By Rev. Patrick Rogers, MDiv.
In 2002, when I first entered seminary, we were assigned an end of semester project called “relationships.” I was 46 and had just ended a 23 year same-sex relationship.
I wanted my classmates to know about long term same-sex relationships and that they do exist. I chose to create a video interviewing people who I had known and were in long term same-sex relationships. I worked with couples who had been together for 18, 25, 35, and 68 years, totaling almost 150 years collectively.
The male couple who had been in a relationship for over 68 years made an impression on me that I will always remember. I made an appointment to film an interview with them at their beautiful high-rise condo on Galt Ocean Mile in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
One of the guys stopped the interview halfway through and wanted to show me a picture. He brought out a black and white photograph from when they were in their early twenties and on the beach in Fort Lauderdale. They were wearing bathing suits! “You guys were hot!” I said. They responded, “We still are!” And they were correct. At 88 years old, they were indeed still hot. Their love for one another was a beacon.
They told me that one had been recently diagnosed with a life-threatening health issue and they were glad to share their story. I heard their journey of how they met and fell in love. They both were serving in the army during World War II and fought together in the same fox hole. It’s ironic that they were fighting for freedom yet when they returned home victorious, they were not legally entitled to marry one another.
One story of Saint Valentine of Rome is that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire. Sounds like a saint to me, indeed!
At the end of the video interview, I asked if either of them had any regrets. The reply from one was that he had regrets that even though they had fought for our freedom, they were never able to legally marry. This Valentine’s Day, I know that they are reunited in heaven and are joyful that same-sex marriage is now a freedom.