By Jaime McDonald
On June 30, 2017, Sophie and I stood before the Honorable A. Mack at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse. She softly told me to repeat after her, “I give you this ring because I love you.” They were simple yet powerful words.
You see, it was only a short 1.5 years earlier that Sophie and I met. We were at a 24-hour race in Virginia, where it all began. I was born and raised in the Charlotte area, and Sophie, originally from Pennsylvania, was living in Charlotte working for a local non-profit. We had a mutual friend who introduced us, but we had only spoken via text messages and never met until this 24-hour race.
I can remember it like it was yesterday. At the race packet pick-up, I saw her, jumped out of the car to say hello, and gave her a hug. Something was different. From that point forth, we were inseparable. We did all our runs together; she would come by the local running store I was working at to bring lunch, coffee, or just hang out. We would spend weekends together at our family’s lake house. Running brought us together, but we had many other similar interests, so much so that it seemed to be the perfect match for a best friend duo. Our “friendship” was unique from the very start. Many would ask if we were a couple, dating, or even ask what was going on with us! You see, Sophie and I had never dated the same sex before, so seeing the obvious wasn’t that obvious to us! During our friendship, I discovered that in August of 2016, Sophie was moving to Portland, Oregon, to go to Chiropractic school. I remember my heart sinking when I found out. I knew it would change everything when she left. Little did I know how much it would change.
Three days prior to packing her bags and leaving North Carolina for not-so-sunny Portland, Oregon, we realized what was going on between us. Just as quickly as we reached in for that first hug a year prior, we stood, looking at each other, and said, “we are in love. That is what all this is!” It was like we had just taken a hammer and knocked down the giant wall that had been slowly falling to reveal what was in front of us the whole time! Every confusing piece to the puzzle all of a sudden fits perfectly. Then, the storm shifted, and we were able to see more clearly what was there all along. We hugged, kissed, cried and then remembered that she was moving in 3 days! Knowing she was moving 3000 miles away, there was only one answer to the question... I would be moving also! So in October 2016, I boarded a one-way flight to Portland, Oregon!
Moving 3000 miles away from everything we knew was by far the hardest yet best thing for Sophie and me. We learned to rely on one another, lean on each other in good & bad times, and develop a strong relationship without opinion or interference. You may have heard that if you build a solid foundation, the foundation remains the same even if the walls or roof crumble. That is the type of love and dedication Sophie and I have for each other. It is strong, never wavering, and everlasting. So during this Pride month, and every month before and after, I hope you find hope in all things, feel strong enough to fight for change, take every second to experience every beautiful moment in life, and most importantly, love with all of your being. Then you will know the kind of love Sophie and I have every day.
With kindness and love,
What: LGBTQIA+ Pride Month 2021
Why: The Stonewall riots were a series of demonstrations by members of the LGBTQIA+ community in response to a police raid that began in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood in New York City. Patrons of the Stonewall, other lesbian and gay bars, and neighborhood people fought back when the police became violent. The riots are widely considered to constitute one of the most important events leading to the gay liberation movement and the fight for LGBTQ rights in the USA.
When: The entire month of June each year
If you would like to get involved locally:
www.charlottepride.org is a great resource on how to get involved, support, and celebrate year round. For the month of June they will be offering the following events which you can find more details about on their Facebook page (https://facebook.com/cltpride):
June 10, 6pm: Pride Across Carolina: A Special Statewide Conversation
Shop with companies near and far that support the LGBTQIA+ community:
Brooks Running Company: The Run Proud Collection
New Balance: Everybody’s Welcome Pride Collection in collaboration with Artist Zoie Lam. New Balance has committed to donating $100,000 over two years to support GLSEN’s “Changing the Game” program, which is being relaunched to create safe spaces in locker rooms and on-field.
Happy Socks: Step Up With Us Collection. Happy Socks is donating 10% of net sales from the collection to go towards InterPride, the international association of Pride events worldwide. The contribution helps the Solidarity Fund, which assists Pride organizations in hostile environments and areas of crisis and conflict. This collection is available year round.