Monday, July 7, 2014



There is a Madonna song that goes “This paradise is not for me.” For a long time I felt the same way about marriage.  First it was denied to me as a right, as it was to all LGBT people, and I believe there’s something you internalize from that. The state says you are not allowed to get married, that you are not equal, and try as you might, a part of you believes that.
Through the brave efforts of my fellow man, the right to marry was then given but a part of that feeling still remains. In addition I wasn’t at a time in my life where I was ready to be committed to someone else. I needed to look inside and take time for myself. I needed to be able to love myself.  As RuPaul says, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell can you love somebody else?”
You helped me with that Shin. You have shown me that I can love and be loved. You have shown me that I don’t have to give up myself to be in a relationship with someone else.
I constantly feel loved by you.  Your kind actions reinforce this every day.  From your cooking, to your smiles, to rolling over in the night and giving me a hug and a kiss, you remind me of the good thing we have. And also your sense of humour and sarcasm remind me not to take it all too seriously. That we’re all on this journey together and no one gets out alive.
I love you. I am ready to spend the rest of our lives together. I commit to you here today my love everlasting.

First of all I want to thank everyone for coming.  We really appreciate your all being here for us to help us celebrate our big day.
When the act of being in a relationship is considered by some political, there are less constraints you need to follow when planning a wedding. I hope we were able to provide some light-hearted touches along the way and that people have had a good time.
I first met Shin a year and a half ago in a coffee shop. Or maybe it was dinner.  Neither of us really remembers, but we do remember the coffee shop. It was the Timothy’s in the gay village and it was the village of the damned. We were the youngest people in there by decades. I remember moving someone’s walker to get to my chair. I remember thinking “Is this where he likes to hang out?”  But some of my best friends are in their seventies so who am I to judge, perhaps this was fate.
I remember he had brought some Asian rice cracker thing that he gave me a bite of and said I wouldn’t like.  I was trying to impress him so I said “No, I’ll love it, I’m sure!”  Then after taking the bite I spent the rest of the evening trying to hide the rest of the cracker under my chair so he wouldn’t see it. I also remember asking him what he thought of me, if I looked like the photos I had posted online.  He said “Oh, I don’t remember that, I never pay attention to photos.”  Another ego boost, this was going well.
I met Shin at a time when I was having a dating renaissance.  After not dating for a few years I was on a dating spree, having dated 7 or 8 guys in the last couple weeks before I met him. But once I met him, all the others very quickly fell by the wayside so I could focus on him.  I remember confiding this to him later in our relationship and saying I had been a bit of a player when we met.  He said, “When all the guys are in their mid-to-late 40’s, that does not make you a player.” There’s that self-esteem boost again.
For our first vacation together we rented a trailer and drove to a campground. This would prove to be comedy gold. Shin questioned why we had to go to a gay campground, and I remember saying I didn’t need screaming children around. So we went gay camping. First of all the map said I think two hours to get there.  It took four. We pull up in the middle of the night to this place that looks like the Bates Motel and checked in. We couldn’t really see anything so unpacked in the morning.  Shin had the idea, which he had stated many times before this trip, that we should go canoeing.  I had canoed once before in my life, I believe it was 1998, and I was still in pain.
We get in this canoe and I can’t move.  If I relax the tension in my left leg the thing starts to tip over. I have to breathe out the left side of my mouth to keep us in balance. Shin immediately starts in saying how his ex-boyfriend was a much better paddler than I am, but I can’t kick him as he’s too far away.  Lucky.
We actually had a nice time and met some other guys who showed us a portage trail and a waterfall and things were going well.  Then it was time to come back. When we had been leaving the guy who rented us the canoe said there were rapids and rocks and we should always follow them to the left.  Or was it the right.  I wasn’t really paying attention.  Being the weaker paddler I was up front so when I saw the rocks and rapids coming back I was the first one to scream.  Instantly my mouth was filled with mosquitos. Shin’s yelling at me to row faster so we could get up the very slight incline and I’m yelling that we’re all going to die.
This went on for hours.  Well it felt like hours.  We’d row a little, get half way up the incline, then start drifting backwards and end up at the bottom, facing the wrong way.  Finally I said we needed to portage.  Actually maybe a passing canoeist said that.  We went over to the side and managed to get out of the canoe and carry it across some lady’s front lawn and over the bridge to the other side.  Now here was the problem.  The bank was much higher than the water on the other side as it was at the top of the rapids.  So there was about a three foot drop from the edge of bank to the water. Some strangers helped hold the canoe while Shin held me as I got in the boat.  Once in the thing started to sail away leaving Shin on the land and I waved, telling him to write.
We managed to get the canoe back but I couldn’t hold it steady or still and wasn’t really much good for anything.  As Shin is stretching and trying to reach the seat, the edge of the bank gives way and sploosh, he’s in the water.
It was at this point I knew I loved him.
Again I’d like to thank everyone for coming, specifically all those who assisted. We needed a lot of help to plan this event. My mom and Keith, thank you for the decorations, for the gift bags, for lending an ear when required, and for always remembering the smaller details and whipping yourself into a frenzy.
Thank you to my father and Linda for the food and the photography.  I know their daughter Devora helped with that as well and it was much appreciated. I asked my dad if he had ever cooked for 50 people and when he said no I told him this was his chance.  I really appreciate all you’ve done and the food is wonderful.
Thank you to Sarah, my best person, for the cupcakes, but most of all for your support. I know you’re always there for me and in my corner and I love that. The trip we took to BC what seems like so long ago was some of the best moments of my life.
Thank you to Shin’s best person, Yuriko, too.
Thank you to Gerry, one of my best friends, for the flowers.  I’m writing this speech in advance but I know they will look amazing. You always bring a sense of class and elegance with you, which is something I lack, and it’s always appreciated.  Also for always being there and willing to lend a hand.
Thank you to everyone who travelled so far, my brother Arthur from Alberta, my cousins Alicia and Megan, Jonathan from London and possibly farthest Dom from Switzerland. Though Shin from Japan may have you beat there.
Finally, while preparing for this wedding, Shin and I had a running joke. Every time one of us would do something that the other didn’t like, we would say “I’m going to mention this at the wedding.” So for example, he’d get up and forget to make the bed and I’d say to him, “I’m going to mention that at the wedding.”  Soon it got to be we’d add it to the list, so there was a list at the wedding.  Then it evolved into a book.  Everyone would say “Oh, how nice, he brought a bible to the wedding!” and I would say “No, that’s my list of complaints!” Well the only thing I want to share from the list here today is how much I love him, and to thank my wonderful husband Shin.
I could go on but I want to keep this evening moving and as the good Lord says, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”


Anonymous said...


Grace Alexandre said...

I know I'm late, but congratulations!! I hope you are both still together. I have met many gay people at work and found out they are married to their partners. It gives me a warm feeling to know that. It is nice to know the world is now accepting the differences in people. I just learned my nephew is gay. Because of his mother's understanding, he was able to come out of the closet early in life; that makes it a lot easier for everyone, especially him, because he doesn't have to run around pretending he is someone else. I just don't believe in refusing people because they are gay. After all, it's not like they love some alien; and if they did, who gives a hoot?! What goes on between two people behind closed doors is nobody's business!! As long as people obey the laws, and pay their taxes, why should they be treated like outcasts?! If people don't like it, and say it is not right, they simply don't know what life is about. Again, CONGRATULATIONS!!

Grace Alexandre