Chaya Milchtein and Jodyann Morgan are getting married on August 29, 2020 — a bold move to make while most folks are canceling their weddings or postponing until 2021.
An even bolder move? They’re be live-streaming the wedding for the whole world to see. The couple sees the kind of visibility that they bring to the table (both are fat and queer, Morgan is Black, Chaya is Jewish) is important to share with a country that has been steeped in racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic turmoil for what seems like an eternity now. With 5k folks who have RSVP’d as interested and over 3k people as attending on their Facebook event, this is sure to be (as advertised) one of the biggest, queerest weddings of the year.
Chaya and Morgan will be getting physically married in Indianapolis, Indiana, with only a photographer present. But they’ve invited the world to join via the internet because community is important to Chaya. She grew up in foster care and has worked incredibly hard to create her own family within the queer community. Her relationship to community and faith has long been complicated — in an interview with Alma last year, Chaya said she is “the oldest of 15 children by Hasidic Lubavitch parents. They were radicals even within the community itself. My father was excommunicated. So, I grew up with a very interesting, very strict, very over the top view of what Judaism, community, and family were.”
Originally, before the pandemic hit, the couple was considering flying to NYC, where they met, and getting married there — possibly in a friend’s living room or at Babetown, a queer supper club. The two met when they both lived in Brooklyn. One fateful afternoon, while Chaya was getting her nails done, someone offered her a ticket to the circus at the Barclays Center. Having grown up Hasidic, she had never been to a circus before and jumped at the chance. She wore thigh-highs and a short sweater-dress. She recalls “sticking out like a sore thumb” among the families there with their kids.
She didn’t care. She’s unabashedly herself in any circumstance.
At the very same time, Morgan was working as a security guard at the Barclays Center and saw Chaya, thinking she looked familiar as she passed through the metal detector. A quick check on one of her Facebook groups and Morgan quickly learned that they were both in one common group of queer people looking for new friends and connections.
She asked Chaya out the next week.
Three canceled dates later (you know, the queer social anxiety is real) and they went to one of Morgan’s friend’s birthday parties. To anyone else, that may have been a weird first date, but Chaya was used to putting so much emphasis and effort into creating her own community that it actually ended up being perfect.
Fast forward three years and Morgan popped the question during a romantic, laid back walk around a lake near their home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
So, why are they getting married right now? The answer is simple, according to Chaya: “We don’t know what’s going to happen next week. We’re in the middle of a health crisis and can’t afford a delay.”
They also hope to bring some light into people’s lives during this scary time. “I want to offer a distraction for an hour and a half, for people to put down what they’re doing and experience a bit of joy with us,” Chaya says.
And so, Chaya and Morgan’s story ends as all beautiful queer love stories do: with the two getting married online, with sparkly rings, in matching white Birkenstocks. The couple invites you to join them, to rejoice in their love, and to take a break from the “real world” to sink into humanity for an hour and a half. To remember that love conquers all, and that every person deserves the kind of love they’ve found.
Congratulations to the couple, and may you be able to safely honeymoon soon enough!
All photos by Carlos Ratti.