Monday, June 9, 2014

Here Come the Grooms

The happy night!
By Kevin Hunsperger 
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter 

I’ve been to weddings and receptions at fancy country clubs, wineries, ball stadiums, and even a pumpkin patch. But never did I think I would travel all the way to New York City and Central Park for a ceremony. My wife and I recently had the pleasure to do just that. Our friends, Brian and Keith, tied the knot on our anniversary in the “City That Never Sleeps.”

We met Brian, who we often refer to as Hammy or just Hampton, back in 1994 while attending Southeast Missouri State University. Brian and I became fast friends in our fraternity, Sigma Nu. 

The college years...
Even after he transferred to Indiana University, we remained in touch. After school, when we all moved to the St. Louis area, the friendship continued. This was at a time before social media existed, so people really had to put an effort into remaining friends. Eventually, I started a career and we moved to Alabama. Brian was there to help us as we traveled six hours from home that rainy day in November 1997. Distance became a factor, we still talked on the phone and exchanged emails. We had dinner a couple of times when we visited home, but then he moved away as well. That’s when the phone calls and emails became less frequent. By that point we were living in Indiana and had a kid. One of the last points of contact I remember having happened when Brian sent an outfit for our newborn son. I think our last phone conversation was about the 2000 Presidential Election and the hanging chads controversy. 

I remember touching base again after we moved to southern Illinois, which isn’t far from where he grew up. He was in Texas, and I had contacted him again after Hurricane Rita. Up until that point he’d been pretty private, but said “we are fine”, so I knew then that he had someone in his life. He never elaborated, and I didn’t ask. 
The Anniversary Party
About six months later, Brian sent Lisa and I a heartfelt email explaining why he had been so distant over the last six years. He opened up to us and said he was gay. He hoped that it wouldn’t change anything and he’d like to be in touch with us more. I know it was hard for him, because he had lost some friends along the way as he told them. We quickly added each other to our Top 8’s on Myspace, remember when that was a thing? Eventually we all got Facebook too, and Lisa and I couldn’t wait to meet Hammy’s longtime partner Keith. 

In 2009, I went to Wrestlemania 25 in Houston and flew in a couple of days early so I could head to Beaumont and visit with Brian and Keith. Even though a decade had passed, it was like nothing had changed. We remembered the old times and caught up with each other too. In 2011, Lisa and I traveled to Beaumont for their 10-year anniversary. They threw an amazing black tie party, which included a hilarious parody video of them as Mitchell and Cam from Modern Family. They received videotaped messages from the many Broadway stars they’ve met in their travels to New York City.
Brian, Keith, and Kyle
A few months ago, we received an invitation to their wedding in New York. Lisa and I could not wait to celebrate the love and friendship that now spans two decades. The ceremony was held at the Cop Cot in Central Park. It took some time to find, but we eventually located it (it’s a big park) and witnessed our friends promise to love and cherish one another, just as Lisa and I had done 17 years to the day prior. One of their friends from Broadway, Kyle Dean Massey of Pippin, sang during the ceremony. The two then walked down a path as all the guests tossed yellow rose pedals at them. A man in the park sat and watched with a huge grin and even recorded the moment with his phone. It was great to be a part of this special day. 

The Skivvies!
She is wearing her bra and panties
The fun continued on at the restaurant Joe Allen. Dinner was amazing, and included lobster and shrimp sliders. I’d never had anything like it before. We eventually headed to the after party, at 54 Below. The band, The Skivvies, who perform in their underwear, entertained us. There were several special guests who took the stage and sang a variety of mashups. Keith got up on stage and dropped his drawers for a special tribute to Brian. 

 It was a party like no other, and I know Lisa and I are both blessed that Brian and Keith included us in the celebration. We wish them much love and happiness for the rest of their lives.

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