not in Primary anymore

thoughts on a wedding

“Love one another as Jesus loves you.

Try to show kindness in all that you do.

Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,

For these are the things Jesus taught.”

-I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus, Janice Kapp Perry

I saw a post on Facebook that was searching for impromptu ‘visiting teachers’ to show love at the wedding of Shelly Eyre and Cheryl Haws.

After a public dispute with Utah County, Shelly and Cheryl were finally granted a marriage license and were now planning a Provo wedding for the following day. I didn’t have anything to bring them, except my company and the company of a squirmy 18-month-old. But I hoped to show love just by being there. They deserve love from their community, especially on their wedding day.

I estimate that there were about one hundred people there at the wedding. Many who attended brought a variety of foods, treats, and cakes. A wedding harpist and a bluegrass group performed. A couple professional photographers came donating their services as well. I was impressed and touched that all of this could come together in less than 24 hours.

I felt reminded of my own wedding and the love and support that ward sisters showed me. I planned for a backyard sunshiney wedding in June. Sadly, my wedding day was 40 degrees and pouring rain. My ward sisters rearranged my parents basement in order to bring the planned outdoor wedding indoors. They decorated. They cloaked unattractive work-out equipment under unassuming white table cloths. They helped make my wedding reception functional and I felt their love.

I hope that Shelly and Cheryl felt a similar love from their community and all of their newly assigned visiting teachers. So congratulations Shelly and Cheryl! Please know that you are loved.

Congratulations Shelly and Cheryl!  I apologize for the blurred photo, it was the best I could do with my phone while holding a toddler.

Congratulations Shelly and Cheryl!
I apologize for the blurred photo, it was the best I could do with my phone while holding a toddler.

edit: I changed the title. A commenter pointed out that the first title could be seen as offensive and othering. As I thought it over today, I agreed. Thus I removed the qualifier.

6 Responses to “thoughts on a wedding”

  1. Nebula

    Disappointing article about a glorious event. Particularly because you felt the need to call it a “lesbian wedding” instead of what it was: a wedding. We don’t say “straight/heterosexual wedding,” so the qualifier just seems like othering to me.

    • Rachel Mitchell

      Sorry to disappoint Nebula. I can see what you mean about othering. That wasn’t my intent. By use of the qualifier lesbian in the title, my intent was to illustrate that this wedding was unique. It was a battle to get this wedding, I believe it was the first same-sex wedding in Provo (correct me if I’m wrong). Isn’t that worth noting? I feel like to title this ‘thoughts on a wedding’ would ignore the legal struggle and oppression they’ve faced and I don’t want to do that either.

  2. Cheryl Haws

    Rachel: Thank you for attending the wedding and for commenting on the miracles that occurred there, it was a deeply spiritual moment in our lives and we appreciate all those who supported us. We felt tremendous love during the experience and still do. We have amazing people to thank for this. Also, I noticed how you gracefully responded to Nebula’s efforts to lift the consciousness of the post and you also clarified your intent. I agree that the wedding was unique and you didn’t offend me by your title; however, Nebula is right that the use of the term is a microaggression because we don’t typically discuss sexuality this way for the majority of people. The way I see it is that because we were celebrating these issues it may not have drawn too much attention if you hadn’t of mentioned it in the way you did. Won’t that be a great day when every marriage feels like a regular thing. I believe it is coming, but these first steps include the celebration for what it is. Later on, we can move toward political correctness, and both of you have helped make this into an excellent educational opportunity for the community, for society, and for all of our awareness and progress. More importantly, both of you showed how to transcend emerging issues. Bless both of your for the transformation that occurred.

    To be completely honest with you and everyone else, I do not identify as a lesbian, Shelly does though. What seems to best suit me is the Native American term “Two Spirit.” Over the course of my personal work and development, I’ve been able to embrace the male and female aspects of myself; as a child, I resisted the female aspects of myself and intently desired to be a boy. As I child I suffered from gender identity disorder especially at the age of 11 when I began transitioning from a child to an adolescent. Over time, I worked through this and realized that it was not so much that I wanted to be a male as much as it was I wanted to be everything. I would have felt loss by losing either part. Thinking I had to give up one side of my sense of wholeness was excruciatingly painful for me. In order to heal, I’ve had to learn how not to shame my feminine side, it still needs work at times, but I’ve come to a place in my life where these aspects of self are more or less unified. Some would say I am a transgender individual, but for me that would mean something different than what I experience. For me, the two spirit label fits best. Nevertheless, both the male and female aspects of myself are attracted to and love Shelly and yet from the outside appearance, you are right in the sense that we appear as and often present ourselves as a lesbian couple. Les sensationally, Nebula is also right in the fact that we are just an ordinary couple. We try to work, take care of kids, pay our bills, go to movies, eat popcorn, say our prayers, mother our kids, text our friends, drink a soda, etc. In essence our sexuality is one aspect of our lives, but like others, it is only a small part of our lives; like everyone else we get caught up in the dishes, laundry, school work, family, grandchildren, hobbies, writing etc. I am very much the mom with all my 7 children, I love to guide them, hug and love them and iron their shirts, but they also know who to call when they want to put a new battery in their car, or a new sink or toilet in their bathroom. (That is what I gave my daughter for her wedding and they are hoping I’m going to be installing it in the next couple of days.) I know it is a lot to take in, but that’s the real me….

    Love you both! Cheryl Haws

    • Rachel Mitchell

      Cheryl, thank you for reading and for your comment. It means a lot to me. I felt a bit ashamed after Nebula’s comment because I think she/he was right. I’ve been debating in my head whether I should take this post down because I don’t think I gave myself enough time to work on it, it is disappointing. I mostly worried because I didn’t intend to hurt, but it seemed like that was the effect.

      Thank-you for your love and patience. I admire you and Shelly both. I felt touched by your bravery and by the love you both showed at your wedding. I thought the handing-out of roses was a beautiful gesture. Thank-you for allowing me and other strangers to be apart of your day.

      And thank-you for sharing your experience and helping me better understand your experience. I haven’t heard of the ‘two-spirit’ idea before, but I want to learn more about it now. And I agree, it is totally unfair to classify someone completely on sexuality. We are multi-faceted and when we do that (as I think in a way, I did that by my former title), we neglect so much more of their humanity. Obviously I still have a way to go. So again, thank-you for addressing that as well.

      P.S. I hope I can continue to get to know you and Shelly better.

      • Cheryl Haws

        Thank you Rachel, you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. About the two spirit idea, it is called this by Native American Indians and that is the closest label I have to describe it. Many years ago, I tried out bio-feedback on a alpha/theta machine and this turned into a spiritual experience for me; mentally/ emotionally, I was taken into a room where I symbolically was shown two coffins on the ground to represent death (the point of this was to show me this was not in this world). Then I was ushered into a chapel like setting. It was in this setting that I met and embraced a man that looked like the perfect male version of myself. We both male/ female had long curly hair and he had a beard. It was impressed upon my mind that as the spirit comes down in degrees that the soul splits apart into two individuals, up a few notches though I was shown that they are fused together as one. This didn’t make any sense to me at the time, especially with my Mormon background but later when I studied Sufism, Sidi al-Jamal explained this process and it was exactly like I had been shown many years earlier in this dream. No matter, it helped me make sense of my feelings and my internal experiences and allowed me to feel free and whole and know that I must embrace all aspects of myself. In some regards we contain everything. Sidi always says, “Why do you want to be a small star when you contain the whole universe.” In this lucid experience I also met Jesus and I was shown a light table that was a planning table for this life. It seemed I was being shown a time when I worked with Jesus to form or plan my life, as we consulted and worked together, we put many things on this planning table to see how they would work out; it was almost like playing a strategy game. In this dream, when the planning was over, Jesus put a woman in front of him (Shelly) and told me that she would help me accomplish everything we were planning on the light board. I put my head down slightly, because I wasn’t sure I could do everything I needed to do, but when I looked up at the woman with short black hair (I’m pretty sure it was Shelly) I saw that she had a big smile that said, you will do everything you’ve been asked to do. The dream impressed me deeply but I never knew exactly what was on that table, I just knew there was a lot I was supposed to do.
        God has been very good to me, He is always there when I need him.

        You are our dear friend and we appreciate what you are doing here Rachel.

  3. Cheryl Haws

    Tonight we heard there was an anti-gay rally in Utah County, where Brian Thompson and police officers were meeting to say they wanted to take the law into their own hands over the gay rights. Kendall Wilcox reported that a hundred people were there including public officials and officers. They are meeting at the Provo Library for a follow up meeting Wednesday at 10:00. Many police officers were there so this is traumatic for us and other sexual minorities. It feels like they may be handing out white sheets next.

    This changes our position, we can’t sit back and let people be hurt; we want peace, but we also have courage and are not afraid to stand up against stiff aggression.


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