When my sweaty-handed, shaking bride-to-be presented me with a ring and a proposal in December 2007, I said yes. Honestly, I'd never imagined myself a bride, as the state I've lived in for 30 years doesn't acknowledge gay marriage. Regardless of what North Carolina deemed acceptable, we decided to stand in front of our friends—in love—and make our own formal commitment.
It was a beautiful day and an amazing wedding, too, even with the rain and without that sanctimonious slip of paper. But after months of preparation, it was just that, a wedding. We'd spent months scraping together the money for the big day, so we resigned ourselves to the fact that a honeymoon just wasn't possible. My best friend surprised us with a trip to Daytona Beach, Florida, though. It may not be the "gayest" city in America, but we knew all we needed was a beach, the sun and a gallon of Bloody Mary mix to keep us entertained. Off we went, wedding bands glistening and bikinis packed...
Upon arriving in Atlanta for our connecting flight, we searched for the gate number of our next flight, 5997. The BFF had made a mistake when booking the trip, aiming us for Dayton, Ohio, not Daytona, Florida. A Delta representative agreed to make the change for free. Nice, sure, but how could it be so easy to get re-routed to such a popular vacation destination last-minute? Turns out, our dream week in Daytona happened to host some of the worst weather Florida had seen in years. Sandbags at the doors, rain pelting windows like gravel: The misery didn't cease.
On our last night in Florida, we ventured to the hotel bar to drink martinis and listen to karaoke. A woman in her mid-50s, in Daytona on business from Seattle, soon struck up a conversation. Grateful for the distraction, we chatted for nearly an hour. Finally, she asked what we were doing in Daytona. My wife shared that we were on our honeymoon, and our new companion's face went blank. My wife excused herself and stumbled off to the ladies room, so I continued chatting. I mentioned that we'd kept a low profile during our stay in Daytona. We didn't know how friendly this part of Florida was to, well, us.
"Well," she replied, pausing to sip, "whatever happens to you, you brought upon yourselves because of the lifestyle you chose."
She explained that she was a Christian. She knew homosexuality was not only a sin but a choice. Her Bible told her so. My wife returned from the restroom all smiles. I explained the situation, and we left.
Since we've been home, not a day has passed when I haven't heard something positive about our wedding. One friend said the ceremony was the most beautiful thing she'd ever witnessed, transcending both gay and straight. It was, she said, simply about two people who love each other.
So, thanks for the vacation, BFF, and thanks for the concern, Ms. Seattle. But we'll gladly take that kind of encouragement—and, of course, each other.