My friends Alex and David were wed this past Saturday. I stood as tall as I could next to David, quite honored to be his best man and get to carry & present the rings.
I agonized over the speech they trustingly / bravely asked me to write for one of the toasting lulls between courses of a quite fabulous dinner prepared by caterers I couldn't recommend higher. I'll post more pictures from the event shortly on my Flickr account.
For now though, I'd like to share with you my speech from the event. I can't explain how much different it is to write and perform a speech, to maintain character or personae if you will, in a room of close friends and family, versus an amphitheater of complete strangers you'll never need worry about encountering again at subsequent holiday meals. I have no idea how Steve Colbert does it, frankly. When a joke landed, my voice would pitch shift into a mixed, almost panicked giggle-squeal, a mix of relief that the joke didn't bomb and shock as I'd so expected it would.
Here is the speech, please enjoy as though you were there; though as with any live comedy, might help for you to have some wine or a cocktail first.
Before I start I’d like to afford a disclaimer of sorts:
I’m not an orator. I didn’t even know the word “orator” until yesterday when I heard it on MTV Cribs. I’ve certainly never given a speech at a wedding before. I hope you’ll forgive that I’ve turned to some famous speeches for inspiration; although seeing as how we’re in Canada, you probably won’t recognize any of ‘em anyway, which case, please applaud my wondrous way with words at your leisure.
Four score and seven years ago... Two men met and fell audaciously, inexplicably into what you white people call love. Upon this province; contrived from utter honesty, and thereby dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
They have a dream. Where all peoples gay or straight, rich or poor, interesting or boring, Prada or Tiffany’s, might live and play together with respect and appreciation and cross your heart twenty four hour support.
It would be fatal for this company to overlook or underestimate the urgency and significance of this moment. These many years of playful courting will not pass until there is an invigorating summer of commitment and matrimony! Two thousand and ten is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hoped a couple needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening when the sun also rises over a marriage ready to contend with much more than business as usual.
The marvellous new energy that has engulfed this couple must not lead us to feel neglected or cast aside. A new entity shall result from this union, and new terms must be drafted to contend with the resulting manifestation, wrought not from distrust or exclusion, but instead from a desire to uniformly love, respect, and moreover too include the lot of us into a collective body made far greater now as a whole than might be predicted summed up from all these wonderful collective parts.
We need only remain patient, arms outstretched, and if needed, raised up high to carry, to support, and most of all to willingly embrace this nearly unquantifiable miracle manifesting here before us. We are the village raising cheer to a union long in the making. They cannot walk alone, and frankly, I don’t think a one of us intended to let them. We all here now become family and we all now cheer this entity that is of two individuals yet stands merged into something far, far more.
I have a dream that my child will one day live in a situation where he is not judged by the orientation of his preferences, but by the strength of his character. I have a dream that his character will be in no small part shaped though the bountiful influences of these fine two individuals making such a brave commitment this very day.
I have a dream that someday those that preferred Madonna and those that preferred Cher might be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the bar with. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our collective into a beautiful symphony of family.
Let wedding bells ring! And when this happens, when we allow wedding bells ring – when we let it ring for every moment these two men impact our lives and their union makes those impacts all the more meaningful, we speed towards a day when everyone on of us, gay and straight, liberal and conservative, naive and jaded, consumerist and thrifty, sleepless and well rested, pink - blue and green, will be able to hold hands and sing in the words of the old night club spiritual, “You spin me round like a record baby. Right round. Round. Round. Right round.”
The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of loneliness, indifference, and apathy no matter his dispensation. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our primordial forbearers confront continue to perplex so many a fine folk these dates in chat forums and on talk shows, that of what is the true meaning of matrimony, of commitment, of union. The answer dwells within this very personification of love felt and declared; that the union of these two individuals comes not from the generosity of the state, but from the will of nature itself.
Ask not what your marriage can do for you. Ask instead what you can do for your marriage.
And so say we all.
While delivering the speech, I added an improvised clarification denoting when I was speaking to the couple specifically, or to everyone else, letting them know that a part pertained to them or that they were being held accountable for something in the speech. Those small asides came from parts unknown yet seemed to work well for setting a cadence to and punching up the speech. Seriously, as though the famous people I'd plagiarized / mashed-up were giving me helpful nudges in the right direction to better deliver the speech with modest asides, so simple yet so affective.
Hope you enjoyed it, and I would like to give a shout of thanks out to Abe Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., and John F. Kennedy for their contributions to this speech, and my fine friends Alex and David for challenging me to stand up for them, and I wish them all the happiness in their marriage that I've found in all of mine. And yes, that is a Saddle Tramps joke, but I mean it all the same.
Good luck boys, you finally did it, and we're all very proud!