Faces of Pride: Love Stories

CHARLOTTE — When Linda met Sally

“It was 1992 and I had just joined One Voice Chorus; [it’s] a gay and lesbian chorus and allies now,” Linda Lawyer said.

Sally Duffy was “already a member.”

“I walked in the first night and I said, ‘Where do the Altos sit?’ and somebody pointed me to a seat next to Sally,” Linda said.

“I had come out of not-so-good relationships, and I was a little bit leery and told her when she first started expressing an interest that I was going to live with Maggie the dog forever. And that was it,” Sally said.

“We both made each other laugh,” Linda said.

“We just liked each other we had a lot and we had a lot in common,” Sally said. “And it was kind not love at first sight, it was a gradual kind of thing where we became friends. And then we just realized how much we loved each other.”

“I had thought it would be fun to get married. But we also believed that we would be deceased before we could do so in the Carolinas,” Sally said. “I got a call from Linda and we’re both on our way home in our cars. And she said the IRS just came down with a ruling that if you’re married in any state, you can file jointly. And she said that would save us money. So do you want to get married when we’re in Connecticut? I was so touched by that. I was so touched by that romantic approach to ask me to marry her.”

“She’s right,” Linda said. “We thought we’d be dead before we can get married in North Carolina. As it was two years later. They were you know, they are OK. In fact, we were there when I saw the ruling in 2015. And I said oh Oh my God, we’re legal.”

Rick’s sign for John

It was 1992. We were in Denver for the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses quadrennial festival in Denver,” said John Quillin. “And it was Monday morning about 10:30. And Rick was the American Sign Language interpreter for the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus. And so he was interpreting for them on stage and I was in the audience and was just bowled over by his artistry.”

“And so we talked for a few moments,” John said. “And I think I just wowed him with my southern accent.”

“He says, I’m sure I’ve taken too much of your time. And I said, No we’ve got plenty of that,” said Rick Haffner.

They dated long-distance for six months, in the days before mobile phones and texting and emails. It was love letters and US Airways for a while.

“We sat on the couch and [he] said, ‘Do you want to get married now?’ It was really not very romantic at all,” John said.

“It wasn’t a big proposal, he wouldn’t be able to get back up,” Rick said.

“The day after we were married, I was in my car talking to my sister,” Rick said. “She says, ‘You know, so does it really feel different?’ And I said, ‘It does. I have always had to go in whether it was to a bank or the vet or the hospital or you name it, and ask that we be treated as a couple. And it was always on bended knee.’ So now, I already felt that next day when I walk into a business or any place and they asked for something. I said, ‘Well, this is my husband.’”

The couples’ advice:

Sally: “There will be rough times. The rough times do not necessarily mean you have to break up.”

Linda: “It’s important to have trust. It’s important to have good communication.”

John: “I think of marriage as being three-dimensional; you have ups and downs. But you also have times when you’re when you’re closer and further apart -- the thing is not to let this get too far or to get to dwell in the down parts. Because as He says, ‘This too shall pass,’ the uptimes and the down times, they all pass. So you’re on to the next thing. The bus keeps moving down the road.”

Rick: “I think it’s really simple as just don’t get off the bus. Just knowing that I’ve got John and, and for him to know that he’s got me through everything that we’ve gone through or put each other through is worth the time and effort it took to get here. To know that there is a rock-solid base, that no matter what, we can always come back together and say, ‘This is not where we’re getting off the bus.’”

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