By Kevin Assam
Rob Tigue and David Perry splashed down at the other edge of the world to renew their vows. Amid a period of scuttled weddings and ceremonies everywhere, the couple managed to start their newest chapter with lyrics, an intimate seaside gathering, and even an appearance by Key West’s mayor.
(A conversation with Rob Tigue)
How did you both meet?
Our paths crossed three times over five years. The first was at a singing competition that I won. The second was after my father passed suddenly. David was branch manager of our credit union. As we wept in his office, he helped us sort out accounts. He was so warm and caring. The final time, we both [auditioned] for a musical and landed roles. The months of working together made us form a wonderful friendship, which turned into love.
Where did all this unfold?
Kingston, New York. About 100 miles north of NYC. The contest was at the Holiday Inn. David’s bank Mid-Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union. And the show, Godspell, at Coach House Players.
How did the proposal go down?
We had been together nine years and the governor of New York passed a parody law. If you were married legally in any other state, New York would recognize it. As soon as we heard, we decided that we were going to Stockbridge, Massachusetts and make something that we never imagined would happen in our lifetime a reality. It was huge — coming to terms with our sexuality in the 80s during the hatred of the community because of the AIDS crisis and hiding our lives from co-workers and family for so many years.
The proposal to renew came from me. So much went down during the covid shutdown. My mother broke her hip on Mother’s Day and had two strokes the day after surgery. David had to deal with my emotional rollercoaster of not being by her side. All the while he was working 12 hour days from home trying to keep the [credit union] world. Plus, having my mother stay with us for three weeks as people were coming in and out for therapy. He never showed annoyance. He made my mother and my family feel so welcome. It made me see again what a wonderful person he is. When we saw that we could get to Key West, I asked if he would renew vows on the beach. The first night, I shocked him after dinner. I had a diamond ring made for him to wear with his wedding band and sang a small part of You’re My Best Friend before asking him for another 25 [years].
Why was it so important to come to Key West?
Our renewal on our 25th anniversary was going to be a celebration in Italy or Greece. Covid did not allow that. We decided that Key West is now our home away from home, and since cases [there] were low, we would go to a place we love, spend time with people we love, and celebrate there. We have been going to Key West for 16 years now.
Did you have any reservations at the time about traveling during the pandemic?
We had just applied for passports in the beginning of February and were in the planning stages. Discussing with people who had traveled to Italy and Greece where they recommended and doing internet searches and plotting our must sees. We realized in March, when it all started hitting the fan, that we would not be able to travel abroad this year. Passports finally arrived late July. We spent $400.00 for them through USPS. We are not sure when we will be using them. At least the pictures came out good. We initially were disappointed, but felt as long as we were healthy, it didn’t matter where we celebrated.
Was it difficult coordinating your event in Key West?
It was made extremely easy for us. Our Key West bestie, Maya Montana, went out of his way to make sure all would be perfect. He reached out to Mayor Teri Johnston to see if she would consider doing our ceremony.
What did it mean to have one of the country’s openly lesbian mayors conduct your ceremony?
To have a LGBTQ trailblazer agree to be part of our day was such an honor. Finding out she has been with her partner for 37 years amazed us. She had been so busy trying to keep covid numbers down, and this was shortly after she ran for re-election. We thought it was a long shot.
What’s your next major plan once the pandemic subsides?
Getting our trip to Europe planned and booked so we can use those currently useless passports we just got!
Photos courtesy Maya Montana