The rain didn’t hinder the festivities of last weekend’s Stonewall Summer Pride, including the spirits of the Luminary Couples of South Florida. A group of LGBT couples who have been together for 10 years or more, from the float they waved to the crowd and showed the community their long-time loves. Times have changed since many of them fell in love, and for the better.
“When I see young people out there today, I want them to at some point stop and look and see how hard it was to get to the point where there's any acceptance at all today,” said Mary Maguire, one of the Luminary Couples.
Below are three of their stories.
Dr. Bob Collier and Chuck Hunziker
Together for 51 years
It was the Fourth of July in 1963 when Chuck Hunziker spotted a “beautiful man” sitting on a tiny towel at Jacob Riis Park beach, a gay beach in Queens, that their love story began. He invited that man, Dr. Bob Collier, to sit with him and a friend on a larger towel and eventually asked him out to dinner at a romantic garden restaurant in Greenwich Village. A month later, they moved in together and are still a couple to this day.
“It was love at first sight,” Hunziker, 82, said of his husband, whom he married in July 2013.
They seemed to be completely different. Hunziker was a Broadway dancer from New Jersey and Collier, 79, graduated from high school in Maine at 16 to head off to Cornell to become a doctor. Collier had never dated men before Hunziker.
However, they were similar in many ways too. The two had both served in the military — Collier a captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps with the Special Forces during the Vietnam War. Hunziker enlisted in the Navy in 1952 during the Korean War, where he contracted tuberculosis. He spent 18 months in Naval and VA hospitals and had part of his lung removed, ending his dance career. He went to college on the GI Bill and worked for Mobil Oil Corp for 25 years while Collier worked in occupational medicine as vice president and medical director at MetLife.
“I worried every morning going to work if I would have a job,” Hunziker says of working in the early days.
Together, the couple lived in New York and New Jersey, enjoying the art scene, theater, and traveling. Upon retirement, they moved to Weston in 1997, then to Fort Lauderdale in 2000. In their 51 years together, they’ve enjoyed living in 15 different homes, many requiring major renovation and landscaping — Hunziker said they’ve loved each one, but their current home will be their last.
The two registered as domestic partners as soon as it was available in Broward County. On July 15, 2013, just after their 50th wedding anniversary, they were legally married in New York City.
“Our engagement of 50 years together was long enough,” Collier laughed.
The two have been involved in a number of LGBT organizations, including the Pride Center, Gay American Heroes Foundation and Tuesday’s Angels. Also, they are one of eight plaintiff couples in the ACLU federal lawsuit to end Florida's refusal to recognize marriages of same-sex couples performed legally in another state.
Mary Maguire and Jackie Emmett
Together for 52 years
It was in 1962 that two women met the loves of their lives — in Navy boot camp.
When Mary Maguire, 70, of Long Island arrived at her room in Great Lakes, she saw her roommate, Jackie Emmett,74, of Puerto Rico — a petite woman who kept everything very neat, and was just as nice. While they hit it off, it wasn’t for another year that they actually started dating and it would be half a century before they would be out in the open.
“It’s hard to be a woman in the Navy, let alone a gay woman in the Navy,” Maguire said. “We kept our private life very private.”
Together for three years, Emmett wound up moving to California to marry another sailor, a man, to please her parents. Maguire says she was “heartbroken,” and knew the woman she loved was doing it for all the wrong reasons. However, it all worked out.
“She wasn’t gone 30 days,” Maguire said.
Maguire started working for FedEx, and the couple moved around the country whenever she was transferred to another office. For the next 50 years, the women were always together but never acknowledged to others that they were in a relationship. Emmett’s family knew, but no one ever said anything. Maguire’s family was not supportive and cut her out of the will. Her brother said she could come to his wedding, but only if Emmett didn’t come. Maguire skipped it.
However, for their 50th anniversary in 2012, they came out. Maguire took the love of her life on an Olivia cruise, where they were shocked by all the open lesbians.
“It was really kind of an eye opener for us because we had never been around that many gay people or that many gay women. They were very open and out, and it was quite an experience because we were a little uncomfortable because we weren’t used to it,” Maguire said.
Then, with the encouragement of a niece, the two went up to New Hampshire the next year and were legally married — Maguire’s brother was there as well.
“Jackie was saying, we really don’t need to get married, we’ve been together for 50 years,” Maguire said. “We don’t need somebody else’s approval for us to know that our being together was the right thing to do.”
Father Lawrence J. Turner and Father John Joseph Reid
Together for 41 years
John Joseph Reid was sitting in a 12-step recovery meeting in Boston in March 1973 when another man in the group caught his eye — Lawrence J. Turner.
A week later they became a couple, having learned more about each other as people and realizing how much they had in common — the two were gay, loved the Catholic Church, and yearned to be priests, something they thought they could never do.
“We wouldn’t become priests in the Roman Catholic Church because we knew we were gay and we didn’t want to lie,” Reid said of their struggle. “We didn’t want to live a life of deceit.”
Instead, Reid worked as a clinical psychologist and Turner a union electrician. As the decades passed, the two men “dated” in the way most people did at the time, passing each other off as friends and then roommates.
“Forty-one years ago whether you lived in Boston or whether you lived in New York it was oppression. It was the love that you dare not speak its name,” he said.
Eventually, the couple came out to their parents, who are now supportive of their relationship. In 1997, the two moved to Florida and discovered the American New Catholic Church, where women were priests, people could remarry after divorce, and where they could fulfill their spiritual dreams. Reid was ordained as a priest and Turner followed in his footsteps a few years later. Today, they are a part of the Divine Mercy Chapel in Wilton Manors.
“[It’s] freedom to be who God created us to be. Freedom to be able to be with other people, straight, gay,” Reid said. “This is the church of the future and we want to be part of it.”
Then in 2004, their lives were complete when Massachusetts was the first state to legalize gay marriage and the priests exchanged vows.
“The [Roman Catholic] church told us to marry our own kind. I listened to what my mother and the church said and I married my own kind,” Reid joked. “God is love and god put us together.”
However, back home in Florida, their marriage is not recognized and instead they are treated as “second-class citizens,” Reid said. They two are anxiously awaiting the results of the ACLU taking the state to court on same-sex marriage on July 2.