Cardinals v. Dodgers baseball at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri, on the home plate, Josie asked McKenna to be her wife.
When you think about where you are going to meet the love of your life, there are clear, stereotypically romantic ideas that come to mind; perhaps it’s the cutie in your college class or the kind person you ran into at the gym.
However—for me—the love of my life appeared to me in the way I least expected: as my sorority sister.
For those who are not from the U.S.A. (or especially not from the American South), sorority culture can be a foreign concept; I’ll do my best to paint a picture of the scene.
Josie and I met in 2017 during a typical sorority recruitment event—I was a junior and she was a sophomore. While potential new members were filing in and beginning their chats with our members, I had found myself sitting on the stairs taking a break from the social overload of the day. She saw me sitting by myself and came to sit next to me—if only past McKenna knew what were to come.
I don’t remember much of that day from all those years ago, but many things stand out.
Josie had the most easy and fun sense of humor. She had such a radiant laugh and energy; it was almost like she glowed from the inside out.
Needless to say, we became fast friends—the kind of fast that goes from quick coffee shop visits to 4:00 am phone calls in the blink of an eye.
An important note about sorority culture is that there is a distinct stereotype of (among many other things) sororities being unwelcoming to queer people. So, when I was elected Chapter President of my sorority and began to have feelings for someone who was supposed to be my sorority sister and best friend, there was a distinct and internalized shame that I felt forced to unpack in silence.
Although I knew my sorority chapter was welcoming and kind to anyone who walked in the door, it was almost like I had convinced myself that there was no way I could be Chapter President and queer at the same time.
My presidency came and went with my internalized shame hanging around my feet like a ball and chain. However, Josie was elected as Chapter President after me, and was officially the first openly lesbian sorority Chapter President at our university.
I was in awe of her confidence and unceasing self love that was lit within her.
It was around this time that it was clear that Josie and I were both very aware that were in love with one another—the kind of love that you feel where no words need to be spoken. It just is.
Over time, that love turned from an unspoken feeling to a real, tangible truth and we began officially dating in 2019.
However, after being friends for those years, we decided that we needed to have an official first date.
Josie planned a fun weekend at a Cardinals v. Dodgers game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. We always talked about going back and seeing the Cardinals play the Dodgers there again, however, COVID-19 had other plans. Much to my surprise, Josie planned a surprise trip to see them on September 5th of this year; I couldn’t wait to be back in the place it all started. However, in a move that was even more to my surprise, Josie asked me to be her wife on home plate of the place where our love became truly official (cue me sobbing hysterically in the middle of a baseball field).
It was the perfect day where both of our families got to celebrate with us what we had known all along: Josie and I were soulmates for life.
On November 19th of this year, I got the chance to propose back to my best friend at our towns annual Christmas light lighting event—proposing just as the lights came on for the season.
Needless to say, this year has been quite the fairytale.
The story has an important truth—the shame that comes from within can often be the most dangerous and difficult to overcome. While sorority culture (and Greek life as a whole) needs many, many, many fundamental changes to provide a truly welcoming and equitable community for people of color, people of varying socioeconomic backgrounds, queer people (especially trans people), etc., we couldn’t be more lucky to have been placed in a sorority chapter that celebrated our love and who we are.
We hope that every queer person can find a community such as this.
Every person deserves to feel accepted and loved for exactly who they are.
Photography by Emily Fletcher