‘He helps me un­wind, and I help him wind up’

The Washington Post Sunday - - ON LOVE - BY ME­GAN MCDONOUGH me­gan.mcdonough@wash­post.com

The say­ing “third time’s the charm” rings true for Glenn Hen­nessey and Steve Kogut.

The pair first met at a mu­tual friend’s cock­tail party in down­town Washington in the late 1990s. They be­came friendly ac­quain­tances but noth­ing more, as both were dat­ing other peo­ple.

More than a decade later, in Jan­uary 2010, Steve stum­bled upon Glenn’s pro­file on Match.com and mes­saged him. “I was smit­ten,” says Steve, an or­gan­ist and Fair­fax County mu­sic teacher. “His photos were art­ful and his writ­ing smart, elo­quent with­out be­ing cliche — the to­tal pack­age.” Glenn had just re­cently ended a re­la­tion­ship and was vis­it­ing his home town in Min­nesota when he saw Steve’s note. He was elated.

“Not to be shal­low, but he was very good-look­ing,” re­calls Glenn, a 54-year-old graphic de­signer and di­rec­tor of mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions at the So­ci­ety of the Cincinnati at An­der­son House. “I liked how well spo­ken he was. Se­ri­ous, but with a good sense of hu­mor.”

They ex­changed a steady stream of-e-mails and made plans to re­unite once Glenn was back in Washington. But then two his­toric snow storms hit the area in early Fe­bru­ary and their plans were dis­rupted.

For Steve, Fe­bru­ary was al­ready a busy school month, and the snow only fur­ther com­pli­cated his sched­ule. Dis­tracted with work, he let the ball drop and left Glenn’s last mes­sage unan­swered.

Glenn, still hope­ful for a meet­ing, planned to make a last-ditch ef­fort to meet up, but then his el­derly grey­hound died and he was heart­bro­ken.

But as luck would have it, five months later, they were re­united at a D.C. Pride post-pa­rade party, only two blocks from where they first met. “I saw him across a crowded room . . . and was like, ‘Oh, my God. There he is!’ ” re­calls Steve, 52. “I felt like I was in ju­nior high again.”

He walked right up to Glenn, who im­me­di­ately called him out on his ghost­ing. “At the time, I prob­a­bly had my hands on my hips,” Glenn says with a laugh. Red-faced and apolo­getic, Steve per­suaded Glenn to give him another chance.

A week later, the two went on their first date, tak­ing in an ex­hi­bi­tion of mid-cen­tury de­sign, watch­ing the 1959 Joan Craw­ford film “The Best of Ev­ery­thing” and din­ing at Café L’En­fant in Adams Mor­gan. “It doesn’t get any gayer than that,” Glenn says, chuck­ling.

It was clear to both of them right away that they had some­thing spe­cial. “The talk­ing was easy, and there was a ton of chem­istry,” Steve says. “With­out sound­ing like some young, naive per­son — be­cause we weren’t young, nor naive— I knew from that point he was the one.”

They quickly bonded over sim­i­lar up­bring­ings and shared val­ues and goals. They both grew up in large fam­i­lies, en­joy gar­den­ing and work in the cre­ative arts.

“Steve brings great strength and or­der to our re­la­tion­ship and our home, and I bring a cre­ative and vis­ual energy,” Glenn says. “The fit was in­stant.” Steve adds: “He helps me un­wind, and I help him wind up.”

Soon, Steve in­tro­duced Glenn to his par­ents, and he felt right at home. “All of his fam­ily has been so wel­com­ing to me, and, grow­ing up a gay man, you don’t al­ways pre­sume that ac­cep­tance,” Glenn says.

That De­cem­ber, Steve in­tro­duced Glenn to his fam­ily in Min­nesota, and they cel­e­brated their first white Christ­mas to­gether. “In our orig­i­nal e-mail ex­change, he talked about vis­it­ing White Bear Lake. Af­ter that, I tried Googling it and imag­in­ing it,” Steve re­calls. Lit­tle did he know that a year later they would be vis­it­ing the lake to­gether. “It was mag­i­cal,” he says.

Af­ter a year of dat­ing, Glenn moved into Steve’s house in Ar­ling­ton. “I gave up 30 years of be­ing a Wash­ing­to­nian to move for him,” Glenn says, smil­ing. The two com­bined house­holds and are now par­ents to a minia­ture schnau­zer named Mad­die and a Span­ish grey­hound named Is­abel.

The two had dis­cussed mar­riage but didn’t de­ter­mine who would do the ask­ing. “We were wait­ing for the other per­son to blink,” says Steve, who de­cided to take the ini­tia­tive, plan­ning a pro­posal and buy­ing a ring. “Any­time I had a chance and was hold­ing his hand, I was try­ing to look and see what size [his fin­ger] was,” he re­calls.

In De­cem­ber 2014, the two rented a cabin in Lost River State Park, W.Va., for a quiet get­away. Glenn, an avid Scrabble player, no­ticed that Steve had placed a pa­per grid over the board and that cer­tain squares were high-lighted in dif­fer­ent col­ors. They matched col­ored tiles in­side and formed the sen­tence “Glenn, will you marryme?” He said yes.

A week be­fore their wed­ding, the U.S. Supreme Court af­firmed same-sex mar­riage as a con­sti­tu­tional right. The two heard the news on their way to work and cel­e­brated in the car.

“I came out when I was 18 ... and thought, I will never be mar­ried,” Glenn says. “It felt like [the Supreme Court de­ci­sion] was partly for us, part of our week-long wed­ding party.”

On July 3, they were mar­ried at the his­toric An­der­son House in Washington, with the cou­ple’s close friend Gregg Lar­son of­fi­ci­at­ing. The115 guests were ser­e­naded by a brass ensem­ble, and their dec­o­ra­tions in­cor­po­rated old fam­ily photos.

Dur­ing the cer­e­mony, one of their close friends, Gre­gory Barnard, pro­vided a fun read­ing on mar­riage to lighten the mood. It ended up be­ing the lyrics to Aretha Franklin’s hit song “Re­spect.” Yes, he even did the “sock it to me’s.”

He added that Supreme Court Jus­tice An­tonin Scalia, who called the mar­riage de­ci­sion “a threat to Amer­i­can democ­racy” in his dis­sent, “sent his re­grets.”

The of­fi­ciant re­flected on the serendip­i­tous tim­ing of the union. “I don’t think Glenn and Steve could have timed this cer­e­mony any bet­ter,” Lar­son said. “Love is the law.”

Con­clud­ing the cer­e­mony, he said: “By the au­thor­ity vested in me by the Con­sti­tu­tion and the laws of the United States, I’m hon­ored to pro­nounce you mar­ried.”

“You don’t know what it feels like un­til it hap­pens,” Glenn said days be­fore the wed­ding. “Never inmy life­time did I think that this would be­come a Supreme Court is­sue or so as­sim­i­lated in our life­time. It’s an amaz­ing gift.”

PHOTOS BY KEVIN ALLEN

Glenn Hen­nessey, left, and Steve Kogut were mar­ried at the his­toric An­der­son House in the Dis­trict on July 3, a week af­ter the Supreme Court’s land­mark rul­ing af­firm­ing gay cou­ples’ right to marry. For the spe­cial oc­cas­sion, Steve brought his vintage 1931 Pon­tiac.

The cou­ple’s wed­ding dec­o­ra­tions in­cluded col­or­ful flo­ral ar­range­ments and in­cor­po­rated old fam­ily photos. A close friend of­fi­ci­ated the cer­e­mony, and a brass band ser­e­naded the 115 guests.

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