Supporting marriage equality through language on the Offbeat Empire

Altar your thinking, and watch your language.

Altar your thinking, and watch your language.

Maybe I’m overly sensitive, but the fact that I have just been visually assaulted by two gender-normative, wedding-related bullshits in the mere matter of minutes has really pissed me off. One was website selling “wedding blessings” to “celebrate the marriage of a man and woman…” And one was on Pinterest: a book titled “Prayers for your future husband” pinned under “for my daughter.”

And though it’s not surprising that both these things were religious-based — whatever — that’s not even what’s pissing me off. What is getting to me is the assumption that marriages are hetero-normative.

It baffles me that people still assume that it’s always “man and woman,” or “bride and groom,” or that your daughter’s going to marry someone’s son.

A while ago my friend Drew wrote an awesome post on that marriage equality equal sign that swept through Facebook: Don’t Let That Red Equals Signs Become a Hollow Gesture. My favorite part of it, as an editor, was this…

Back at my college paper, I had an editor who forbade the staff from using the phrase “raising awareness” because he felt that it didn’t convey meaning. Instead of just writing down “raising awareness” when you’re interviewing one advocacy group or another, he said, you should press further and ask for specific examples of how they were raising awareness — holding public talks, screaming at people from street corners, writing pithy slogans before doing nude backflips through the campus’s central plaza, etc. — because these examples would make for a more interesting sentence. He was correct.

Drew goes on to talk about how this rings true when it comes to you as an individual supporting a cause, like marriage equality. Don’t just “raise awareness” by changing your Facebook profile pic, be more active in your causal support.

It made me pause for a minute in some self-conscious reflection. I wasn’t one of the many that changed their Facebook profile pic. Not because I don’t believe in the cause, but because I think fleeting Facebook fads are silly. I also don’t want to deal with that awkward moment of like… when to decide your support of marriage equality is not as important as wanting to show off that SUPER good photo your friend took of you when you were at that party?

Besides, anyone who knows me should know that I support marriage equality. But do I actively support marriage equality? I haven’t donated to any charities in, probably, a year. And I haven’t attended protests since Prop 8 was shot down originally. So I started to feel a little guilty.

But then I realized that I am actively supporting marriage equality on the DAILY through the Offbeat Empire.

  • On Offbeat Bride gay weddings are treated just the same as straight weddings.
  • We work our tails off to make our wording gender-neutral — no saying “brides and grooms” it’s always “couples.” No assumptions that we’re only being read by brides. No “your future husband” it’s “your partner.”
  • On Offbeat Home & Life we don’t assume that people are in straight relationships, or even purely monogamous relationships!
  • On Offbeat Families we don’t refer to “moms and dads” or assume anyone is in a straight, two-parent relationships.

This non-gender-specific, all-encompassing love-acceptance is so freaking normal in my day to day life. It actually feels like the virtual equivalent to nails on a chalkboard when I read wedding articles that actively address a figurative straight bride reader, or use “bride and groom” when they should — seriously SHOULD at this point — mean “couples.” Or when I hear that a wedding magazine won’t accept gay couples in their ads. I find it shocking and angering.

It’s at times like that I have to remember that I live in this wonderful offbeat bubble. I forget that people make shitty assumptions based on either religious beliefs, or just your every day (and sometimes not even intentionally malicious) ignorance. And sometimes I wonder so far into the internet that it’s just 1997 web design, and hetero-normative assumptions all around, and I remember that I’m actually and actively part of the movement to normalize all kinds of wonderful-but-under-represented relationships. And it’s clear that I still have a lot more work to do.

4 thoughts on “Supporting marriage equality through language on the Offbeat Empire

  1. annealmasy

    There is so much great insight and thought-provoking stuff here, Megan. I think exposure is KEY to helping change our culture’s vocabulary and assumptions. This is why I felt it was so important to write the letter I wrote, asking the magazine to rethink their decision. It’s why I think it matters so much that people of all walks of life be represented on blogs and in magazines and in advertising. There’s will always be more work to do, but people like you are making a HUGE impact for positive change and progress. Thank you so much!

    1. meganfinley

      Anne! Thanks for taking the time to comment. I was tooootally floored by your experience and I’m so glad you made the effort to bring that issue to light. Keep on being awesome! 😉

  2. Katherine

    The variety of lifestyles that the Offbeat Empire covers is the reason I fell in love with it when I was planning my wedding and then moving into my first house. I have shared the various bits of it with friends and family over the last few years including sending the link for Offbeat Bride to my sister in law when she was planning her wedding to her long time girlfriend. I felt good about being able to pass it along because I knew that they could see every kind of wedding represented and hopefully they found some inspiration for their own wedding. Cheers & thank you for working so hard to be inclusive and to keep life interesting for all of us.

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