This post was written by my beautiful & talented wife, Devon!
I never thought about writing down our love story. To me, it was always so private. Something that she and I would only understand. SHOULD only understand. That was until last week when my wife and I read a blog post titled “I married my sorority pledge sister” (https://www.bustle.com/articles/201406-i-married-my-sorority-pledge-sister?sr_source=lift_facebook tse_id=INF_479a1680e4ab11e6a03c354c456e1db2). In this post, the woman expressed so many of my own thoughts, fears, and experiences. My wife decided that she would write down out love story as a result of reading that other couple’s. So naturally, I thought it was worth it to write my side as well. We will have the same events and milestones, but very different perspectives. Her perspective is that of the confused and pursued. Mine is of the confused and rejected.
This is my love story.
To understand my relationship and the struggles that led up to my relationship, you must understand a little bit of background. I grew up in a very loving home where going to church was accepted, but not necessarily encouraged. I went on and off as a child and preteen, but didn’t really get the point. To me, it was a place to socialize. When I was in high school, however, I was going through some struggles of my own and fell into a pretty dark place. While I was in my valley, a family friend approached me with a quite aggressive manner of evangelism. As a 16 year old, curious as to the meaning of the world and searching for “happiness”, I ate it all up. I decided in a quick moment that I was going to live my life for God. Although I didn’t even know what that meant or entailed. I studied the bible, went to church, and joined Christian communities.
I decided when I went away to San Diego State for college 2 years later, I would join the Christian sorority there, Alpha Delta Chi. I learned many great things in ADX, like how to have accountability, how to study your bible, and soooo much about God. I also met some really amazing people that I still hold dear today. However, I also learned how to be judgmental and ruthlessly legalistic. I was under the impression that in order to be a “good Christian”, you had to go through a checklist of “good deeds” and also a checklist of “I don’t do this”. For example, if I read my bible every day, went to church on Sunday, and didn’t drink or smoke, I was a good Christian. The “smaller” things were overlooked, like gossip and unkindness. I looked at the people around me, because many they had been Christian their whole lives or seemed as if they had it all together, as an example.
Fast forward 2 years. I had spent those two years investing everything I had into ADX and my church. In the fall of 2013, it was rush week for ADX. That meant that new girls would come into the house to our events and see if they wanted to become a part of the sorority. I loved rush week. However, I hated mingling. I found it awkward to sit there and ask about someone’s major, where they are from, etc. So I always jumped at the chance to be a greeter at the door. With this job, I got to smile and say hello and then give the girl away to someone else to entertain while I danced in the hallway to music from my phone. On this particular night, my life changed forever and I didn’t even know it. While I was standing there waiting to escort people in, Bree came to the door. She was a short, mixed, very beautiful girl. My first impression was that she was a “cool” kid and looked oddly familiar. She looked like she would be too cool to ever be my friend. She had a badass trendy short haircut (kind of mowhawked) and a hoop nose ring. I, on the other hand, always was referred to as the innocent child-like looking one. So I knew she wouldn’t want to be my friend. Later that night, once I wasn’t able to hide in the doorway anymore, I got to talking with Bree. She also thought I looked familiar, so we talked about that for a while. Did we play each other in sports or have classes together? We weren’t sure so I chalked it up to the fact that I had simply seen her on campus in passing.
About 3 weeks later, Big sisters were assigned. I had a feeling I would be getting a little sister that semester. A big sister is someone who is supposed to help guide the little sister through pledge semester, build them up spiritually, be a mentor and support system. I got Bree as my little sister. I was thrilled. Bree was hilarious, smart, and the leader of her class, but because I viewed her as this cool girl, I thought she wouldn’t want me to be her big sister. Luckily, she and I became best friends incredibly quickly. She was a hard nut to crack. She had so many walls up and would even lash out at me and push me as far away as she could. There were some things she had shared with me about her personal and family life that made me know that once I broke through the walls, things would change. So I kept trying. It was a battle. Looking back, I am shocked I tried so hard, as I never had with anyone before.
Just a few weeks after getting Bree as my little, I went to a flag football tournament in San Luis Obispo. Our brother fraternity hosted this event every year for all chapters of them, as well as all chapters of my sorority. While I was in SLO, I was texting her the whole time, especially when I met a cute AGO guy named Eric. Upon returning, I began texting Eric and was smitten. I told Bree all about it. And apparently he did too. Because turns out he had her helping him plan a surprise for him to come visit me and ask me to be his girlfriend (or rather, begin a courtship). I said yes, and was so impressed that he got the help of my best friend. For the following couple of months, I spent the semester doing as I was supposed to, guiding Bree through her pledge semester. She tried to quit so many times and I would coerce her to stay. We would read the bible together and pray together and I would help her study for her pledge tests. She quickly became the person I wanted to spend all of my time with. My closest friend. She was so much fun to be around and was already teaching me so much, having come from a very different background. Bree became an active member in December of 2013.
We both went home for Winter break, but we returned, things started to shift. At this point we became cuddly. That might sound weird but it was actually oddly normal in our sorority. There would literally be days where we would watch movies and all just be cuddled up on the couch. Valentines day was approaching and I had Bree help me get Eric a gift because I would be visiting him that weekend. At this point, all the sorority sisters would say that Eric and I were going to get married and would pretend to plan the wedding. That weekend our plan was I was driving from Sacramento (home) to Fresno (his home) to pick him up, we would drive to SLO together, attend an event, and then drive to Long beach together to attend a banquet. We had lots of plans in between and a ton of quality time. It was this weekend that I realized something wasn’t right. Eric told me he loved me, and I didn’t feel the same way. I wanted to. He was the nicest guy and was what everyone told me to look for in a spouse. He was talking about marriage and children. I played along with the conversations, but in my heart, I knew that I didn’t feel the same. But why? The entire time I was with Eric that weekend, I wished I was with Bree. I hoped the time would pass quicker so I could get back to San Diego. I would quickly get out my cell phone to text her as he left to pay the bill or use the restroom. I desperately wanted to be away from him and with her. This freaked me out. I have never had feelings for a girl before. Did this make me gay? Was I just confusing our close friendship with romantic feelings? I had no idea. The rest of the weekend, I just played in my head a life with him and realized how unhappy I would be. Later, I dropped him off at the fraternity and headed back to San Diego.
When I got there, I cried to Bree and a few of my closest friends and told them that my feelings for Eric had changed. That I couldn’t see a life with him the way he could see one with me. I didn’t enjoy talking to him on the phone anymore and even ignored his texts. I was completely pulled away. I couldn’t tell them why, though. I eventually broke things off with Eric. He was very gracious and I have nothing but respect for him. He got married to another ADX girl not too long after, so I truly only wish him happiness.
At this point, things got even more confusing. A few nights after breaking things off with Eric, Bree and I were watching a movie in my twin bed. I knew at this point that I was incredibly attracted to her. I pushed it off for so long, but couldn’t resist this feeling anymore. So I kissed her. She immediately pushed me away and said “never do that again” and left. She didn’t talk to me for about a week and the only excuse I could come up with was “I was emotional and confused because of Eric” and that it wouldn’t happen again. My heart was literally crushed. I knew there was so much chemistry there and I knew I had wanted to do that for so long. She was like a magnet and I just couldn’t resist. Now, my lack of impulse control may have ruined our friendship. Luckily, after my explanation, she forgave me and said we just couldn’t sleep in the same bed. I agreed. I was so confused by my feelings. We were being taught that homosexuality was an abomination and wrong in God’s eyes. Our sorority was nondenominational, so this wasn’t in the by-laws, however, a few semesters prior, 2 sisters from Berkeley were in a relationship and basically got booted from the organization. Their chapter was even forced to deactivate for a while. So I knew how they felt about it. Not to mention all the little comments made here and there about us being too close. My heart hurt so bad. If these feelings were bad, why would God allow me to feel them so strongly? Why could I not feel them for Eric like I had tried to? I became angry. I struggled with depression and was in a very low point because of these feelings. I told nobody. Not one person, how I was feeling. I would call my mom and cry and tell her I was depressed, but couldn’t bring myself to tell her what was causing this.
Mine and Bree’s relationship went back to “normal” and we did everything together. She was literally the funniest, most caring, most adventurous and fun person I had ever been around and I just wanted to submerge myself in her presence. So I did. We had some of the best times. Getting stranded in Vegas, taking a trip to the grand canyon, and so many late night sonic runs. I am guilty of neglecting some friendships to invest in Bree, which I felt guilty about at the time. Bree and I were closer than ever when summer came.
I had spent the previous year planning a trip to Nashville with 3 of my good friends. It was supposed to be a 3 week road trip. So we set off. I saw so many new things and experienced so much, but something was weighing me down. The whole trip, I just wished bree was experiencing these things with me and seeing the things I was seeing. I wished she was there. However, as I was feeling this, I wasn’t sure how she was feeling because she decided to ignore me completely. She was pushing me away the hardest she ever had. She was home with her family for part of the time, which I tried to tell myself that was why she was acting that way. Any time Bree would go home, she would begin acting like a different person. She came from a very strict Christian home where her dad was a Bishop and they preached brimsone and fire. Children did not ask questions or speak out. So this was how she acted when she went home. I was used to it. So I shook it off. During one of the concerts, Keith Urban actually, it was pouring rain and a tornado had just passed so we had ponchos on and I had to put my phone in my pants (like actually inside my pants) to keep it dry. Because of this, I wasn’t able to talk to her. At that moment, I realized I was in love with her. Even though I was having this incredible experience, all I wanted to do was get back to her. After the music festival, we drove back to San Diego and I surprised Bree at a dance bar we went to often. Seeing her run up to me to hug me was literally like seeing my future run into my arms. At this point I knew my feelings. I knew I loved her, and although I though it could never happen, I was just happy to be in her presence. She looked so beautiful that night. One thing that stands out about Bree is her smile. She has a smile that literally lights up the world. So turning the corner and seeing that smile coming toward me reminded me of why I was so addicted to her.
For the next week, we spent every second together. I was only going to be in San Diego for about 3 weeks because my mom expected me to come home for the summer. Bree had a part time job in one of the residence halls. So I went with her. Anything to spend time with her. After about a week, she and I were laying down watching a movie (yep.. again) when I turned and kissed her. The same reaction. “Don’t ever do that again”. My heart sank. I felt like she felt the same thing. I knew I wasn’t the only one. Shattered is the only word I can think to describe how I felt. She got up and went to sleep on the couch while I sat in the room and sobbed. The following day we went to the fair with 2 friends to see a Pentatonix concert. She was mad at me all day. I assumed because she already had told me to never do that again, and I did. I figured she felt disrespected. Finally, after buying her an icecream cone, she started speaking to me again. I came to terms with it in my head that I would truly never do it again. That for my own sake, I would let go of this and try to just be friends, even if I knew for fact I was head over heals in love with her.
That night, we layed down to go to bed. We were sleeping in the same bed because I rented out my bed for the summer because I wasn’t supposed to be there. That’s when my life changed. She kissed me. I was so shocked. My stomach was in my toes and I felt like I was going to fly away or I was dreaming or something. I pulled back and said “are you sure” and she said yes. So I kissed her back. We kissed for what felt like hours. It felt like nothing I had ever felt before. We moved so well together, felt so good together. I would occasionally open my eye a little bit just to be able to take a snap shot in my mind of how beautiful she looked and how attracted to her I was. While we were kissing she said “We are going to have to talk about this”. I knew that meant this was a one time deal and decided to just enjoy it. But when we finally stopped to talk, we decided to have “hell week”. What a concept. We would give in and “be together” for 1 week, get it out of our system (as if), and then we could move on. Who the hell were we kidding?! Well hell week just kept getting extended. We would sneak away and go several towns away to go on dates, we would take drives just so we could hold hands without the fear of getting caught, and we would even go on campus to kiss in elevators to keep from a sorority sister seeing us.
Fall of 2014 came quickly and we were still together. We still said it was temporary, but also admitted the fact that we were completely in love with the other person. During fall semester, I was the pledge mom of the new class in ADX and Bree was getting a little sister. We decided that since I was on the executive board and she was getting a little, we needed to quit for real. We were going to Vegas for a music festival for Brees birthday and that would be our farewell. When we got back from Vegas we tried to break it off. We couldn’t even look at each other without crying. Our hearts were both broken. So we decided before making a permanent decision, to take some space and dive into this doctrine that was keeping us from being together. Dive into the bible and find out what we truly believe it is saying. If it truly said no, we would stop, and we would use that as encouragement to want to stop. We read through everything, the new testament, the old. Researched heavily the SEVEN verses people use to condemn homosexuality. We decided after a lot of research that we didn’t feel it was wrong. We both understand the controversy, but we realized we only though it was bad because that’s what we were taught. We decided that since the only reason we weren’t together was we believed God looked down on it, but those beliefs had changed, we were going to be together, although still a secret. So the sneaking continued. People would make comments all the time about wanting to “set us up” with people and we would have to laugh it off. They even made comments about how close we are and would insinuate something more. I told my immediately family after about 6 months and they were incredibly supportive. My good friend knew after months of us being together because I had to have emergency kidney surgery and she and Bree I guess had too much time to talk in the waiting room. She was our only outlet and only person we could talk to other than each other. The secret put a huge strain on our relationship. And the fact that her mom already despised me to her very core caused us to fight and struggle a lot. We were always on edge, waiting to get caught. But even with all of this, it was the most exciting, fun, and romantic time.
In May of 2015, we graduated from SDSU and In June, we moved out. Our plan was for Bree to tell her family and spend the summer going between houses (1 hour apart) and then in September, we would move to Oregon together for her to pursue her Masters degree. Bree was staying with my family for a few days when we decided it was time. It was time to come clean. To tell everyone. So she told her family in an email. The next day, I sent an email to our sorority sisters. I was shocked by the reaction we got. There were people that I believed would have had my back forever who were the first to turn around and walk away. And then others who I barely knew that showed some support. Out of my group of close friends, only two decided to stay in my life. One of which was the one who knew for months at that point. That day, Bree had to go home and face her family face to face. She hadn’t heard from them since sending the email, so she wasn’t sure how to take that. Silence was definitely not normal for them. Bravely, she drove back. After a few hours, she calls me to tell me that she is at a Barnes and Noble down the street from her house and she needs me to come. She was sure she was getting kicked out and her mom would be taking the car so she would need me to pick up her and her stuff. So I went. I sat at a park a few houses down from her house as she spoke to her parents. For 5 hours. I was anxious and my stomach was in knots. Not for me, but for her. I just hoped she was okay and her heart was okay. I knew how much their words could hurt her. I had watched it before. Little did I know, it was about to be me who was not okay. After 5 hours, Bree came to the park and broke up with me. She told me her parents convinced her that we were wrong and our relationship was one of Satan. That the feelings were not love, because only in God can there be love. This was simply lust. I felt like I got hit by a train. I don’t remember the drive home that night. I only remember collapsing into my mom’s arms on my grandma’s porch and knowing that I would never be okay again. The next 3 days are a blur. I wanted to sink into the bed and disappear. Anytime I would hear the words “are you okay? “ I would break. I decided quickly that I needed to do whatever I could to get her back. I needed to fight with everything I had in me because a love like ours was never going to come around again. I couldn’t live my life knowing I let her get away without fighting. So I spent the week talking to pastors both for and against homosexuality, researching, going through the Hebrew roots and intended meanings in the concordance, putting together notes to show Bree. I put together a big packet of notes and met Bree at an applebees. I presented it all to her, along with a scrapbook of photos of us together. Hopeful if I could get her to see the truth, she would come back. After days of ruthless fighting and exhaustion and sadness, she came home. She left in the middle of the night. I encouraged it. This is the one thing I regret. But regardless, she was home. Laying in bed that night, holding her as she cried for the loss of her family, I knew that this was forever. She sacrificed everything. Her family. To be with me. This was not something that was reversible at this point. I knew that we were going to make it. In that moment, I knew that no matter what life would throw at me or what struggles we would go through, we would make it through it together as stronger people and a stronger couple.
After spending a summer in Sacramento, we made the plunge to Oregon together. In the last year and half, we got engaged and got married. As individuals, we have grown and learned, but as a couple, we have come so far. We challenge each other, push each other, accept each other, and support each other in every aspect. Together, we have pushed the other person to become a better individual. All through the unconditional love that we didn’t even know existed. Looking back, getting to this place was difficult. Our hearts endured so much. But all of that hurt came from outside factors. The one thing that has always been easy, even unavoidable, is loving her.