Real Couples Real Weddings
arriage Joins Two People In The Circle Of Its Love By Edmund O’Neill
Marriage is a commitment to life, the best that two people can find and bring out in each other. It offers opportunities for sharing and growth that no other relationship can equal. It is a physical and an emotional joining that is promised for a lifetime. Within the circle of its love, marriage encompasses all of life’s most important relationships. Two spouses are each other’s best friend, confidant, lover, teacher, listener, and critic. And there may come times when one partner is heartbroken or ailing, and the love of the other may resemble the tender caring of a parent for a child.
Dean and Gary along with the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus and Reverend Mel White, May 31, 2009. Photo: Matthew H. Smith
But then, they heard the song that changed their lives. “Quite by accident,” Dean explains, “we found ourselves on the campus of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. As we walked along, we saw a sign announcing “Gay Men’s Chorus Concert, tonight in the chapel. That evening, feeling as if we were the only gay couple in all of the rural Midwest, we timidly entered the chapel and saw 100 members of the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus.” The couple watched hundreds of people filter into the chapel. “Young, old, gay couples, straight couples, students and professors,” Dean recalls. “All smiling,” Gary adds, “welcoming, and happy. It was an epiphany! We weren’t alone!” For the first time, Dean and Gary held hands in public, unafraid, and at the evening’s end they grasped the hands of those around them too as the 29 year-old Chorus sang what had always been its signature song, ‘Walk Hand In Hand.’ Dean and Gary were in awe. “The choir and audience sang together words that would forever change the hopes and dreams of two frightened men from Iowa.” On November 27, 2004, Gary’s business partners, and nearly 200 other guests joyously witnessed the couple’s Holy Union Ceremony
at First Presbyterian Church, right there at home, in Mason City. The Wedding Ceremony On April 27, 2009, the day marriage licenses could be legally provided to same-gender couples in Iowa, Dean and Gary were first in line. By this time, their initial plan -a simple visit to the judge- was just a laughable memory, and the preparations for the larger event, for 400 friends, relatives, co-workers, and community members, were in place. They had decided that this time when they donned their tuxedos, they wanted the day’s meaningfulness to extend beyond a wedding. “Our event was a day of Marriage Equality Celebration,” Dean explains. “We envisioned this being a teachable moment for the community here in Iowa.” To accomplish this goal, they wished to create a multi-faceted and relevant ceremony, beginning with pianist Brian Snell’s renditions of songs including “I Am What I Am,” “If He Walked Into My Life,” “Somewhere My Love,” “One Hand, One Heart,” and “Impossible Dream.”
Marriage deepens and enriches every facet of life. Happiness is fuller, memories are fresher, commitment is stronger, even anger is felt more strongly, and passes away more quickly. Marriage understands and forgives the mistakes life is unable to avoid. It encourages and nurtures new life, new experiences, and new ways of expressing a love that is deeper than life. When two people pledge their love and care for each other in marriage, they create a spirit unique unto themselves which binds them closer than any spoken or written words. Marriage is a promise, a potential made in the hearts of two people who love each other and takes a lifetime to fulfill.
Then several narrators, including Rev. Paul Collier and Mr. Allen Burch, began telling the story of Dean and Gary’s lives. As part of that ●● cont’d story includes their families,
Vol. 4 Issue 2 Summer/Autumn 2009 11
Heartland in Gay America