This post is part 1 of 3 from the premiere Why Creative Unions blog series which focuses on the Creative Union’s 3 core values: inclusivity, expression, and community.
I remember sitting in the back of my mother's 1992 blue Honda Accord after she picked me up from elementary school, the hot Miami sun was barreling down on us, and that 90’s “I’m Blue” song by Eiffel 65 was playing. This upbeat euro-pop earworm that seemed to pulse with melancholic vibes sent my head bopping along with the da ba dee da ba daa, satisfying my need to escape my racing thoughts (not much has changed since). Like any typical kid with an insane amount of curiosity and a love for questioning absolutely everything, I looked outside the car window as I concentrated on the “I’m Blue” song lyrics to analyze why this song was so different. Suddenly I realized it wasn’t about a love story. Mind blown. So I asked my Mommy, “Why is every song about love?”. She must have been caught off guard by such a precocious question, one that she probably wasn't prepared to answer parked in front of Flagami Elementary. She never quite answered me, and I still ask myself that same question today.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a romantic at heart (I mean, I did start a wedding company), but my inner child’s curiosity was never suppressed. Why is every story in popular media about romantic love? It’s a question that has permeated my consciousness since that day after school in my mom’s car. Why is it that when I think of romantic comedies, love songs, and weddings, I immediately think of white, straight couples in false Hollywood narratives with thin able bodied straight white women wearing white dresses walking serenely down the aisle to the “man” of her dreams as if he was the only thing that matters to greet the end of her biological clock?
Something about that image just rubs me the wrong way. WE’RE NOT ALL KATHERINE HEIGL IN 27 DRESSES (nor do I want to have 27 bridesmaids)! Hollywood’s fabrications and its classic love stories have become so imprinted in our memory that most people have become brainwashed into thinking that straight + white + hotel = perfect wedding. But guess what, it doesn’t have to be that way! That image can’t reflect everyone (not even close).
Here’s a fun game. Grab a sheet of paper, a pen and take 30 seconds to try and write down every wedding you’ve ever seen on film or television.
Done? Good, here’s my list:
The Little Mermaid
Father Of The Bride
Honeymoon In Vegas
The Princess Bride
The Wedding Singer
My Best Friends Wedding
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Maid in Manhattan (I love J-Lo btw)
Sex & The City (Truth: I met Sarah Jessica Parker once!)
You get the picture. I could go on and on and on, it’s that easy. And how many of those weddings were white + straight + hotel = perfect wedding?
See my point?
Ok switching gears here a bit. You’ll understand why later. My favorite film of 2016 was “Moonlight.” If you haven’t seen it, stop what you are doing and watch it now (It won 3 Oscars including 2017 Best Picture, and has garnered the most amount of think pieces I have ever seen).
Co-written by Miami native Tarell McCraney, Moonlight is a stunning story of a young gay Black man at three pivotal moments in his life. While it is a coming of age drama, it doesn’t aim to be the typical love story that ends with a marriage, instead it subverts the classic love story without totally escaping from the realities of navigating the world as a gay Black man growing up in Liberty City, Miami. It’s profound, subtly intense and devastatingly beautiful.
Wait, but with everything going on in the world at the moment, why talk about love, movies, and marriage? Why love, now? Aren’t we getting sidetracked from the real issues? Nope, just watch this video to have Dylan Marron answer those questions.
My point here is, stories build empathy and shape the way we see things in popular media, within our own communities, and in our personal relationships. If romantic love stories saturate our world so much, then why don’t we see ourselves reflected in them?
Barry Jenkins, the Director of Moonlight asked himself why he never saw two Black men cook for each other on the big screen, then created a scene that did just that. His courage reminds me of that overflowing and confident self love that comes from an inner fire that propels you to make the changes you want to see in the world.
Like Barry, and Tarell, I ask questions about love and representation all the time: in the arts, over a marathon of romantic comedies (no shame), and scrolling through Pinterest wedding boards. Now I decided to do something about the lack of representation, the same way Barry and Tarell created their own path. Without knowing it at the time, my inner 9-year-old sparked a fire to change the wedding industry by subverting the classic wedding love story. I no longer wanted to abide by wedding rules that come from an entire set of dominant cultural traditions imprinted in my brain and passed down to every subsequent generation like a crazed photocopier set on duplicate.
With the 1st ever event planning company solely dedicated to realizing the unique love stories of Creatives through art, I can finally see myself in the wedding industry. I’ve gone full circle, like Eiffel 65 making a song that isn’t prescribing to high dosages of dominant songs that saturate your ears with illusional romance.
So what is that infamous Italian/90’s/Eurodance #1 hit wonder “I’m Blue” really about? Besides the fact that it’s about a fictional character name Zorotl (Yes, it is a blue alien who has it’s own website), On its surface, “I'm Blue” is a metaphor for how the songwriter/character sees the world. In the song, he questions the mundane life choices he makes from the job he chooses to the girlfriend he picks, but it's also othering the character. It sets him apart from the rest of the world and it becomes a badge of honor. He exuberantly sings about his blueness and celebrates his uniqueness. The term blue has always been associated with depression, but is blue really all that depressing?
In Moonlight, Little (the main character) goes to the beach with his mentor, Juan. Juan shares a story about his childhood in Cuba as a subtle reference to the erasure of Miami’s Black Cubans. Growing up, Juan used to run around when the moon was out and this one time, this old lady told him, “In moonlight, Black boys look blue. You’re blue. That’s what I’m going to call you: ‘ Blue’.”
I love that image. When I think of blue, I think of creativity, intelligence, serenity, and infinite freedom. When I think of blue, I imagine being in the ocean, in the middle of it all looking up at the clear blue sunny sky with a smile on my face, remembering all of the endless possibilities that can be realized with my unlimited and creative potential.
After Juan shares his childhood story, Little asks Juan, “Is your name Blue?”
Juan: “Nah. At some point, you gotta decide for yourself who you're going to be. Can't let nobody make that decision for you."
That's why I decided to make the change I want to see in the world to help people realize their unique potential and encourage them to be who they want to be, because their love stories matter.
Maybe blue is more beautiful than depressing, maybe we all just want to be seen after all, under the moonlight.
-Michelle Ivette Gomez
Founder & Creative Director of Creative Unions Event Design LLC
Michelle Ivette Gomez is an arts professional with a love for romance and art, and a passion for bringing people together and telling stories through art. She received her MFA in Curatorial Practice from the Maryland Institute College of Art where she focused on co-creative curatorial practice and expanding traditional methods of exhibition presentation in collaboration with communities. As the Founder & Creative Director of Creative Unions Event Design LLC, the first event planning company dedicated to integrating contemporary art into life’s celebrations, she views marriage celebrations as specially curated art exhibitions that bring people together to celebrate and express unique love stories.