Taking a chance on same-sex attraction ends in always-and-forever I do’s.
Jamiel Maze had never dated or been attracted to women before. That’s when she met Rachel at an end-of-year bowling party. “Jamiel randomly came up to me and challenged me to a game,” says Rachel, Jamiel’s new wife. “The entire competition seemed like flirting, but I couldn’t be sure.”
Jamiel had been attracted to Rachel for about a year before the bowling alley meeting. The two women became friends on Facebook first, and then through chatting, opened up about their mutual attraction.
Their first date was “effortless and natural,” according to Jamiel. They went to a local market in St. Petersburg and talked on the pier. Rachel thought it was adorable how Jamiel is afraid of lizards, and spent the date trying not to freak out when one would cross their path.
There was no particular moment that made the two women want to get married. “I realized we could be a strong, beautiful and loving family,” said Jamiel. She was a little worried about coming out to her friends and family about their relationship and planned marriage, but had truly fallen in love with Rachel. “I know it’s hard to avoid labeling people,” she says, “but I wanted my children to fully understand the pure love we had and the lack of need for any type of label.”
Jamiel and Rachel decided to get matching engagement tattoos on their ring fingers. To them, it’s a subtle, yet powerful, reminder of the love and bond that they will share for the rest of their lives. Since the women are “older,” they didn’t want to get too caught up in the details of wedding planning. “We wanted something that felt special and whimsical, but also intimate and focused more on our new life together,” says Jamiel. They decided to get married on the beach. They gathered the talents of their varied friends and family members for the big day.
The wedding was magical for them. “I always felt it was cliché when people say things about how intense they feel when the bride walks down the aisle,” says Rachel. “But, my God, was she beautiful. The moment I saw Jamiel I completely stopped talking and all I could do was watch her. During the ceremony the rest of the world went away and it was just her and Ime” Jamiel agrees. “Right before it was time to start, I was getting jittery. My best friend Jason, who was my best man, calmed me so easily. As much as I yield his every advice, I can’t recall his words, but I remember feeling comforted by his lifetime of support.”
Jamiel and Rachel have both embraced marriage. “Being with Rachel is like having a permanent best friend,” says Jamiel. “She is always there to celebrate my successes and help me through my failures. Rachel was pretty selfless before we were married, but since we’ve said ‘I do,’ she has truly lived up to her commitment. Rachel feels similarly. “Our bond was already strong before getting married, but it has been enhanced. We don’t always see things the same way, but at the end of the day, we love each other and go to bed embracing that love.”