First Jamaican Lesbian Wedding

Nicole Y. Dennis and Dr. Emma Benn jump the broom in Jamaica

Page 3 of 4

of the undulating waves, high security, and gated community, it provided the privacy we needed for our wedding. We were also surprised to find that no one judged us. The staff dutifully assisted us with the planning of our wedding, suggesting local vendors and working closely with our wedding planner to secure space and technical set-up of the venue. This came as a pleasant surprise, and deep down I knew the climate in Jamaica had changed. I knew we made the right decision. To me, it’s more than a beautiful country, it’s my home.

So imagine my joy when I walked toward the jetty on our wedding day and found a small crowd of villa staff line the entrance to the gazebo.  Instead of words of condemnation, appraising eyes and smiles followed my wife and I on our way to the jetty where the bridal party were already lined up. Cameras flashed and people came up to us to give us compliments and well wishes. In that moment I missed my video camera which I’ve grown accustomed to carrying around to document our journey. I wished in that moment I could’ve recorded my Jamaican people full of nothing but well wishes and love—a side of Jamaica that the world needs to see; a side that media outlets would constantly silence with biased stories depicting ignorant thoughts that breed stereotypes of the Jamaican people, especially the working class. My villa helpers were the ones who snuck away during the wedding procession to sprinkle flower petals on our immaculate white sheets. They were the ones to hang our wedding attire up to reduce the wrinkles, press my partner’s suit, and meticulously fluff the handkerchief in the left breast pocket. As jittery brides, we tried not to take for granted the importance of mother figures fussing over us given that our own mothers had declined our wedding invitation. Our two helpers made sure that we were well taken care of, well fed, and of course, well ready to exchange our vows. 

HISTORY IS MADE

The wedding was surreal in that we never expected the love and support we got. We soon found that not only had our wedding ceremony symbolize our love before family and friends, it made history. On June 1, just six days after the wedding, the Jamaica Gleaner ran an article about our wedding, which caught the public’s attention. This news spread like wildfire, lighting up airwaves all over Jamaica. What was supposed to be a private event done on a property far away from the chaos of “real Jamaica” became the talk of the town. But we weren’t prepared for what came after two days of public backlash.

I got a call from an editor of the Jamaica Gleaner who was interested in writing the story from my perspective. The beautiful article that was published on June 4, documenting the wedding celebration made front page news, overshadowing the Queen’s Jubilee. To me, this was testament to an evolving Jamaica. Despite the inevitable negative comments by those comfortably disguised under pseudonyms and anonymity, the majority are in favor of our union and the social impact it has made. Whereas education and exposure have a lot to do with how people perceive same-sex unions, the topic has incited meaningful discourse among people from all walks of life. The difference between the discourse today and that of yester-years is the courage Jamaican gays and lesbians and their allies now exude in stepping forth to defend their rights as citizens. Suddenly they have found a voice. And they’re using it.

More promising to me as a Jamaican was the plethora of positive reactions on my blog and some on the Jamaica Gleaner’s comment section from strangers back home—people who felt trapped in silence because of their sexuality. Or strangers showing support in general. Their individual voices joined the chorus of support my wife and I have been getting, expressing their pride and joy. Other gays and lesbians have acknowledged us as an inspiration. Had it not been for this highly publicized wedding, I would never have felt the true pulse of the gay community in my country, and the nation as a whole. For the first time in their lives they were not invisible. The unbiased publication also allowed people to look pass gender and see the rawness and truth in love. That we’re not sexualized vultures or heathens, but two women in love. Most importantly, I observed men and women removing their cloaks of shame and guilt to step forward, beautifully naked in the eyes of freedom. Gay and lesbian Jamaicans are tired of hiding; tired of camouflaging who they are with decorations of societal norms. They’re tired of pretending to be okay with the bigotry they are exposed to at work, in school, or in the