Everyone Invited to Attend Nuptials of Gay and Black CT Couple Deeply Bonded to Church – Hartford Courant

Reverend Darrell Goodwin and Kentavis “Kenny” Brice have 200 friends and family coming to their “black, gay” wedding at Asylum Hill Congregational, but they hope hundreds more will show up.

In the name of activism and affirmation, the faith-filled couple extended an invitation to the world to attend the October 29 nuptials.

“We decided to open our marriage to the public as an act of activism to interrupt the absence of images of black and gay love, and in particular of black and gay love in the context of faith,” said said Goodwin. “We also want to provide the community with the opportunity to support a wedding that we know will receive great negativity and criticism in our world.”

Those unable to make it to the 800-strong church in person will be able to watch the ceremony live, as the couple captured the world’s attention via social media, with guests interested in watching from Asia, D Africa and Europe. .

The wedding ceremony will take place at 3:15 p.m. The reception will be private due to space constraints.

The Reverend Erica Thompson, the church’s chief minister, who will give a welcome speech, said they had had black weddings and same-sex weddings, but this is the first ‘same-sex loving’ black wedding. “.

“I love the idea of ​​inviting the audience to witness in the experience of love and joy,” she said. “As two men of color, I think there are a lot of layers in their relationship that are positive. We need more of that in the world today.

Their romance began when the two met in the spring of 2019.

Goodwin was living in Nebraska to begin his role as associate conference minister and had reached out to community leaders about potential partnerships. Brice, a MixxedFit master educator, agreed to meet with him to possibly offer a gospel dance fitness class.

That night, the men closed the salon after a three-hour conversation and, according to a personal wedding website featuring their story, “Darrell boldly left asking Kentavis for a goodbye kiss, which he obliged to be given many times.”

Five months later, their friendship had turned into a romance.

In March 2020, they decided to quarantine together during the pandemic. It was during those countless hours spent together that their bond grew stronger.

In June 2021 in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Goodwin proposed to Brice in the most romantic way. There were sprinkled red roses and a sign in big white letters that said, “Will you marry me?”

Brice quickly said, “Yes.”

Brice said one of the most striking qualities he saw in Goodwin when they first became friends was his ability to connect with people and his love of people no matter what their circumstances.

“If he shares something, he’d give you the biggest chunk,” Brice said of Goodwin. “He is caring, inclusive, loving. I also love his million dollar smile.

Goodwin said he was inspired by faith, a sense of justice and commitment to Brice’s family.

“When we first met, Kenny made a commitment to travel with me to churches so I would be safe,” Goodwin said. “I was an openly gay black man in Nebraska.”

Goodwin said he and Brice realized that as black men they had few role models and images of black love, especially same-sex love.

Goodwin, 41, is the executive conference minister for the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ. Goodwin’s career involves working with staff to equip, serve and empower 615 churches in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Churches are open and affirm the LBGTQ community.

Brice, 31, statewide coordinator of foster care health clinics for the Department of Children and Families, said the message they want to send is: ” God loves you as you are.”

“We want to show love, inclusiveness,” Brice said. “It’s not something you see every day. What a blessing.”

The men, residents of Bloomfield, will wear black and gold suits and welcome guests from across the country, including their mothers and Goodwin’s grandmother, Roberta Harris, who lives with them.

“I’m so excited,” Harris, 86, said. “I can’t wait for this wedding to happen. I love my grandson, and now I have another grandson.”

When asked what she thought of the open invitation which could bring in hundreds of strangers, Harris replied, “I just hope they’re as excited as I am.”

Darrell Goodwin, left, is pictured with his fiancé Kentavis Brice and his grandmother, Roberta Harris, 86, who lives with the couple in their home in Bloomfield.  Harris is thrilled with the wedding and gaining another grandson for Brice.

Brice’s mother, Delisa Monroe, who will be traveling from Nebraska for the wedding, said she understands the pair want everyone to know how they feel about each other.

“Being a Christian myself, I like it when people speak out. I don’t think the world should influence them,” Monroe said. “I’m just excited because they’re going to do what they want to do.”

Goodwin’s mother, Brenda Lee Goodwin of Minnesota, said she was fine with the open invitation.

“I think if they want to speak out in these times of hate, that’s welcome,” she said. “They want to open their hearts to the world. I can’t wait until this day to see two become one and stay true to their beliefs.

Officiating at the wedding will be the Reverend Andrea Vassell, who is bishop-elect for worldwide ministries for the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries. Vassell, who Goodwin says is black and same-sex, is a former UCC pastor and close friend.

“When we choose to step out of the closeness of life, we allow others to do the same,” Vassell said. “Darrell and Kentavis do just that.”

Goodwin said when he and Brice posted their open wedding plans on Facebook, within 24 hours people from all over the world responded.

The post received 1,000 engagements and 700 comments.

Goodwin said 99% of feedback was positive. People said they were inspired, they became hopeful and they felt joy. They had so many requests to broadcast the ceremony that they decided to do so.

“We were touched that so many people were touched by us,” Goodwin said.

Goodwin said he has received hate messages before.

“We want to drown out these messages with the community coming forward and supporting us publicly and authentically,” he said.

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