This isn’t the first time I’ve tried to put my love story into words. Whenever I would try, I just couldn’t seem to find the right words to describe the most amazing, complex, and wonderful love story of all time, mine. According to some, my love story is, some would say, taboo and because I began to internalize this description for myself, I didn’t think anyone would want to hear it or would ever appreciate my love story. That was until I read a post titled “I married my sorority pledge sister” (https://www.bustle.com/articles/201406-i-married-my-sorority-pledge-sister). In that moment, I realized that others had found love in this same “taboo” way, and it gave me the courage to put down into words the love I had been taught to hide.
So, this is my love story.
This was the beginning of my 4th year at San Diego State. Up until this semester, I was deciding whether I should graduate in 4 years or in 5. I was studying psychology, with a minor in sociology, and was planning on having a career as a marriage and family therapist. That was, until I decided to add a second minor in public administration. I added a second minor not just because I was passionate about planning and housing, but also because there was one thing I hadn’t done in college that I always wanted to do-I wanted to become a member of a sorority. I had pledged twice before, but there was always something holding me back from completing the pledge process. Something always felt off.
That fall I had promised myself that I was going to try, one last time, to find a group of women I could see myself fitting in with. When I was a freshman, I remember receiving a flyer from women who were a part of the Christian sorority, Alpha Delta Chi. I had grown up in a strict, Christian household and came to SDSU to rebel. I mean, it was ranked as one of the top party schools the year I entered. So, I took the flyer (I have a hard time saying no) and never thought twice about it, until my 4th year started. When I saw that sororities had begun passing out fliers for their rush events, Alpha Delta Chi automatically came to mind. During fall, the sororities usually begin to get the word out for their rush events one week before the events start. I didn’t want to chance missing any of the Alpha Delta Chi events, so I immediately googled the sorority, found the email for the sister who was in charge of rush, and sent an email right away. My heart was being drawn to the sorority and I knew this would be my last chance to be a part of something so meaningful during my college career.
As the day of the event drew near, I became more and more uncertain of whether I would go to the event that night. I don’t like group situations. I don’t like meeting new people. Both of which characterize rush events. I had pretty much convinced myself not to go that night, but it just so happened, that on my way to class that morning, I received a flyer from some Alpha Delta Chi sisters. I told them my name and that I was thinking about going to the event, but hadn’t decided yet. Then, on my way from class, a group of sisters were standing across the walkway and yelled out to me. They then came over to talk to me. They had remembered me from that morning and took interest in me. Not to mention, I am a believer in fate and it just so happened that the one time I had thought about Alpha Delta Chi in the last 4 years was the only time I had seen or even ran into members from this sorority on campus. I couldn’t deny how perfect everything seemed to fit, so I decided, against all of my discomfort, to go to the event that night.
I lived down the street from the sorority house (how much more perfect could this be?) and headed down to the event. As I was escorted through the gate, I was left in the doorway of the front of the sorority house with the woman that would soon change the rest of my life (yes, I stole this line from my wife’s version of our love story). She greeted me with a kind hello, a friendly smile, and introduced herself as Devon. She asked me my name and went to write it on a name-tag. When she went to hand me the name-tag, she dropped it on the floor. We laughed it off and I left the hallway and went to mingle in the living room with other active sorority members. Well, I actually just sat in a corner most of the night and waited for women to approach me. When Devon sat down to talk with me, I couldn’t help but feel that I had met her before. We spent the next few minutes running through our friends, the clubs we had joined, and even the places we had lived to see if we had crossed paths at any point before now. We decided we hadn’t met before, but we still couldn’t shake the feeling that we somehow knew each other.
Rush week soon ended and I began pledging the sorority. In the first few weeks, we had to interview the active body. This was done so that the pledges could know more about the women they would one day call sisters and vice versa. It was also done so that the pledge mom could better pair pledges and actives together as big and little sisters. I only remember a few of these interviews and one of them was with Devon. I am a pretty closed book and even after someone gets to know me, I am stingy with the details of my personal life. It was simply how I was raised. I was supposed to suppress my past, my struggles, and hide my emotions. But, when I interviewed Devon and she shared her testimony with me, for the first time in my life, I felt that someone understood me. Someone could relate to the things I had gone through. Someone would be able to appreciate my past. After our meeting, I told two of my pledge sisters how much I loved Devon already and if she wasn’t my big, I would definitely quit.
Lucky for me, she became my big. She was given the responsibility to be my spiritual mentor throughout my time in the sorority. From that moment on, we became inseparable, best friends. On our first friend date, she took me to Mount Soledad, a hill that overlooked a majority of San Diego. You could see clear across the city, from the beach to the bustling town below. Right before she dropped me off at my apartment, I joked and said that we needed our song. So, I closed my eyes and scrolled through my music as fast as possible and played the song my finger landed on when Devon said stop. The first two songs were duds, so we said the third songs the charm. My finger stopped on Blake Shelton’s Honeybee, which is still our song today. That began our amazing friendship.
From then, we spent every day together. But then she got a boyfriend. The active body left for a flag football tournament for the weekend and when they came back, she told me all about this fraternity boy she met. You see, our sorority was known for marrying men from the Alpha Gamma Omega fraternity, which was a Christian fraternity on campus. The guy she met, Eric, happened to be a brother in this fraternity from a different chapter. In the beginning, I was supportive. I was the best friend who did anything to help him win her heart, including helping him plan a surprise date to ask her out. But, I couldn’t help but feel jealous of her new blossoming relationship. I thought it was because I was losing my best friend, so I invested in other friendships and started to try to (unsuccessfully) put the moves on a brother in the Christian fraternity. Nothing seemed to help my jealousy and the closer Devon and Eric became, the worse I felt.
Devon and Eric began talking about marriage. Even though I was happy for her, I became even more jealous of their relationship. I realized it wasn’t just because I felt that I was losing my best friend, I was starting to think that maybe I had feelings for her. I had always been taught that homosexuality was an abomination and a sin, so I tried to suppress these feelings the best way I knew how-I developed a new (yet again, unsuccessful) crush on another brother from the Christian fraternity. To much my surprise, Devon broke things off with Eric relatively soon after they started planning their life together and I was there to help pick up the pieces. Even though my heart was broken for her, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of relief wash over me. I hated myself for feeling that way, but I had my Devon back.
One night when we were cuddling (which was a typical thing sorority sisters did. Believe me, I thought it was extremely weird when I first joined too), she leaned over and kissed me. I told her “don’t do that ever again” and slept on the sorority’s couch for a while. We took a ‘friend-break’ where we didn’t speak or hang out for about a week. I told her it was because I was mad at her for kissing me, but it was because I was really mad at myself for liking it. We decided it was just a fluke incident and as long as it never happened again, it wouldn’t be a problem.
That semester ended and Devon headed out for a cross-country roadtrip with some of her best friends. When she was on her trip, we fought. A lot. At the time I didn’t know why. I would just pick little fights with her. It took a few months of reflection to realize that I was just so confused by how I was feeling about her, about us. I missed her like you miss your significant other. But, she wasn’t my significant other. She was just a friend. At least, that’s what I kept telling myself. I had subconsciously convinced myself that if I fought with her, she would pull away from me, and I wouldn’t have a reason to have these feelings for her. If I could push her out of our friendship, I wouldn’t have to deal with the complexities of ‘us’ again. I thought this was just a moment of weakness. A moment of temptation. A moment of lust. I never wanted it to happen again, so if I could get her to leave then I would never have to fight or confront these feelings again.
When Devon was coming back to town, she had conspired with a few of our sorority sisters to get me to this country bar that we would go dancing at almost every month. When I saw her walking in, I ran over to her, wrapped my arms as tightly around her as possible, and started to cry. Crying when you see your best friend, after only 3 weeks, just isn’t normal. In that moment, I realized that I loved Devon. I knew it and I was terrified. A few days later, Devon and I were planning to go to the county fair with two of our friends from the sorority. The day before the fair, Devon kissed me and I froze her out-again. I gave her the cold shoulder the entire day until the Pentatonix concert had started. As they were going through their set list, they did a cover of ‘I kissed a girl’ by Katy Perry. While they were performing the song, I kept nudging and winking at Devon. I couldn’t help but tease her. We laughed the whole thing off and when we got home, I finally kissed her.
I had never felt like this with anyone before. I felt complete when I was kissing her. I was excited, nervous, anxious, happy, and completely euphoric. When we were kissing, I felt so incredibly safe and loved. With her, I felt things that I can’t even begin to describe. But, I also felt like I was sinning. I had been taught that God didn’t want us to be with the same sex. But, if that was the case then why did I feel like I had finally found my person in this world? We were both confused, so we decided to let ourselves have a ‘hell week’ where we could give into each other without any guilt or shame. Well, hell week became hell month, which became hell summer. We kept scheduling, extending, and re-scheduling our break-up to later and later.
Right before the summer ended, we went to a Keith Urban concert. When we were walking into the amphitheater, she was joking around and asking me what I would do if a hot guy wants to dance with her. My response, I’d be pissed because you’re my girlfriend. Of course I was mortified right when the words left my mouth, but I couldn’t deny that I felt something more with her, that I wanted something more with her.
Going into our last year at SDSU and in Alpha Delta Chi, we knew that this was when we actually needed to break-up. Devon was on the executive board of our sorority and I was getting a little sis. We both still believed that what we were doing was sinful and it was our job to be spiritual guides for the newest girls entering into the sorority. But, we just couldn’t let each other go. So, instead of breaking up, we decided to look into what we really thought about same-sex relationships. We didn’t dive in very deep in the beginning, but we both agreed that maybe what we had been taught wasn’t the whole truth. Maybe God didn’t care about homosexuality, maybe religion did. So, we decided to give us a real chance together.
Because our sorority held that same-sex relationships were sinful, we had to hide our relationship. It was bad enough if you were attracted to someone of the same-sex that was outside of the sorority, but if you were attracted to a sister? We didn’t know what would happen if anyone found out. We would do whatever we could to get out of the house just so we could have the chance to act like a real couple; to hold hands, to kiss. We had to hide our relationship from everyone because we were scared of the reactions.
We both graduated from SDSU in May and soon after, were back in Northern California for summer break. We lived a little over an hour apart and had planned to visit each other any chance we got. We even got hired as summer counselors for the same youth camp. That’s when we decided that it was time to come out to everyone. So, we wrote a letter to my family and to our sorority sisters. The next day I went home to talk it over with my family. It basically turned into an intervention. A 5 hour long intervention where my family spent the entire time yelling at me and chastising me.
One of my sisters compared my relationship to bestiality. My grandmother, who isn’t really a practicing Christian, chastised me and shook her head in disapproval throughout the conversation. And my parents, both pastors, cried and laughed in my face. My mother cried for the loss of my salvation. My father laughed at my attempt to interpret the Bible. Because I am not an ordained minister, I cannot appropriately interpret God’s word. Only he or other pastors have that ability. I was broken by the end of it all. I was exhausted. I was sad. I was hopeless. So, I gave in. Devon was waiting for me a few blocks from my house and when I went to go see her, I told her it was over.
I went back to my house, up to my room, and just cried. I told my family that I believed what they were saying and that my spirit knew it was wrong, but I was lying. I just thought this would be easier. I didn’t want to lose my family. They were everything to me. If I had to be unhappy to keep them in my life, it was worth it.
I spent that next week digging into the Bible again and this time I really dug. Devon and I poured over articles together, I used a concordance to understand the context and the original meaning of the 7 anti-gay scriptures, and we called pastors from multiple beliefs to get more of an understanding on the issue. After doing hours worth of research, I called my parents to try to discuss what I had found with them. They got extremely defensive and wouldn’t even answer my questions or entertain any of the information I found. That was when I realized that the information or knowledge I had wouldn’t trump what my family had thought and taught for years. They told me that if I continued down this path, they would not want anything to do with my relationship.
I knew I couldn’t live without Devon, so I decided I needed to leave. I left home in the middle of the night, which is the one thing in this whole story I regret. But, I couldn’t face them. I couldn’t see their anger. I wasn’t strong enough to choose me over them. Devon had come down when I planned this and we drove back together.
When we got home, I just cried. I spent most of that summer crying. My heart was shattered. But, I was in the arms of the person I knew would be able to put my broken pieces back together again. I knew that no matter what, one day, I would be okay again.
As the summer ended, Devon and I prepared to make the move to Oregon where I would be going to graduate school. We never even considered the idea of a long distance relationship. Here, we would be able to be like other couples. We could hold hands in public, kiss when we wanted to, and we could tell everyone that we were together. There was no way we were going to pass up the opportunity to be, for once in our relationship, a normal couple.
When we got to Oregon, our relationship seemed different. Better. We fought a lot (a lot a lot a lot a lot) less. It was as if a giant weight had been lifted off of our shoulders. We didn’t realize how much stress and strain hiding the truth had put on us until it was gone. It felt like we had a clean start, a fresh start, and a real chance at making this thing last.
Well, that following April, we proposed. Yes, both of us. We both enjoy being showered with attention and I definitely wanted an engagement ring. I proposed first and a week later Devon proposed to me. We were happily engaged for 7 months, then we were married in November. We decided why wait? We had come so far in our relationship and had been through so much already. There was no question that we would be together forever. We had sacrificed so much for each other and knew that the other person was worth it. Every heartache, sacrifice, argument, and night spent crying was worth being able to marry the person of my dreams. My soulmate.
Today, I’ve been married to my beautiful wife for just 2&1/2 months and I am so excited for the life we have waiting ahead of us. This journey hasn’t been easy and with the direction our nation is heading, I doubt things will get any easier. But, as long as she is by my side, every moment will be worth it. We have overcome a past full of obstacles and I have no doubt that we will be able to overcome any obstacle in the future just like we have all others: Together.