Raise a glass to the grooms

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It was a love for the fabulous, and perhaps most famous of all drag queens in the land, RuPaul, that started a young, burgeoning gay family. At the 2004 pride party, both Kamrin and Manuel went to see the fierce drag queen perform.

The couple that met on that hot summer night had no idea at the time they would be sharing a life: Living together after three months, buying a house after a year and a half, and kids after three years. Not too many people can honestly say that RuPaul started, or saved their lives, but Kamrin can.

“I don’t know where I’d be without Manuel,” Kamrin said. “He literally saved my life.”

As the two pronounced their vows to one another, promising to commit to each other through the good times, and the bad, the couple culminated a series of promises, commitments and made a new set of promises. One of those promises was symbolized by 13 gold coins.

“As I count out the 13 coins and place them in the groom’s hands they also represent different values that the couple desire to share between themselves: love, harmony, cooperation, commitment, peace, happiness, trust, respect, caring, wisdom, joy, wholeness and nurturing,” said Rev. Nicole Merges of the Oneness Center for Spiritual Living, who performed the ceremony.

The couple celebrated their new level of commitment and unity.

“We want everyone at the wedding to know how happy we are,” Manuel said. “We wanted the entire wedding to be a big celebration. It’s a party for us.”

And party they did. The wedding program included a full choir, several musical guests and a string quartet. The wedding reception had multiple featured musical numbers and belly dancing performances as well as a professional disc jockey and a full catering service. The wedding rehearsal dinner was held at The Med for some of the family members and close friends of the couple.

“This really was almost exactly how we dreamed it would happen,” Kamrin said. “We have been planning our wedding for years.”

The wedding planning really began when Manuel purchased a set of matching rings before the happy couple ever met.

“I knew that the man for me would fit this ring,” Manuel said, as Kamrin played with the ring on his finger.

And in a way, the ring did become an engagement ring of sorts. On the evening the two decided to move in together, Kamrin and Manuel tried on the rings. And of course they were as good a fit as any jeweler-fitted set.

“That was really when the relationship technically got started,” Kamrin said. “That was our formal commitment, I suppose.”

However, seven years after that modest ring exchange in a Salt Lake restaurant, with only the waiters and the passers-by as the witnesses, the couple stood in front of hundreds and exchanged two simple bands.

As the two men stood in matching tuxedos, they were married. Not in a union that the city would recognize. Or the state. But for the two of them, that wasn’t the point.

“I’ve been raised my whole life to live a certain way. Get married, have kids and raise a good, healthy family,” Kamrin said. “I love Manuel and the wedding was about our commitment to ourselves and to show our kids that we are more than just two guys who are raising them.”

Throughout the wedding, the beautifully arranged flowers, the reception held at the Rice Eccles Stadium Towers and the rehearsal dinner, what stood out most wasn’t the outstanding décor or music; the most interesting part was the normalcy of the wedding. Like thousands of other couples, Kamrin and Manuel chose Shania Twain’s You’re Still the One. Like thousands of other couples, they danced to the Isley Brother’s Shout. They cut the cake. They shared a toast and did everything else thousands of other couples have done.

“We really wanted to take the opportunity to show our friends and family how much in love we are,” Kamrin said. “We are just like everyone else.”

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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