Aiming for Safer and More Inclusive
I find it really dangerous when wedding industry leaders label themselves as inclusive or safe, whether as individuals, brands, or spaces.
As much as I’m constantly trying to learn and unlearn, I cannot guarantee safety when you work with me–the same can be said for the vendors I recommend to marriers.
We don’t live in a world where we get a badge for being “one of the good ones,” because none of us are exceptional or above potentially doing harm.
There is so much gray area that gets ignored when we simplify safety into pronouns in a bio or e-mail signature, or an allyship badge. Using blanket statements like “safe” or “inclusive” can be a false promise and even more damaging when clients are expecting a positive experience and are unexpectedly harmed in the process.
A vendor might be incredibly affirming to the queer community, but their actions may not be as intentional when that community intersects with those who are Black, disabled, and trans.
I recently attended a conference where one of the speakers–a white, gay woman–spoke about discrimination against sexual orientation by sharing, “If you are a straight wedding professional watching this, you have never had that experience or even [had it] cross your mind that someone might not like you, or want you, or accept you.”
That kind of statement has good intentions, but ignores the fact that marriers are often being marginalized for identities they hold in addition to or apart from their sexuality (disability, race, ethnicity, class, gender identity, etc.).
Many of the vendors I see claiming to be safe and inclusive are using ableist language or AAVE, oftentimes in the same breath. Or only talking about “couples” when discussing weddings. Or not using captions in their videos. Or assuming everyone getting married is in a romantic relationship and prompting them for photos with vulnerable questions about their romantic attraction.
It’s impossible to move through the world without doing harm–in fact, oftentimes the messiness means we are growing and learning. But promising we’re safe while doing so is not responsible or realistic.