Our Vermont Wedding
When I mentioned that Tony and I were engaged to be married last December, I also told people we hadn’t officially made any plans because our goal, after twenty-one years together, and after sharing the first half of our lives together, was to keep the wedding very simple and quiet. But then a few unplanned events started to unfold, one thing lead to another, and there are now a few significant details about our wedding I’ve been waiting to share for the right time that include a movie, a supreme court justice, and a very gracious woman at Phineas Swann Inn.
We started making plans to get married at Phineas Swann, an Inn in Vermont, earlier this month. We did this because we’ve been all over New England but never Vermont, it’s pet friendly and we’re bringing both dogs, and also because of so much that has happened with gay marriage took place in Vermont. That last part was planned, and we did want that historical touch because that’s important to us both. But the rest was a big surprise to both of us. A couple of weeks ago we received a call from the owner of Phineas Swann and she informed us that an indie filmmaker, Jeff Kaufman, from Los Angeles was doing a documentary called The State of Marriage on same sex marriage and he was interested in filming our wedding. And then she told us that Beth Robinson, Vermont Supreme Court Justice, would be there and she would actually be performing the ceremony for us. Of course the owner of Phineas Swann was very gracious and she wanted to make sure this was all okay with us, and that it wouldn’t interfere with our original plans. And it was her graciousness, and our strong feelings about legal same sex marriage, that helped us make the decision to agree to do everything they were asking.
So that’s about it for now. We’re heading to Vermont early next week and the ceremony will take place at eleven o’clock on Tuesday at Phineas Swann Inn. I wish I knew how to do those streaming feeds so family, readers, and online friends could watch it live, but I’m just not good enough at those things to pull it off. But I will post photos and other things I think people and blog readers might enjoy, here on the blog and on social media. I’ll have tablets and iPhones with me the entire time and I’m not planning to go blank next week. In fact, we originally planned to keep this all so simple we’re heading back the next day because of work obligations.
I’ll also keep updating about the film, The State of Marriage, in the coming months. I have no idea what part of the film we’ll be in, or how we’ll come off. But Kaufman has a good reputation for doing what he does, and we’re both looking forward to meeting him.
Side note: the only regret will be returning to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania where we live and pay taxes, and where gay marriage still is not considered legal.
T. J. Klune Post
I have to admit that it takes a lot to gut me sometimes. But I’ve become very emotionally involved in what’s been happening with M/M authors, TJ Klune and Eric Arvin. The post I’m linking to now, written by Klune, will explain everything to those who don’t know what I’m talking about right now.
I know we all go through serious times in life, and everyone gets his or her own share of pain and sorrow. But the health crisis with Klune and Arvin hit so close to home for me, and for what I experienced with Tony’s health crisis in 2007, I actually do feel gutted each time I read something else. I also feel a strong sense of pride when I see how so many have supported Klune and Arvin during this time. I don’t think of this as fandom. I think this goes deeper and shows how strong online relationships can be, and how they continue to evolve and grow.
Here’s an excerpt from TJ Klune’s most recent post.
As I write this, I am sitting in a waiting room of a respiratory hospital in Richmond, Virginia. It’s 11 in the morning on a rainy Friday. It’s cold outside. We’re supposed to get snow later. I forgot to grab my heavy coat when I packed my bag this time. I accidentally left my gloves at the hotel. Forgetting little things is normal for me these days, as are the purple lines under my eyes from lack of sleep that don’t ever go away. Normal is the leaner face I see in the mirror from the weight I’ve lost. Normal is the Kleenex I keep in my pocket to wipe away the tears that too come easy so he doesn’t see them when I sit beside his bed.
You can read more here.
Free Gay Excerpt
I know this isn’t the longest excerpt I’ve ever posted, but it’s my latest novel in the Glendora Hill series and I often do these things for selfish reasons. I like seeing how they look on the blog, and in these raw versions (this is unedited) I often find a lot of inspiration that’s very hard to explain.
It’s so new I’m only about 25,000 words into it. I don’t even have a title, or a blurb. But I will say this: I see a lot of Christians slamming gays all the time and never taking into consideration that there are gay Christians. I wanted to put that in a book and show them.
When Kelly Barrett mapped out the route he would take from Buffalo, Wyoming to Glendora Hill, Texas, he chose one that would take him through Arizona so he could see the Grand Canyon. He planned this without fanfare or misguided expectations. He’d always dreamed of going there and knew he might not get the opportunity again for a long time.
Kelly had taken a new position as ranch manager for a small ranch in a town set deep in Texas Hill Country called Glendora Hill. Although he’d loved working as a ranch manager in Buffalo, Wyoming, Kelly’s partner of five years, Dudley Long, had accepted the position as Pastor of a new church between Glendora Hill and Austin, Texas, and Kelly couldn’t hold him back. For a gay minister it was the opportunity of a lifetime. This new church was one of the most progressive in the country and they welcomed LGBTI people with wide open arms to the point where they’d specifically gone searching for a gay pastor.
The job offer came fast and Dudley couldn’t refuse because the church in Wyoming where he’d been pastor had closed six months earlier for lack of funds. When Dudley heard mention a gay couple in Glendora Hill, Texas were looking for a new ranch manager, it sounded too good to be true. The ranch in Texas was only twenty miles from the church where Dudley would be working. It was such a poor congregation there were no funds for housing and Kelly and Dudley would have to find a home of their own at their own expense. So when Kelly discovered the ranch manager position in Glendora Hill came with a great salary, full benefits, and included housing at the ranch, he aggressively went after the job without thinking twice. It was one of the few times in Kelly’s life when things actually fell into place without having to struggle too hard.
As he pulled out of a gas station not far from the Grand Canyon, he frowned when he glanced into the rear view mirror and saw a guy on a motorcycle tailgating his truck. He was wearing a lime green and black helmet and Kelly couldn’t see his face. It was eight in the morning and there weren’t many cars on the road. Kelly glanced at the speedometer and frowned again when he saw he was doing the posted speed limit. He also wondered what was going through the guy on the motorcycle’s mind, and how he could take so much for granted. The guy seemed to trust that Kelly would not stop short or make any sudden moves, which made no sense at all for anyone who knew the basic principles of defensive driving. The motorcycle resembled a toy compared to the huge black pick-up truck Kelly was driving.
The guy on the motorcycle followed him to the entrance of the Grand Canyon and then disappeared when Kelly pulled up to pay the admission fee. When he entered the park and spent the day walking and taking photos, he forgot all about the guy on the motorcycle. But as he pulled out of the park around five o’clock that afternoon he took a deep breath and sighed when he saw another motorcycle not far behind.
He knew it was the same motorcycle from earlier that day because he spotted the lime green and black helmet again. But just to be certain he pulled over to the shoulder and made a phone call to Dudley in Texas to let him know where he was. As he pulled his phone out of his pocket the motorcycle passed him without fanfare, he got a closer look at the helmet, and he took another deep breath and sighed aloud. Then he dialed Dudley’s number and waited for him to answer.
“Hey,” Dudley said, on the fourth ring. “Where are you?”
“I’m just leaving the Grand Canyon now,” Kelly said. “It was spectacular. I wish I could have spent a few days here. I wish you could have been here. You would have loved it.”
“We’ll make that a plan,” Dudley said. “As soon as we get settled here, that will be our first vacation.”
“I’d like that,” Kelly said. “You’d be amazed at how many private little trails I saw. We can have so much fun behind a rock.”
Dudley laughed and said, “I’ll bet we could.”
Kelly smiled because Dudley’s reaction sounded fake, which meant he probably wasn’t alone. “Who’s there with you?”
“Ah, well,” Dudley said. “I’m here with one of the church women and we’re discussing a new youth committee.”
Kelly laughed. “I see. I guess you can’t talk about having hot sex with me in trails now, or about how I want you to pull my pants down behind a rock.”
“I think you’re right about that,” Dudley said, pretending to laugh a little too loudly.
Sometimes it bothered Kelly that he couldn’t act and react like other gay men he knew. It was bad enough that he was a cowboy and he had to deal with certain restrictions of his own, let alone the restrictions he faced all the time being married to a minister. As the husband of a minister he was expected to be prim and proper. He couldn’t tell dirty jokes, or swear in public. He couldn’t make campy gestures, allow his wrist to go limp, or talk about gay culture in depth. Even though Dudley’s church was highly progressive, it was still a church and people expected the pastor and his partner to behave a certain way. But he was used to it and he didn’t let it bother him often.
“I’ll let you go then,” Kelly said. “I can see you’re busy. I’m driving through Arizona tonight and I’m not stopping until I reach New Mexico. I’ll call you in the morning.”
“Be safe,” Dudley said. “Love you.”
“Love you, too,” Kelly said.
He stopped for something to eat at a fast food drive through about an hour later. He wanted to reach Silver City, New Mexico before midnight without wasting a moment. He’d planned ahead and made a reservation at a motel earlier that morning. Now that he’d seen the Grand Canyon and he’d gotten that out of his system the long road trip had lost a good deal of its excitement and all he wanted to do now was get to Texas, start his new job, and be with his husband.
Though he’d planned for seven hours on the road, he pulled into the motel in Silver City around one in the morning and yawned when he noticed the front office was open twenty-four hours. The motel complex was a low-slung one story affair designed in an L-shape, with beige stucco exterior walls, a roof with missing Terra Cotta tiles, and a vacancy sign at the entrance that hung slightly to the right from old rusty chains. He noticed a swimming pool in the center of the complex, with plastic tables and chairs he’d seen in low-end discount stores. The pool area was surrounded by a rusted chain link fence that reminded him of an old junkyard back in Wyoming. And the only landscaping he noticed between brown weeds and thorny grey shrubs were those stereotypical cactus plants that didn’t even look real.
He yawned again and pulled up to the front office to check in for the night. It wasn’t the kind of place he would have stayed in if he’d been traveling with Dudley. But he figured because he was alone he might as well save money, sleep in the cheapest places possible, and save up for a few new things he wanted to buy in Glendora Hill. The ranch manager’s cottage on the ranch where he would be working came furnished, and Dudley was already living there and he said he loved the way it looked. But Kelly had always been picky and he had very specific tastes. He knew, without even seeing the cottage, he would want to make changes there and those changes would cost money.
The clerk in the main office reminded Kelly of a character in an old film, but not just one specific character. She was more of a combination of several. This woman had to be in her seventies, with long straight blond hair, parted dead center with a long chunky braid that trailed down her back. She wore too much pancake make-up in the most garish pale shade just shy of clown white, dark red lipstick, and two heavy dots of blue eye shadow. He dress was a flouncy cotton deal, with tiny pink roses and vines of ivy, a matching belt at the waist she’d cinched to the point of discomfort, and a lace collar. If she hadn’t been so deadpan in tone and lackluster in expression Kelly would have thought he’d run into the reincarnation of Baby Jane Hudson from the old Bette Davis classic, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane. But when she refused to even look up and make direct eye contact with him once, she reminded him more of Norman Bates in Psycho.