Two black American lesbian pastors, Twanna Gause and Vanessa Brown, have married each other. They tied the knot on August 24th at the New Vision Full Gospel Baptist Church in East Orange, New Jersey.
Ms. Brown, 46, and Ms. Gause, 45, both pastors of Rivers of Living Water United Church of Christ, which has locations in Newark and New York, met as choir girls at a church in Jersey City.
Ms Gause recalled the moment they met. She was 16 then.
She said: “I was like, ‘Oh wow, what in the world, who’s that, she’s beautiful’. I immediately felt this kind of strange, warm feeling wash over me, and though I had not yet spoken a word to her, I could see myself loving this woman forever. My head was just spinning.”
Ms. Brown, then 18 and living in New York, was not struck by the same thunderbolt.
“I was oblivious as to how Twanna was feeling,” Ms. Brown said. “I looked at her as this adorable, skinny little girl who I initially thought was so much younger than me, and I had no idea that she liked me in any way other than as a friend.”
Ms. Gause, who said she was hoping for a connection, was crushed.
“Though it broke my heart, I never said a word about my true feelings for Vanessa because I didn’t want it to hurt our friendship,” she said. “And I never said a word to my father because he was so strict, I knew he wouldn’t understand.”
Both grew up in religious families — “We didn’t hang on street corners, go to clubs or do drugs, none of that,” Ms. Gause said. But they spent time together at events sponsored by the Hiya Fellowship of the Saviour Church in Jersey City and at LaGree Baptist Church in Harlem, which were linked through a minister who served both congregations.
Their friendship continued to blossom until the day in 1990 when Ms. Gause called Ms. Brown to say that her father was moving the family to Atlanta.
“I was devastated,” Ms. Brown said. “Twanna had become my best friend in the whole world, I didn’t know what I would do without her.”
They kept in touch, and Ms. Gause moved back to Paterson in 1994, and became engaged to a man there, breaking it off in less than a year and returning to Atlanta, where she toured with a gospel choir and worked as a cosmetologist.