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Why Our Mothers (and Fathers) Matter

Ralph & Gretchen HammI often find myself using this column to talk about the importance of the acceptance of our parents and community allies when planning our weddings. I believe that we are free to fly so much higher… and farther… and faster… when we have the love and support of our family and friends.

I have been so fortunate to have been supported by my family in so many ways. And one aspect that is most important to me is the support and love I received from my parents and brother during my coming out process.

That was a long time ago — twenty years ago to be exact — and those early days weren’t easy. But, they were productive and, as a family, we worked together to help each other over that temporary speed bump. A few bruises. A few scrapes. A few bumps. But nothing that a little love and a little time couldn’t heal.

And, most surprisingly, that experience and my ceremony to my partner revealed to me that my mom was more of an ally of mine than I ever could have imagined.

As you know, her experience as a “mother of a bride” in helping us to plan our ceremony inspired her to make a difference for us all: she founded this company and began to change the wedding marketplace one heart at a time.

So, this year, in honor of Mother’s Day, I nominated my mom in HRC’s “Mother of the Year” contest and I’m so proud to say that she was selected by Betty Degeneres, Ellen Kahn, and Joe Solmonese, as one of six amazing “Mothers of the Year.” She is so deserving, as are the 5 other moms. Each has made an exponential difference in our lives, whether we know it or not.

I realize now that I’ll be in a bit of a pickle next year when I try to decide what to get my mom for Mother’s Day, but this year’s nomination (see below for my gift to her) was so worth it!

Kathryn’s Nomination of Her Mom: Gretchen Hamm

I am proud to nominate my mother, Gretchen Hamm, for HRC’s Mother of the Year campaign. I am inspired to do so as a means by which I can honor her honest acceptance of me and my brother as we are (lesbian and heterosexual, respectively), and for her unwavering, unconditional love.

My Dallas-based mom, who would have preferred me in a dress, gave me the jeans and leather belt I wanted when I was two, and she let my brother wear the red patent shoes I tossed aside for sneakers.

She made sure we had the best education and opportunities for growth through our youth, and she gave me a large poster for my room, which I hung on the wall during the difficult days of my adolescence. It said, simply, “Be Yourself.”

In addition to the love and acceptance my mom gave to my brother and me so generously, she also shared her love and enthusiasm freely with our friends. It’s a gift that has been especially meaningful for the friends we have whose parents have not been as accepting of them.

After my 1999 ceremony to my partner, my mom famously took her Platform of Love to a whole new level when she founded an online boutique for same sex couples planning their ceremonies. And she’s never looked back.

In her days as a “Mother of A Bride” (still listed on her business card) and as a visionary gay wedding pioneer, I’ve watched her embrace each couple that has reached out to her, needing everything from a hug to encouragement to advice to a butch-femme cake top.

I’ve re-told the story of her lobbying on The Hill and boldly telling a conservative Texas Congressman who was unapologetically against same-sex marriage rights that marriage equality isn’t a matter of “if,” it’s a matter of “when,” and that he really should be on the right side of history.

I’ve also heard the countless stories of members of the HRC community she’s met and charmed within minutes of meeting her in her participation – as a straight ally — with the HRC Federal Clubs in Phoenix and in Dallas.

To know my mom is to love my mom. But, even better, to meet my mom is also to be loved by my mom.

I feel blessed that I was born into her care and I feel privileged to have shared her with everyone who has needed someone like her in his or her life.

She’s my champion. She’s my brother’s champion. And, she’s a champion of us all.

And that’s why I think she’s a perfect fit for HRC’s Mother of the Year.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

 

 (Editor’s Note: Father’s Day is just around the corner. Perhaps you might want to nominate your dad for HRC’s “Father of the Year” all that he’s done for you and the LGBT community! Stay tuned for more information.)

 

Wedding innovator Kathryn Hamm (@madebykathryn) is co-author of The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian & Gay Wedding Photography (Amphoto Books, 2014), an Education Expert for WeddingWire and Publisher of GayWeddings.com