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Finding my niche

Starting out as a celebrant, it is critical to know who your tribe are or to find your niche – which has so many parallels with fashion.

I grew up exploring my own identity through fashion; from post Punk Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders in my early teens, through Siouxsie Sioux of the Banshees in the Goth phase of my late teens, with the chameleon glamour of David Bowie ever present and massively influential on my musical tastes and fashion flirtations. I loved vintage clothes and would scour jumble sales for items to customise, inspired by the punk aesthetic and DIY new romantic glamour of the early 1980’s and inspired by designers such as Vivienne Westwood. No relative was safe from a wardrobe raid! Alternative music was my passion, clubs and gigs were my playground and the way I dressed told everyone what tribe I belonged to.

With music and fashion came dancing and clubbing. London in the early 90’s, with clubs like the Batcave or G.A.Y at the Astoria, meant dancing all weekend and as one of the few females in a predominantly male dance culture, it felt safe to express myself in a way that was liberating and allowed me to be me. I also realised that I was welcomed by the LGBT community, even spending Sundays in the legendary Vauxhall Tavern, and this acceptance from the friends, peers and colleagues I have encountered throughout my life meant a lot.

During my career in education, this meant that supporting students facing gender challenges was something I found rewarding, helping them find their own identity through fashion, especially when image and identity became more critical with the rise of social media and the LGBTQIA+ message became stronger and more visible.

As I journeyed through my recent celebrant training, trying to identify my tribe or find my niche made me realise it was much like finding the gap in the market when launching a fashion brand or product. So how was I going to narrow down my desire to be inclusive and offer a diverse service? As my mentor pointed out, there are thousands of other celebrants offering inclusive or diverse services, how could my tribe find me?

The first time I was asked to write a practice wedding script, I instinctively chose the example of the same sex couple with a theatrical background. I imagined they were some of the friends whose weddings I had attended and relished finding that special reading or poem from the wealth of poetry books I have to hand; from Auden, Quentin Crisp or Kae Tempest, even my literary taste has often leaned towards queer literature. Bowie’s gender fluidity in the 1970’s and early 80’s made me so aware that gender was a complex issue, and through his music I discovered so many other artists in a range of disciplines that both intrigued and excited me, such as Beardsley or Warhol. I find my tribe is represented by listening to the diverse genres and artists on #BBC6Music and is where I find old and new artists to continue my passion for alternative music, new trends or cultures to explore.

I know that same sex marriages are now widely accepted, and many celebrants have trained specifically to fill this niche, but I now recognise that my appreciation of the LGBTQIA+ community, fashion, art, and subcultures always leads me to like-minded creatives.

I am no longer identified by clothing as a Goth, although I still love a black dress! However, Bowie will always be my first musical love, and as Marc Almond sang, dancing and loving, and having good times is what makes me happy. As your celebrant, I will make sure that having a good time is key to your celebrations and if dancing down the aisle is what you want to do then let the music play!


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