We proudly display both of our marriage licenses. Be who you really are, and find friends and allies
Harriet and Perin met in 1979 while working as volunteers at the New York City Ballet. They discovered a shared love of ballet, opera, theater, travel, and tennis while continuing to work together for four years as friends – until realizing there was more than that. In August 1983 they became a couple and have been together for the last 37 and a half years.
They attended their first pride in 1985 as observers, but in 1989 decided they could no longer stand on the sidelines. They reached out to Heritage of Pride (the NYC pride organizer) and signed up to work at the 1989 rally for the 20th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. Jobs that the first year included handing out homemade sandwiches to speakers and volunteers, selling merchandise, and picking up garbage at the Dance – literally from under the feet of partygoers.
Being a lesbian couple during the period of the 1980s and early 1990s was sometimes a challenge, as Perin had not yet come out to her parents and Harriet had not come out to her family living in South Carolina. Both of them had come out at work and to their friends, however, which provided them a way of being themselves in a mostly accepting environment. But as they said to each other, there was never going to be an option to be married.
They had been together for 14 years when Heritage Of Pride hosted InterPride’s 1997 conference when Perin was first elected as an InterPride officer. For the next 11 years, they remained a committed couple, and traveled around the world for Pride and enjoyment, but could not get married in their home state. For their 25th anniversary, they decided they needed to make their relationship legal. Since it was still not possible to do so in NY, they organized their wedding to take place in Canada, and invited family and friends to celebrate with them as they publicly declared their love and commitment.
In 2011, the US Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples had the right to marry. On July 24, 2011 (the first day marriage was authorized in NYS) Harriet and Perin gathered family and friends and were legally married for the second time – this time in their home country.
Over 9 more years have passed since that second wedding, and Perin and Harriet still proudly display both marriage licenses in their entrance hallway. They cannot believe their luck in finding each other, and in having the opportunity to share their experiences around the world. Their advice to others is “be who you really are, and find friends and allies to provide mutual support.”
-HarPer- HARriet and PERin