Same-Sex Weddings and The Cultural Impact of Altered Ritual




Mahaffey, Meighan

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This study examines the growing population of married and formally committed same-sex couples by performing a qualitative investigation of their wedding rituals and the ways in which they negotiate gendered wedding traditions. Respondents’ weddings closely followed a heteronormative wedding script, but also adapted some heterosexual rituals to maintain their cultural relevance in an LGBT setting. As same-sex marriage exists in a hostile social and legal climate, adherence to and adaptation of this cultural script is a strategy to attain social legitimacy in the face of social and political oppression. The study further investigates same-sex weddings as a site for identity performance, and describes the ways in which same-sex couples perform self- and community identity through wedding and commitment ceremonies. Particular attention is paid to the use of language to perform or sublimate LGBT identity based on the perception of safety. Finally, the study examines the impact of same-sex ceremonies on the cultural framework they inhabit. Same-sex ceremonies can alter notions of gendered behavior by creating a ceremony without rigid gender roles that is free from the encumbrance of patriarchal stigma. Furthermore, same-sex ceremonies can affect the perception and expression of LGBT identity. The “marriage debate” present in literature by and about the LGBT community seems irrelevant to younger same-sex couples, and the study hypothesizes the existence of a generation gap within the LGBT community regarding marriage.



Wedding, Gay, Ritual, Homosexual, Same-sex, Legitimacy