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Adovcacy News - Love, remembrance & promise. Live on TV

February 10, 2004

Love, remembrance & promise. Live on TV.
A statement from Douglass and Stephen Drozdow-St. Christian on their same-sex wedding, broadcast live by CBC News Sunday on February 15, 2021

"I do not want to be tolerated nor misnamed. I want to be recognized."
Audre Lorde

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, and then you win."

Following the court ruling in Ontario last summer, Stephen and I, after having been together for almost 15 years, began making wedding plans. We had talked about this, casually, over the years, but neither of us thought the day would arrive so quickly and so decisively. We began to work our way through the tradition of marriage and family, of commitment and public declaration and pledge, creating for ourselves our own day of love, remembrance, and promise.

In the fall, CBC News Sunday began planning to do a special program on equal marriage. As part of that planning, they hoped to include an actual wedding in order to give the discussion about equal marriage a human context. And so we invited CBC News Sunday, and its viewers, to attend our wedding in the hopes that our day, our vows, our love, could make a contribution to that discussion. It has been something of a roller coaster. Live television is a universe unto itself in many ways. We've had to think about things not normally part of wedding planning - like will my bald spot blind viewers under the glare of television lights. And we've had to think about what it means to invite a television crew to attend what is usually a very private moment.

Which is why we agreed.

Our wedding, all weddings we believe, are a celebration of love, family and community. These three things are indivisible. Our wedding, all weddings, should be and perhaps must be about affirming and re-affirming our connection, not only as a couple to each other, but to the wider world of our many communities. We believe that our wedding, all weddings, by pledging love and respect, joy and sustenance, contributes to that which only strong community can give us - liberation.

We have all heard the arguments against equal marriage. As queer men and women, in whatever way, we have heard them all of our lives, sometimes delivered with rhetorical eloquence and sometimes delivered at the end of a fist. We have heard the moralists argue that our love, our lives, and our families are an abomination. To them we can only say, govern your lives according to your god's wishes - and grant to everyone else the same privilege, the same choice. We've heard pontificating professors masquerading behind the absurd illusion of academic neutrality and disinterest. To them, we can only say - eloquent, peer-reviewed, footnoted intolerance is still intolerance. We've even heard other queers of various stripes condemn us for selling out, for giving in to tradition, for not being quite queer enough for them. To them, we can only remind them of something Audre Lorde once said: "Hopefully, we can learn from the 60's that we cannot afford to do our enemies work by destroying each other."

And to each of them, we can only add, our wedding is a public declaration of what Walt Whitman called the essence of freedom - variety and choice. It is a public celebration of diversity in all its forms. And yes, it is a public embrace of tradition. When tradition is stolen from us, denied us, distorted and manipulated into a tool of brutality and oppression, we have two choices. We can turn our back, walk away, and renounce the tradition. Or we can make a different choice, to fight to take the tradition back, to reclaim it, to restore its core values, robbing the bullies and thugs of one more weapon of hate.

We all make choices, and the more choices there are, the more freedom there is to build lives and communities as we want them to be rather than as others demand we make them. Audre Lorde, whose spirit guides Stephen and my hearts and souls in so many ways, once wrote "it is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept and celebrate those differences". Our wedding celebrates these new and empowering choices, celebrates and honours each of our loving choices, whichever ones we make. It enhances freedom rather than diminishing it. And it stands witness to a simple recognition, that communities grounded in justice, dignity and equality must start as communities grounded in love.

This, dear friends, is our story, not a new story but a continuing one. It is a story being told across the country all this week, as couples and their supporters take action in support of equal marriage.

We are honoured that Pastor Deana Dudley, of Christo MCC, will perform the ceremony, bringing her spirit and her spirituality to join with ours. It is a real privilege to share our wedding with Rev. Eldon Hay, whose recent induction into the Order of Canada is a tribute to the life time of work Rev. Hay has done on behalf of LGBT people in Canada and around the world. We are touched by the kindness of Heather and Deb at The Looking Glass for their efforts in providing such a special space for the ceremony and for our guests. And we are thrilled, honoured, proud as new parents that our processional song will be the world premier of a new song by Stratford singer/songwriter Dayna Manning, sung by Dayna herself.

We congratulate and thank the producers and hosts of CBC News Sunday for their efforts to bring the discussion of equal marriage, the real and compelling and human discussion, to Canadians. And we are proud to know that so many people, in so many places, will be able to join us in celebrating these most special vows.

Douglass and Stephen, husbands-to-be.

CBC News Sunday will broadcast the marriage on:

Feb 15, 10 a.m. ET(CBC Television - main network, live)
Feb 15, 12 noon (CBC Newsworld - taped rebroadcast)
Feb 16, 1 a.m. (CBC Country Canada - taped rebroadcast)

CBC News: Sunday press release
- Feb. 15 - Same-Sex Marriage

This weekend, CBC NEWS: SUNDAY hosts a special gathering of Canadians to witness and discuss the union of two men in matrimony. The show will be a groundbreaking television event, the first live broadcast of a same-sex marriage. CBC NEWS: SUNDAY airs Sunday, Feb. 15 on CBC Television at 10 a.m. local time and on CBC Newsworld at 12 p.m. ET.

The couple, Douglass and Stephen Drozdow-St.Christian, have been partners for more than 10 years and are allowing viewers to witness their nuptials because they feel “the human face is missing from the issue and because this part of the debate keeps getting missed.” Pastor Deana Dudley, from the Christos Metropolitan Community Church, will marry the couple.

The CBC NEWS: SUNDAY ‘Same-Sex Marriage Special’ is a chance for both sides of this issue to discuss and debate their positions. Viewers will have the opportunity to hear the viewpoints of supporters and detractors of same-sex marriage in an innovative and lively television format.

Audiences and key speakers in two separate locations will have the unique opportunity to ask each other questions, raise their concerns and share their thoughts. The wedding itself will provide a context for this dialogue and offer Canadians the occasion to witness a union now legal in Ontario and British Columbia.

It’s a timely opportunity to explore a controversial issue facing North America. On Wednesday, Feb. 4, the Massachusetts high court ruled that only full, equal marriage rights for gay couples would be constitutional. Here in Canada, Christian groups are advocating a week called ‘Marriage on the Rock,’ from Feb. 8 to15, in “appreciation [of] traditional marriage,” while gay advocacy groups are calling Feb. 14 ‘Freedom to Marry Day.’

For more information on the program, visit www.cbc.ca/sunday.

For further information, please contact:
Tracey Williams, publicist
CBC News Toronto
(416) 205-8777

MailLink to our media coverage of related issues.