A beautiful day for a (gay) wedding

Rafael_McDonnellRAFAEL McDONNELL | Contributing Columnist

Friday, July 15, was a beautiful day to get married in Provincetown, Mass. The sun shone in a nearly cloudless sky, and a light breeze blew in from the water.

I hadn’t planned to attend a wedding that day, in the waning moments of a Provincetown vacation. In fact, if the original plans had held up, I would have been in Canada. But the chance to spend time with friends and fellow bears at P-town Bears Week proved too strong a pull.

Just before noon, I’d walked out onto a granite jetty in far west Provincetown. In front of me was Pilgrim’s First Landing Park, where a crowd of bears gathered. In their midst, two men wore matching red shirts, khaki shorts and flip-flops. Later, I would learn that they were Daniel Boone and David Moore of High Point, N.C.

As a bell rang in the distance, the Rev. Vernon Porter arrived to conduct the ceremony, blending secular and religious traditions.

Several of Daniel and David’s friends were crying, and to my surprise I found myself softly tearing up as well.

Why?

I’ve been to many weddings in Texas involving my gay and lesbian friends. I’ve even been a member of the wedding party several times. Two men or two women pledging their love, commitment and honor is old, old news.

It had to be something different, something deeper. And then, I realized it. This was the first wedding I’d attended involving the LGBT community where the union was sanctioned by the government.

This must be what respect feels like, and that’s why I cried.

I cried for those no longer with us, who could have never hoped or dreamed to marry and have it count in the eyes of the law, for those afraid to step out into the light of true acceptance, and for those LGBT community members whose marriages have been challenged, negated or disrespected by those who purport to govern.

I also cried because I’ve never seriously considered the idea of me ever getting married. I’ve dated and been in relationships with several wonderful men. But here were two fellow bears, who met six years earlier at a bear-sponsored group dinner in North Carolina, having the wedding of their dreams in one of the gayest places on Earth.

If it could happen for them, it could happen for me — someday.

The wedding ceremony ended traditionally, with an exchange of rings and a passionate kiss. Here’s what Daniel said about those rings, made from an anniversary ring owned by David’s mother: “When she passed away, she had seven of the diamond stones to go to me, seven to go to David and (the final seven stones) go to his brother. She told David and I to take the stones and make our wedding rings with it. That way, she will always be there with us.”

A small crowd gathered to witness the wedding, and burst into spontaneous applause as the ceremony ended. Somebody in the crowd shouted “Mazel tov!” Two lesbians, who had been riding along the edge of the sand dunes, stopped to watch and spontaneously pulled out their camera to take pictures. I did, also.

And then it happened. I became part of the wedding party. One of the attendees asked if I would take a group picture. I said, sure. Then a second person asked, and a third, and a fourth. Before I knew it, I added “wedding photographer” to my resume.

All too soon, the parties dispersed, and I prepared to leave Cape Cod.

Yet, all weekend, weddings remained on my mind. I’d heard several bears from New York discussing the merits of marrying at Niagara Falls versus the top of the Empire State Building, once weddings start this weekend in New York. When I returned to Texas on Monday, I read Mark Reed-Walkup and Dante Walkup’s wedding announcement in the Dallas Morning News.

Both are significant steps toward making our marriages the norm, instead of a novelty.

Someday, in the near future, it won’t be unusual to mark an LGBT wedding. But I will always remember where I was, who and what I saw, and how I felt the first time I witnessed our community’s love sanctified, recognized and deemed legal in the eyes of the state.

Rafael McDonnell is strategic communications and programs manager for Resource Center Dallas. He is also an active member of the bear community in North Texas.

—  John Wright

theirTWOdads

For co-parenting couple Tyler Scoresby and Jonathan Ingram, every day feels like Father’s Day

A FAMILY UPSIDE-DOWN | Jonathan Ingram, left, with 6-year-old Brett and biological dad Tyler Scoresby, right, with 8-year-old Ella, show how a family with two gay dads can be a rough-and-tumble affair — and the kids seem to love it. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

The story of Tyler Scoresby and Jonathan Ingram, like all good gay love stories, started at the gym.

That’s where Ingram, a graphic designer, and Scoresby, a physician, met more than three years ago, not long after Scoresby came out and divorced his wife of seven years. Scoresby dated a few men before Ingram, “but he was the first to express a definite interest in meeting my kids.”

“Before he’d let me get involved with them, he kind of interviewed me!” Ingram says.

“I told him, there are times when I’ll have the kids but you may want to go out with friends. But he was really clear about wanting to be a dad with me,” Scoresby says.

And that’s exactly what they are now.

Currently, the couple (they legally wed in Provincetown, Mass., last September) share custody with Scoresby’s ex-wife, getting the kids — Ella, 8, and Brett, 6 — every Thursday, the first, third and fifth weekend each month, select holidays and all of July (“a traditional set-up,” Scoresby calls it). And they will have them this Sunday, June 19 — Father’s Day. But honestly, they don’t expect to make a big deal out of it.

“We have no major plans,” Scoresby says, 35. “We have fun every weekend. When there are two parents [in a heterosexual household], the woman usually the kids to celebrate Father’s Day. But it’s just us celebrating each other.”

“We keep them active all the time,” Ingram adds. “We do crafts, play on the trampoline, take road trips,” including one next month to California to see the Redwood Forest. And being that there are two fit, athletic men leading this household, roughhousing is the rule, not the exception. The kids seem to love it.

Scoresby calls Ingram “a perfect partner in parenting. Neither of us has a defined role. We don’t try to compare it to a straight relationship.”

The children have taken to Ingram whole-heartedly. They call Scoresby “Daddy” and Ingram “Jonathan,” but both act, and are treated, like full parents.

“A lot of times I think they like him better than they do me,” Scoresby jokes. “They respect him like a parent and he loves them like one.”

Ingram, now 41, had been interested in having children when he was younger, “but you put it aside when you come out. If I was going to have kids, it was not going to be an easy road.” He came from a fairly large family himself, which included one adopted sister.

Meeting Tyler, Ella and Brett presented an opportunity to be the dad he always wanted to be.

“Parenting comes naturally for me,” he says. “I get to do the same stuff as Tyler without dealing with the divorce. Everything else I deal with — motivating them, teaching them how to ride bikes, cleaning up after them, reading books to them at night or dealing with a nightmare — is the same.”

But they do try to operate under a different set of rules. Both had been reared in nurturing but conservative straight households that put an emphasis on values, and saw aspects of parenting they liked. But they wanted to achieve those goals their own way.

“When there aren’t set roles, it gives you a lot of freedom,” Ingram says. “For instance, there are many ways to be a moral person that are not tied to religion. So every Sunday morning [when we have them], we spend about an hour and a half on what we call ‘human time.’ We like to think of it as the next generation of parenting.”

BOUNCE | One advantage in a two-dad household? Lots of fun physical activities, like jumping on the backyard trampoline. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

They did worry at first about how to introduce Ingram as Daddy’s partner, though that has ended up being unexpectedly easy.

“Because they were so young [when we met], they really don’t remember what their lives were like before me,” Ingram says. “We certainly show affection around them like any straight parents would.” About a year into the relationship, they read Ella And Tango Makes Three, a children’s book about a family of same-sex penguins.

“Ella was already around clearly defined families and we wanted to make sure she could always tell her friends, ‘Yeah, I have two dads,’” Ingram says. “We said, ‘Do you understand our family is a little different, but that doesn’t mean we are less or bad?’ She pointed at the penguins and said, ‘That’s me, that’s you, that’s Daddy.’ It was like she already got it.”

That’s one reason you won’t hear the dads talk down to Ella and Brett. They explain honestly why someone is there to photograph them, and both kids pose like burgeoning runway models. And they are excited to start human time soon.

It’s all going so well, in fact, the couple have talked about having more kids, whether through adoption or surrogacy. But whatever they decide, one thing is certain: With two men in the house, every day feels like Father’s Day.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 17, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens