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Idaho StoryCorps: A love story to remember

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StoryCorps
David Pettyjohn, left and Geoffrey Parks, right.

It was just a bite to eat, a way to reconnect among old school friends.

“So we have a fantastic dinner. I mean, it was great and I felt something,” says David Pettyjohn. He hadn’t seen Geoffrey Parks since they lost touch after school. They met in eighth grade and were friends through middle and high school.

And when it was time for their 20-year high school reunion, David wanted to rekindle that friendship, meeting for dinner once a week.

“It was just great. You know, we picked up the friendship, right? Kind of where we left off. We're both nerds. We love talking about maps, all of those things,” says David.

Then one night they were having dinner at the Iron Star BBQ in Oklahoma and ”this is where things took a little turn,” says David.

“You remember what I'm about to say?” he prompts Geoffrey.

“Yeah,” Geoffrey says.

“The waiter just jokingly said, Hey, you guys out on a date? And I just jokingly, like, reached over, and I was like, Oh, honey, are we? And then what did you say?” prompts David again.

“We have not yet defined the relationship,” teases Geoffrey.

“And I was like, What? In my head, I'm like, wait. Geoffrey, is he thinking, what? What? So that kind of opened up possibilities. So shortly after I said, you know what? I'm just going to make a move. There's so many questions. I'm attracted to him. He kind of seems like he's attracted to me,” says David.

So, during the next night out, “finally I just reached over and grabbed your hand and you took it back,” David remembers.

We just kind of clicked.
David Pettyjohn

“I remember getting in the car and you leaning over, and we had our first kiss,” said David. “I remember the drive back the next day, we held hands the entire way, and it was very sweet.”

After three years of dating, David started thinking about marriage. “I wasn't planning this and I just said, hey, Geoff, have you ever considered, you know, what do you think about getting married? And you said, I'd consider it, but, I’d have to be proposed to.”

So I just said, Geoffrey Bear Parks, will you marry me? Right there. And you said yes.
David Pettyjohn

But the couple had some concerns. “some of my family was … they weren't, what's the right word? On board. Accepting of where my life was,” says Geoffrey.

“And we were making progress,” said David.

“We were making progress,” Geoffrey agrees. “My mom and dad would come over and have lunch or dinner, and that was good, you know, kind of reconnecting that relationship. But, thinking about all of the things that would need to be planned, all of the things that would be confronted at the wedding, David and I decided to put a stop on official, big ceremony plans.”

“Because we knew what we were going to do, that we were going to have a ceremony. We were looking to do it in Oklahoma somewhere and then fly to New York,” explains David.

That was the other concern. This was before the U.S. Supreme Court case in 2015 that required all states to grant same-sex marriages. So they couldn’t legally get married in Oklahoma at the time.

So they put the big ceremony on hold, as David explains, realizing that “a wedding is not important. We are. So we just said we're just going to fly to New York, get married, and then just have a lunch reception.”

It was legal for same-sex couples to get married in New York in 2002.

“So, yeah, flew to New York, had a fantastic wedding, flew back to Oklahoma,” says Geoffrey.

And as we flew back, we gave up all of the rights and privileges of married couples.
Geoffrey Parks

That’s because Oklahoma didn’t recognize their New York marriage.

“It was that weird feeling of getting in a plane and realizing that all the rights that you had were gone when we landed back in our home,” says David.

It wasn’t until 2015 when that changed, after the Supreme Court ruling that also required states to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

“And Oklahoma had to grant us those rights, like it or not. So they did. That was a good day,” says Geoffrey.

David points out they also had that big reception. “We had about 60 people.”

“And much to our delight, my parents came over for that,” says Geoffrey. “That was important for them to see the friends and family that we have that supported us and our relationship.”

Eventually, the couple came to the Gem State.

“We had never been to Idaho. We knew we loved the Rockies. We often go to Colorado, New Mexico, but had never been to Idaho. So it was great to kind of make that leap,” says Geoffrey. “It's been good to kind of have our space, our place to kind of make our life together.”

Idaho is a quirky place.
Geoffrey Parks

“I think that we live in a part of the city and have relationships that are very open and accepting to us and who we are,” says Geoffrey. “But we do, I think, have to exercise a bit of caution in some settings.”

“But I will say this,” says David. “I travel the state for my job. I never hide that I have a husband. And you also, when you travel, you never hide. And we have been really fortunate that we have not encountered that.”

But we are always aware of our surroundings.
David Pettyjohn

“So, you know. Life. We'll see where it goes in future. But the journey so far has been fantastic,” says Geoffrey.

“It has been” says David, “And Geoffrey, I love you.”

“I love you too.”

“And I'm so excited that we get to share our story that we've been able to share with friends over the years. So here's to many, many more years,” says David.

“Indeed. Indeed.”

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As Senior Producer of our live daily talk show Idaho Matters, I’m able to indulge my love of storytelling and share all kinds of information (I was probably a Town Crier in a past life!). My career has allowed me to learn something new everyday and to share that knowledge with all my friends on the radio.