I live in Queens, New York, with my wife. I'm an office manager for a private investigation firm and I also run my own handmade business, Máquina 37. My company is named after my 1937 singer sewing machine, which I use to make custom look-alike cloth dolls and other sewn products.
I recently published my own bilingual coloring book (Pins and Needles: A Bilingual Coloring and Activity Book), and I'm currently working on a second coloring book that is LGBTQ themed.
Growing up, I had very few representations of LGBTQ or people of color. I believe representation matters, and it makes me feel like I'm doing something meaningful in my spare time.
I also love to run. I have run 7 half marathons and 2 full marathons. I hope to run 2020's TCS NYC Marathon (fingers crossed, I am still trying to complete the 9+1 program to qualify).
I had never thought about getting ordained before. One evening our niece and her fiance invited my wife and me to dinner. Before we ordered appetizers, they asked me if I could officiate their wedding. Oh gosh, was I surprised, flattered, honored, at a loss for words. I said, yes!
They explained that since the bride's family spoke mostly English, and the groom's family spoke primarily Spanish, they wanted the ceremony to be in both languages. They said that since I knew both languages, I was a great choice.
That night, I went online to research how to get ordained and found AMM.
I'm cautious about doing things online. I've heard horror stories about people getting their identity stolen or getting scammed.
AMM was transparent and informative about their process, local laws, and beliefs. Reading the website made me feel safe (that's number one), and like I was part of a movement - not just getting a license.
AMM believes that "all people, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, have the right to marry." Of course, I think that as well.
I came out when I was in my late twenties. It was hard for my mom to accept because of her religious beliefs. When my wife and I got married, she declined our wedding invitation. It was hurtful to know that someone you love so much, like your mom, thinks that some part of you is wrong.
Well, it wasn't just some part of me, it was my everything, my happiness. I can't put into words how alienated and sad I felt.
I got married, and after some time, my mom and I found our way back to each other. She loves my wife and is very happy for us. I finally feel that my family is at peace. That's a big deal.
When I was researching how to get ordained, every part of the website was useful to me. Now, my favorite part of the site is the blog!
I love keeping up with the advocacy that AMM does. It makes me feel like I am a part of something bigger than myself.
For example, this summer, Tennessee enacted a discriminatory marriage law that targeted ministers who were ordained online; in other words, ministers most likely to perform same-sex marriages. AMM went down to Tennesse and performed two thousand in-person ordinations so ministers could continue marrying people. I'm getting goosebumps right now thinking about it.
The party after the wedding! No, seriously, I'm looking forward to seeing our niece and soon to be nephew living in the moment of their marriage. I can't wait to see them laugh and cry and smile into each other's eyes as they say their vows. Which reminds me, I have to ask if they need any help writing those vows! Marriage is a celebration of their love, and I'm going to love every minute of performing their ceremony.
For her niece's upcoming wedding ceremony, Raquel registered in New York City as an officiant - and took us along with her via her Instagram stories!
Raquel said that AMM's Minister Ordination Package and step-by-step instructions made it easy for her to register at the Manhattan City Clerk's office. "I felt prepared - like I was going with an expert!"
State officiant registration requirements and instructions can be reviewed on our website here.