Jennifer Reed, sociology Ph.D. student at UNLV, officiated a marriage ceremony at the school’s Pida Plaza between about 15 people and the Earth.
“I invite you to feel the Earth with your senses and feel the sun on your skin, feel the wind in your hair, and maybe, if you are daring, you can massage the earth with your feet,” Reed said, slipping off her kitten heels to massage the stage she was standing on with her right foot.
Before beginning the vows Monday at the Marriage to the Earth ceremony, Reed explained to the small group that she has been studying the ecosexuality movement for her dissertation, a movement she described as a broad umbrella term for bringing together issues of sexology and ecology.
The small group clasped hands excitedly and prepared to take their vows. Reed began the vows and they repeated after her, “Earth, we vow to become your lover. … Every day we promise to breathe in your fragrance and be opened by you … Every day we promise to enjoy your colors, and be surprised. Let us not be severed from your love …” The vows continued for several minutes until Reed pronounced the group “married to the Earth.”
Marriage to the Earth at UNLV was part of the Earth Day Fair, hosted by the university’s Sustainability Council. The rest of the fair included yoga, a drum circle and a pledge tree where students could make small pledges about how they would work to protect and preserve the Earth.
Reed said the marriage at UNLV was small compared with other “marriages to the Earth.” She attended one in Altadena, California, in 2010 called Purple Wedding to the Moon.
The purple wedding was part of a seven-year series of ecosexual weddings by Annie Sprinkle, a sex educator, and Beth Stephens a UC Santa Cruz art professor. Reed said their project was part of a protest against the since-lifted ban on same-sex marriage and helped popularize ecosexuality.
Reed said the term ecosexual came about in the 1990s, when people who were interested in the environment and protecting the Earth put the term on their dating profiles. Reed said that at the same time, there were women working in the sex toy industry who saw the products were not regulated and were not healthy for use or for the environment. Reed called it “greening the sex toy industry” and said they adopted the term ecosexual.
Reed explained there is a spectrum to ecosexuality and that it isn’t “an intercourse-type thing.”
“Do you get pleasure from wind in your face? Hiking, or the wind in your hair?” Reed said. “It is more of an energetic connection to the earth and to the pleasure from it.”
Theo Parrish, 25, was among those who married the Earth at UNLV.
“Let’s be honest: it was weird,” Parrish said. “It was an experience I liked, but it was weird.”
Parrish is part of the student organization Spectrum, which focuses on activism and outreach in the queer and LGBTQ community.
“When I woke up for school today, I was not expecting to get married to the Earth, but it represents a dedication,” Parrish said.