Tianna and Julie: An Affirmation Love Story
Tia & Julie
By Julie Hammer & Tianna Owen
Before the Conference
Tia: I have felt an increasing sense of "aloneness" over
the last decade, born out of a dual-gendered (XXY) physiology (a condition
which is not well tolerated in a two gender society or a patriarchal
church). I experienced marginal acceptance in the Gay, Lesbian, and
Transsexual groups because I didn't "fit" their self-imposed descriptions.
I was vaguely aware of Affirmation and finally connected through the
Internet in early August. Shortly thereafter, I attended one meeting
in Las Vegas, and the following week jumped into the flow by attending
the Salt Lake Conference.
Julie: I attended my first Affirmation meeting in March 1997 to hear Marcy Goodman give her book review about Lesbians on the Wasatch front. I had only been "out of the closet" for 3 months and was paranoid that secret BYU spies would pose as lesbians and then get me expelled from the University. Instead, I was gladly welcomed and well received when I proclaimed my status as a lesbian at BYU. In April, Sarah J. asked me if I would consider speaking at the conference. I accepted and explained that it would be easier to establish an "Out at BYU" panel. I was very, very nervous because I didn't want to jeopardize anyone's standing at BYU. Regardless of my fears I figured it was more important to speak out and break the cycle of gays being kicked out of BYU or put on probation. I was threatened several times by my current bishop that I would be expelled if I told anyone I was gay or spoke out on the issue. I came back to him and said the BYU honor code states "No Premarital Sex" but that it did not address homosexuality any further. He couldn't touch me!
Tia: As the event unfolded I saw camaraderie and love flowing, yet my sense of separation reasserted itself. The remedy was to stand, introduce myself and step out of fear and into creating that which I desired. I told a number of people that I was looking for a great lady with a sense of humor and a "flexible sense of gender", hoping to plant seeds for the future. Thursday evening when I first saw Julie, there was an instant recognition of her kindred spirit. Friday morning I was sad when she was not in the room, but life took an upswing when she entered midmorning. Saturday morning I was determined to connect, and to that end, attended the BYU panel discussion. Afterwards, I approached her and introduced myself, eliciting an agreement for at least one dance that evening. We spent time together (holding hands etc.) in the next session and parted until the evening's activities.
Julie: I had no intention of meeting a partner/lover/wife. In fact, on the way to the conference I told Nathan Applegate that I was strictly there to get educated, volunteer my time, and make a few friends. On Friday night I spotted Tia and was intrigued by her presence. A very warm and calm feeling comforted me the entire time I gazed upon her. As soon as I looked away, the feeling was gone. That night I wrote about Tianna in my journal: "A woman I spotted will become a significant part of my life. I don't know how or when, but she will be part of it."
Tia: I spent Saturday afternoon having great difficulty keeping focused on anything but Julie. Later, as we came together again it was like "coming home". We spent the evening dancing in our own little world, "communing" (the term Twitterpated comes to mind). Then, out of fear, I made a uniquely stupid comment, telling Julie that I wanted her in my life -- without any "expectations" (I knew she saw right through that part). Regrettably, I had to take leave at midnight to conduct a telephone meeting with my Hong Kong office.
Julie: My first contact with Tia was right after the infamous panel. She gave me her business card and in plain sight I read the words 'Information Goddess'. I had to make some quick decisions. Was she being egotistical, funny, or a wise ass? Maybe she was telling the truth. It turns out all but the first were correct. When Tia laid that "no expectations" part on me I was thinking, "yeah, right"! She danced with me for three hours, talked up a storm, cracked jokes, kissed me on the lips, and then said she had no expectations of me. To tell you the truth, I wanted to believe it, so I did. Sometime between Saturday night and Sunday morning I fell head over heels in love with Tianna. Her personality, wit, and charm were so perfect. I was in such a frenzy that sleep didn't grace me until 4:30 am.
Tia: Sleep Saturday night was elusive (daydreaming at night), and when I arrived in the parking lot Sunday morning (an hour late), it happened to be at the same moment as Julie. We enjoyed growing closer during the events of the day with the 4 PM closing coming all to quickly. We went to a friend's house in South Jordan and enjoyed sharing hopes and dreams through the evening, returning to the Student Union parking lot at 9 PM. I told her that I was planning on traveling to Provo weekends to spend them with her, which prompted the response "I guess I didn't tell you that I am moving to San Francisco." My immediate thought was "Damn, that's a long drive!" Then the next words out of my mouth were "would you consider moving to Las Vegas instead?" When she said yes my heart soared. By midnight we had made life commitments.
After the Conference
Julie: Tia had to make those commitments with me fast. She
was afraid I was going to wake up Monday morning and say, "What the
hell did I just do?", and then turn her down. I actually asked myself
that very question and knew that I had just made life commitments
to my soul mate forever! I was more nervous about the fact that not
one ounce of fear or hesitation or doubt crossed my mind. I was perfectly
content and perfectly in love. I am even more in love with Tianna
today. She is my 'golden strawberry beauty'.
Tia: Life with Julie just keeps getting better. When you function in a "Love Energy" everything else in life just starts working. Since I have legal status as a male, we can marry. We had planned on a February wedding somewhere near the magnificent California coast. When I saw the e-mail announcing the Russian River Leadership Retreat in February, I contacted Scott (a natural born sucker for romance) who has kindly made arrangements for us to have our ceremony on Saturday the 7th, at the close of the day. A wonderful party will follow.
Julie: The Affirmation Conference changed my life forever. I became more educated about my gay and lesbian Mormon heritage, made history for BYU (and graduated), improved my spirituality, and met my beautiful wife. The Retreat and our wedding is going to be fabulous. We'll see you there!!!