story by Amanda DeVlugt with her soon-to-be wife, Suzanne Szanyi | portrait photo by Lisa Cline Photography, snapshots courtesy of Amanda DeVlugt
It’s any normal day in August in Memphis: 100% humidity, weather reports a heat index of 101 degrees, oh, and the first-ever gay proposal on screen at the Orpheum is happening at exactly 6:40 p.m. With parents, family and friends in place, the clueless Suzie gets ready to head to the Orpheum Theater to watch the movie, Grease. Amanda has a different picture in mind. Slowly the two get ready with their closest girlfriends as the clock ticks closer to 6:40 p.m., the time the OrpheumTheatre in Memphis will announce a quick word from their sponsors. Unbeknownst to Suzie, that sponsor of the movie is Amanda, her gilfriend of three years who’s created a two-minute video (to Bruno Mars video Marry Me) to ask her hand in marriage.
Suzie says yes, the crowd goes wild, and by 6:43, Suzie and Amanda are a Memphis internet phenomenon, at least for an hour or so. The rest is history.
Hi I’m Amanda. (Suzie’s next to me, and she says Hi, too). Let’s rewind us to about three years ago. Our company (which ironically we both had been working for in separate cities) moved us down to Memphis. Neither of us expected to find love in the Bluff City. In fact, both of us were sad that Memphis was where work landed us– initially. Memphis, as we know, doesn’t have exactly the best reputation… and the gay scene? Forget it. Never even knew it was a thing here. I knew walking into Memphis that my chances of finding a soulmate, let alone acceptance from the community, was going to be slim. Afterall, the two of us spent most of our adult life living in the Washington D.C. area where it was practically weird if you weren’t gay. Anyway, I digress.
Suzie had been in Memphis about a year and had already learned about the Memphis LGBT community and all its glory. One of our first dates included Dru’s Thursday night drag show and obligatory karoake singing. She chose to sing Melissa Etheridge. Typical lesbian. I remember thinking to myself during those early nights with her… “Memphis is just like any other city…you just have to work a little more to find the fun.” And so the fun began for the two of us.
When we first came out to our ally friends at work, it was a simple, “Ok,… where is happy hour?” I was both nervous
and hesitant when I asked the Orpheum if I could propose to my girlfriend in front of the entire audience, but the response was “How exciting! We can’t wait to make this happen for you.”
The positive reactions were overwhelming to me. I had spent so much time in my head believing that people were never going to accept me, that I had created this protective barrier around myself from people that I thought would hurt me with their hate. However, time and time again the community seemed to surprise me with their outpouring of love. I’ve had no choice but to accept 901’s love right back.
And each and everyday, my beautiful wife-to-be shows me that same love. I’ve genuinely never wanted to spend so much time with another human being. A lot of our love for each is because number one, Suzie is so hot, and two, we’ve been honest with each other since the get-go.
This comes in handy when you’re trying to plan a wedding, let alone a lesbian wedding! Talk about two commanders and no army. I think for us, the biggest challenge we’ve faced planning a lesbian wedding in Memphis is just that: planning a lesbian wedding in Memphis. We are Peabody Hotel’s first lesbian wedding (did we mention we are getting married on the roof (yeah, we are pretty awesome. Lucky for us, we’ve worked with folks like Dianne from the Peabody Hotel and our DJ who have created such a great experience for us throughout this journey. All the nit-picking things like finding a dress (yes, I’m wearing a dress and no, it’s not white), choosing the food, and the honeymoon (!) havent been as tedious to do.
We were and still are attached at the hip. I mean, what can I say? I landed a real catch, and Suzie caught one, too. BTW, she didn’t say that quite like that, but I can’t write what she said in a magazine! We cant wait to continue the journey to the wedding and the journey in life together… because after all, Life Gets Better Together.