Musician dedicates wedding song to NY couple Chris and Carl for Freedom to Marry

Earlier this summer, we wrote about Christopher Boudewyns and Carl Byrd, who got married in New York City on their tenth anniversary on May 27, 2012. Our supporters were able to meet Chris, Carl, and their baby daughter, Harper; hear about their beautiful wedding; and learn about why marriage matters to them.

Now, the glow from Chris' and Carl's wedding continues to shine, serving as a demonstration of the love and commitment that same-sex couples across the country share. Their ceremony featured a surprise from their good friend, regular babysitter, and "honorary family member" Lindsay Katt, a musician from New York City. As a wedding gift to her friends, Lindsay wrote and recorded "My Home," a song about the love that Chris and Carl have shared for over ten years. She produced a slideshow with the song and screened it during the wedding, and now the song is available on iTunes and other music distribution sites. All of the funds raised from "My Home" will be donated to Freedom to Marry. You can check out the song HERE on iTunes and on Amazon

Lindsay is proud to support the campaign to win marriage nationwide - and "My Home" is a natural extension for some of her other work, which she says promotes honesty and staying true to yourself. Lindsay is an emerging artist in New York City, having released her debut record, Picking Out Boxes, in 2009. She released the album soon after coming out to her family as a queer woman - she calls it her "coming-of-age" period, saying, "I wanted to have the freedom to be my authentic self before the world had a chance to tell me how." Since then, Lindsay's music has been featured in last year's Macy's campaign, ABC's Castle, SyFy's Being Human, and MTV's The Real World, and her music videos have been aired on MTV and Logo. Earlier this month, she even played at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Here, we speak with Lindsay about her work, her relationship with Chris and Carl, and her experiences advocating for the freedom to marry through music.  

1. What was it like to play at the Democratic National Convention this year?

I have never failed to feel the rush of gratitude that comes with working in a job that I love - I constantly find myself saying, "I can't believe I'm allowed to do this." Playing at the 2012 Democratic National Convention was an especially big moment, and an incredible experience. It was wonderful to be a part of a party whose candidate fully supports marriage for all couples. It was also the first time I debuted the new song "My Home" for a live audience. The response from the crowd was overwhelming. A man approached me after the show with tears in his eyes, hugged me, and introduced me to his partner of 20 years. He explained how they planned to start a family this year but could not legally protect their commitment with marriage in the state where they currently live. He thanked me for representing them and their love. These are the stories that strengthen my resolve to fight for this cause. 

2. When did you meet Chris and Carl? And how did you get the idea for "My Home"?

I can't talk about the song "My Home" without first talking about the extraordinary family it was written about: Chris, Carl and Harper. When Chris and Carl decided to have children, Chris (a former schoolteacher of 20 years) decided to quit his current job and work inside the home as a full-time dad, while Carl (Papa) continued to work as a professional commercial director. The sheer force of love that surround this family was, and still is, undeniable. When Harper was 5 months old, I was allowed to become an honorary member of the family for a few hours a day so that Chris could spend a little time with other adult humans. It has since grown into a relationship that I wouldn't trade for the world.

One day, while Harper was asleep, I sat down at her 1990s Casio key board and wrote them the song "My Home." I wanted to tell the story of their love and convey everything I felt about them, marriage, and family. I wanted to show the changes and evolution that happens as love matures. It just came pouring out of me, and I cried the entire time I was writing it.  

3. Why did you choose to donate the funds from "My Home" to Freedom to Marry? 

In 2011, something extraordinary happened the day before Pride: The freedom to marry became law in New York state (Thank you Governor Cuomo!). The next day, my phone rang as I marched with the Human Rights Campaign in the parade. It was Chris and Carl, asking me to sing in their wedding. I told them it would be my honor and privilege. In the months leading up to "the big day," I put a lot of thought into what their wedding gift might be - after all, what do you buy the couple who has everything? Chris and Carl had registered, but had also encouraged guests, in lieu of physical gifts, to make a donation to Freedom to Marry so that all couples may one day enjoy the same protection and joy that they now would. I decided on the latter. 

4. What was it like to debut the song as a surprise for Chris' and Carl's wedding?

After I wrote "My Home," inspired by Chris, Carl and Harper, I told a few of their close friends, who encouraged me to sing it at the wedding. I ruled this out, partially because I was already singing "Stick by Me" (a single from my new EP), and partially because I was 100 percent sure that I would "ugly cry" the entire song; I have a soft spot for love, and an unflattering cry face. I settled on a surprise wedding slide show set to the recorded song (See Below). Their friends were sworn to secrecy and became my "wedding gift co-conspirators." Even the wedding planner was in on it! They
helped me distract the happy couple long enough to set up the surprise.

When I finished singing at the reception, I told them that I loved them, and that I wanted to give them their wedding gift. The lights dropped, and so did the screen. After it was over, we announced that the song would be sold on iTunes to raise money for Freedom to Marry. A few months after the wedding, I put the slideshow on Youtube, and the tidal wave of responses from people were incredible. The letters and comments came pouring in almost immediately. People shared their own stories, tears, and support in ways that I had not anticipated. Friends of friends began to re-share the video (including strangers to Chris and Carl), and I began to see how powerful the truth of love can really be.

5. What have been some of your personal experiences advocating for the freedom to marry? Have you seen friends and family make a journey on their views?

Coming from a "red state," I can tell you firsthand that most of the opposition to marriage for same-sex couples isn't coming from "bad" or "hateful" people, but rather from people who don't know any other way of life. Many people have never met a gay family they're aware of - let alone gotten to know one. Many gay people in rural areas do not "come out" because they fear repercussions, which only adds to the problem. Unfortunately, much of the information people are getting has been filtered by other agendas, long before they even have access to it. Our largest battle to wage in this issue is ignorance.

Ignorance is a solvable problem, and the solution is a simple one: truthful information. I know this to be true because I have seen real change in people's hearts when they have access to it, including my 80-year old grandmother. She came to visit me in NYC for the first time just last year and met Chris, Carl and Harper during her visit. As a Christian woman with a strong faith, she has struggled with how to feel about gay political issues. Over the years we have talked about how Jesus personally never condemned homosexuality, and all the dangers families face without the protection of marriage. But with so much opposition against it, she always remained undecided.

This is why it meant so much to hear her say that meeting Chris and Carl changed her mind about gay families. Before heading home, she said "I just never knew," adding that they are a "beautiful couple." When she found out they were engaged months later, she went out of her way to wish them "a lifetime of happiness together." It is my hope that people will share and reshare Chris and Carl's story to show the world how real couples are starting real families, and that those families need legal support and protection.

I hope that people will help spread truthful stories and information about this issue so that people who don't have access to it first-hand can see what many others know to be true: That at the end of the day, gay or straight really isn't the issue. "Our Home" never existed in the form of a house, or a set of circumstances, but rather in the hearts of the people we love. That it is our right as people to find our home, and fight for it - to hold hands, marry our best friends, and be allowed to live happily ever after.

(Photo Credits: Top image by Les Loups, Album cover art by Darren Lew)