By Henry V. Thiel
Photos by Dalton DeHart
One passion that Bill Dunseth and Michael Shallis share is sports—both playing and watching. “As fate would have it,” says Michael with a big smile, “Bill’s softball team was putting on a kickball tournament, and my football team decided to participate. Bill was one of the home-plate umpires, so I gave him a hard time regarding the rules I was purposely not following as a way of flirting with him. He didn’t realize what I was doing, so his first impression of me was that I’m a jerk who complains and argues about everything,” he adds with a laugh.
Bill must have changed his mind rather fast, because the two started dating soon after. Two months later they became exclusive and moved in together, and five months later they purchased rings! To say it was a whirlwind romance would be an understatement.
“The truth is that neither one of us had thought Texas would legalize gay marriage in the near future,” says Bill, “let alone as quickly as it passed last year.” Bill and I never had any resentment about not being married, because we felt our relationship was just as strong as those who had a piece of paper legalizing it. But once the law had passed, we were receiving phone calls, emails, and messages asking when we were going to get married. Being half-embarrassed and more than half-stubborn, we had decided that we’d get married when we were ready, rather than because we [were suddenly] able to do so.
“So a few months went by without either of us bringing up the subject,” shares Bill. “Then one Saturday afternoon while we were sitting on the couch watching a game, out of the blue we start talking about it—as casually as if we were figuring out what we wanted for dinner. I remember the discussion going something like this:
Bill: So, do you think we should go ahead and get married?
Michael: Yeah, I guess it’s about time we figured out what we’re going to do.
Bill: Any thoughts?
Michael: Well, to be honest, I’d really want to have it all done before my next semester starts. I don’t want to stress out about the wedding while taking Anatomy and Physiology II. [Michael is studying physical therapy at HCC’s health-sciences college.] Bill: Good point. Well, I guess we better start by picking a date.
They were married two months later.
Together they decided to have a private wedding ceremony on January 7, 2016, officiated by their friend Judge Jerry Simoneaux in his office, with Michael’s mother and sister as their witnesses.
Two days later, they hosted their wedding-reception dinner for their friends and family at Villa Capri in Seabrook. “It’s one of our favorite Italian restaurants,” adds Bill.
“Plus, we know the owner, who is also gay, and we both love the view. It’s right on the water,” says Michael.
In planning the wedding, Bill and Michael didn’t have any family traditions they wanted to include, so Michael tried to start a new one. “Since the Houston Texans home playoff game wasn’t decided until the week of our wedding, I was very displeased that it was scheduled to still be playing two hours into our reception. I am a very passionate Texans fan, as are many of our friends and family whom we invited. Some of my friends already had tickets to the game, and had given them away. So, long story short, I hooked up a 46-inch TV in the main dining room for anyone who wanted to catch the rest of the game. It was a blowout, so I turned off the game, plugged in a jump drive loaded with photos of Bill and me, and had the slide show playing throughout the evening.”
For their honeymoon, Bill and Michael went to Palm Beach, Orlando, and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, where they visited with close friends who weren’t able to attend their wedding.
“It was a terrific way to conclude our wedding experience and start our life together as a married couple,” beams Michael.
Henry V. Thiel is a principal with The Epicurean Publicist.