It seems that once in a very great while, usually when we least expect it, the stars align, the planets tilt on their axes and the universe brings us something so special and so perfect that all we can do — all we should do — is bask in the joy of it.
Such was the case with Katie Morgan and Brooke Barnett who, after a year of orbiting each other around New York City, finally collided. Their chemistry was electric. The early spark of a relationship ignited all at once into a blaze of passion that swept both off their feet so completely that…Well, let’s start at the beginning.
Katie and Brooke first met in the East Village in 2005 when a mutual friend pulled together a small party for some close friends. Says Katie of the night, “I’ll never forget it. Brooke walked into the room and she was just…stunning. I thought she was so beautiful.”
As is so often the case in love stories, there was a snag: Katie, a somewhat more reserved woman, was entranced and intrigued by the lively and exuberant Brooke, but Brooke kept talking up her “boyfriend,” Quentin. Accepting that Brooke was straight, Katie swallowed her disappointment. She didn’t think on it until later on that night, after the party had moved on to the Starlight Lounge.
“She kept buying me drinks, even when she thought I was straight,” says Brooke with a smile. “When Katie sees something she wants, she goes right for it.”
“Everyone was talking about how cute Brooke was. I’m competitive, so I decided I had to go talk to her.” It was then revealed that Brooke’s boyfriend Quentin was actually her totally platonic gay guy friend Quentin, and the two started talking.
Both being Southern girls at heart, they struck up a conversation about the comforts of a Southern home — reminiscing especially on how much they both missed the gravy biscuits that are a staple of the Southern diet, but which you can’t really find in New York City, jokingly making plans to get together some day to indulge. Everything was going smoothly until the group decided to take to the dance floor.
“When I saw Brooke dance, it absolutely terrified me! She is a crazy dancer, and she had tons of confidence. I also found out then that she was nine years younger than me. Already in my early thirties at that point, I thought ‘it’s not going to happen’,“ Katie recalls.
The night ended and the women said their goodbyes and parted ways. Because they seemed at first like such different people at different stages in their lives, Katie wrote it off as a fun night, but didn’t expect anything more to come of it. She soon found out, however, that the universe had other plans.
Throughout the entire year that followed their first meeting, Brooke and Katie found themselves running into each other at random, sometimes just passing on the street and sometimes being brought together by friends.
“You know how someone can be on your mind after you meet them, but then you don’t really get to see them very often? I didn’t have her number, her email, I wasn’t her friend on MySpace, but every time we ran into each other, I would have this feeling of happiness. I’d get a little goofy and think about her for the next few weeks, but we wouldn’t run into each other again for months.”
Brooke, at 24 years old, was experiencing New York City as only a pretty girl in her 20s can. She was vivacious, hanging out at clubs and frequenting the dance floors of downtown Manhattan. Katie didn’t necessarily have it on her mind to settle down, but she felt herself thinking more seriously about finding a life partner. Their outward differences were enough to keep the cycle of run-ins from progressing, and before they knew it a whole year had gone by. There was even a time one night when a group of friends went back out to Starlight and then to a diner afterward. Brooke thought Katie was cute and interesting, so she made sure to sit next to her that night.
“A couple of drinks give you some confidence, so Katie just sitting there and I decided to run my hand up her leg. Katie, being the prude she is, just about choked on her pancakes. After that I thought she wasn’t interested, so I kind of gave up, too.”
Time continued to pass, but it wasn’t until tragedy struck that things changed for the pair. Katie’s father, Gordon, had passed away, and she had returned to her family to mourn the loss of a man who had been an incredibly strong, positive force in her life. He and Katie’s mother, Lynne, shared a union that was everything one would expect — loyalty, faithfulness, humor, sacrifice and always love. So when Katie returned to New York, it was with a clear image in her mind of what a marriage could and should be.
“After my father passed, our good friend, Anna, called me. I think she always knew we would be a good match. She said she was meeting a good friend from North Carolina and asked if I wanted to come along.” Unbeknownst to Katie, that friend was Brooke.
As Brooke remembers it, “I was working at a restaurant in TriBeCa at the time, and for some reason, when Anna told me Katie was going to be there, I got so excited. I spent all day bouncing around, saying, “Oh my god, I get to hang out with Katie! I can’t wait!” I didn’t know if I liked her, or if I just thought she was cool and I looked up to her. For some reason I was just really excited that she was going to be there.”
When they finally connected that night, the romantic tension between the two was so immediate and intense that it was almost too much for Katie to handle.
“You want to be in a relationship and you want someone to really see you and ‘get’ you and care about you, but then when you actually realize that there’s chemistry, all of a sudden you have to be real and intimate—I guess I wasn’t ready for it. I knew a relationship with Brooke would be the real thing, and that terrified me.”
Katie walked out that night with the knowledge that she was heading in a direction from which there would be no turning back, but things were rather different for Brooke. After receiving so many mixed messages over the last year, when Katie finally called her a month later, Brooke wasn’t completely sure about her intentions.
“I had decided that all of the waiting and seeing was getting to be ridiculous,” says Katie. “I just needed to get over my fears, call Brooke and ask her out.”
Brooke recruited two of her closest friends for a special reconnaissance mission to help her sort it out. “I told my two best friends, Mary Beth and Chrissy, that I didn’t know if this was a date or just a friendly get-together. I told them where we were going to be, and they showed up to spy on us.”
But Mary Beth and Chrissy had nothing to worry about. When Katie and Brooke finally found each other at the biker-filled dive bar they had chosen as their meeting spot, there was nothing holding them back.
Says Katie, “When we finally got there, I guess the stars were all aligned. It didn’t take long for me to put it all out there. I said, ‘I’m really into you and I’d like to go out with you.’ And that was it.”
From that point on the two women were inseparable. According to Katie, they were “insane about each other. And it kind of makes you think, were we crazy? Why did we just wait a whole year? What was it we couldn’t see?”
Katie and Brooke were together for five years when they decided it was time to tie the knot. As Brooke explains, “we had actually already planned to have our ceremony at our house in the Catskills and then go to Connecticut for the legal ceremony. Right after our wedding, New York passed the law and our plans changed so that we could get married here. We were actually the first same sex couple to get married in this area,” a fact pointed out in a July 24 New York Times article.
Katie continues, “We’re all about commitment and are very loyal. Our wedding was really to show people ‘Here are two women who are totally dedicated and totally in love with each other. ‘That was really important to us. We have a great group of people who love us and support us, and we wanted to share that with them. Everybody dreams about being recognized in their home state, but that really wasn’t our priority.”
Their wedding invitation, a letter overflowing with love for their family and friends, talks about, “two souls finding each other, choosing to make a lifelong commitment and then following through on that promise. Love is a gift, and you should never accept a gift unless you are fully prepared to nurture, protect, and care for it even in tough times. The unity between two people is ever changing, but those changes give you the opportunity to make the union stronger. Gay or straight, we’re all connected, we’re all souls and we’re all capable of love.”