Love & Marriage In Equal Shares, a Wedding Story
City Hall, New York City
This is not an ordinary love story, nor is it just a love story. It is the colliding pathways of two individuals from two very different places who walked the same fine line between themselves and a world who would not accept them as they were. These are no ordinary individuals, and this certainly isn't an ordinary wedding. Everything happened so quickly. The chance meeting, the explosive love, the thrilling engagement, the spectacular wedding! Everything happened just as it was meant to happen in a world that took far too long deciding that the love between these two people was real - legitimate. I was on the Top of the Rock for their engagement, and now for their wedding, I ran to keep pace with the breathtaking, ceaseless energy of love that unfolded on this day. Robert and Marcelo are not camera shy, and they are not love shy, and they are certainly not reluctant to admit that the journey that brought them to this day was not easy nor fair, and for a time, challenged their innate belief that love knows no bounds. And so, on this day we celebrated the unequivocal belief that love conquers all, and we celebrated equality in its finest form. But really, between Robert and Marcelo, when all was said and done, it was just about an equal share of love between two people who were always meant to meet, fall in love, and celebrate their beautiful marriage.
The rest of the story in Robert's own beautiful words...
On the afternoon of our big day, Marcelo and I passed a Brazilian restaurant close to our apartment and he told me about a tradition back in Rio of sharing a Coxinha de Frango for good luck on the day of your wedding. I was game. As we inhaled the most delicious cheese and chicken pastry I’d ever had, I jokingly explained to him the American expression, “She’ll be late for her own wedding." I am notoriously late for everything, but on this day, I was keeping a close and careful eye on his watch. At 2 o’clock we were to be at City Hall to meet my cousin Jen, my faithful gal pal and trusty photographer, Tricia, and our friends, Luiz and Thomas.
At home as we dressed and preened, I noticed the time and texted everyone to meet us instead at 2:30pm knowing we’d need more time. By the time we hopped in the car at 2:20pm, I laughed to myself about my earlier reference... "late for her own wedding." And now here I was pleading with our driver to magically find a faster route from Astoria to downtown Manhattan. In an effort to remain calm, we quietly practiced our vows; his in English and mine in Portuguese...
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When we finally arrived, there was less than an hour to spare and four other couples in front of us (a mix of straight, gay, and lesbian.) In the holding area, I noticed how we all gushed the same mix of giddiness, euphoria, and nervous energy. As we congratulated each other I was overcome with the feeling that I finally belonged. Walking the halls alone as a kid and always struggling to blend in, this was something I had never thought I’d experience. Today though, I felt like the new kid in school, the cool kid. As my cousin pinned my boutonniere onto my lapel, she commented, “I love your suit, it looks like it was tailor-made for you.” Little did she know we were running late because I had changed suits three times and spent the last hour turning this one inside out and hemming the pants with packaging tape!
I looked over at Marcelo. He looked impeccable in his suit and it seemed a sense of tranquility had overcome him. Everything from head to toe fit him just right, while the only thing that seemed tailor fit to me was his hand in mine. I held tight to it - it grounded me through our vows, our tears, and the inevitable “I do.”
As we made our way from the ceremony to Little Italy, and then to our final destination, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, people from all over the world stopped to congratulate us. A melting pot of true New Yorkers and tourists came together and beamed with cries of support: “Parabens,” “Felicitaciones”, “Gratulerer,” and "Awwwright, way to go!"
As we cozied up by the Love statue in Midtown, I noticed an older man do a double-take and then get the attention of his wife and child. He raised his hand high in the air and yelled, “Complimenti e molte benedizioni.” Marcelo quickly assured me it was Italian for, “Congratulations and many blessings.”
A half hour later, in a crowded Saint Patrick’s, it suddenly felt as if everyone disappeared and we had the whole church to ourselves. We stood in front of Saint Anthony and I no longer noticed anyone but Marcelo as he recited a blessing over our rings. When he finished he looked at me and whispered, “Você é minha vida, você é minha familia.” My Portuguese was skilled enough to know exactly what he was saying, but even if it wasn’t, the feeling would have told me everything...“You are my life, you are my family.”
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Outside the church, Tricia shared some of the shots she had effortlessly snapped throughout the day, capturing every big moment and all of the smaller moments in between that I was too busy to notice. One of my favorites is our "Sex and the City shot." In a single frame Tricia captured everything you wish to fill your life with: happiness, friendship, success, and love. Not only were we perfectly highlighted, but the City herself had never looked more stunning.
The next day, the word “husband” was new to my vocabulary. Although I didn’t say it often at first - partly because it was so new and partly because I wanted to keep it as something special between Marcelo and myself - I slowly realized how important it was to vocalize. Saying “my husband” every day was not only a triumph for human rights, but also a personal victory - a victory for the boy from Long Island who never thought he'd make it past 20 and almost didn't; a victory for the young Brazilian teenager forced to live on the streets and find his way after being turned out by his parents for being gay, and finally a victory for the City that brought us together to stand hand-in-hand at City Hall.
On this day, during our vows, I told Marcelo, “Não há maior presente do que você e eu nunca vou deixar ninguém te machucar novamente. Te amo." I whispered it again to him later that day in English, “There is no greater gift than you, and I will never let anyone hurt you again. I love you.”
Today, Marcelo’s English continues to improve every day, as does my Portuguese. As we sit across from each other, I am amazed to think about how far he has come, and even more impressive, how much we’ve come to say to each other without any words at all. As a writer, I’ve learned that there are thousands of words and just the right moment to use each one, but it’s only within the last year that I’ve realized it’s the silence between the words we speak that often have more life, more feeling, and more love than we could ever hope to communicate.
These pictures are the memories that we’ll always have, and our love, well that’s easy… in any language it’s the same.
~ Robert Charles Gompers
For more, Robert & Marcelo's Engagement...