get married there, but most of our queer friends have recently moved out of the state for their own safety and well-being.

Having a wedding in Florida is important to us — but it's become a difficult place to exist as a queer person

Despite moving to New York City in 2022, we both grew up in Florida and couldn't imagine having our wedding anywhere else.

The state's sunshine, flora, and fauna make us feel fully at home, and we have many family members in Florida who can no longer travel.

But before we moved, Gov. Ron DeSantis passed what's been nicknamed the "Don't Say Gay" bill, which limits teaching on sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida schools.

My partner and I — who both use they/them pronouns — were teaching at the New College of Florida at the time and were worried about how this would impact our jobs and our lives.

We moved North with a grim understanding of where things were headed politically in Sarasota, and many of our Floridian LGBTQ+ colleagues would follow suit in the months to follow.

Shortly after we left Florida, DeSantis overhauled New College, turning the liberal-arts school into a bastion of conservative politics.

As we started to plan our wedding, we checked in with queer and trans friends, most of whom have sought refuge from Florida's fraught sociopolitical climate.

They helped us realize how much fear and anger there is in our community around traveling to the South. Most told us they outright refused to set foot in Florida — not even for a wedding.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with a destination wedding, so long as that destination isn't the same place your friends all just worked so hard to escape from to ensure their rights to life, love, and healthcare.

Our solution is to have 2 weddings: one in Florida and one in New York

As queer people — queer citizens — we have the burden to navigate our competing desires: to celebrate amid family in an ecosystem we cherish and to keep our queer community and ourselves feeling joyous, and more importantly, safe.

We would never ask a loved one to travel where they don't feel welcome. But we also refuse to let conservative politics stop us from celebrating our love amid some of the most beautiful nature on the planet in Florida.

With all of this to consider, we began to plan two weddings: one in Florida with local family and friends and one in New York City for our Northern communities — especially those who can't imagine going back to a state that no longer feels safe for folks who once called it home.

We'll have one wedding in Orlando this fall and the other in New York next spring.

We want our community to feel like they can actually celebrate at our wedding — but this only happens when everyone gathered feels safe, not targeted by local politics because of who they are.

I hope our two weddings make everyone feel comfortable, loved, and seen. Isn't that what making a marriage is all about?

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