On a summer evening in the last century, Garrett Foster, then 27, gathered his courage and walked into a gay bar for the first time. At Brook in Westport, Connecticut, which until it closed was the oldest continuous gay bar in the country, he saw Brian Murray, then 31. Mr. Murray had once been a regular, but that was his first night there in a while. Their connection was instant.
“I knew I was going to spend my life with this man,” said Mr. Foster. What he couldn’t have known was that one day he would legally marry him.
Mr. Foster had previously won a Daytime Emmy Award for writing soap operas for “As the World Turns” and “Guiding Light” and was then editor-in-chief of Soap Opera Magazine. Now 58, he is an interfaith minister. Mr. Murray, 62, is a retired small business owner (one was a store selling ice cream and tropical gifts, the other was his own pottery studio).
Within the first six months of meeting on July 13, 1990, they moved in together and lived in the basement apartment of Mr. Murray’s sister’s house. After a year, they settled in Delray Beach, Florida.
On their 10th anniversary, they bought rings in Key West, Florida and gave them to each other as a gift.
Ordained by the One Spirit Learning Alliance in Manhattan, Mr. Foster estimates that he presided over at least 50 weddings, many of them between same-sex couples. But when it came to getting married yourself, it was a different matter. “What held me back was my own internal homophobia,” he said, noting that it was years before he thought of calling Mr. Murray “my husband”.
For many years the two worked together in the real estate business, turning houses.
“We did amazing things that I could never have done on my own,” said Mr. Murray, noting that everyone was monitoring the parts for which they were well suited. “Although we are total opposites, everything worked out very well for us.”
They also traveled widely, with Mr. Foster’s more adventurous side insisting that they relied on public transportation in unfamiliar cities.
They also adopted more than their share of rescue pets. “Brian is such a kind person,” said Mr. Foster. “He’ll go out and get flowers and distribute them all over our house, but also bring them to the old ladies in the neighborhood. He also believes in me so much, whether I write or be ordained. “
And once they considered breaking up. Or at least Mr. Foster. He moved out temporarily, and they even consulted a lawyer.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” asked the lawyer. “You two look more in love than most I see.”
The lawyer knew what he was saying.
“I always knew he would be back,” said Mr. Murray.
Over the course of three decades, Mr. Foster had three different battles with cancer. Last year, Mr. Murray was scared of cancer of his own.
After everything they’d been through together, the pandemic made them realize that the time had finally come. But they didn’t want all the hustle and bustle of a wedding.
They decided that escaping was more of what they wanted. They were married on July 13 – 31 years to the date they first met – in a public garden in the Truman Annex neighborhood of Key West, with just one other couple.
They both wore pink shorts – Mr. Murrays a few shades darker than Mr. Foster’s – white shirts and trainers. Mr. Foster wrote the ceremony himself.
“I’ve been to a lot of his weddings and didn’t want anyone else to write our ceremony,” said Murray.
In it, minister Michael Vernon, ordained by Universal Life Church, said they both agreed that legalizing their association means that “all of the people who grew up with us said we weren’t gay and happy until now can live to the end of their days ”. were so wrong. “
At the beginning a bell was rung three times to create a sacred space. The bell was rung one more time before the men took their vows, and then all the grooms rang as they wished for their life together.
The bell will now occupy a prominent place in your home.
“Anytime you find yourself on a dead end one of you should call to declare a truce,” said Mr. Vernon. “Whenever you are filled with gratitude for your life together, ring the bell to celebrate your love for one another. When you hear the beautiful sound, you will immediately go back to the day your promises and wishes were made. “