L is for Love

“We wanted to show that marriage is great between any two people in love.” — Whitney Mixter

If anyone objects to the marriage of this couple, The Real L Word’s Sara Bettencourt and Whitney Mixter … well, read this before you speak.

INKED DOESN’T TYPICALLY PUBLISH EDITORIALS because we feel that everybody is entitled to his own view; our magazine’s mission is to bring the community together, not to alienate anyone. However—and you probably knew there was a however coming—we do believe in civil rights. If the magazine had been founded in the 20th century, we would likely have rallied for women’s suffrage and desegregation. We question changes to the Army Uniform Regulations that would ban hand and sleeve tattoos. And when it comes to gay rights, we can’t comprehend why some Americans are denied the right to marry. So, this magazine is using its freedom of expression to point out that the opposition of same-sex marriage is a great injustice.

Since discrimination is often born of ignorance, getting to know a couple in a same-sex marriage may be the first step to supporting same-sex marriage. For that reason, please meet Sara Bettencourt and Whitney Mixter, a married couple of the same gender. They have the same rights as everybody else in the tattoo community except they’re denied the right to have their marriage recognized in every state of this free country.

Bettencourt and Mixter may not be perfect people, and once they move past the honeymoon phase, they might not have the perfect relationship, but their imperfections are what makes them an ideal representation of modern marriage. To see their flaws, you can watch the first two seasons of Showtime’s The Real L Word. To witness their maturation and the culmination of their love, make your way to the third season, the finale of which captured their wedding.

“One of the reasons we decided to have our wedding filmed was for it to normalize same-sex marriage,” Bettencourt says.

“We wanted to share our story with the world,” Mixter says. “Much of the world is not exposed to our view and we wanted to show that marriage is great between any two people in love.”

Although most of the audience of The Real L Word is probably already in support of gay rights, Mixter says that it was worth having her most intimate day publicized if it helped to change just one person’s mind.

That person may very well have been Bettencourt’s mother. The couple says she loves Mixter but was unsettled by the thought of their marriage. “She has a lot of regrets about the wedding,” Bettencourt says. “She couldn’t understand the concept, but now she does. People in her Portuguese community were talking about it the other day and she stood up and said [paraphrasing], ‘I am proud of my daughter. I love her partner. I love my daughter. This was a big step for her. If I could change anything about her, I wouldn’t.’”

Everyone involved in the wedding has grown since the ceremony, and they all continue to grow. “We have a sense of completion,” Mixter says. “One door is closed and now we wait for another to open. Before we were married and we got into fights we would say, ‘Screw this.’ But now we have to work on things.”

“It is definitely hard work, but it’s the happiest I’ve ever been in my life,” Bettencourt says. “We are moving into adulthood in a realistic way.”

While the couple is “in talks” about starting a family, their only baby these days is a clothing company called Cloth and Justice, which they are planning to launch by spring. Born to unite their passion for fashion and their wish to help those in need, the business will bring awareness to the plight of endangered animals and social issues in third world countries. Bettencourt is focusing on designing the women’s apparel, while Mixter, who often wears men’s clothes, is concentrating on more androgynous pieces.

Eventually, as Cloth and Justice evolves, the couple hopes to have it bring attention to gay-rights issues, including the fact that their marriage isn’t fully recognized in their home state of California (they wed in Connecticut). But the Golden State can’t force them to take off their wedding rings, and it certainly can’t do anything about the love they express through their tattoos (Bettencourt has Whitney inked on her arm, but Mixter has yet to return the honor.)

“I know she scoffs at me,” Mixter says. “But I swear I’m going to get it.”

“It’s funny, when I got her name I didn’t want her to think that she had to reciprocate,” Bettencourt says. “But a little part of me wants her to reciprocate.”

It sounds like a normal marriage to us.

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