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Gay couple’s $100,000 wedding

Locals say contest payoff was worth loss of privacy

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Carl Cox and Darin Henderson, a local couple, won a $100,000 wedding contest and were married earlier this month in Washington. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Local couple Carl Cox and Darin Henderson know what it’s like to come out in a big way — as do the other contestants of the nation’s first same-sex wedding contest.

The competition, a bid by local vendors to commemorate marriage equality in D.C., promoted the diverse stories of gay couples all over the U.S. hoping to wed.

The winners, Cox and Henderson, earned thousands of online votes last summer and cemented their union on March 4 with the top prize — a $100,000 all-inclusive wedding. The men, who married at Metropolitan Community Church, were honored to have their relationship legally recognized.

Nevertheless, the contest challenged them in ways they’d never imagined.

“[Carl and Darin] had to be out in their lives, out with their friends, out with everybody in a way that they’ve never been before,” says Michael Kress, a local photographer who headed the Freedom2Wed contest.

“When we first decided to get married, we didn’t even know what that was going to feel like, what it was going to look like,” Cox says. “Nothing about this was private. We had to let the world know what we were doing and why we were doing it. And yeah, it was about winning, but it was also about getting … our personal story out, about love surmounting all odds.”

Cox and Henderson weren’t the only pair whose relationship was placed under a microscope, however. Six couples competed for the final prize and runners up Tonya Agnew and Amy Crampton confronted a challenge of a different kind. Parents to two boys, Jesse and Leo, the women had to broadcast their relationship and family across the Midwest town of Lafayette, Ind. When they learned they were finalists, they were somewhat apprehensive.

“I had a tendency to think of all the reasons why we shouldn’t go through with this,” Crampton says. “It was scary to put my family out there.”

But it’s family that ultimately inspired the couple to continue on. “Once you’ve become a parent, there’s really not a choice whether or not you can hide,” Crampton says. “I have to be out, I have to portray how proud I am and I can’t worry about anyone else’s comfort level. Raising two boys, I know how important it is to model behavior for them.”

To the couple’s amazement, the entire town rallied behind them and they drew in support from family, friends, colleagues and the public.

Although they didn’t win, the journey brought them closer as a couple and as a family. They’ve since shared their story as keynote speakers at several local events and they plan to continue to be vocal about marriage in their home state of Indiana.

“The experience has been very affirming and liberating,” Agnew says. “It has empowered us as a couple and I really feel like it changed us in a very positive way.”

Agnew is also thankful for the close bond the contest created between the finalists. She and her partner attended their friends’ wedding, along with fellow runners up Kareem Murphy and DeWayne Davis.

Murphy and Davis, longtime Maryland residents, spoke highly of the contest-inspired opportunity to make their relationship public. “The contest was a wonderful experience for us … we got the chance to tell our story to thousands of people,” Murphy says.

For Cox and Henderson, the wedding was simply the culmination of a long journey of self-discovery.

“To have so many people standing in your corner, saying what you’re doing is wonderful … standing up for you … I can’t tell you how much it means,” Henderson says.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Syd Diamond

    March 24, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    I just watched the wedding video on YouTube. What a wonderful wedding!

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Comings & Goings

Umana named associate with Gustafson Guthrie Nichol

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Wolfgang Umana (Photo courtesy of Umana)

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected]

Congratulations to Wolfgang Umana on being named an associate with Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN). He has been with them for more than five years and is currently its D.C. studio’s office manager. 

“I am honored to become GGN’s newest Associate,” Umana said.I have the glorious privilege of supporting GGN’s continuing dedication to progress, inclusion, social justice, sustainability, and beautification of the world we live in.”

Umana also works with NBR Computer Consulting as an LLC Computer Technician consultant. He has experience in social media, communications, outreach, and technical services, and provides a dynamic approach to the fast-changing world of technology. NBR Computer Consulting, LLC is a gay-owned business. 

Umana has also served as D.C. Army National Guard Director of Environmental Affairs and with EMS Consultation Services. 

He has his bachelor’s in Environmental Science & Public Policy, Human and Ecosystem Response to Climate Change, from George Mason University. 

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Capital Pride bids for D.C. to host World Pride 2025

International event draws thousands of visitors

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Confetti rained down in New York’s Times Square at Stonewall 50 WorldPride New York’s closing ceremony two years ago. D.C. organizers hope to host the event in 2025. (Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

The Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes D.C.’s annual LGBTQ Pride events, announced on Sept. 21 that it has submitted a bid to host 2025 World Pride, the international Pride event that draws thousands of participants from throughout the world to the host city.

The announcement by Capital Pride says its bid to host the event in D.C. notes that the event, among other things, would commemorate the 50th anniversary of D.C.’s first LGBTQ Pride event in 1975, which began as a block party near Dupont Circle.

World Pride is licensed and administered by the international LGBTQ organization InterPride. The World Pride events themselves, which usually take place every other year, are organized by InterPride’s member organizations such as Capital Pride Alliance.

The Capital Pride announcement notes that World Pride “promotes visibility and awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) issues on a global level.” The announcement adds, “World Pride events include parades, marches, festivals and other cultural activities often enjoyed at Pride celebrations, along with other components such as a human rights conference and large-scale opening and closing ceremonies.”

The InterPride website says the deadline for submitting a bid for the 2025 World Pride has passed. It says D.C.’s Capital Pride and Kaohsiung Pride, located in the large Taiwan port city of Kaohsiung, are the only two remaining cities in competition for hosting the 2025 World Pride.

Ryan Bos, Capital Pride’s executive director, said InterPride was expected to make its decision on which of the two cities to select sometime in November of this year.

“A recent study conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton revealed that the annual Capital Pride Celebrations, during normal years, result in approximately $371 million in positive economic impacts to the region, a number that may be doubled if the organization is awarded the prestigious event,” the Capital Pride statement says.

The 2021 World Pride took place earlier this year in Copenhagen, Denmark. The 2019 World Pride was held in New York City to commemorate the 50th anniversary of New York’s Stonewall riots, which many activists consider the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement.

InterPride says the 2023 World Pride will take place in Sydney, Australia.

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Va. county supervisors back resolution against ‘required’ pronoun questions

Unanimous vote in Stafford County allows school defunding

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What's Your Pronoun? review, gay news, Washington Blade
(Image courtesy of Liveright Publishing)

The Stafford County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution that gives it the authority to deny funds to schools that require students to give their pronouns and teach the 1619 Project and critical race theory.

The resolution denounces “the teaching of the 1619 Project and critical race theory (CRT) and related principles in Stafford County Public Schools,” and states the board does not support Stafford County Public School students “being required to identify their chosen pronouns.”

The approved document had been updated to change “requested” to give pronouns to “required.”

Republican Supervisor Gary Snellings told the board he brought the resolution forward, which passed by a 6-0 vote margin, in response to communication from parents. One supervisor was not present.

Snellings called critical race theory “racism.” He also called the New York Times’ 1619 Project published on the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans to the Virginia colony a “theory.”

Critical race theory is not taught in Virginia public schools, but a state law passed in 2020 requires local school boards to adopt policies that are more inclusive for transgender and non-binary students that follow, or exceed, guidelines from the state’s Department of Education.

Snellings said the problem with preferred pronouns was in requiring students to give them. He said that was not in the governing Virginia law.

“This (resolution) does not eliminate anything. It just follows state law,” Snellings said.

A Virginia court in July dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the Department of Education’s guidelines for trans and non-binary students. Equality Virginia and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia were parties to the amicus brief in support of the protections.

“We are deeply disappointed that these adults made such a hateful decision for kids in the community,” tweeted the ACLU of Virginia in response to the board’s vote.

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