Saturday, June 23, 2012

LGBT Love Story #4

Today's LGBT Love Story, by Sara Hickman-Himes from Papersaurus Creative, is a familiar tale from here in the US...

The story of us.

People still ask my wife and I how we met – I worked nights and she was a student in divinity school, not much room for chance meetings there. We met on MySpace, of all places. Julia – my wife – saw in my profile that I was interested in learning more about religion, so she messaged me. Apparently the whole minister-to-be thing scared off other ladies. Not me. There was something irrefutably sexy to me about an out and proud lesbian and a proud Christian residing in the same body. We met for coffee and talked for hours. Julia likes to tease me now about the fact that, at the time, I didn’t realize we were on a date. I thought we were just going out for coffee … apparently I hadn’t yet learned that “coffee” is lesbian code for date. So now we jokingly celebrate two different first date anniversaries. Mine is four days later, when we met for breakfast and it dawned on me just how much I liked her.

That was in November, 2006. We were inseparable after that.

Julia proposed to me on our one-year anniversary (well, her one-year anniversary). She knew I wasn’t a fan of diamonds, so she found a ring crafted by an artisan in Northampton, MA. It’s a single piece of sterling silver wound together at the ends. To me it symbolizes two becoming one. I love it.

Our friends and family were incredibly supportive when we told them about our engagement. We are both blessed to be surrounding by such amazing people. Julia is from Connecticut and I’m from Ohio. Most of the Midwest hasn’t seen fit to think our union worthy of the title “marriage” yet, and Julia had a home church in Connecticut that she held dearly, so we decided to get married there. We planned to have a quick courthouse wedding in Massachusetts, then do the whole church, family, friends thing at her church in Connecticut.

Then in October, 2008, an amazing thing happened – the Connecticut Supreme Court released a ruling guaranteeing same-sex marriage rights. Suddenly, our wedding became easier and more important – we were the first legal same-sex marriage at South Church.

So we planned our wedding – the service would take place in the gorgeous sanctuary of South Church, and the reception would be a passed hors d’oeuvres afternoon affair at the New Britain Museum of American Art. The wedding and reception were the perfect union for our perfect union – the tradition of a church wedding for her, and the modern, cool museum reception for me.

The week before the wedding, we went to City Hall to get our marriage license. We were both a little nervous about how our request would be received – and it was refreshing to be seen by the desk clerk as just another routine, boring task. No scandal, no shifty eyes, no judgment. Just the boredom of another ho-hum average workday.

We were married shortly thereafter by a minister who I believe could single-handedly, with his sermons and teachings of love and acceptance, bring back to the fold all those who have felt shunned by church over the years.

We were blessed to have bridesmaids and friends and family travel from as far as England and California to be with us as we stood at that altar and made our vows and cried and hugged and celebrated. It was like we were surrounded by this bubble of love that could protect us from anything.

It was amazing. Then we came back to Rochester.

Don’t get me wrong — I love this city, and it had been a great home for the past five years. But it was kind of a slap in the face to come back and remember that all the vows we made in our little bubble suddenly became null and void.

While we were lucky to be surrounded by supportive people who recognized our vows, we still couldn't share spousal healthcare benefits, and we still had to have special legal documents to make sure we had the power to take care of each other — especially in emergency situations. I couldn’t even list my wife as “my wife” on my life insurance policy. She was my “other.”

This is why marriage equality is important. I had pledged to love and honor my wife until death do us part. That’s commitment. In fact, it’s the same commitment that our family and friends have made — forever. What makes their commitment so much more worthy than ours? What’s so different about our love that makes us second-class citizens?

Everyone deserves to experience the pure love and acceptance that surrounded Julia and I in our bubble on our wedding day. The thing this world needs most is love. Why are we trying to legislate it away? And while some argue that Julia and I can still love each other without being married, the same could be said for every heterosexual couple out there.

Thankfully, in the years since. New York has legalized same sex marriage and made our lives easier. We are now on the same health insurance plan – as spouses, not “others”. We have settled nicely into married life – always there for each other, for better or worse. Thankfully we’re blessed with a lot of the better and only a little of the worse. We’re at the point where we’re thinking about children, planning actually. We want to have our own, I’ll carry them. We even have names picked out. But we also want to foster. We want to offer a home to LGBT youth who come from less accepting places than us.

We just celebrated our third wedding anniversary. Three years of the roller coaster ups and downs that life and marriage bring. Three years of sharing a bed, of sharing a life. I can’t imagine life without her – and she constantly reassures me I’ll never have to. Our love is simple – we are open in our affections, in word and deed. We talk through things. We patch each other up when life knocks us down. We see the flaws and imperfections in each other and we find them endearing – that’s the key to knowing you’re truly in love.

Above all, we simply are. And I can’t imagine anything better.


Michelley said...

You cannot imagine how much it means to an old gay mare like me to see young couples being supported in their love not only by their families and friends, but by the state as well. My home state. We have come so far and have so far to go. Thank you both for demonstrating so well the innocence which fuels our "gay agenda".

Jeff Rapoport said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff Rapoport said...

Honored that you chose the New Britain Museum of American Art and Jordan Caterers for your reception. Wishing you much happiness.