Connie + Julie

(c) Catalina Kulczar, 2014

(c) Catalina Kulczar, 2014

In some ways, Connie and Julie seemed to have waited half a lifetime for one another. 

Raised in Houston by her grandparents, Connie never really understood why her female friends worried about boys so much all the time. (For her, it was actually kind of easy when it came time to call it quits with a high school boyfriend!) But she did understand that she should marry someone kind and ambitious and smart, and she did exactly that. Over six years of marriage, she would have two amazing kids (now 21 and 18), but always just knew that something was wrong, that something was missing. 

Julie, on the other hand, always knew, but she beat her feelings back, fearing it wouldn't be well-received. It wasn't until a yearlong relationship with someone in college, and a girlfriend in grad school, that she would come out to her mother, who indeed did not receive the news very well at the time. After a heartbreaking end to her relationship and receiving a complete lack of support, Julie would spend the next ten years beating her feelings back once again.

Fast forward to March 2013, when the two would meet at a birthday party. By May 2014, they were engaged, Connie proposing with the ol' "ring in the glass". She adorably decries it as cheesy, which Julie even more adorably insists it wasn't. But even though it took Connie 15 years after her initial realization to find Julie, and Julie over 10 years of a private struggle to find Connie, the two simply can't get married, unless they could raise the funds to throw a forced destination wedding. 

The pain in Connie's voice is palpable when she explains how much she took for granted the right to marry. How she never once questioned or thought about how simple it was to pick up a marriage license, to share a happy day with friends and family. How she never once imagined, back when she was 23 and marrying a man, what it would feel like to be denied that right. And so both women speak candidly about the need for empathy, for people to just try to understand what it feels like from the other side.

In the meantime, they have a new lifetime to look forward to, a lifetime where Connie can proudly declare her love for Julie while standing atop a chair, and they are met with applause and cheers. And eventually, hopefully, their wedding will be greeted with the same.