Brandi Carlile Opens Up About ‘Damaging and Humiliating’ Experiences as a Gay Woman
Brandi Carlile is using the final days of Pride Month to share some of her own experiences as a woman in a same-sex relationship. The lauded singer-songwriter, who has been married to her wife, Catherine Shepherd, since 2012, details in a new Instagram post a series of "damaging and humiliating" moments they have faced throughout their marriage and time raising children.
When Carlile and Shepherd got married, same-sex marriage was still illegal in the United States due to the Defense of Marriage Act. (The two were able to marry in Carlile's home state of Washington after Referendum 74 legalized same-sex marriage in the state.) In Shepherd's home country, too, the couple faced discrimination.
"When we held our civil partnership ceremony in the U.K., we had to stand under a sign that stated 'marriage is between a man and a woman.' We also had to abide by a law that 'will not permit the use of any wording, readings or music which may have religious connotations' during our ceremony," Carlile recounts. "This hit me particularly hard as a person of faith."
Carlile and Shepherd are the parents of two daughters: Evangeline, who was born in 2014, and Elijah, born in 2018. In her post, Carlile reveals that she is listed as Evangeline's father on the birth certificate "because there simply wasn’t a space for me to be a mother within my marriage and family."
"These are just a few of the challenges we faced but believe me, there were more. And we are the lucky ones!" Carlile reflects. "But I can’t really describe how damaging and humiliating it was to try and build a life together and raise our children with such limited fundamental rights, recognition or protections in place for our family."
Carlile's post closes with a call to "keep pushing forward" and advocate for equal rights, specifically for LGBTQ+ people. She also calls out Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Stormé DeLarverie and Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, four transgender or gender non-conforming women of color who were part of the Stonewall riots, which occurred in June of 1969 as a response to a police raid of New York City's Stonewall Inn, a gay bar. The uprising is an important milestone in the gay rights movement, and marches to mark the first anniversary of the event are widely considered the first Pride Month celebrations.
"They fought for us, let’s keep fighting for them," Carlile concludes. "Happy Pride everyone."
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