There is a Queer at the Wedding
When I first told my mother that I wanted to wear a tuxedo to my cousin’s wedding, it was over the phone. There was such a long silence on the other end of the line after I expressed this wish that I thought I had lost the connection!
“AHA!” shouted the seamstress the moment I stepped into her shop behind my mother. “Of course she doesn’t want a dress!” She said this so loudly and without so much as a “hi” first, that I almost jumped in surprise.
She had never seen me before in her life and barely had a second to take me in, but she seemed to think she had me pegged instantly, and, for the rest of my visit to her shop, she behaved as if she had known me for years and knew exactly what I wanted. My mother had been to the shop on her own a couple of times before, and she had taken with her a picture I had sent her to show the seamstress the tuxedo I wanted her to tailor.
The seamstress proceeded to look me up and down as if looking for hidden information in my body and the way I carried myself. I was wearing a pair of beige trousers that fit me well, a black polo shirt, and unknown neither to her nor to my mother, a chest binder. My hair was close-cropped, my face free of makeup, my ears free of earrings, and my feet snug in a pair of sneakers that did not quite match anything I was wearing.
Although the seamstress did make me feel a bit self-conscious, I was relieved to see that she had no intention of trying to talk me out of a tuxedo. I was ready to argue with her about that, just as I had to do with my mother, but she seemed to think it was in fact a good idea! She pretty much accommodated almost all my wishes – she did put her foot down when I asked for the suit pants to have pockets in them – and comically brushed off all my mother’s suggestions to “feminize” the tuxedo with shiny, glittery, or frilly additions. Because of this, I in turn ignored any guesses the seamstress made out loud about my personality.
“I bet this is the daughter you send to run difficult government errands for you,” she said to my mother. “She’ll get the job done!” My mother chuckled uncomfortably. “I bet you’d rather send her than her brother!”
When I first told my mother that I wanted to wear a tuxedo to my cousin’s wedding, it was over the phone. There was such a long silence on the other end of the line after I expressed this wish that I thought I had lost the connection! But my mother was still on the line, no doubt thinking furiously fast. She knew she would never manage to change my mind, but she was struggling hard to accept the idea.
“Hello?” I said.
“You know, you don’t have to wear a dress,” tried my mother. “How about just some black trousers and a nice top?”
“Nope,” I replied. I was determined to have the tux, and my mother knew better than to try any harder. She did soften up a little bit when she saw the picture of the suit I had in mind. She seemed to think it could actually be quite nice if done well. But she continued to make every attempt to feminize it as much as possible until it was finished. Thankfully, none of her attempts succeeded. Little did she know that the suit I picked was actually already a compromise, and that if it were totally up to me, I would have a tux that looked exactly like a man’s, and I would have worn it with a white shirt underneath, a vest, and bowtie, but I settled for one that I knew would slightly intrigue my mother – just to avoid a fight. Also, since my financial situation required that she pay for it, I felt I had to try to appease her slightly…
I was mostly pleased with the final result of the seamstress’ work. The only thing I didn’t like about how it looked had more to do with my body than with the suit itself, but since my breasts and hips weren’t going anywhere any time soon, I had to be satisfied. Hopefully it was nothing my chest binder couldn’t fix.
I have always hated having to go to weddings, especially family weddings. I hate the crowd, the loud music (or rather “noise” because one can hardly call that music), the necessity to dress up, the time and money wasted on clothes and shoes, the sweaty middle-aged and old relatives kissing me on the cheeks and expressing their wishes that my own wedding would be soon, having to behave myself the entire time because it’s a family wedding and my entire family is conservative, and, most of all, having to be up very late into the night because it would be rude to leave early… Probably the only two things I enjoy about weddings are seeing the bride and groom looking happy and watching small children tear it up on the dance floor. But I don’t really need more than half an hour to enjoy that. So, my determination to wear the tux was my way of trying to make this wedding as tolerable as possible.
On the day of the main event, I bound my chest, put my suit on with a top that had a glittery neckline and cuffs (to appease my mother), stepped into my shiny black leather shoes with virtually no heels, did absolutely nothing to my still very short hair beyond washing it, did almost nothing to my face beyond evening out my skin tone (much to my mother’s dismay), flatly refused to wear jewelry (also to my mother’s dismay), and headed out, wondering what sort of reactions I was going to get from various extended family members.
To my utter surprise, at least six people complimented me and seemed to genuinely love my outfit. They described it using words such as “classic”, “vintage”, “wow”, and “different” or “original”. I didn’t bother to explain that I wasn’t trying to be different, only to be comfortable really. Instead, I just thanked them and moved on. The majority of people, however, did not comment at all, and, because they are my family, I knew that, for many of them, the silence meant that they found my appearance inappropriate, or at least very odd. One particularly gorgeous cousin in a beautiful dress looked at me with a mixture of concern and revulsion on her face that I tried not to think about too much… Of course, as long as no one was actively giving me a hard time, I did not care. On the contrary, I stood as tall as I could and made sure I periodically walked around the hall to make the people who deserved it uncomfortable.
Because the wedding started relatively early in the evening, I did not mind very much the first couple of hours. The bride was very happy, and since she is someone I love, it was nice to see that and to be there for her as she celebrated her big day.
After those first two hours, however, I predictably started to feel bored and tired. The wedding was starting to feel like one very long photoshoot, and there was a shortage of dancing toddlers. Three hundred photos and two hundred
I could not shake the familiar feeling of being an alien at the party. Every woman there who was around my age was either already married, engaged, or at least hoping to be married soon. And definitely to a man. I, who have pretty much zero interest in men, and am not even comfortable being called a woman, could not help but feel rather lonely and unseen in the middle of all these people. It’s not that I care too much about marriage; if it were up to me, marriage wouldn’t need to exist at all! But, given the way the world is, I would have liked to at least have the option. I can’t deny that a part of me wishes I could take it for granted and be confident that, if I ever find someone I want to spend the rest of my life with, then our relationship would somehow be celebrated by those who love us. Definitely not in a wedding like this one, but somehow, or at least that it would be accepted. But reality was so far from this fantasy, and the heaviness of it sometimes threatened to suffocate me.
When I started to feel like I had disappeared long enough that people would start to wonder where I was, I very slowly walked back to the hall, suddenly thinking I should have definitely insisted on the trousers having pockets. A short distance outside the large double doors that led back into the ear-splitting noise, I saw a very large young man sitting alone in a chair, sweating in his suit and wiping his forehead. I recognized him as a friend of the bride’s family whom I’ve met several times before. I was pretty sure he only showed up to be polite. He looked up at me as I approached, and I smiled. I had only one word for him: “