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