My Big Phat Same-Sex Prison Wedding
Commentary, Dawn Davis II
Mar 06, 2010
I was wearing my orange jumpsuit with black tennis shoes on my wedding day. And I was not able to kiss my wife.
I remember our wedding day like it was yesterday. The jail staff told me this was the first time a same-sex marriage happened at San Francisco County Jail. I was so scared and nervous.
The notary lady from the bail bonds across the street from the jail came and I signed the marriage license papers in front of her. My wife-to-be Shayonna wasn’t allowed upstairs, so we signed it separately.
After that a guard took me into this little room were Shayonna was waiting. When I walked in I smiled. She looked so pretty. Her hair was in this little cute bun with a ponytail. She had in braids and little spikes coming out of the bun. She was wearing a sliver skirt with a champagne colored shirt and orange shoes. The only thing I could do special was my hair—I put a little ponytail at the top of my single braids.
We said our vows and I cried like a big baby because I couldn’t believe I was really getting married to this beautiful woman and the crazy party was that she wanted me for a lifetime just as much as I wanted her.
We both said “I do” and then we took a picture. We were about to touch each other but the guard said we couldn’t touch. That hurt my feelings real bad.
It was very hard for me to say “I do” and not kiss the love of my life. She had to walk out first and then they let me walk out and I was walking down the walkway singing “Ready for love” by India Arie.
I proposed to Shayonna soon after I landed in jail. I said “You want to marry me? I’m very much in love with you. I can see myself with you forever. I feel I can be a better person with you because when I’m around you I am better. I don’t smoke as much weed and I don’t have the need to do powder.”
Finally I told her “now is a good time for us to get married, because we might not be able to get married when I get out of jail because same sex marriage might not be allowed in California anymore.” She said yes.
I started to research what it took to get married. I had to put in an action request and I gave it to the deputy of the day. Then Shayonna called a pastor. The pastor said that he would marry us, so she set a date. But when I called her the next day she was upset because the pastor thought I was a male, and when he found out I wasn’t he said that he couldn’t marry us. I stared crying because I really wanted to get married to this woman and so we looked for another pastor.
Shayonna finally found a pastor for us but she went through hell because I was on her everyday, asking when we were going to get married. She finally told me the date- August 19, 2008.
After we were married, everybody, both the guards and the inmates, were like “oh congratulation DD!” “Thank you I'm so happy I replied to everybody then I said out aloud “I’m married!” and then I went to my bunk and cried myself to sleep because I was hecka sad that I wasn’t able to touch her or kiss her. I was so disappointed because I had friends who got married to the opposite sex in the same county jail, and they had been allowed to kiss, so we all assumed that the same thing would go for us.
My auntie Nancy (who was my bunkie in jail) woke me up and said “you’re married girl! I said “yeah, yeah” because I was so sad. I just went back to sleep.
The next day all my friends in county jail gave me a little wedding reception during free time. They made me a cake out of honey buns with snickers melted on it. Then they made some burritos with noodles and chicken. Then they made me a spread, which has beef jerky sticks with chesses puffs and club crackers. We bought most of the food from the canteen, but saved the chicken pieces from our trays the night before. Then they made me a card that everybody in the whole D-pod signed. Then this lady I call my jail mom give me a $10.00 phone card.
I met my wife in front of my house April 2008. I remember it as if it was yesterday. My hair was freshly braided and I was showing my Godbrother my new hair lining. I saw a pretty dark-skinned purple and black haired girl sitting in a car right by the house with another girl I knew from the neighborhood named Dom. Dom works as a prostitute so I thought this girl did the same thing, but I still wanted to meet her.
Later, I found out her real name was Shayonna, and that she worked as a certified nurse assistant- she wasn’t involved in the street life.
At this time I was making fast money selling large quantities of dope (crack). I was also doing powder (cocaine). My grandmother suspected I was gay and had kicked me out., so I was paying my rent and making my money through dope. I couldn’t get a regular job because I was a felon, so I just gave up. (I got the felony in 2004 for selling crack.)
When I was selling dope I use to act like I was a crack head- I would start dancing just so the police wouldn’t think I was selling anything. I loved that life because it was the fast life, but I had to always worry about if somebody was going to rob me or try and pull a fast one on me.
Soon after I met Shayonna, I realized that I was in love, and I stopped smoking weed and doing powder.
She took me to my first gay club. I just loved it. It made me feel more open about my sexuality. She thought I couldn’t dance but I went crazy on the dance floor. I think that made her like me more. I knew a lot of people in the club and I introduced Shayonna to them as my wife. I did this because she was wife material to me, and she was more to me that what my other girlfriends had been.
I was still selling dope everyday, although I was slowing down a bit because she started feeding me and telling me to stay home. My brother told me to stop selling at this point, because I was getting greedy and taking more risks. For example, I started selling to people I didn’t even know. But I kept doing it.
The police finally got on me because they saw me selling dope in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. They were in an unmarked car, and it was still daylight. I called Shayonna and told her I was going to jail. I told her “if you don’t want to be with me I understand because I’m about to either go to prison or I’m going to get a county year.”
She told me that she was very in love with me and that she was not going to give up on us so fast. When my court date came up, the only person that came to court was Shayonna. I was convicted of possession of crack cocaine, intent to sell and transportation (which means transporting crack from Richmond to San Francisco).
When they told me that they where going to give me a year I almost died. Shayonna said “don’t worry, I’m going to be here for you every step of the way.” I called her everyday when I was in jail, and she made sure she had money on my books and a phone that I could call collect.
I have been married now for a year and 4 months and my life has changed a lot. Since getting out of jail I have not gone back to the street, and because I love my life today I haven’t touched powder. I also have been with a steady job and when this job ends I will be searching for another job because I don’t need want to live the fast life no more. My wife has showed me the right way to live and I love it. Also I love myself more then ever.
We have our ups and downs but I know we are going to be together for a long time because we still talk every night as if we just met. When she kisses me my heart still drops.
My family still can’t see that I love her and they think that she just controls me or something but that’s not the case- I’m just living my life with her. I think they just can’t accept the fact that I married a woman. But I will always love my family because they are my family.
I feel very important and also very happy to be part of the small exclusive group of people in California who have been able to marry someone of the same sex. Sometimes when my wife and I fight, I tell myself I need to stay and work it out, because I can’t get married to another woman. It makes me feel even more committed.
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