3 Actions to Take in the Wake of the SCOTUS Decision

3 Actions to Take in the Wake of the SCOTUS Decision

Without a doubt this ruling will be used as precedence for even more discriminatory cases. It is a reminder of the work ahead of us. It is a blow to the spirit and well-being of the LGBTQIA+ community. It is a call to action to those of us who call ourselves allies. So here are three actions to take NOW to respond to this decision.

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Queer + Christian // Love, Marriage and Half Year Celebrations!

Queer + Christian // Love, Marriage and Half Year Celebrations!

Being the kid at heart that I am, in addition to celebrations marking a full year of things, I also love celebrating halfs, and last month was the half anniversary of our wedding — one and a half years married ya’ll!!!  Throw confetti, release the unicorns, and let Kool & The Gang in to “Celebrate good times, come on!”

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How to Succeed at Weddings by Admitting Their Sexist Failures: Musings from The Feminist Bride

How to Succeed at Weddings by Admitting Their Sexist Failures: Musings from The Feminist Bride

Yearning for a successful wedding or to at least not get kicked out of more than one wedding party, I started studying how to be a bride and the history of Western wedding traditions. That’s when I uncovered how wedding traditions were originally designed to pressure women into becoming mothers, to erase their individuality for the sake of family, to give men power over them, and to discriminate against anyone who wasn’t a white, cis heterosexual.

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Not Everyone in the #MeToo Movement Can Publicly Share Their Stories

Not Everyone in the #MeToo Movement Can Publicly Share Their Stories

When accusations began to circulate during the last few weeks surrounding sexual harassment and assault in the wedding industry, we at Catalyst created a platform where individuals could anonymously submit their stories without fear of backlash. We don’t know the names of the parties involved, and we don’t need to. You don’t need to know a person’s identity to hear their story. And if you are someone who has been abused, you don’t need to see a person testify in a court of law to feel like you’re less alone.

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The Wedding Industry Has a Serious Sexual Assault Problem

The Wedding Industry Has a Serious Sexual Assault Problem

It’s not unusual that a man who has been told he’s untouchable, that he is a celebrity, and that he is at the top of his field, thinks he can have whatever he wants by whatever means he feels is necessary, but it is reprehensible, and it is time our industry stopped being quiet about it.

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Et tu, Aziz?

Et tu, Aziz?

When men are socialized from a very young age to seek sex from women and to be the sexual pursuers and initiators, while women are socialized to withhold sex, to flirt, and to read and react to others’ desires, this is a recipe for a rape culture. Make no mistake, based on the woman’s account Aziz was without a doubt sexually coercive, and we believe her and stand with her. But my point here is that a degree of sexual coercion is highly normalized in our culture as romantic, flirtatious, and even a form of foreplay.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute Photo Session

Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute Photo Session

As a high school senior photographer for guys in Houston and mom to a handsome little guy, it is my goal to encourage and support young men near and far through my imagery. As the late Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” I have the same dream that my children and the young people that I photograph can live out their days judged by their character and not by the color of their skin.

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Being an Inclusive Officiant // The Joy of Saying "Yes!"

Being an Inclusive Officiant // The Joy of Saying "Yes!"

A couple of weeks after September 11, 2001, I got on a plane, flew to D.C., and joined two women in holy and completely illegal matrimony. Same-sex weddings were a crime in the state of Virginia, carrying a two-year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine. I was not concerned about going to prison. I was a tad concerned about terrorism and the war that was breaking out, and a bit worried about my own safety. One of the brides was a Marine, and her father, also a Marine, had threatened to come shoot both brides if he could find them. I did not wish to be shot. I am an avoider of arguments, embarrassing social situations, and conflict of all kinds. I did not wish to be shot or shouted at or even to receive snarky, sarcastic comments. But I also could not stand by, and say no, and refuse to marry this couple of women who loved each other and wanted God’s blessing on their union. So I said yes.

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Tulle & Fury // Tis the Season

Tulle & Fury // Tis the Season

Look y’all. LOOK! 2018 is here, and I’m glad to say that my body is still intact, the zombie apocalypse didn’t happen, and we avoided WWIII... for now. After the Rapture of 2016 when everyone and their mama was beamed up into the ether, we were left wondering what foolishness 2017 had in store for us. Did it pack a wallop or what?! I uninstalled my news and social media apps so many times to avoid having to hear another doomsday headline or read another think piece I almost forgot my passwords. From mass shooting to mass shooting to mass shooting to marches to nazis to Sean Spicer’s mismatched shoes to meltdowns to bans to dreams deferred to investigations to more nazis to protests to confederate statues to the toppling of sexual abusers to black women snatching political wigs, it was almost like Quentin Tarantino directed our entire year. We’ve been through some shit. We’ve weathered plenty of storms on every end — politically, socially, historically, literally, mentally, and financially to the point where we’re pretty much over it. But I didn’t want to write about the complete suckage of the past 365 days. Let’s look at our year with fresh eyes, shall we?

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Yes, I Am Single. Yes, I Am a Parent. But Please Stop Calling Me a Single Parent.

Yes, I Am Single. Yes, I Am a Parent. But Please Stop Calling Me a Single Parent.

I want to challenge others to remove “single parent” from their vocabulary — or at least challenge this false narrative that we have about single parenthood and deconstruct why we are subconsciously so set on the two parent norm. I don’t think it’s a word we need to “take back,” but I think we need to stop emphasizing the traditional two parent family when we use it and recognize who it hurts. When we use the term parent, we are becoming inclusive of all parents and not emphasizing the stigma that comes along with the word. Yes, I am single. Yes, I’m also a parent. But please don’t keep calling me a single parent. It’s not my key identity, and I am beautifully just so much more.

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Black BeauTEA Talk // Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained: Where Brittney Goes from Here

Black BeauTEA Talk // Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained: Where Brittney Goes from Here

Behind the scenes, this column has been a part of a crazy journey for me this year. I began this year wanting to start my website and get serious about my makeup artistry business. “Getting serious” about my business meant going into bridal work. I wanted to be taken seriously as an artist and I wanted more than anything to make some real money, ahhkay?! Well, the year is coming to an end and guess how many real weddings I've booked?!! Zero, none, not a single real-life wedding have I booked, and I'm more than okay with that. The truth is that this year took me on such a wild ride that promoting myself as a bridal makeup artist took a back seat...I mean way back. Aside from Liz asking me to write for Catalyst, the staff at Catalyst also accepted my application to be a speaker at their conference! Yeah I know, they’re clearly as out there as I am, but it really happened (laughs). They booked me to come to Richmond, Virginia, to speak at {un}convention—they gave me a mic and everything. Brave people, I tell ya, but it was such an amazing experience, and information should be out soon about where you all can order the footage and watch from home! I’m still reeling from that conference and looking for the next opportunity that I can grab a mic and speak my speech. Until then though I have decided to follow my heart and do what I need to do for me.

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Adapting to the Ordinary // For Better or Worse: The Reality of America’s Safety Net Programs for Married Couples with Disabilities

Adapting to the Ordinary // For Better or Worse: The Reality of America’s Safety Net Programs for Married Couples with Disabilities

The marriage penalty also affects non-disabled couples too. If you or a spouse become disabled while married, a couple must spend-down their assets in order to have the government provide basic needs indefinitely. Financial situations can be so dire, couples pursue divorce just to qualify, allowing the abled-bodied spouse to keep some of their assets. Divorce is a reality that no one should have to face because they got injured or sick.

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Let Me Ruin This For You // Taylor Swift Doesn't Understand Why Everyone Is Mad at Her

Let Me Ruin This For You // Taylor Swift Doesn't Understand Why Everyone Is Mad at Her

Yes, Swift has accurately detected that her reputation is in shambles. Unfortunately, it is not because she is a trenchant revolutionary. Rather, Swift's reputation is deteriorating thanks to her penchant for repeatedly appropriating black culture in her music videos while refusing to speak out against police brutality. Her reputation is due to the empty feminist proclamations she makes while remaining silent when the man who would become our president publicly admits to sexually assaulting women.

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Tulle & Fury // Should Wedding Professionals Consider Active Shooter Training?

Tulle & Fury // Should Wedding Professionals Consider Active Shooter Training?

I’m sure a morbid game of Six Degrees of Trigger Separation could be played by every person in this country. How close have we been to death? How close have we been to being in that congregation, or at that concert, or in the sights of a killer? We mourn for a few news cycles. We run stories about the shooter and his family. We scrutinize the details of the day. We ask how this could happen in a year in which it’s already happened 376 other times. We watch analysts and pundits debate every point except the one that matters. We hold vigils instead of being vigilant about preventing another tragedy. It doesn’t have to happen but it does and it will.

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30 Things I Learned by Age 30

30 Things I Learned by Age 30

Yesterday, I turned 30. It was something I had been anticipating for about a year and a half; it felt imperative that I make the time to reflect on my 20s in preparation for a new decade. In a way I was scared; I feared that I wouldn't be where I was "supposed" to be by 30, both in my career and personal life. Many people told me that fear was silly, but it was real to me. And then my birthday finally came, and my friends and family surprised me with a community yoga class, spontaneous musical performances, and a sleepover. As I sat in the middle of a chorus of "happy birthday" over the backdrop of babies fussing, I looked around me to see the open faces of my friends and family, and I realized I actually had more than I could have ever hoped for by age 30 — more love, more beautiful relationships, more joy than I ever imagined. As a kid, I really longed to be woven into the fabric of community, and here I am, relishing that sense of belonging.

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Bridecentrism, Bridezillas, and "The Best Day of Your Life"

Bridecentrism, Bridezillas, and "The Best Day of Your Life"

The wedding industry didn’t grow to be worth $54 billion because Americans just love marriage so much. No way — marriage is cheap! We’re talking marriage license fees and gas money; you can get married for less than $100. The wedding industry grew to be so enormous because it is built on one big lie: a wedding is the best day of a woman’s life. Maybe it’s not a lie as much as it is a fantasy that we are socialized to embrace from day one. They slap that pink cap on your head, and next thing you know you’re living a Disney-themed childhood in which your career goals amount to being a glitter princess and a mommy to a brood of doll babies. But who will pay for your pink ball gowns and tea parties for your woodland friends? Oh, you know who: Prince Charming.

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Loving Someone Long-Term and Long-Distance

Loving Someone Long-Term and Long-Distance

Andrew, the wonderful human I get to do this relationship with, lives in Toronto, Ontario, and yours truly lives in Richmond, Virginia. If you do the math, we live about 600 miles from one another, and the first nine months of our relationship we lived closer to two thousand miles from one another because Andrew lived in Edmonton, Alberta. It was not what either of us planned for our lives, but something about what we saw in one another clicked with each of us. We were both kind of oblivious and not on the hunt for a partner, but things switched quickly, and now we can’t get rid of each other. Despite the distance, we’re like most other couples; it’s just that our quality time is spent through texts and FaceTime as opposed to movies and nights on the couch.

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Queer + Christian // National Coming Out Day

Queer + Christian // National Coming Out Day

Cue the rainbow colored lights, cue the glitter, cue the legend herself Ms. Diana Ross with all that fabulous hair, wearing the neon purple sparkling bodysuit, singing "I’m coming out, I want the world to know, got to let it show!" Cue all my friends and family together in one room clapping wildly and waving pride flags and holding signs that say things about Jesus being over the moon about me, as I stand on the stage making my announcement in the most dramatic way I can dream, that “I am here and indeed queer!” Tears of joy stream down my face, and I feel free and celebrated and embraced. Ms. Ross puts her arm around my waist and holds the microphone in front of my mouth. The wind swings her hair in my direction, covering my face, and she tosses it back with her hand as iconically as she always does. We sway side to side laughing, and then we sing, "Reach out and touch, somebody’s hand, make this world a better place, if you can,” and it is everything….

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