Aaron Lucero and Jeffrey Cannon got engaged in June 2018 after dating for three years. The couple, who live in Dallas, Texas, say they’ve always found the city to be gay-friendly — until one wedding venue an hour away refused to hold their wedding there.
After postponing the planning for over six months (Lucero is a schoolteacher and the school year is a busy time), the two researched venues together on The Knot. They set up a profile as a same-sex couple and chose a few venue possibilities. They made appointments to view a few places, and picked The Venue at Waterstone in Celina, Texas, as their first choice.
They were happy to move ahead with their planning, but then things took an awful turn. Lucero opened an email from the owner of the venue, which read:
“Though we do not host LGBTQ weddings or receptions,” owner Lyle Wise wrote, “we are more than happy to converse and further explain our beliefs and the love God has shown us as well as how He is conforming our lives to himself. The design for marriage that we hold to is based upon the design [God] set forth which is a representation of the bride of Christ joined to the groom. Given His plan and design for marriage, we dare not veer from His instruction lest we be guilty of altering what He has set forth.”
The couple was led to believe that the venue was LGBTQ friendly through its placement on The Knot. So, Lucero told Personal Space, the email felt “like a punch in the gut.”
The couple struggled over whether they should share their story. “We kind of stay in our lanes,” Lucero said. “I’m a teacher, Jeffrey works in finance and we don’t live this crazy life — we’re just normal people. When we decided to share our story we were kind of hesitant, we did a lot of research. We wanted to be informed, has this happened to other people? I found and saw that other people had dealt with venue issues. Obviously you had the whole cake debacle thing in Colorado, and we know these things happen, but it’s never happened to us. Until it did. We said ‘Do we want to deal and go through this to share a story?’ It took a toll on us a little right when it happened and the days following, but we knew people needed start a dialogue about this.”
Lucero noted the love and support from strangers has been incredible, and that the couple has not received any negative feedback for sharing what happened. “Things will not change if people do not know this is still happening,” Lucero explained. “I’m thankful that I’m aware now, and I want to go to venues that share my values and support for the LGBTQ community, the family, the people who have loved ones in the community, and don’t want to support these [other] businesses. It took me 30 years to experience discrimination and it was so overwhelming, and I don’t ever want this to happen to anyone else.”
The venue tried to quietly turn them away, he said, but should openly advertise they aren’t accepting of all lifestyles. “Not everyone’s going to be on our side. The Knot could have done a better job as well, not just kicking them off but adding a feature where businesses say whether they are accepting of the LGBTQ community. They need to reevaluate their platforms to better include LGBTQ. [When we looked] I’m assuming the search results are going to be places accepting of our love.”
The couple has since sent a letter to to the venue telling the owner about their lives and their love for one another. “Not to change their mind, to help them understand,” Lucero explained. So far they’ve gotten no reply. “I guess we don’t even deserve a response,” Lucero said.
The two haven’t yet found a gay-friendly venue they vibe with yet, but, hey, we have one in mind!
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