09 Aug Meet My Fiancé
I first heard about Amanda Hite in the Fall of 2015. My friend Dave and I were scrolling through Instagram over lunch when he suddenly squealed, “Oh my gosh! I have an Insta-crush on this super hot lesbian named Amanda Hite and she just wrote the most adorable article about coming out to her grandparents. You HAVE to read it.”
That afternoon I read the article, which was indeed adorable, and I took to Instagram stalking her shortly after. It was innocent stalking: I didn’t go on a hearting rampage of photos from two years ago. It had only been a few months since I had publicly shared my support for same-sex marriage, so a romantic relationship wasn’t on my mind. Besides, I said to myself, she lives in DC and she’s out of my league.
A few days later, my phone buzzed with a notification saying @amandahite had followed me on twitter. After about 10 minutes of panic, wondering if I had accidentally hearted old photos, I followed her back and sent a quick direct message to say it looked like she was up to great work and that I’d love to grab coffee if she ever found herself in Chicago!
She replied quickly with equal cheer. She said she would not be visiting Chicago anytime soon because she can’t breathe there in the winter––POINT TAKEN––but we both enjoyed the interaction, and we continued chatting throughout the day.
A few weeks later Amanda visited Chicago. She said a meeting with a client had come up and would it make sense to come a little early or stay late so we could spend some time together? We tried to keep our chill. We didn’t want to make our feelings known and then have an awkward, “I was really into you until I met you!” conversation.
I did not inwardly keep my chill. I had not dated in ages, and I couldn’t remember the rules. My besties, Brent and Steve, picked me up from the airport the day I would meet Amanda, and I unloaded my fears about basic physical affection. I was anxious that we would not exist comfortably next to each other in our bodies (think stepping on her foot when she moved in for a hug or bro-ing her out with a one-two-three pat when she went for an extended embrace). They talked me through it and then helped me choose an outfit.
Most of you probably don’t understand why a 30-year-old would feel so nervous about such an ordinary human interaction; you probably worked through these insecurities in middle school. But I had only experienced covert encounters with women in college or forced flings with men that left us both embarrassed. This was different. I liked what I knew of Amanda, and I wanted her to like me back.
On a Sunday night in November, I braved the Chicago snow, transferring trains throughout the city, to meet Amanda for the first time. The greeting hug was smooth, and we sat down to chat with her colleague before breaking away for dinner. I was too nervous to sit still. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to form words if I looked her in the eyes, and I needed to be good with words that night.
Over kale salads and french fries, we shared our stories. It was immediately clear that Amanda was not only charming, but she was also a woman of integrity. She was honest. She admitted things people usually gloss over when they want to impress. Amanda was self-aware and humble. And when she went to pay for the meal, I snuck a peek at the tip (because you learn a lot about a person by the way they treat servers), and I caught a glimpse of her cheerful generosity.
After dinner, she gave me another warm hug and a kiss on the cheek, then put me in an Uber so I wouldn’t have to face the snow going home.
The night before she left Chicago, we squeezed our way through a crowded restaurant and settled into a tiny table for two in the back room. I was struck, once again, by her candor and generous spirit. When she spoke with or about other people, it was always with kindness.
A few weeks later, she was back in Chicago, and I started visiting DC in the months that followed. I stayed for several weeks at a time so we could see how we felt about each other in non-vacation routines––when we were tired, or bored, or annoyed. It was also important to us to spend time with each other’s friends: we wanted to know our people loved our person and vice versa. I still carried the evangelical fear that my feelings for Amanda might blind me to warning signs, so it was a relief when our friends adored us together as a couple. By the time my lease was up in Chicago, a move to DC was in the works.
I won’t be able to capture what an honor it’s been to love and be loved by Amanda, but I want to try.
Amanda is exceptionally generous. She’s not just generous with her money; she’s generous with her time and her space. If someone needs a place to stay, the answer is always yes. If someone needs a job, she leverages her network to find a place for them to use their gifts. Her instinct is to take the burnt piece of pizza or the most uncomfortable seat in the room. It’s to give to the person who asks, without judgment or strings attached.
Amanda radiates a sense of welcome. With a childlike joy, she greets people with sincere enthusiasm and warm hugs, even if she just saw them yesterday. To my absolute delight, Amanda regularly creates space for people to talk about all of their feelings. She wants the raw, unpolished version so people can be seen in all their emotional instability and find acceptance. When she’s in a room full of people, she doesn’t gravitate toward the people who look wealthy or successful––she goes for the ones who are alone.
Not only is Amanda generous and hospitable, but she also nurtures those qualities in me. I have values that I don’t always live up to, and it’s easy to make selfish negotiations when no one is there to bear witness. But Amanda sees my unedited emotional reactions, and she gently encourages me to live into the person I want to become. When I’m upset with someone, she empathizes and then invites me to consider another perspective. When my instinct is to isolate, Amanda helps us find a path that’s both sensitive to what I’m feeling and considerate of other people. She helps me love people better than I do on my own.
Amanda also happens to be wicked smart. She started a marketing company from scratch (passing on paychecks for herself and living on beans and tortillas so she could provide for her employees). Last year that business was featured on Inc’s list of the 500 fastest growing private companies in the United States. She’s one of the few people I know who dominates financial spreadsheets and also has the emotional intelligence it takes to inspire people. What I’m trying to tell you is that Amanda is a bad ass. She has a strategic mind, an empathetic spirit, and a magnetic personality. And somehow she’s so humble.
Amanda is a treasure in times of conflict. When we disagree, she seeks to understand my perspective, and she’s quick to admit when she’s wrong. She assumes the best about other people, even when we don’t deserve it, and she looks for good intentions. Our disagreements make us stronger because they happen in the context of a secure relationship, where we’re safe to share our feelings, quick to forgive, and committed to working through things in a calm and caring spirit.
I share all of this with you for several reasons. First, I want to introduce you to Amanda because she will be a part of the work and ministry I do in the future. Even when she’s not directly involved, her influence will be evident because she inspires and challenges me, offers grace and emotional support.
Second, I used to write about gay celibacy, so it seems important to tell you about my fiancé! I believe my years of singleness have made our relationship stronger because we learned how to find life and joy outside of each other. Neither of us was looking for someone to rescue or complete the other. While we’re certainly attentive to each other’s needs, our love inspires us to look outward and welcome others in, to expand our sense of family to include others in our community.
Finally, I want to express my overwhelming sense of gratitude. Growing up, I never imagined that I would share in this kind of love. I told myself life wasn’t fair and that life without a partner was my burden to bear. I said I could have books, and workouts, and road trips, and friendships. I figured I could live without much physical affection.
But I found in Amanda someone to partner with in the Christian life of sacrifice. Life is beautiful, but it’s also filled with sorrow and disappointment. The joys are amplified when shared, the burdens more bearable when carried together, and the responsibilities are more manageable when you don’t have to go it alone. And let’s be honest: it’s easier to follow through on commitments when there’s someone to remind you that flaking is not cool and we’re leaving in 18 minutes.
I believe marriage will refine us. When we enter into this covenant, we’re promising to bear with one another when we’re exhausted, to tell the truth when it feels vulnerable, to be patient when we have lost all patience, and to give and receive grace when we’re sure we’ve run out. We’re promising to be (imperfect) reminders of God’s unconditional love for one another.
All that to say: I sure am thankful I get to marry Amanda.