By Jojo Laurentson and Rien Duplessis | Photos Courtesy Eleyce Herrington
This is a story – a story of two people who met across an online dating app and fell in love – a story of their happily ever after, and what came after. Meet Travis and Mikie, the first gay couple legally married in Montgomery County, Tennessee after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in 2015.
They met through one of the more prominent dating apps, PlentyOfFish™, in late 2014 after Travis had returned home from his service in the military. With the natural progression in their relationship, they moved in together. To the outside world, they were “roommates,” because Mikie and Travis had come out to very few people. But behind those doors, they were falling very much in love with one another.
Wanting to live simple, quiet lives, Travis began working in the banking industry. Mikie took on a part-time job at the fabric and crafts store, JOANN, and began building custom made wooden furniture on the side. In time, this side hobby became a small business and the two men now own a fixer-upper home and are spending their days upgrading and designing it to fit their true tastes and interests. When they are not at home working on projects, they enjoy outdoor activities – hiking, camping, kayaking – and spend many weekends on outdoor getaways.
Mikie proposed to Travis in a parking area outside the Tennessee Performing Arts Center before a Bianca Del Rio comedy show. While Travis was napping in the car before the show, Mikie placed the ring on the dashboard of their car. When Travis woke up to find the ring, Mikie popped the question. They decided to get married on June 26th, 2015, the very day same-sex marriage became legal in Clarksville, thus becoming the first gay couple to be legally married in Montgomery County.
What happened after “happily ever after” makes their story even more impactful.
Although the agreement to allow the legalization of same-sex marriage was a great accomplishment by the Supreme Court, not everyone was in support of this change. After the publication of an article that highlighted their marriage, Travis and Mikie were met with a fair amount of backlash, especially from a few “online trolls”. Travis continues to be met with judgment when correcting people who assume he is married to a woman by explaining that the wedding band he wears is to express the bond he has with his husband. Despite politely correcting them, he is frequently given strange looks and individuals sometimes walk away without saying another word.
Regardless of the judgment, Mikie’s encouragement has helped Travis to live his life more as an open-advocate and an openly married gay man. They are heavily involved with Clarksville Chive, a local chapter of the larger Chive charity. The local chapter is a philanthropic organization that holds several fundraisers each year and participates in various social events, all to support and assist veterans and those with special needs, as well as the first responders in the area. Thousands of individuals have been assisted by the charity while Travis and Mikie have found a network of support in the online and in-person friendships that have developed. They readily offer their friendship to others who may not have a support group of their own. They know what it is like to be left out.
When asked if there is any advice they could to give LGBT+ couples who want to come out to their families and friends, Travis explains that you should do so with confidence, “Just remember, not everyone’s stories are the same. You see all the negative coming out videos on social media and crazy stories on Facebook. Your parents love you no matter what and sometimes they know before you ever even tell them. I would suggest that you make sure the person you are with is who you want to share your life with. Your engagement should be about the happiness of you and your partner, NOT about the reactions of others. This is your moment to shine so make it as memorable as you can!”