Of all the people I have loved in my life, one of the greatest was my Aunt Marie. She was not my biological aunt, but rather my Aunt Rosemarie’s partner of over 20 years.
Growing up, I knew Aunt Ro & Aunt Marie lived together, but I was not allowed to know that they were gay. My family accepted the relationship, but being the devout Catholics we were, homosexuality was still something sinful that needed to be hidden, especially from the children. Still, without knowing the exact nature of their relationship, I absolutely adored them both. There was very little as wonderful to me as the possibility of getting to see them, having them take me to the zoo or aquarium or for a walk around Park Slope (back in the 80s when it was, well, really different than it is now).
Eventually I figured out they were gay, and I didn’t care at all. They had been gay the whole time, and my knowing didn’t suddenly change anything. They may not have been married in the eyes of the church or the law, but Aunt Marie WAS my aunt, and I loved her madly. My whole family did, until the day she died from cancer nearly ten years ago. And there has not been a day of my life where I don’t think about her, or talk to her up in heaven or wherever all the good souls go.
When the first rumblings happened a few months ago that gay marriage in New York might be a possibility, we were asked by an activist friend if we could leverage our social network and business contacts into supporting the cause. I want to say it was something we jumped at, but it wasn’t. Matt and I worried that coming out for what we believed in would end up hurting business, in just the same way it hurt when our bigoted state senator proposed anti-gay legislation a few weeks ago and customers vocally complained to us knowing that we were a Bay Ridge based business. As strong as we felt about our convictions, we thought it might be best to stay out of the whole situation.
Then I started to think about my Aunt Marie a lot. I thought about her kindness and generosity, how her heart was so big to forgive so much, and how much she loved not just my Aunt Ro, but my grandmother and my aunts and all of us. I thought about her parents, the cutest little Italian immigrants you’d ever meet, and how they were present at every single one of my birthday parties and holidays. I thought how even though my family disapproved of them being gay and felt the need to shelter me from it, there was never a single thing about my family that ever felt wrong.
I will never think my Aunt Marie was “wrong”. In my eyes, Aunt Marie was just about as perfect as a human being will ever be. Yet her entire life, she wasn’t good enough to be counted with everyone else, just because was in love with my Aunt Ro, and loved all the nutjobs that came along with her. And that will never, ever sit right with me.
Matt and I finally decided we were brave enough to come out publicly for marriage equality, and tried to rally our supporters. We asked people to call their senators and to help us spread the word that equality was becoming less and less of a dream, even though so many said not to get our hopes up. We DID lose followers, but it was still worth it to us. I know in my heart that if Aunt Marie was still alive she’d would have been fighting to see this happen- and if she couldn’t be here to do it, I would so no one would ever forget how amazing she really was, and no one like her would ever be treated as less than human again.
Atticus and I at the rally against Senator Marty Golden, who tried to not only ban gay marriage in NYS, but also attempted to strip the LGBT community of civil rights they already have. He’s up for reelection next year, everyone. Remember that.
I know what we did was microscopic in the grand scheme of the whole process, especially when you remember that there are brave men and women who have made this legislation their entire lives work. But aside from being a victory for New York, this was a victory for this little Italian-American family down here in South Brooklyn. I don’t want my Aunt Ro to have to hide herself from my children for any reason. She is my aunt, and I will always love her for EVERYTHING she is. My kids adore her and her new wife, Sara. They are as married as Matt and I are, and this new generation of children will be taught that being gay is nothing to be ashamed of. Ro and Sara might not be normal (and that has nothing to do with being gay), but to us they are our family, and they’re perfect.
To all our LGBT friends, family and neighbors- we love you, and will always support you no matter what.
We promised that when the first gay couple marries in NY, we’d do their wedding cupcakes for free. Well, that offer still stands (and coincidentally, I believe the first day where weddings can take place is Estelle Getty’s birthday, aka Robicelli’s first ever Golden Girls Day).
AND if you’re a gay or lesbian couple getting married before October, we’ll take 10% off your entire wedding cupcake order, plus donate an additional 10% to the Ali Forney Center for Homeless LGBT youth. That sound like a good way to celebrate making history to you? :)
Aunt Marie, I wish you could have been here to see this. I love and miss you so much.
Now onto flavors- what better way to celebrate than with a cupcake? I’ve been told on good authority it’s the gayest of all the desserts- WAY gayer than pie!
Clockwise from front: Apricot Chardonnay, S’Mores, Rue McClanahan, The Bluth
Apricot Chardonnay: Apricot chardonnay cake and buttercream, chardonnay poached Turkish apricot
S’Mores: Chocolate cake, speculoos pudding, toasted marshmallow buttercream, ganache, graham cracker crumbs
Rue McClanahan: Peach cake, cheesecake buttercream, peach compote
The Bluth: Chocolate banana cake, chocolate buttercream, roasted walnuts, ganache
CAFE AT SAM’S BAKERY- 94th Street off 3rd Ave, Bay Ridge
BAGEL SCHMAGEL: Third Avenue btwn Bay Ridge Pkway & 76th Street, Bay Ridge
THE CUPCAKE STAND: Fifth Avenue between 60th and 61st, Sunset Park
CRESPELLA CREPE & ESPRESSO BAR- 321 7th Avenue at 9th Street, Park Slope
TAZZA CAFES- Henry off Atlantic and Clark off Henry, Brooklyn Heights
RADISH- Bedford Ave off N8th, Williamsburg
RED HOOK LOBSTER POUND: 284 Van Brunt Street, Red Hook and Roving Food Truck *Whoopie Pies only*
CAKESHOP- Ludlow btwn Stanton & Rivington, Lower East Side
BATTERY PLACE MARKET: 77 Battery Place, Battery Park City