Johnny’s World: The Horah

November 28, 2013 7:44 AM5 comments

jworldAs I stood at a New York City courthouse on a winter day in 2011, I knew I was making a good decision. I was marrying my then fiancé, now husband.

It was two days before our actual ceremony, and we had trudged way downtown to collect our marriage license. I knew that when the day would come, I would wear ivory and he would wear black. I knew that it would be too early in the morning for hair and makeup people to get me ready, so I’d have to do it myself. I knew that we were picking my best friend up, our witness and best lady, on our way. I knew that my parents and future in-laws had used guilt and tears to shoulder their way into a day that was supposed to happen without ceremony, and without fuss.

I knew many things, but there was very little preparation and life experience I could rely on to help me with the unknown scenarios that arose in and around the wedding.

It all sort of started with the ring situation. I wanted a large canary diamond; my husband said, “you’re a boy, and you will get a gold band.” I didn’t know what was customary for two dudes taking a trip down the aisle. There is no gay protocol. There is no tradition. I settled on a gold band so that he could surprise me later on with diamond bands to stack on.

When we were applying for a marriage license, the idea of name-changing presented itself for the first time. What is standard for men? I thought publicly I would remain Johnny Weir and officially become Johnny Voronov – since I’m more of the bride than the groom. My husband told me I was crazy to change my name, and he wasn’t exactly interested in changing his. But we settled on taking one another’s family name so we cold honor both sides, Weir-Voronov.

This man-on-man marriage presented a multitude of other minor dramas for which we couldn’t rely on tradition to guide us. How do we spend the night before the wedding? What do we do after the wedding? Florists? Cake?  The only thing we understood was that we would be married – and afterward we would drink, a lot.

This non-traditional family still has its dilemmas. My most recent drama has been the idea of conversion. When we got married, I thought I would absolutely convert to Judaism for my husband, even though it wasn’t a big deal to him or his family. I didn’t feel pressure, but I did know that every goy that had come into their clan before me had converted.

Through my years of fascination and study of the second Great War, a theme that is both horrifying and mystifying to me has always been the Holocaust. While I don’t need to recount all the horrors that period brought the modern world, I felt that it was my duty in marrying a Jewish man to become Jewish and raise Jewish babies and do my part to rebuild their people. I don’t know if that is a common feeling among possible converts, but it is definitely a big part of it.

Cut to my husband, asking me, “when are we putting the Christmas Tree up?”

I was raised Catholic and as an adult have enjoyed a spiritual sluttiness that has helped me appreciate the good in most religions. Oddly enough, the only church I pray in is Russian Orthodox. I wear a Star of David and a Hamsa as well as crosses every day. My husband asks constantly when and if I will convert, but then asks about the Christmas tree because his eyes sparkle when the decorations are out. My personal feeling is that I should convert, but the question is if I want to and if it will change anything about my life.

As I light the candles for Hanukkah this week, I do it with thousands of years of tradition and family racing through my mind. I do it wondering if gays are supposed to convert the same as straights, and I light the candles wondering if my babies should be raised in the faith of their grandparents – and from which side? The idea of religion is a long and traditional highway in this life, but how do you know which exit to take when there isn’t a precedent?

  • Mimi Dzyacky

    Another wonderful article from the ever inspiring Johnny Weir-Voronov! Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah to you and Victor and your famililies!

  • jenn k

    I’ve been thinking about this piece a lot. You know, maybe there’s an answer to your religious quandary in how you chose your last name.

    There’s something very beautiful in Victor’s excitement at Christmas even though it’s not “his” holiday. The same’s true of your respect for Jewish tradition. Kids brought up in a home that has such great examples of mutual respect and appreciation would gain so much.

    Of course, they’re your babies (and I don’t even know if either of you will see this), so you get to decide what works for you. Your babies… you guys are gonna be great dads.

  • AB

    I like the way you approach religion, Johnny…take a number of belief systems and build your own. As a person whose parents were two different religions (Jewish and Catholic, as it happens), I was raised simply to be a good person, respect others, and make my own decisions about what religion I’d join, if any. Whatever you decide to do, you already have the compassion, open-mindedness, and sensitivity to be a great parent.

  • Lady Lisa

    Inevitably, your future children will likely have questions about their hyphenated last name. So, just like you’re honoring both sides of your respective families by taking on each other’s last names, I think even if you do choose to convert to Judaism you could still celebrate and honor the two different faiths of each side. I think it’ll make more sense to them than you think, because they will already have two last names that make their identity. Not everything can have a precedent Johnny, because you guys are charting such new territory here; but kids, for the most, are resilient and can understand more than we think. I’m sure you and Victor will figure this out, so that your children will know and identify with each side of their grandparents.

  • Lady Lisa

    Good Luck tonight at Columbia Johnny & Victor, I just know you will both be great speakers!

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