Fleur Pierets, an activist, artist and writer, spoke at an event hosted by the Women’s Center at Ramapo College on December 5th. Pierets’ story was fascinating one.
She was 10 years into a marriage with her ex-husband when she realized she was in love with a woman. Though it was not easy, she made the decision to change her whole life to be happy.
She and her partner Jillian Boom chose to sell everything they had, left with two suitcases. They set out to get married in every country that allowed gay marriage.
They called their project 22, for the 22 countries at that time that allowed gay marriage, which now stands at 28. There are 71 countries that will not allow gay marriage and in 12 of them a gay person will be sentenced to death.
After getting married in the United States, Antwerp, Paris and Amsterdam, Boom was diagnosed with a late stage of cancer. She was gone within 6 weeks.
The couple had decided that instead of being quiet about what they were going through, they would go on a journey to bring awareness to the struggles the LGBTQ+ community experiences around the world.
This was no easy feat, and they received death threats and hate mail throughout their journey.
Pierets said she thought to herself, if only her wife had lived, they would still be able to continue their quest. She said, at that time, they knew that they could positively impact many people with knowledge of their pursuits.
Also, they thought that if people knew more about their life, they may be inspired to take on something similar and perhaps, people with a negative bias would change their minds.
Pierets said that she went through a struggle and wanted others to benefit from it, with hopes that wonderful things could happen to those in the LGBTQ community.
At her lecture she discussed that it is important to, “Keep talking and keep communicating”.
She met a publisher and wrote a book entitled, “How to get married in 22 Countries,” which she hopes will change lives and bring awareness to the situation that many LGBTQ people go through.
Pierets imagines young people today reading her book, and learning that it is okay to be different, look different, feel different, and love differently. If there were more books like this one perhaps the old stereotypes would change.
People might begin to be more accepting and supportive of LGBTQ+ people, and over time, the struggles would be minimized. One day, she hopes they might even disappear completely.
Pierets goal is to create a world where same sex couple feel no fear holding hands when they walk in public, a privilege that is often taken for granted.
“Change starts with knowledge,” Pierets said. The more that is written about and spoken about, the more the norms will change in favor of acceptance and knowledge.
“Difference and inclusion represents strength not weakness,” said Pierets. People who are “different” can make change by speaking and writing about their situation. So many others are in the same situation, yet are afraid to come out and speak about it.
As Fleur Pierets said, she and Julian Boom wanted to change and save lives by showing pride in their love, and she should be confident that her goals are being achieved.