On Gratitude and Gay Marriage

I’m a middle-aged fashion model. According to conventional industry standards, I’m neither tall enough, thin enough, nor young enough to qualify as model material, but that’s one of the main reasons I took on the challenge: I wanted, in my own small way, to expand our narrowly defined ideas of what constitutes “beauty.”

I’m no pro, nor do I aspire to be, but I model fairly regularly with a volunteer organization that promotes diversity in fashion and the fashion industry. Back in June, we did a runway show at a local gay bar and dance club to support the launch of a new LGBTQ magazine. As we dressed backstage before the show, one of the other models, “Kesha,” a stunning African-American woman maybe ten or twelve years younger than me, commented on her wedding planning progress. When I told her I’d recently gotten engaged, too, she said, “Congratulations, girl!” gave me a big hug, and noted, “We need to talk.”

After the fashion show, Kesha and I sat in the club’s bar, drinking wine and sharing nuptial details. Her wedding is slated for this coming spring, so she’d already booked her venue, the Patrick Henry ballroom, and chosen bridesmaids’ dresses, floor-length Tiffany-blue gowns. We talked colors, sharing pics back and forth on our phones: her centerpieces, my vases. She’s planning on two dresses: for the ceremony, a fitted mermaid gown with beading and bling; and for the reception, a mini-dress with a frothy full-length tulle overskirt. As we clicked through pictures, one of us spotted a cat on the other’s phone, so we took a detour into trading pet photos. I’d modeled with Kesha for over a year, but this was the first real conversation we’d had. Weddings, it seems, have a way of bringing people together.

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