I have been dating my partner, now my finance, for over five years. Five years and three months to be exact. We met shortly after I made the decision to come out, had separated from my wife and moved into my own apartment. We met at a Meetup group that held monthly dinners in local restaurants for gay and bi men. A mutual friend introduced us. But, it would be eight months before we would go on our first date.
As a newly minted out gay man I was on a tear to date a lot of men and soon forgot about this sexy guy I had found very attractive. I have a lot of Type A personality attributes and am driven to accomplish my goals, and it was no different when I came out. I went on a forced march of OkCupid and Match dates for almost a year, having dinner with one to three guys a week. None of the dates progressed beyond that first dinner, and a few never made it through dinner, but I was on a roll. I would wake up each morning, sit with my coffee and my iPad swiping through men on OkCupid and Match and sending out short messages to introduce myself to a few men each day before heading off to work. I created a steady stream of dates that kept me quite busy.
It was about eight months later at a post-Thanksgiving gathering at the home of the man who had first introduced me to my partner that I saw my future partner again for the first time since our brief introductory meeting. Here was the man I had found so attractive months before and my interest and attraction were rekindled. I invited him to a holiday party at my home two weeks later in mid-December. In early January 2015, we went on our first date. There was an electricity about that first date and our growing relationship that had me head over heels for him.
Soon we were a couple and in a relationship. I remember talking with my partner about living together early in our relationship, We had a few tentative conversations about marriage. But he was adamant that he did not want to live with me if I was still married to my wife and I agreed with him. Through the summer of 2016, my wife and I discussed divorce and made plans to begin divorce mediation. But events intervened that stopped the divorce process cold.
In the Fall of 2016, the week before we were to begin divorce mediation, my wife was diagnosed with an aggressive and rare cancer. I spent the next eight months navigating her clinical care with her family while trying to maintain my relationship with my partner and hold down my job. It was a very stressful and difficult time. After my wife passed away in April of 2017 it took me another year to get our house ready to sell and shut down my apartment before my partner and I could move in together.
Two years ago we moved in together and began having more serious discussions about marriage. Last year, we made the decision to get married and began to plan our wedding. We gave a lot of thought to what kind of wedding we wanted and for a while considered either eloping or something very small, but we both felt, for different reasons, that we wanted a wedding where we stood publicly before our friends and family and declared our love and commitment to each other.
For me, after fighting my attraction to men for so many years, I wanted to be able to stand proudly before my community and affirm my love for another man. My partner, who has been out since college, felt strongly that he wanted to pubically lay claim to a civil right, marriage, that had been denied him for so many years. He wanted to proudly stand before the community and have the wedding that just a few short years ago was not available to him as a gay man.
So we did what couples do. We found the perfect venue. We hired a caterer, florist, photographer, and wedding cake baker, which we loved. We obsessed over the invitations and created the perfect invitation and mailed them out to almost 100 guests. We bought the rings, and new suits, and shoes. We got our wedding license. We were on our way to a beautiful wedding that we would remember forever.
Then the Coronavirus hit. It became increasingly clear that the beautiful wedding we had planned would need to be canceled. After our Governor (rightly) banned all gatherings of over 50 people and shut down all restaurants, we pulled the plug, notifying our guests and vendors that the wedding was canceled.
In the days before we canceled the wedding, we had begun to discuss a backup plan and landed on the idea of a small wedding in our home, the same day as our original wedding date, that could be live-streamed to our friends and family. We envisioned ten to twenty close friends and family in our home for the event and the rest of our friends and family watching online.
Even that small wedding plan will have to be adjusted. Any time now we expect some kind of “Shelter-in-place order” for at Maryland and Washington, D.C. If that occurs even a small wedding plan may have to be canceled or rethought. We have our marriage license so we just need the officiant and one witness to marry us. We are even considering a virtual officiant to make it a real 21st-century wedding.
So we wait and watch. Our relationship has been one where events outside our control changing the trajectory of our plans, and we have been resilient throughout. We will be resilient here as well.