Diana and Li: A couple who participated in the WE DO Campaign in Winston-Salem, NC, at 3 p.m. on May 10, 2012.
Although they had been living barely 30 miles from each other in North Carolina for years, Li and Diana met in college…in Philadelphia! Di was working as a resident assistant checking in new students and Li was transferring. Diana recognized the accent immediately and was, admittedly, totally smitten. Their sporadic, but passionate, relationship lasted a few years but they eventually went their separate ways–though they still kept in touch. Twenty-seven years later, Di had an overwhelming urge to call Li.
Diana was a struggling single mother living in Massachusetts and Li (who is now in transition from female to male) had long returned to their homeland and had recently put an addition on his house for his mother who was recovering from a battle with non-Hodkins lymphoma. The first thing he said to her on the phone was, “When are you going to stop all this nonsense and come down here and marry me?” she replied, “Well, anything can happen, I am single now.”
They kept in touch on a fairly daily basis until December when Li flew up to visit for the first time. On New Year’s Eve, Li proposed again. Di tentatively accepted, although she was incredibly gun-shy after one divorce and still reeling from being left on the way to the altar in the Spring of 2009. But Li persisted. He kept saying she’d come around.
Even on limited financial means, they made sure they saw each other for at least a week every month although they lived 900 miles apart. There was another proposal in a card. And then there was a ring. A beautiful Claddagh to celebrate Li’s Scottish heritage and Di’s love of all things Celtic (and a bit of the Welsh in her). Diana drove him crazy with her cold feet and wishy-washy ways. But, in July, they packed up all of her belongings and began the caravan from Massachusetts to her new home in North Carolina. She wasn’t ready to live together yet, preferring instead to continue concentrating on her son, a new job, making friends, and spending time close to her family for the first time in 30 years.
Diana had known since that first call in September that Li was battling thyroid cancer. In August, after she moved, Li got financial assistance to have surgery. During the surgery, his doctor called Di from the OR. The cancer had spread and he wanted permission to take both lobes and all but one parathyroid. It was then that Di knew she didn’t want to lose him. In October of 2011, Diana and Li were married in a huge celebration of love and commitment in front of more than 85 of their closest friends and family members. The ceremony took place at their church, with a bridal party of 13, and was made up of all of the wonderful old Gaelic traditions. A bagpiper preceded Diana down the aisle, escorted by her father and her son, their pastor celebrated a Samhain tradition with a knotted rope for them to bury later on, they exchanged traditional Handfasting vows, and Di’s son and Li poured different colored sand into one jar signifying their own unity in the ceremony. A beautiful and moving reception was held at the Visitors Center at Old Salem and they received a standing ovation when Li incited the guests to “riotous celebration in honor of our act of civil disobedience.”
They had a beautiful and restful honeymoon in the mountains of Tennessee and are now in the process of moving into one home as a family of four (six, if you count the dog and cat). They are committed to continued acts of peaceful protest, radical love, and justice. And when the time comes that Li’s driver’s license is presented to the clerk at the Registry of Deeds as “male,” they will deny that marriage license until every other couple in the state of North Carolina can be equally served under the law. As Diana is fond of saying, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
- Diana and Li