After an eight-year relationship, two dancers at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater decided to get married. On June 7, Antonio Douthit and Kirven Boyd went to the City Clerk's Office in New York City and said their "I do," surrounded by family and friends. After the ceremony, the group went out for brunch and that night had a "kick-ass" party at the Ailey studios.
The new husbands, who live in Harlem with their two dogs, opted to hyphenate their last names and are now known as the Douthit-Boyds. "It's a statement of who we are," Kirven said. "We really wanted to make sure in programs and when people look at us, they know that about us."
Adding to the nuptial joy, just two and a half weeks after the wedding, on June 26, the Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. "When you think about the institution of marriage and all of the things that go with it, as a same-sex couple, you want to feel like you are recognized in the same light as heterosexual couples," said Kirven. "It's the most amazing feeling."
While happy their marriage will now be recognized nationally and they can receive marital benefits, the couple realizes the struggle for acceptance still ahead. "It's a real national issue for people. I don't understand why," said Kirven. "I don't know if people think it will make more people gay. ... If you're gay, you're gay. It's not like we're affecting any heterosexual people's identity."
"I think that it's an issue of love and not just sex," Antonio said. "I feel like people, especially a lot of religious people, don't realize we're living a life. There's still a job to go to and responsibilities. We're still being respectable human beings." Kirven agreed, saying, "We figure that religion and homosexuality will never see eye to eye, but at some point, it's a respect issue."
Before meeting at Ailey, the two had very different experiences coming out to their families. Boston native Kirven came out at 18 after his mother asked him if he was gay. A close cousin had already come out to the family, which he felt may have "cushioned the blow a bit," he said. "No one ever made me feel any kind of way for being who I am. Everybody was OK with it."
Antonio, who grew up in St. Louis, came out to his mother at 19. "I just don't think she knew much about the homosexual lifestyle," he said. "In her childhood it was taboo for young men to date other men. She actually didn't want me to dance. She thought that dancing was a feminine sport, so when I told her I was gay, she was not happy."
Moving away for college made things easier for Antonio, but they never really talked about it again. She died in 2004, his first year with Ailey. She never got to see him dance with the company. "We picked the date June 7 because that was Antonio's mom's birthday," Kirven said. "It was our way of acknowledging her."
As a surprise, Kirven chose Oleta Adams' "Get Here" as the song for the couple's first dance. "My Mom sang that song to me when I left to go to college," said Antonio. "I told Kirven that story a long time ago. I couldn't stop crying."