Tell us more about your love story.
A: We’ve been together officially for a year and two months, yet I feel our hearts were entwined the moment we saw each other. We both met at the church we attended at the time. We both were taught that being queer was wrong and a sin and consider ourselves survivors from fundamentalist Evangelical Christianity, to say the least.
We both struggled with the feelings we were having towards each other but could not ignore what was there.
I was married when we met, to a very narcissistic man. He was emotionally and mentally abusive. I had been done and disconnected with our relationship for a very long time. I was married for 16 years, as I got married at a young age; which isn’t unusual for being in the south.
Heidi was living with her widowed mom and was afraid to come out.
We started to become best friends, as we got to know each other better. We carried lots of shame about being attracted to each other because of our religious learnings. I ended up leaving my ex last February, and Heidi and I have been together ever since.
I was concerned about my kids, who are 11 and 14, going through a divorce is hard and add that their mom is now with a woman. Our coming out was not easy at all. We both have family that decided not to be in our lives, so we ended up moving in together. The kids did amazing through the transition, and they love Heidi.
We are one happy little family.
What a story. You’re engaged now, tell us about the proposal.
A: We both knew very early on that we wanted to be together forever. I knew when deciding to leave my ex, that I could NOT fathom living life without her. So we talked about it right after I left the unhealthy relationship. We were open about our engagement, yet Heidi still surprised me.
We went on a picnic on the Blue Ridge Parkway with the kids. She asked me to dance, and when she twirled me around, I turned around with her on one knee. I cried tears of happiness and joy!
I ended proposing to Heidi on her birthday April 24th. She always didn’t like her birthday because it always reminded her of not living her truth, so I wanted to change her memory of her birthday. I took her to a cabin in the woods, and we had a romantic weekend.
What does your new relationship status of ‘engaged’ mean to you both?
A & H: Gosh, our engagement is an extension and open declaration of what we’ve always felt inside, and were afraid to proclaim because toxic religion silenced our voices. No more. We are open and proud.
Photography Oh Johnny Photography