We met through a mutual friend, and quickly became close friends. Kelly spent most weekends at Jaci’s apartment while her kids were with their dad.
Jaci would talk to Kelly about her prior relationship, and Kelly would feel jealous, but she didn’t understand why.
Fast forward to the fall of 2014, when we realized that we had feelings for each other. We were both afraid that if it didn’t work out, we would lose a really great friendship, but we took the chance.
That was the best decision we ever made, but it hasn’t always been easy.
We started dating in October, 2014. In December, Kelly moved to Orlando to live near Jaci, and ended up between jobs. She often helped in the classroom where Jaci worked, and in February, she was offered a position working as a substitute/photographer for the school. Only a few weeks later, we were called into the directors office, questioned about our sexual orientation and our relationship, and fired (in all fairness, we were given the option of coming back straight after spring break and keeping our jobs, but this didn’t feel like an option at all).
If there’s one thing we had both learned through our recovery process, it was to live as your authentic self. We knew the right thing to do was to be honest about who we were and accept the termination, but we weren’t going down without a fight. At this point, only a couple close friends knew about our relationship. We were not “out,” but one of those close friends worked at the preschool and told the director about our relationship. We were never inappropriate, we didn’t talk about our relationship, and we were rarely in the classroom together.
So we told the truth: Yes, we are gay. Yes, we are in a relationship.
The next few days are a whirlwind. We found an amazing lawyer who was also gay, and hired her. For us, this was so much bigger than us losing our jobs, this was about the fact that it was 2015 and people were still being discriminated against for their sexual orientation. It felt like the right thing to do to take a stand. Getting a lawyer and fighting the church was the easy part. Going on national TV and telling the entire country that we were gay was a little more difficult.
Most people plan for a long time about how to come out and who is safe to come out to. We had a few short hours to prepare to come out to thousands – if not millions – of people at once. This included our families, our friends, and the rest of the United States. No big deal, right?
But what happened next was pretty amazing. People came out of the woodwork to support us. We made so many new friends and talked to so many amazing people. We were given opportunities to do news interviews, radio interviews, newspaper stories, magazine stories, speaking events, etc. We were handed a platform to say, “This is not okay.”
We partnered with some amazing organizations and even flew out to Portland to participate in a press conference with Reconciling Ministries Network, urging the entire Methodist denomination to stop discriminating against their LGBT clergy and congregation.
(We did lose a couple friends, and this is still hard for us to understand almost three years later. I mean, if we were friends, and nothing changed except that you found out who I love, then why aren’t we still friends? I’m still me.)
Another amazing thing that happened is that when we started living as ourselves, we lost any and all need for our Eating Disorders. When you spend your whole life trying to be who you think you’re supposed to be, it’s hard to know who you really are. But, through an experience that could have destroyed us, we found ourselves. We started to live authentically. We came out, and we stayed out. We committed not to hide anymore. We stood up for what we knew was right, and fought for long-overdue change.
Being fired for our sexual orientation was awful. The church always tells you that you are who God made you to be, and that God doesn’t make mistakes. This is the message that we spent each and every day teaching to the preschoolers. But suddenly, we were being told that who God made us to be was wrong.
We now know and believe that who we are is not wrong.
Discrimination is wrong, and making discrimination legal in the name of God and/or religion is wrong.
And we will keep fighting until it is safe for every single person to feel safe being who they are.
We grew as a couple through this experience, and on August 28, 2015, Kelly proposed to Jaci on the beach at Disney’s Polynesian whole watching Wishes. Of course, she said, “Yes!”
We were married on October 28, 2016. Our wedding day was amazing! It was everything we could have hoped for and more. Our families and friends were there to celebrate with us, and the lawyer who represented us when we were fired, who had since become a good friend, was our officiant.
We left that day on our “Familymoon” Disney Cruise with the boys, and had a wonderful time making memories.
More than anything, we both want to have children together. We started on our fertility journey over two years ago, and we are currently saving for our next round of IVF (hopefully this summer). Our plan is to do reciprocal, where we will each carry the other’s biological embryo, making the two babies twin-siblings or twinblings.