Amy Evans and Trish McKinnerney didn’t have a party planner, just their own creativity and one devoted parent beaming with pride at their lesbian wedding
Brenda Rhodes, like most moms, looked forward to the day when her daughter would finally tie the knot.
Of course, when your daughter is gay, you don’t necessarily hold your breath.
Or rather, you didn’t — but things change.
Rhodes is the kind of woman who likes to put everyone at ease. “I appreciate you taking the time to call,” she chirps on her outgoing voicemail message, “and I hope you make it a great day!”
That attitude of enthusiasm and generosity of spirit gives a down-home joie de vivre to the 57-year-old, Bible-studying mother of two.
“Woman marries another woman” is more akin to “dog bites man” than “man bites dog” in this day and age, but for gay couples who crave parental approval — not to say involvement — it’s still a refreshing story to hear.
Rhodes’ daughter, Amy Evans, married her longtime girlfriend, Trish McKinnerney, on a bright Texas spring day last month. The service took place at Off the Grid, an old power station that has been converted into an airy, lofty event space, complete with exposed brick walls, industrial-chic ducts and plenty of light. It took the happy couple a year to plan and prepare for, and they did a lot of the work themselves.
Evans and McKinnerney handcrafted every decoration, ornament and subtle touch for the 300 invited guests, who arrived through the hand-built archway onto a neatly trimmed lawn covered in flower petals. Guests were given home-crafted birds’ nests with pods in them. Inside the pods were sunflower seeds, a symbol of new life.
“It was a fairy tale come true,” says Rhodes, who participated proudly every step along the way. “She had been married before, but I could tell she was truly happy. They were both just beaming. And they had been pouring their hearts into this for an entire year All this came out of my daughter’s brain. ”
It was an unexpectedly genteel ceremony considering that, other than McKinnerney, Evans’ One True Love is roller derby. Known as Professor Kaos, she plays for the Dallas Derby Devils; the two met when McKinnerney tried out for the team. And, while she decided the sport wasn’t quite her style, player Evans certainly was. Now, the team is very much a part of both their lives, hanging out often at the couple’s home. Rhodes often joins them.
“They lovingly call Amy ‘the scrapbook queen’ and they call me ‘PK’s mom,’” Rhodes says. The derby girls did much of the “heavy lifting” for the ceremony, Rhodes says.
Evans’ creativity wasn’t inherited, Rhodes insists — at least not initially. “I didn’t have a creative bone in my body until I died of a heart attack in 1996 and came back,” she says. “Then all of a sudden I did.”
Evans had been married twice before and had a son (who walked her down the aisle), but Rhodes wasn’t fazed when the new betrothed turned out to be a woman.
“It didn’t surprise me at all,” Rhodes says in a soft Texas accent. “I already suspected Amy might be a lesbian or at least bisexual. Her father he and I were married 12 years, and while we were married discovered he was gay. It was such a shock to me, I checked books out of the library, so I could come to terms with it. I was determined that no matter how they grew up, she and her brother would respect their father.”
So there you have it: Two brides, one roller derby team, a gay dad, and one very sweet, very proud mom who came back from the dead.
That’s pretty hard to beat.
— Jonanna Widner
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 4, 2012.