by Marianne Puechl
senior editor/RWN co-founder
“Weddings,” “civil unions,” “marriages”... The public sometimes flounders at the choice of words to use when describing the celebrations of commitment between same-sex couples. The couples themselves, however, do not have difficulty. At the heart of the matter is Love, any gay or lesbian partner will proclaim, without a moment’s hesitation. Our ceremonies and celebrations may not have a definitive legal name at this time, in this place, but they are as common and as stressful, as unique and as moving, as sacred and as wonderful as any wedding has ever been. Derek Tyus and Jonathan Garber have two very different backgrounds, yet find that they complement one another ideally. Says Jonathan, “The thing about relationships is that they are such a potent way to get grounded in your life and to reach the vision you have for yourself.” Today, the couple recently moved into a new home –a 100 year old house bulging with lots of space and history… there is talk of starting a family… Jonathan’s business is taking off and Derek is considering a new career. But they have not always felt quite so settled within their relationship together. Just a few short years ago, there was the initial chance meeting and then a full year’s silence before their story truly began.
How They Met… Both Derek and Jonathan are from Wisconsin, though Derek was born and raised in Madison while Jonathan moved there several years ago from a rural town further north. “I was looking forward to the city, where there would be more LGBT folks,” Jonathan explains. Immediately, he became very active in the Madison community. “I was an early member of the Prairie Fairies, a social group here… And I helped to start a grassroots radio show but didn’t stay with it as far as getting it into production.” Nonetheless the radio broadcast, “Queery,” was a success and some time later Jonathan found himself a guest on the weekly talk show. “We were discussing the Prairie Fairies and our upcoming retreat and the other volunteer work we did as a group…” Jonathan recalls. “So I was sitting in the booth and looking through the glass and then I saw Derek, who was an engineer that day. And I thought to myself, ‘I need to meet this guy!’”
Derek remembers it a little differently. “A lot of people with the show had quit around that time, so everything was kind of disorganized. I was the only engineer I think, and this guy in the booth just kept looking at me. And then he said ‘Hi.’ I didn’t think much of it,” Derek laughs, remembering. “And he asked me out to coffee. You know, a lot of people have asked me to coffee before; I didn’t know what his intentions were.” The pair went to the coffeehouse and chatted. “And then, when it was time to go,” Derek says, “he gave me a hug. Then I realized maybe he’d thought of this as more than just friendship – it was like a date!” “To me,” quips Jonathan, “it wasn’t any kind of huge thing.” “It was one of those hugs,” Derek claims, “where you didn’t want to let go for a long time. So I didn’t call him for a year.” ●● cont’d
Vol. 4 Issue 1 Spring 2009 7