Don Sherfick

Ordinary Couples - putting faces on the marriage equality debate

Filed By Don Sherfick | August 07, 2007 9:49 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Marriage Equality
Tags: gay marriage, Mark Lee, marriage rights, Newlywed Game, ordinary couples

I’ve noted with some considerable satisfaction the attention currently being given by the Indianapolis Star, and reflected in recent commentary by Karen Celestino-Horseman on this site as well as Gary Welsh on Advance Indiana, to the unfortunate story concerning life partners Patrick Atkins and Brett Conrad. Together 25 years, longer than the marriages of a significant number of heterosexual couples, Brett found himself on the outside looking in when Patrick suffered an aneurysm and then a stroke. He unsuccessfully fought Patrick’s parents in court when he sought guardianship, although he ultimately was successful (for now at least) with respect to limited visitation rights.

Although not quoted in the Star’s article, Jerry and I were interviewed a couple of weeks ago by its author Melissa Patterson concerning our own legal arrangements and on issues concerning equal rights for same-sex couples generally. This occurred shortly before both of us were privileged to participate in the filming of a 5-part documentary on LGBT couples who have been together at least 10 years. We just observed the beginning of our 14th, but we were novices compared to a Ian and Ambrose, a couple who recently observed their coming to Indianapolis from England in 1956 after three or four years of being a committed couple before that. The brainchild of Indianapolis photographer Mark Lee, and titled “Ordinary Couples-Extraordinary Lives”, has its roots an exhibit of his photographs of same-sex couples several years ago.

It struck me that this project is important, because among other things it puts real faces and voices on what sometimes seem to be just printed words or sound bites of rhetoric over this amendment or that. Discovering that real next door neighbors, real office co-workers, and real people with kids in school with yours face day-to-day challenges with legal rights that you take for granted can be enlightening.

Mark, in partnership with the Indiana Youth Group (IYG) filmed the production at the Studio Theater of the University of Indianapolis. It’s intended to be part of a mentoring project for GBLT youth and their allies, and was largely filmed in front of a live, studio audience. According to Jill Thomas, Program Coordinator of IYG, “This project is exciting because it provides the youth of IYG the opportunity to work with positive role models in the community and learn some new skills in the process.”

Besides individual interviews with the five male and five female couples, they all participated in “The Galywed Game”, a takeoff on “The Newlywed Game”. Then both Mark and Bilerico’s own Michele O’Mara asked various couples questions prior to opening the session up to the audience. Sponsored in part by Pride of UIndy, the film will deal in a fun and entertaining way about how each couple got together, overcoming obstacles, raising families, what keeps them together, and dealing with the aging process.

Jerry and I didn’t win any prizes in the “Gaylywed Game”, mostly because he didn’t realize that I would say the superhero I most associated myself with was Captain Marvel (for you youngsters, somebody from the 1950’s), and I didn’t realize that he thought that the microwave oven rather than the coffee pot was my most depended upon household appliance. But we both correctly remembered the where and when of our first date and who generally says “I love you” first.

On that last one, don’t ask, cause we won’t tell….you’ll just have to wait to see the finished program, which could well make it to cable TV screens sometime next year. Hopefully then real people, include both long and short term married couples, will see other real people and better understand the why's and wherefore's of our search for equality.


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Leland Frances | August 7, 2007 3:21 PM

It's time for LGBT Hoosiers who care to do more than weep and moan amongst themselves about the Conrad/Atkins case to both give back some of the sadistic Mrs. Atkins' generated pain to her AS WELL AS further publicize this case as the perfect example of why legal protection for same gender couples is both moral and necessary.

She has a cheesecake + store at:

11852 Allisonville Rd
Fishers, Indiana
Store Hours
Mon, Fri, Sat 10 am to 5 pm
Tues, Wed, Thur 10 am to 7 PM
Closed Sunday

The weatherman is predicting some great public demonstration weather this Saturday. If I still lived there I would luv to join you all in a picket of her store. Look forward to hearing about it on Bilerico and in the Star.

Heeheee..... I remember seeing a skitted form of the Gaylywed Game from that mall up in Minneapolis/St Paul (or thereabouts) with one each of a gay, straight and lesbian couple and a really flaming host all played for the comedic outcome. I laughed the hardest just after the introductions when the host asked the top in their relationship to go offstage so that their significant other could answer the questions. Right away one of the lesbians jumped up and quickly left. Confusion reigned on the faces of the straight couple and the host set about telling them what that meant, though even then the straight guy wasn't so sure. But I got the biggest laugh out of the gay couple. They were, of course, bickering over the who should be he the top and evidently neither wanted the position..... then came the payoff, one of them picked a coin out of his pocket and and flicked it into the air and when the loser sculked off the stage.... I died laughing.

Eric Georgantes | August 8, 2007 11:09 AM

I wish I could've come to that, but I had work that weekend.

Freddie Borders | August 8, 2007 2:22 PM

This story was in the Indianapolis Star Aug. 6th, 2007
August 6, 2007

Custody case stirs gay-marriage debate
Battle over visitation, care of disabled man flares between parents and longtime partner

By Melissa Patterson
melissa.patterson@indystar.com

Hi: This email is to let you know about a march in front of Adkins Cheesecake and deserts store this coming Saturday. I do not have a time for the march. This is all I know:

It's time for LGBT Hoosiers who care to do more than weep and moan amongst themselves about the Conrad/Atkins case to both give back some of the sadistic Mrs. Atkins' generated pain to her AS WELL AS further publicize this case as the perfect example of why legal protection for same gender couples is both moral and necessary.

She has a cheesecake store at:

11852 Allisonville Rd
Fishers, Indiana
Store Hours
Mon, Fri, Sat 10 am to 5 pm
Tues, Wed, Thur 10 am to 7 PM
Closed Sunday

The weatherman is predicting some great public demonstration weather this Saturday. If I still lived there I would luv to join you all in a picket of her store. Look forward to hearing about it on Bilerico and in the Star.

Leland Frances | August 7, 2007 3:21 PM

I live in Houston ,TX and can not be there for the march this Saturday, August 11, 2007. Please try to organize more of our community for a large gathering. Something has to be done !

Thanks, Freddie Borders,
a proud GAY MAN !!!!!!!!!!