They have been together for almost twenty years. Twenty long years side by side through good and bad. A couple so familiar with each other, so belonging to each other that their friends talk about them as if they were one person. There is not just Ann, or just Gayla. It’s always Ann and Gayla.
On January 1st 2016 these two who had been spouses for so long decided that it was time to also legally become one.
Lisa performed the ceremony at Metropolitan Community Church Lubbock. Elvis sang, tears were shed, family and friends were happy and the cake was fantastic.
There was however a moment after Lisa signed the marriage certificate when Ann suddenly stopped and shook her head in what only could be utter disbelief.
“A piece of paper,” she said. “A piece of paper that changes everything.”
Everything? These two have been partners so long, they know each other so intimately. What could marriage really change for them?
Everything. Because now not only their family and friends see them as a couple, now the law does, too. And the law will protect them, just like it protects every other married couple. They are safer now than they were before. Protected by the constitution of their own country.
What a great feeling that is!
We’ve been snowed in in Lubbock, Texas for over a week now. They say that it’s the second largest snowfall since the 1920s. Lisa and I escaped the snow and traveled to Houston to the annual conference of the Gay Christian Network. And guess what? It is warmer here. And no, I’m not only talking about the weather.
What is truly warm here is the atmosphere. An atmosphere of friendship, fellowship and acceptance that makes us feel at home right away. You know how it is at conferences or big gatherings, right? You meet a bunch of people and at the end of the day you have forgotten most of the names and faces. Not here. I remember the young man from London, England I met this morning just as much as I remember the woman and her daughter I met later that day in the hot tub, or the older guy who really just needed a hug. He was so overwhelmed by the sheer idea of being a gay Christian AND a good person.
There is a lot of beauty here. The people I met so far mean something. They are not just random people. They are stories. Important, sad, wonderful, inspiring stories. I love stories. I collect stories. It is what I do. I collect them, keep them in my heart and then send them to my God so He might keep all those people and their stories safe. Here at this conference, in this fancy hotel (it’s the Hilton after all) I feel like an empty storybook with hundreds of potential entries around me. It is the most wonderful feeling.
If I can allow myself any judgement of the people here then it is this:
They are good people. Seeking, searching, praying, hoping, laughing, joking, crying, loving people of all the colors of the rainbow.
May we have a great time together and make everyone’s life a little brighter and a bit more colorful!