A Glittering Gay Wedding

Monday, August 17, 1971. The city editor said: “Two guys are getting married and they want the world to know about it.” Photographer Vince Maggiora and I went to the ceremony at Glide Memorial Church on Ellis Street. My article appeared in the Chronicle the next day.

a gay wedding in san francisco

The article, as it appeared in the Chronicle.

From the back of the church, you could not tell that the bride, a figure of beauty swathed in a tower of white chiffon, was a man.

But it didn’t really matter.

“This is what we want for each other,” said Terry Black, the tuxedoed groom, minutes before the ceremony. He lit a cigarette and smiled. “I’ve never been happier in my life.”

Terry is 23. At 17, he mar­ried a Pasadena girl. Soon afterward he joined the Ma­rine Corps. He has a 4-year-old daughter.

“It didn’t work out. I was too young. I turned to the gay life about a year ago.” That was when he met Pat Montclaire, a 30-year-old female impersonator at the 181 Club, 181 Eddy street.

“I love Pat, it’s that simple. I think we can be as happy as any straight couple. To me she is a girl. She treats me like a husband.”

Their relationship bears little difference from any other couple. Pat plays the role of the wife. She cooks (“Man, can she cook! Gourmet foods all the time!”), does the housework and handles the finances.

Their new checks will read “Mr. and Mrs. Terry Black.”

“Next year they intend to file a joint income tax return — uncertain how it will be re­ceived. Terry works as a bartender.

“I’m going to open my own bar next year,” he said. “Then Pat can retire. She wants to open a boutique.” Terry’s best man, Mike, arrived to escort the groom to the altar. Mike, like the 14 ushers in the wedding party, is also gay. He does not reveal his last name because he works for the National Aeronautics and Space Ad­ministration.

Glide Memorial Church had been rented for the wedding.

The ceremony was elabo­rate. Nineteen bridesmaids —all men—took their places to the left of the altar. All were attired in homemade gowns of yellow, pink and blue.

The bride’s sisters, Marie, 10, and Debbie, 9, were flower girls. They knew the bride was their brother.

The Rev. Howard Wells of the Metropolitan Community Church faced the couple and performed his 20th gay “wed­ding ceremony.”

There is no marriage license. The marriage is not recognized as legal in California. But that is not important to Terry and Pat. For them it is an expression of love for each other. They are unques­tionably sincere in their feel­ings. That, to them, is what is important.

The couple exchanged vows. They placed rings on each other’s finger. They turned and faced each other. They kissed.

The bride wept.

Resounding applause filled the church as the newlyweds walked back up the aisle and into the street. They led the congregation to a reception at the 181 Club a block away and greeted all their guests at the door.

A Hawaiian honeymoon is planned but “not for awhile.” “The wedding set me back 3500 bucks,” said Terry. “I’m just a lousy bartender.”

“We’re just people,” said Bill Kruse, 31, one of the ush­ers. “We’re motivated by the same things everyone else is, whether it be home and hearth or a career in show business.”

He sipped his drink and set it down. “You can’t live alone,” he said. “Basically, we just want to be happy. You can accept it or reject it, it’s your choice.”