Sharon Ferranti and Amy Johnson met on November 15, 2016, at the Double Digit recovery meeting at Lambda Center in Houston.
Johnson, a registered dietitian and account manager at Sysco Corp., says she had seen Ferranti around and knew her name, but they had never officially met. Ten days later, they shared their first kiss.
“I was still in the closet when I met Sharon, and she was 14 years older than me,” says Johnson, a 43-year-old San Antonio native. “My gay guy-friend warned me about her before I was to meet her for coffee. He told me, ‘Be careful around the lesbians at Lambda. They tend to gossip a lot, and you can’t just be all casual about it because Sharon is a real lesbian.’ I remember thinking to myself, ‘Challenge accepted.’”
They had a typical “recovery” coffee date at Agora. “The whole time I thought she was really adorable, but I didn’t know if she was gay, so I didn’t know if it was actually a date,” says Ferranti, a 58-year-old Amarillo native. “But the longer we talked, the more I could tell she was sort of ‘extra’ happy about our meeting. I admit, I took a chance and flirted with her a bit. She didn’t seem to mind.”
The more time they spent together, the more the question, “Is Amy really gay?” began to scare them. There were even tears. They decided that no matter how scared they were, they were in love, and that was all that mattered.
Ferranti and Johnson say they’ve learned that the secret to their happiness is plenty of laughter and communication. “Don’t let one single thing linger if it’s bothering you,” Ferranti says. “Handle it now, and handle it truthfully.”
“The moment when I knew that Amy was the one for me was when I realized she loved my family as much as she loved me,” Ferranti says. “But it was when [Supreme Court] justice [Anthony] Kennedy retired that we realized that it’s a scary time in this country, and that we might lose the right to marry. So we decided to tie the knot sooner rather than later.”
“For me, I think it was when Sharon touched my knee with her knee during our first coffee date,” Johnson says. She remembers thinking to herself, “Wait a minute, something’s happening here.”
“But it was during a phone call from Sharon, just checking in to make sure everything was okay, that I knew I hadn’t felt that way with anyone else, ever,” she adds.
“Amy proposed to me,” Ferranti says, smiling. “It was during an ordinary evening when my 82-year-old mother, Dorothy, and my brother, Jay, were with us. Amy walked into the living room, turned off the television, got down on one knee, and said, ‘I’m in love with you; I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?’”
“She told me later that she wanted to propose to me with my family present because she knows that marrying me means marrying them, and because she wanted to make a family with me,” Ferranti adds.
They planned their wedding in just two months.
“We wanted to have full control over everything,” Johnson says, “and since we didn’t want to hassle with finding a venue, we decided to get married in the backyard of our Spring Branch home. Also, Sharon is an independent filmmaker, and her vision for our wedding was to have the ceremony at night because it would be beautiful. And it was.”
They were married on September 2, 2018, by their friend Dan Foreman and Reverend Lynette Ross. Foreman’s husband, Mike Svatt, was the flower person.
“It was a celebration of marriage equality as well as a celebration for us,” Ferranti says.
“The best part of the day was being with our joined families,” she adds. “My mother sat in the front row, my brother walked me down the aisle, Amy’s sisters were by her side, and family members that traveled from as far away as Minnesota attended.”
Holding hands, they told each other, “I vow to follow my heart, and to follow yours, because I trust my heart when it comes to you.”
The brides used Erasure’s “Sacred” as their entry procession music, and instead of rice, guests threw birdseed as the couple ran to Ferranti’s Jeep.
They used LGBTQ vendors including Alan Conover from Hue Salon, who styled their hair, and Julye Newlin Productions for photography and production.
The newlyweds honeymooned in Fredericksburg, where they hiked Enchanted Rock and indulged Johnson’s passion for all things World War II by staying at the Hangar Hotel, where they watched planes take off and land from the observation deck.
This article appears in the November 2018 edition of OutSmart magazine.