Decision to join in holy union
Long describes how she and her partner decided to join in holy union. Long explains that, in part, their decision necessitated that her partner come out more fully than she had before; however, they both determined that any public attention they received was worth being joined to one another in their church. Long and her partner's holy union was the second performed at Pullen. Overall, she describes the experience as joyous and she remembers receiving a great deal of support from the religious community, although she acknowledges the pain of losing some friends in the process.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Patricia Long, November 14, 1996. Interview G-0215. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Full Text of the Excerpt
- SHERRY HONEYCUTT:
When did you and your partner decide to proceed with the steps toward
your own holy union ceremony?
- PATRICIA LONG:
She decided before I did. Actually it was at the Town Meeting that I
described that she indicated her interest in having the service herself.
And that was a coming out process for her in front of colleagues and
clients and what-not that involved some risk. At the various points in
our relationship I have usually been the one playing catch-up. I think
I've caught up all the way now
Because I'm very happy to be where I am and with her, and it's
real clear that this is the right thing for my life. She was concerned
early on that we might be the first couple to ask. Had we been, it would
have been further down the road than the process
Pullen actually went through. For her, it became a question of how much
risk she was willing to take with regard to her employment. And we
considered, actually, having service with Mahan on a trip to California,
because it would allow us not to put her in that risk. And it was Janice
Siler, Mahan's wife, who made it real clear to her that that would not
do. That for the church to have gone through all it did to make it
possible for such a service to take place, that she wasn't going to have
anything to do with it if it weren't at Pullen. And that was kind of a
conversion moment for my partner. So that's the point at which we
started making plans for our own service there. This was sixteen months
after the first service, and was, in fact, the second one. There have
been a number since. But things have quieted down considerably and we
were very fortunate in that there was no publicity at all.
- SHERRY HONEYCUTT:
Did you find any of the members of the congregation were still in
- PATRICIA LONG:
The people who were violently opposed had left. And that was not a large
number, but it was a very painful experience for all. Some of those
folks were dear friends of mine that I had known for a long time and
loved, and loved by. That was probably the most painful part of the
process for me. It wasn't what people were saying in the newspaper. It
was feeling the pain of their loss and feeling the pain that they felt
in having to make that decision. Because it's not one they made lightly.
There were people who disagreed and had stayed, because there's so much
else with which they agree with the Pullen community. It's been such an
important part of their lives and there are so many values that are
shared that there are not a whole lot of places they would readily find
to go from Pullen. And of course, we feel like the folks at Community
United Church of Christ are members of our
congregation anyway, because there's a lot of shared territory there.
Some of the people who did not vote for the church's offering holy
unions did, in fact, come to ours. And from a number of points of view,
our service was a celebration for the church. They had known both of us
for some time, and we had been actively involved in the boards and
committees and various kinds of work in the church. And we weren't being
bombarded by the Baptists and the newspapers and the letters from all
over the country as we had been before. And it was actually a chance for
people to celebrate what they had done, what they had made possible. And
so it was a very joyful occasion, and there were three hundred folks
there, most of them heterosexual. It really was kind of the church's day
to savor the joy that they couldn't feel as intensely when they were
under such siege.