Over the past several years I’ve heard actual horror stories from families who were “interviewed” by other officiants and vendors regarding what they look like, were they gay and even if they were interracial!
Asking a prospect if they were any of the above or even if they were pregnant and, if so was the pregnancy visible is wrong in each and every situation.
I’m going to step out on a limb here and suggest that asking these types of questions is the most preposterous and offensive thing I’ve ever heard. I have never asked a client whether they were two different colors, pregnant or LBGTQ. Why? Because I don’t care. We help FAMILIES.
This morning I had a reporter call and attempt to verify that I perform Prison Weddings and LBGTQ Weddings. I’m always amazed when someone goes to the trouble to find my phone number but doesn’t bother to do any research about me but, it happens all the time. After quickly deducing that this reporter wasn’t LBGTQ friendly and obviously didn’t agree with prisoners having the right to marry-I hung up.
For nearly 6 years everytime I’m interviewed at an event or function or even from my home office- the reporter “has a chip on their shoulder” about what I do and who I help. Rather than waste my time with narrow minded reporters who don’t bother to find out more before dropping a dime on me- I hang up.
I have four websites and blogs that detail my journey in the wedding and events industry and if someone wants to write a story regarding my client base, it needs to be someone who understands it!
But back to that discrimination issue—why in the world would you need to know someone’s lifestyle or color to take on their business?
What’s going on with vendors who want all of their clients to be beautiful and traditional? Half of my clients are LBGTQ and I run a “rainbow business” of families who don’t need to be beautiful to have a Life Event.
The only time that I had ever been asked questions that were surprising and intrusive was years ago when I was under contract with a production company years ago (it’s not who you’re thinking) I’m talking YEARS-I was 16 years old.
It was my very first production contract for a commercial with Mel Tillis and Whataburger in Texas. There was a series of 5 commercials but first-let’s get back to that contract. “Do you have all your teeth? Are you attractive? Are you overweight? Do you walk with a limp? Are you cross eyed?” I could go on and on but ironically, I was signing the contract on location at Beach Street and asked a production assistant if I was attractive? After all, attractive to whom?
I was “plucked” from my job at Whataburger for the commercials because I looked “ethnic.” I am ethnic and one half Indian. The red hair and green eyes are from my Scottish and Irish side of the family.
The Whataburger contract was the first time in my life that anyone had ever asked me point blank about being different or having something wrong with me.
These days people think it’s okay to pry and effectively “weed out” anyone who doesn’t fit in their mold. What if I had been hearing impaired, missing my teeth or cross eyed on that Whataburger set? Would they have sent me home because I was different? I will never know but understand the social stigma others face because they are “different.”
What a boring world this would be if everyone were the same!
While in Hollywood at a meeting with a production company, I told them that I don’t fit in any box. I meant it- I don’t. I’m open minded and compassionate and I’ve never judged anyone or their situation. Perhaps not fitting any box was a term that wasn’t completely understood.
I try to help anyone and, even when they have no money or trade, I take them on and sponsor them at my own expense. No one in this industry will do what I do for free when needed because this industry actually is “all about the money!”
Being “different” than other vendors, I also have folks that “don’t believe in what I do or who I help” that often contact me to give me their side of the story while quoting Scripture. I’m always amazed that these Christians spend so much time telling me what I do or who I help is wrong. I don’t see “differences” I see families.
My twin sister gets a lot of her best material from conflict. Today after telling her about the reporter, she came up with a new #Cindyism Quote to sum it up “Everybody’s Character Speaks A Lot About Them-The Problem With A Hypocrite Is That They Refuse To Listen To Anyone Other Than Themselves.” IE: No one is ever right except them. Or “Ignorance Speaks Without Forethought-Intelligence Listens Before Speaking One Word.” I don’t always “get it” with my sisters quotes but apparently, everyone else does because her quotes are so wildly popular that they are shared in other languages worldwide.
When you will help anyone–haters find you. Biased people share their views and sometimes call you names.
In fact, by the time these families make it to me and tell me of their horrible experiences trying to finding anyone to help them, the questions they were asked by other vendors who turned them down were so shocking that I was reminded of that weird contract with Whataburger. “Do you have all of your teeth? Is your hair different colors? Are you both the same color? Are you gay?”
I’m used to critics & narrow minded opinions although I shouldn’t be because it’s happened to me over and over since I started Texas Twins Events.
Prior to same sex marriage becoming legal in Texas and numerous other states, I performed LBGT Unification or Promise Commitment Ceremonies.
If you don’t think I have had some fairly offensive comments about my clients and their lifestyle living in Texas, think again. I was gay friendly when it wasn’t cool or hip-Texas Twins Events has always been LBGT friendly when other vendors “worried what straight people would think if they advertised to the LBGT community.” I “stood alone” for years in this industry when others feared their reputation would be ruined if they marketed business within the LBGT community and it wasn’t easy. Maybe if I had been in NY or LA things would have been different but I wasn’t and they weren’t.
But know this–the people you turned away will remember you they will tell others about you and the news will travel quickly.
Families don’t all look alike and neither do my clients.
Officiating weddings in prisons has ruffled a few “Conservative” feathers but my role isn’t to make my critics and self professed Christians happy- my role is to help families.
I have heard so many tragic stories from couples seeking help who felt they “had” to “out” themselves when seeking a vendor that I just couldn’t take it anymore and decided to write this blog and “out” the people who make alternative lifestyle couples feel different or outcast because they aren’t what you may want them to be.
It’s not only the officiants interviewing prospects over the phone either. Photographers have also asked our previous clients if they were LBGT, interracial, or pregnant too. Why would a vendor need to know the answers to these questions? In order to up their fee or turn away the prospect altogether.
LBGT Weddings and Prison Weddings both have one thing in common- many don’t approve of their right to marry. Many refuse to have anything to do with an LBGT or Prison Wedding and even turn away a pregnant bride because “she is showing.”
I think it’s strange that the news fails to address the hurdles these families face but perhaps their struggle to be accepted isn’t “news worthy” to reporters.
For some reason reporters want to put me on the front lines for helping anyone regardless of their situation “because I’m a different type of wedding & events vendor?” Thanks but no thanks. The last thing I need is more critics sending me their views. I’ve had years of fighting my way beyond the views of others “who don’t believe in gay marriage.” A Prison Wedding of an LBGT Interracial Couple has apparently put myself, my family and my businesses in a position to be “targeted” for being unbiased and welcoming any family no matter how different they might be and I don’t need that kind of publicity.
Leaving my home office and heading to the prison this morning, it should be noted that I never asked the person contacting me if he was LBGT or if the marriage was interracial. The client “outed himself” because he had been “interviewed” from other wedding officiants and expected me to do the same. When I didn’t ask-he volunteered the information in a slow and fearful manner because he expected me to say no. I never have said no to anyone because they were “different.” Ironically, today’s client had paid and booked another officiant who called him Monday to verify it wasn’t an LBGT or interracial wedding and was shocked to find out that it was not only both but also a Prison Wedding! Who takes money and offers a commitment to a client and later-backs out?! Unethical vendors that’s who and it happens far more than anyone realizes. Today’s wedding is my 29th time to cover an officiant who backed out at the last minute and I can guarantee you that it won’t be the last!
My husband was a little surprised when he asked about today’s Prison Wedding (he worries about my safety but a Prison is a safe place for a wedding). After giving him the details, my husband recognized that we might have another miserable round of checking the mail from people who disagree with my client base but looked at me and said “people who write to you don’t understand that you survived bullying as a child for being different. They don’t realize that you are a survivor. I do and we will weather the storm of Prison Weddings together. I’m behind you 100% because I was bullied for being short most of my life too you know.”
I’m sad and sorry for these couples who were chastised because they weren’t “the perfect couple” to other vendors but I’m happy they found my family and I to change that for them and give them a Dream Event regardless of what they looked like or their lifestyle.
Every family we have helped has had a story but a few families had a story that brought tears to my eyes because no one was willing to help them over and over again.
I changed all of that and made every family who came to us what they always wanted to be-a family!
Wendy M Wortham