Evening weddings are especially romantic, and there have been few TV weddings as romantic as that of Bianca Montgomery and Reese Williams.
These virgin brides — for unlike most soap women, neither had ever married before — wore white. Long, soignée columnar gowns in a Grecian style, with hairstyles to match. These were Sapphic brides in Sapphic dress. They were beautiful and ethereal, exuding love and passion for each other.
Firsts always resonate and the Bianca-Reese wedding is the first legal lesbian marriage in TV history.
No small moment.
Bianca has been a central character on “All My Children” for eight years; an immensely likable character perennially unlucky in love, Bianca is adored and championed by viewers.
Reese is new to “AMC,” but her portrayer, Tamara Braun, is a soap veteran who has made the role complex and engaging. The obvious butch in the relationship, Reese has an inner vulnerability that belies her protective exterior. They are an undeniable super couple, the highest registry of love in soapdom.
The marriage of Bianca and Reese is a milestone in daytime TV because this couple has, with their Valentine’s Day nuptials, entered the previously all-straight sanctum. They are now, despite their familial conflicts, a couple that cannot be abrogated: They are wife and wife.
Yet Bianca and Reese have struggled with a lot more than straight couples. Reese’s parents disowned her. Bianca’s mother and sister have done everything possible to derail the relationship. Still, they made it to the altar, despite the odds.
Non-queers never quite understood the outrage and protests over Proposition 8. Even when they were sympathetic — and many were — they couldn’t really imagine what it would be like to be denied the right to marry. After all, any two drunken strangers can marry in a chapel in Las Vegas.
For Bianca and Reese, the road to marriage was fraught. They had to travel from Pine Valley, Pa., to Essex, Conn., to be married, family and friends in tow. The fact that they couldn’t legally marry in their own hometown made their wedding political — something straight weddings rarely are — and made them outlaws of a sort.
In Bianca’s vows to Reese, she asserted she saw “passion and joy for our future.” She said Reese made her “feel safe and loved as if anything were possible … I can survive anything wrapped in your arms, your love. I promise to be your partner, your home, your wife, for eternity.”
Reese, her eyes glistening with tears, told Bianca, “I promise to try to make you laugh, because you have the most beautiful laugh. But most importantly, I promise to love you and our children for the rest of our lives.”
Soap love, like real love, never runs smooth. As Bianca said her vows, the scenes of the couple’s wedding were cut with frightening scenes of other couples crashing and burning: Zach and Kendall, Ryan and Annie, Aiden and Greenlee. The hope and promise of Bianca and Reese’s wedding was held out against a backdrop of true love gone wildly awry.
But for viewers who have watched Bianca grow up on “AMC” and watched Riegel take her from high-school student coming out tentatively to a disapproving mother to secure adult lesbian marrying the love of her life in a legal ceremony, the hope is that she and Reese will endure despite all odds, that the very things that make them outlaws to so many will strengthen them as a couple.
In taking Bianca and Reese’s relationship to the logical next step — marriage —“AMC” has shown viewers of all sexual orientations that marriage should be an option for every couple. Love, not sexual orientation or gender, should be the only metric by which we measure who should marry. With Bianca and Reese, viewers saw not an “issue,” but people they have come to love and respect getting married. How long before TV life translates to real life?