Kyle Pierce and Daryl Shorter first met at Rascals Bar & Grill in Houston one Saturday night in 2001.
When the DJ started playing house music, the two Chicago natives hit the dance floor and were soon gravitating toward each other.
“When I saw his moves, I knew he was from a place where house music was dearly loved,” Pierce recalls. “He was extremely attractive and magnetic. We danced with each other like we had been dancing together all our lives.”
They danced until 2 a.m. without speaking a word. Then they exchanged phone numbers as they exited the club, which led to a few dates.
But Shorter, now 41, was finishing his training at Baylor College of Medicine and was about to move to Ohio. Since they didn’t know each other well, they decided the timing was not ideal, and parted as friends.
Over the next eight years, they kept tabs on each other through mutual friends. When Shorter moved back to Houston, he had a boyfriend and Pierce was ending a long-term relationship. So again, the stars were not aligned. Finally, six years later, they ran into each other on Tinder.
When they got together a few days later, they discovered that their years apart had done very little to dampen their initial attraction and mutual respect for each other. But that first dinner date at Café Mezza almost didn’t happen, because Pierce was 30 minutes late.
“But he called ahead of time, apologized profusely, and practically begged me to stay at the restaurant,” Shorter says. “How could I not? He was treating.”
“I found our conversation amazing,” recalls Pierce, a 43-year-old feedstocks trader. “Even though 14 years had passed, it felt like a continuation rather than a new beginning.”
Shorter says Pierce is “smart and funny and a great conversationalist. But what made me want to be with him was that it was all so effortless,” he says.
Pierce says he knew after about a year of dating that Shorter was “the one.”
It was while attending a friend’s wedding, which was his first gay wedding, that Pierce’s feelings for Shorter crystallized. “That moment became my inspiration,” he says.
Pierce decided to propose to Shorter during a trip to New York City. After the Broadway show Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, they joined a group of friends (who were also Pierce’s co-conspirators) at a restaurant overlooking Times Square. After Pierce said a few words about how his life had changed because of Shorter, he got down on one knee while his friends held up four signs that formed the four-word sentence “Will you marry me?”
Unbeknownst to Pierce, Shorter already knew about this proposal scheme due to an errant text message, and had purchased a ring for Pierce as well. So when Pierce proposed, Shorter pulled out his ring and said, “Yes, but only if you’ll marry me back.”
As they were hugging, Shorter whispered into Pierce’s ear, “You’ll never be able to get one past me for the rest of your life!”
“We learned a lot about each other while planning our very elaborate wedding,” Pierce says. “It was the most stressful thing we had faced during our relationship.
“Not only did it take a year to plan our wedding, we did it while dealing with new jobs and adjusting to living together,” Shorter adds.
The grooms chose the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Houston as their wedding venue. “We loved the fact that it is a unique, rare, and beautiful place to have a wedding,” Pierce says. It also allowed them to have a Broadway-themed celebration with a full choir. They were married on the stage by their good friend Charlie Sanchez on May 27, 2018, surrounded by a large wedding party that actively participated. Some read original poems, one recited an excerpt from the Supreme Court’s Obergefell marriage-equality decision, and a “grooms-maid” did a call-and-response speech that got the audience into the ceremony.
“One of the best moments for me during our wedding was when we danced with our mothers to Patti Labelle’s ‘You Are My Friend,’” Pierce says.
“Anyone who knows me knows that my relationship with my dad, a Baptist minister, was certainly complicated by my coming out,” Shorter says. “During the reception, my father prayed over the food and blessed our union. People actually couldn’t believe it, including myself. It was a prime example of how we as LGBTQ+ folk have a journey, as do our friends and family. Where we start out may not be where we end up. This wouldn’t have been possible had I not come out, lived my truth, and kept the door open with my parents for the possibility of change in that relationship.”
The legendary Tommie Ross opened the wedding reception with a performance, and the Urban Souls Dance Company provided entertainment.
For their honeymoon, the grooms went on a safari in South Africa, where they toured Cape Town, Kruger National Park (where they saw all of the “Big Five” game animals), as well as Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Mauritius.
The newlyweds now live in Houston.
To watch video from their ceremony, visit TinyURL.com/PierceShorterWedding.
This article appears in the October 2018 edition of OutSmart magazine.