Gabriel Mendez & Kenneth Denson, on the road to superherodom
MARK STOKES | Illustrator
Names and ages: Gabriel Mendez, 33, and Kenneth Denson, 38.
Name of business and when you started it: Red Pegasus Games and Comics opened Nov. 7, 2014.
When was your earliest interest in comic books or superheroes? Gabriel: I have no idea when my first experience with superheroes was. I have pictures of me as a toddler wearing a Batman onesie. So I’m going to guess… always?
Kenneth: My first real memories of comic books were going to the library with my dad. I don’t know if there was a comic book store in my hometown, but at the library there were tons of collected editions of old comics. I must have checked each of them out a hundred times. And then Wonder Woman reruns — they were my favorite.
How long have you been a couple: 14 fun-filled years.
Had you had a marriage ceremony of any kind before this year? Gabriel: We originally got married in October 2005 on the rooftop of Club Clearview in Deep Ellum. Of course, it wasn’t legal, but we didn’t care. We wanted to get married, so we did.
Kenneth: Three of them now! Dallas in 2005, San Francisco in 2013 and now Dallas again in 2015.
You became media celebs when you got married on June 26. Explain that experience. Gabriel: I’ve never been one to fall too deep into politics [but] Kenneth was a political science major in college — and he] had a theory about the Supreme Court’s ruling [coming down on June 26] that sounded pretty legit. When I saw how convinced he was, I thought, “Sure, we can open our store a little late and hang out at the courthouse just in case.” If I’m being honest, I never thought it would happen and I’m still shocked that it has. I’m terribly excited and proud, but it still seems so unreal. When the ruling came down I had trouble wrapping my brain around what this meant for me. To a certain extent, I didn’t really consider myself in this situation. Mostly I just thought about all the people present and past who have fought so hard for that moment, especially those who didn’t live to see the day. Once I got past that, of course Kenneth didn’t need to ask me to marry him. It was a given.
Kenneth: There was no doubt in my mind that it was going to happen on the 26th, so we were at the clerk’s office an hour before they opened. As far as the media getting involved, it was really strange. I’d posted a picture of the sign on our Facebook page and an acquaintance in New York tweeted the picture and it went from there. The next day we were wearing our shirts (because we were headed back to the shop as soon as we got married) and it made it really easy for the news folks to put the story together. It got really crazy for a week or two!
What does it mean to you to be married in your own state? Gabriel: That question takes on a different meaning when we’re talking about the South. I mean, this is Texas. I feel validated. I feel seen and recognized, like our relationship is finally taken seriously. I remember while waiting in line at the courthouse, people were talking about the other counties that had denied people licenses. I was so proud everyone at the Dallas courthouse, from the clerks to the judges to the security guards, treated us with respect and congratulated us. It was a great day to live in Dallas.
Kenneth: It’s really amazing. I believe that Texas would have done this on it’s own in another five years, but I’m glad we didn’t have to wait.
Do you have any plans for Dallas Pride Weekend? How do you mark Pride now … or is marriage enough? Kenneth: We’re so boring that Pride usually sneaks up on us and suddenly we realize, “Oh, hey, Pride is today!”
Gabriel: Work. I know that sounds incredibly lame, but I love my shop and I love my job, so I’m going to work. How about I say we’re going to embody the spirit of Gay Pride and equality by being successful, independent, gay business owners?
Quick, no thinking: Marvel or DC? Gabriel: DC all the way! I’m such a fanboy it’s embarrassing. I love them both but I was raised on DC so those characters will always have a special place in my heart. Aquaman is my man! He’s the perpetual underdog always discounted because of his abilities or where he comes from. But he’s a lesson in making the most of what you have, right?
Kenneth: Gabriel is wrong, Marvel is better, and Spider-Man is awesome.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 18, 2015.