‘I was told that my voice was too gay, my body too fat, too hairy or not hairy enough…’
(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) James Hilton Harrell, a Harvard doctoral student in educational leadership, married his drag queen alter ego, Diane A. Lone, in May 2018 so he could understand that he is “fine” all by himself.
Harrell applied and was approved for a $20,000 loan to throw himself a wedding after he had been “ghosted,” meaning he was ignored by a prospective lover.
He said he deleted his “dating and hookup apps” and, feeling “miserable,” began to plan the San Francisco wedding, Harrell wrote in a HuffPost article.
The wedding sprung from the rejection and despair that he faced while dating.
“I was told that my voice was too gay, my body too fat, too hairy or not hairy enough,” Harrell wrote.
The name of his drag queen alter ego, Diane A. Lone, reflects his deepest fear, dying alone.
Harrell wore a black shawl on his head and donned an 8-foot-long black train “to evoke images of mourning.”
The wedding’s undertones of loneliness, isolation, despair and death–opposed to the traditional wedding undertones of happiness, community, hope and new life–matched its irreverent attitude, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Harrell’s bridesmaids spray-painted his dress at the moment when he should have exchanged rings with his wife. He paid strippers to deliver pizza to the reception. He came out as queer and raised money for an LGBT organization.
Despite its despairing and irreverent attitude, Harrell said the wedding was a success.
“I have never felt more seen or better understood by my friends than on my wedding day,” he wrote. “My friends, dressed in their boldest versions of eleganza, spent that entire night showering me and each other in love, positive affirmations and joy.”
By marrying Diane [himself], Harrell said he felt like a “whole and complete person.”
After the ceremony, he began to date again, though he said he felt like he did not “need” a partner, unlike before.
Harrell said he is going on more second and third dates than ever in his life, though some potential partners are afraid of the “radical self-love” that he embraces. He is, however, still single.
“Ultimately, I’ve accepted that my self-worth doesn’t depend on whether someone else finds me physically and intellectually attractive and wants to be in a relationship with me,” Harrell wrote.