Baton Rouge men nearly gave up on finding love, become first same-sex couple to wed in parish _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Ashley Bourgeois, second from left, and Kayla Bourgeois, left, are congratulated by Bridget Hanna, right, Ascension Clerk of Court, after they signed the document to become the first same sex couple in Ascension Parish to get a marriage license at the Clerk of Court's Office in Gonzales.

I was sitting under the carport with the fellas a few weeks ago when I surprised them by announcing I was going to be taking pictures at a wedding. I had never done that before, and to be honest, I will never be mistaken for a professional photographer.

My friend John Oubre, one of the best photographers I’ve ever known, will attest to that.

I was solicited to take photos based on hearsay and absolute luck on some pictures I had taken and managed to doctor to life. Plus, I owed the guy a favor.

I was doing the shoot for free, but there was some ego involved. Ed Pratt taking wedding photos. That sounds good on your mental resume.

My friends, whom I had known since childhood, were supportive. Then I let them in on a little bit more about the wedding. The two people getting married, I told them, were both men.

They were stunned. We grew up in a rough area of town where all kind of stuff wasn’t tolerated back in the day. But we are older now, and for the most part, they were accepting. Of course, they had jokes that I won’t repeat.

One of my friends though, questioned how I could do it. He could not do it on religious grounds. I understood that. He comes from a line of ministers.

The rest of my friends laughed a little, but said it was no big deal to them. Try as we might, we couldn’t get my other friend to be supportive. We understood, and we went on with our afternoon of libations, reflection, laughter and more libations.

About a week ago, I did the photo shoot for our family friend. He had recently done some work at our house. He's a great guy,  and I was glad I could contribute to his day in such a big way.

To be honest, I didn’t know what to be prepared for at the wedding. I had some stupid, preconceived notions that the wedding would be over the top with flair and colors. I had surprised myself with that kind of thinking.

But once I arrived at the site of the wedding — a museum— everything was like the many weddings that I have attended. Things were coming together at the last minute, and there was scrambling to get everything in place.

My friend thanked me for coming, even before I started taking pictures.

When things finally settled down, the wedding started about 25 minutes late. The ceremony was just like most weddings. People walked down the aisles and stopped to take photos. Yeah, that was Ed Pratt taking the photos.

An interesting part: My friend’s grandmother took the role of the flower girl and was tossing flower petals on the ground. That was pretty cool. You bet I got that photo.

Admittedly, the men holding hands and exchanging vows and rings got my attention for a couple seconds, but soon, it just became two people talking about love.

I know some of my friends would not be as accepting as I was, and I respect their right to feel like that. Shoot, I was on that fence in my youth. I will probably have some of my church friends look at me askance about my shooting the wedding. And Lord knows, I will respect and love them.

But these men did not bother me as much as the stories I’ve read over the past few weeks about men stalking, beating and killing their wives and girlfriends. These two guys were merely looking to something that they have only recently had a chance to do legally in Louisiana.

To be honest, the only thing to really catch my attention were the matching glittery shoes they wore. I took a picture of that.

At the reception, everyone was having a fine time talking and laughing. And, yes, many of the people there were gay. I took photos of the happy parents and wedding participants. I even had to implore them to take a “silly” photo. It was a great shot.

I was dog-tired when my wife and I left that night. I think she was, too, because I had enlisted her to take a few pictures with a second, tiny camera. She was the backup, not the big shot like me. Her photos came out pretty good, too.

I gave the photos to our friend this week, and he was very happy about them. I’m glad. And I’m glad I had the opportunity to take the pictures. I hope our friend and his partner have a good life. and that they remember who took their wedding pictures.

Email Edward Pratt, a former newspaperman who writes a weekly Advocate column, at epratt1972@yahoo.com.