The Perils of Petunia Pap Smear

The tale of the wedding-bell blues

The road to the perfect wedding is fraught with danger and excitement. 

I happened to be driving through Beowawee, Nev., listening to the radio, when I heard the news that Judge Shelby had declared Amendment 3 unconstitutional. My habitual reaction to hearing the name Shelby is to channel my inner Steel Magnolia and say out loud, “Drink your juice Shelby.”

Then, I happily realized gay couples were lining up to get married. As I drove back across the pitch dark salt flats, I lamented that I could not make it back in time to get married myself, and that my window of opportunity had probably passed by.

When Sunday night rolled around and there still was no stay by the court, I sat across the table from Mr. Pap Smear, my long-suffering lover of 24 years, and watched the news report that couples were camping out overnight at the County Clerk office to get married first thing Monday morning. We looked at each other and I said, “Should we?”And he said, “Maybe we’d better.” It was not quite the dream proposal I had always envisioned, but with the governor ranting about getting the court to cease and desist, practicality was the order of the day.

We got up at 4:30 a.m., Monday morning, and stopped at McDonalds to get some sausage McMuffins off the dollar menu. As we drove into Salt Lake City, I worried about many things as I munched on my muffin: We don’t have rings. I need a hair cut. I’m 70 pounds to heavy for wedding photos. We don’t have tuxedos. We don’t even have the day off work.

We arrived at the County Building just after 6 a.m. A very nice police officer directed us to go to the second floor and get in line. After turning about seven corners and walking the distance of a couple city blocks, we finally came to our place in line. We were couple number 158. As we waited in the crowded hallway, the temperature began to rise to an uncomfortable level. I wished I had worn my twirling pinwheel breasticles in order to move some air.

There was a distinct air of excitement as 8 o’clock rolled around and one couple at a time entered the Clerks office, and then in about five-minute intervals, cheers erupted as couples re-emerged and descended to the lower floor of the atrium where a veritable army of clergy had amassed to bless the nuptials. At about 8:30, someone came through the line and handed out a paper with the Salt Lake County Seal stating:

Notice:  Please be advised that based on the advice of our District Attorney, if a stay is issued by Judge Shelby as a result of the hearing being held this morning at 9:00 am or by the 10th Circuit Court, we will issue licenses only to those couples who have already submitted their application to our cashier and paid for the license. However, we will be required to immediately halt accepting additional applications as a matter of law. If that occurs, security officers will ask individuals waiting in line to quietly leave the building. Thank you for patience and cooperation and best wishes, Sherrie Swensen, Salt Lake County Clerk.

I worried we might not make it through in time. My greatest fears were allayed when Salt Lake’s Fairy Godmother, Ben Williams, flitted by, announcing that the Judge had denied the stay. Then workers from the health department came around, singing Christmas carols and handing out candy.

Finally, after six hours, it was our turn to enter the Clerk office and sign the papers. Wouldn’t you know, just as I laid down the pen, my work phone rang and a dispatcher in Denver wanted to know if I could come right into work. I don’t think he believed me when I told him I was trying to get married, and then he heard cheering in the background.

Precious license gripped tightly in my sadly glitter-free hand, we went downstairs and found Pastor Curtis Price, from First Baptist Church. A small group of our friends had received permission from some very militant-looking lesbians to step out from their places in line to witness our ceremony. Suddenly, a TV camera and a reporter from Channel 4 approached and asked if they could tape the ceremony. Oh sure, why the hell not.

Pastor Curtis told us to hold hands, and he addressed Mr. Pap Smear first. I couldn’t believe what was happening. Here was a real preacher saying the real words, with a camera pointing at us and a reporter holding a microphone, and our friends gathered around. The built-up tension and stress just got to me and I began to bawl. When it came time for Curtis to ask me the question, I almost could not squeak out the words “I Do.”

While unstoppable tears flowed freely down my face, the reporter kept asking me questions. What a bawling, incoherent boob I was. To my ultimate horror, my tear-stained face was on the 5 and 10 o’clock news, and then was picked up by CNN and repeated nationwide, all the next day.

As always, these events leave us with several burning eternal questions:

  1. Do McDonalds sausage McMuffins count as our wedding breakfast?
  2. If I had worn my twirling breasticles to cool me down, could I have avoided the on-camera meltdown?
  3. Should I have worn mascara that streaked, to make the video shot more dramatic?
  4. Should I help Mr. Pap Smear pick out my wedding ring?

These and other important questions to be answered in future chapters of The Perils of Petunia Pap Smear.

Petunia Pap Smear

Petunia Pap Smear was born a boy in a Mormon family in a small Idaho town in the year of the cock. No, really, look it up. As is LDS tradition, at a month old her father blessed the little Petunia in the ward house on the first Sunday in June. The very next day, they tore the church house down. Probably for good reason. Little did parents Jack and Orthea know that their little boy would grow up to be a full-fledged, rainbow flag-waving, high heel-wearing, sheep-tending “Ida-Homo.” The Perils of Petunia Pap Smear follows her life from the sheep-tending Boy Scout of her youth to the full-figured and brash queen she is today. Her adventures in the many Queer-Tanic trips, the Salt Lake Men's Choir, the Matrons of Mayhem, and Utah Prides and Lagoon Days have been canonized the past 15 years in a monthly column in QSaltLake Magazine, Utah's publication for the LGBTQ+ community. These tales and her words of wisdom were corralled into a 355-page book that will become the Quint to the Mormon Quad. See it at

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