We were normal busy college students. Anna was in her fourth year of college and I was about to graduate with a B.A. in Religion and Liberal Arts.
Anna and I met while I was working at a coffee shop inside of Anna’s college. Our mutual friend, Paula, decided that we would be PERFECT for each other and decided to hook us up in the way her Jamaican blood dictates, by force. She then took Anna to the coffee shop I worked at to meet me. They got to the counter and said hi, Paula had a funny look on her face and forced Anna into my view, Anna shyly ordering a strawberry Italian soda, no cream. As I mixed her Italian soda we talked about the Saints hat I was wearing, she told me it looked good. I blushed and flamboyantly responded, “My buddies took me into a sports cap store and made me pick a football team. I picked the Saints because their clothing was the most fashionable.” I handed Anna her Italian Soda while she and Paula laughed. We talked for a few more minutes; Paula then took a cardboard coffee sleeve from its holder and ripped it in half, Anna and my eyes followed our friends confident black Jamaican hands as the Left one proceeded to write my phone number on one half of the textured cardboard and Anna’s on the other. She handed Anna’s number to me loudly stating in her Jamaican accent, “If you don’t call her, I won’t give you any tips!” They then went to their next class, leaving me in the coffee shop alone with half of a cardboard coffee sleeve and the number of a girl who I knew almost nothing about.
Over the next two weeks Anna and I chatted with each other while she was between classes. It was like clockwork we talked, Anna would leave the coffee shop to go to class and then Paula would be at my counter asking, “So, have you asked her out yet?” I would always respond by telling her no, “No” while thinking, “I’m gay, can we talk about the cute guy who always sits in front of that window?” She would then order a drink, pay for her drink, pick up her drink, look into the tip jar, look at me and smile before she walked away. Soon enough my other customers overheard our daily ritual and found out about the game Paula was playing. My customers not only found out about Paula’s matchmaking scheme, they started joining in! I then realized that if I did not ask Anna out, I would have no gas money! The next day I answered Paula’s question with “I will do it tomorrow.” I decided to put my gay bias aside and take my financial future into consideration…
On the morning of “tomorrow” my roommates informed me that it was Valentine’s Day and invited me to go to dinner with them, I told them I would be bringing a date. So, On February 14th, 2012 I dragged myself into work with a bouquet of Lilies. As the day grew into the afternoon Anna walked up to the register and handed me a brand new fashionable Saints hat while energetically saying, “Happy Valentine’s day!” While replacing the old hat on my head with the new one I told her thank you and asked if she would like a free drink. She said yes. As I mixed her up another Strawberry Italian Soda, no cream we talked about our mornings. When I was handing Anna her drink I grabbed the bouquet of Lilies and asked her out, she said yes!
The date went really well, Anna survived my friends and another date was set. From here we got to know each other. Over the next couple weeks I found out that she doesn’t like cooked fruit, she is GRUMPY in the mornings, and that she has a big heart. I also realized that along with us having started to develop a relationship I had developed feelings for Anna that I previously only felt for men. I decided that I would see what happened over the next two weeks before I needed to let her know that I am gay.
Over the first month our relationship became built with dancing, movies, and hanging out with our mutual friends. We had alone time, just like any other young couple that is starting to get to know each other. Soon, we started moving from the back and forth game of dating, and into a relationship based on honesty, trust, love and compassion for each other. We talked about the do’s and the do not’s, the birds and the bees, and most importantly the negotiation of “What if we end up getting married?” I then realized that I had fallen in love, as a gay man I was in trouble.
I needed to tell Anna that I am gay. A few nights later after we were doing some “get to know each other” games I started a serious conversation with Anna. I come out of the closet, again, and told her, “I’m gay!”
Anna’s first reaction was, “wait, what?” She then explained to me that this did not matter due to our spiritual, sexual and healthy connection with each other. She continued and said, “This connection is the type that every couple wishes for. We have no problems, we had never argued, and we openly and honestly love each other. You being gay is just who you are, as long as you love me and I love you why should you being gay matter?”
We then had a serious discussion about the future of our relationship. We did what my Mormon friends call, defining the relationship (the D.R.). By defining what each of us thought our relationship needed to be we opened up a line of communication that has allowed me to be fully honest with Anna about what I, as a gay man in a heterosexual relationship needs and what Anna, who is FULLY heterosexual, also needs. From this conversation we decided to see where the relationship would go. We agreed that if the relationship turns into something unhealthy that we would end the relationship. W decided that we would not fix something that was not broken.
Six months later we started talking about marriage and met with Elizabeth, a licensed therapist. We wanted to make sure that we were making the right decision and that we would not be harming each other by continuing our mixed orientation relationship. Elizabeth asked us some questions about our relationship and saw that we were doing everything we needed to be doing to make a healthy relationship stay healthy. Elizabeth specifically heard us declaring a lifelong commitment, she heard us committing to each other in the old classic way: that we were committed to each other for better or for worse, in sickness and health, till death do us part, etc.. Elizabeth heard us talking about wanting children, our commitment to high family values and our commitment to do what we need to do to raise children. Elizabeth wanted to make sure that we knew that marriage is not a walk in the park, but a day to day commitment. This commitment is what Elizabeth saw from both Anna and I. Elizabeth also saw in us our spiritual connection with each other, and how this connection allows for me, a gay man, to love a straight woman.
We did everything we needed to do to make sure that we were making the right choice. We knew that it was not every day that a gay guy marries a straight woman, we made sure to go above and beyond what a strictly heterosexual or homosexual couples would do.
After doing all that we could to make sure we were making the right choice for BOTH of us we became engaged (I will post this story later) and will soon be joining the ranks of what is now called a ‘Mixed Orientation Marriage,’ A relationship where one partner is heterosexual and the other is gay or lesbian.
I can imagine that for some of you reading this post that what I am saying does not make very much sense, or that you are not very sure what or how to think or even approach thinking about Anna’s and my relationship. One of the things that Anna and I have found most interesting in our journey is how our society holds biases against things and ideas that do not fit into its narrow definitions of normal; our society expects people to stay in a box. Both Anna and I have experienced these prejudices in our own lives, and have seen these prejudices and biases be directed in very negative ways towards our LGBTQI friends, family and even random strangers.
Anna and I have learned that people stay in this box of socially construed biases and prejudices because it is what society and religion teaches. It is taught that it is best for everyone to follow social norms which allow our day to day lives to go unhindered and uninterrupted with uncomfortable topics and new ideas. We have seen this box stay closed in both the Heterosexual and LGBTQI worlds. This socially endorsed bias happens because of what some heterosexual groups and individuals want and say, AND because LGBTQI individuals are unhappy due to them not able to be who they truly are (due to harmful social and religious ideas and homophobia).
I have been stuck in societies harmful boxes box’s twice, once by individuals who believe gay men are pretending to be gay and another time by people who think that gay men are just gay men and nothing else. Anna has been put into a box because she is a straight, heterosexual stereotype. Our relationship has been put into a box due to it being different.
Personally, I enjoy my box fully open, by having my box this way I am able to see the world holistically. I have learned that the world and its people are all interconnected in what we call life. By opening the boxes that we have been put into we let the stereotypes society has bound us onto free. By doing this we are not letting the harmful bias and prejudices of our society control us, and are instead meeting them head on, in a battle that makes our society a better one to live in.
Anna and I refuse to live in the closed boxes of stereotypes and prejudices. Through Anna’s and my relationship we have pulled our true, homosexual and heterosexual selves from the narrow boxes of our society that control intimacy and relationships. This has allowed us to live a life of transparency that we have opened to each other and to the world. We strive to live a life without labels or rejection in the hope that other will follow fate and do the same.
In unlikely circumstance we met, in an unlikely love we live. Through me Anna is her whole self, and through Anna my needs as a human are met. By putting us, a gay man and a straight woman, together we created a relationship that death cannot separate. Our relationship has everything it needs, spirituality, sexuality, connectivity, trust, love, humor, and many other needed things.
In essence, our relationship mirrors that of everyone’s who reads this, be it marriage or friendship.
Think about the current boxes our society puts itself in, are you ok with these? If not, why? Put your answer in the comments section below!