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April 16, 2024

We Do film screening shows LGBTQ pride

By SPENCER ABROHMS | March 10, 2016

The JHU Pride and The Arts, Entertainment, Media and Entrepreneurship Affinity Group (AEMA Affinity) presented a showing of the documentary We Do: After Marriage Equality on March 3. The JHU Pride is a group that works to create a community for Hopkins’ LGTBQ alumni and the AEMA Affinity for alumni to connect with one another and discover new resources and information through their former classmates.

This documentary presented by these groups in Mason Hall delved into the complex subject of what it means for the LGBTQ community to have the right to marry and its implications for the future. It is an emotional, yet humorous and thoughtful look back at the long, difficult road to equality and coming to the realization that there is still work to be done.

We Do: After Marriage Equality was created by Rebecca Rice, a Hopkins alumna who works as an independent filmmaker in Texas. Rice began work on the film over a year and a half ago when it appeared that marriage equality was finally inevitable. By filing of Obergefell vs. Hodges, which would ultimately grant full marriage equality, Rice wanted to capture the time from civil unions to the impending full marriage rights. She accomplished this by interviewing three couples in order to tell their stories.

The film is broken up into three chapters to show the stories of each couple from when they met to their weddings to what happened after their marriages.

Due to time constraints, only the second chapter of the film was shown. This chapter covered each of the couples describing the lengths they had to go to in order to get married before full marriage rights were granted and how their respective wedding days played out.

The first couple depicted was a lesbian couple. One of the women had a son from a previous marriage who was there to walk her down the aisle. The couple told a touching story of how supportive all of their friends and family were of their wedding. One of the women’s family was so overwhelmingly supportive that all three of her mother’s ex-husbands took turns walking her down the aisle in a sort of relay. Although this wedding was a incredible experience for those involved, it was not technically binding by law. The couple had to fly out to San Francisco to become officially married.

The next couple described was a gay couple who celebrated their one year anniversary by entering into a civil union. Because this was years ago, before national legalization, the couple had to drive up to Vermont to secure this union. Despite the couple’s desire to have a private ceremony, one man’s brother insisted on being there to share the day with them and drove up to the state as well. While the civil union was a success, the couple had to meet with lawyers to sort out their rights and ensure they could achieve the same rights as a heterosexual marriage.

Finally, a lesbian couple discusses how their wedding day was a bit troubled. Though the couple found complete acceptance in liberal city of Austin, when venturing out of the city to go grocery shopping, the women remarked that they did not hold hands or show affection in order to avoid discrimination.

They realized that they focused greatly on other people’s opinions and that many of the heteronormative structures in society had affected their thoughts and behaviors. Additionally, the couple had trouble presenting their relationship to one woman’s Mexican grandmother who did not support of the marriage. This woman’s whole family was awkward and unfriendly at the wedding, which caused the couple to decide that the wedding was probably a waste.

Ultimately, while the women loved one another, the passage of marriage equality was not enough to create a hospitable environment for their relationship to flourish in a public setting. Their story shows the limitations of legislation and the need to push for further acceptance of LGBTQ couples.

This screening of the film was followed by a panel discussion on marriage equality and its implications. Members of the panel included Rice, Lisa Polak, the online moderator for Families with Pride, a social group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender parents and their children. Laura DePalma, who works for an LGBTQ legal advocacy organization in Maryland and Mike Bernard, who is a volunteer for Marylanders for Marriage Equality. The panel responded to questions about why marriage equality ultimately matters and combined their expertise to give thoughtful and enlightening responses.

Overall, Rice’s film was a beautiful take on an incredibly pertinent issue and provides a glimpse into one of the many events Hopkins affinity groups have to offer.

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