Alvin Ailey dancers Antonio Douthit and Kirven Boyd marry as DOMA is deliberated by Supreme Court
A same-sex married couple makes history
In that moment, Antonio and Kirven become the first same-sex, actively dancing Alvin Ailey corps members to marry each other — and the first of their close, gay friends to marry.
Same-sex marriage became legal in New York State on June 24, 2011. The New York City Clerk’s Office began issuing marriage licenses and performing same-sex marriage ceremonies on July 24 of that year. Thousands of same-sex couples have wed since that time, but the exact number is unclear, because the marriage license application is purposely gender neutral.
“They are definitely an inspiration as far as being a loving couple,” says choreographer and master teacher Tommie-Waheed Evans, who is also a dear friend to the pair. “About five years into their relationship, I knew they would be together regardless of whether they got married or not. Antonio and Kirven are role models in a sense for anybody, no matter if you’re straight, gay, or however you identify yourself. I would like to get married someday.”
A toast to the married gents
At Harlem’s Red Rooster restaurant for a celebratory champagne brunch, the conversation is fast-flowing and easy among old friends.
“If I’m married or in a relationship, I will not say ‘partner.’ I’m gone be like ‘That’s my man, my husband,’ whatever,” chimes one.
“When we first met, you gave me so much shade,” retorts another.
“If nobody tells me what went on at his bachelor party, then I’m cutting you all off at the open bar at the reception. You will have to walk to the store across the street and brown bag,” Antonio jests with his guests.
Topics range from which cities have the best gay pride festivals (there is general agreement on Miami and Tel Aviv), to re-hashing “This is how I met Antonio and Kirven” stories.
Peppered throughout are cryptic references to each newlywed’s respective bachelor party (which they decided not to dish about to each other).
In the middle of brunch, Kirven goes to feed the parking meter. Tropical storm Andrea is making her presence felt and the weather is brutal. After a few minutes, Antonio asks how far away Kirven parked. It’s just a couple of blocks away, but he looks anxiously at the door every few minutes. Finally, Kirven comes back and Antonio smooths Kirven’s lapel. He smiles at his new husband and says, “Welcome back.”
How they met
When Antonio and Kirven first met, they were both dating other people, who were, incidentally good friends. When those relationships ended, the duo became performers with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, where they slowly got to know each other better during tours.
“When we first joined the company, we weren’t romantically involved. We were just finding our feet and getting established, but one of our first dates was at a Starbucks overseas,” Kirven recalls. “I was so nervous that I spilled hot chocolate all over my jeans. I still have those jeans and the stain never came out!”
Both men say that their relationship blossomed out of a friendship (and hot chocolate-coated jeans). Nobody made a first “move,” per se. They just ended up together as the natural order of things.
Fast forward to their reception at the Alvin Ailey Center. Antonio and Kirven arrive wearing white shorts with black blazers, white shirts and grey ties. Making their grand entrance hand in hand, the song for their first dance begins to play — “Get Here” by Oleta Adams. Antonio buries his head into Kirven’s neck in a heap of sobs.
From revelations to revelry
After the emotional dance, Antonio explains that his mother sang that song to him after he moved to New York while they were working on repairing their relationship. He lets reception guests know that today is her birthday.
Reception guests include a virtual who’s who of the dance world, including Alvin Ailey’s artistic director Robert Battle, who all indulge in an open bar and partake in scrumptious soul food lovingly prepared by Kirven’s mother and grandmother, who hand-delivered the feast from Boston.
Guests munch and mingle at tables draped in black tablecloths adorned with centerpieces crafted from white roses. Every detail is in keeping with the black and white theme.
After these revelries, Antonio and Kirven would like to make a formal name change and become Mr. and Mr. Douthit-Boyd, but as they are both accomplished dancers with solid name recognition, and promotional materials for future performances have already been printed, that will have to wait. Even as they figure out how to blend their family choices with their professional lives, Kirven notes that he and Antonio are already informally called “Douthit-Boyd” in the halls of Alvin Ailey.
As is expected at the wedding of two professional dancers, where the corps is one’s extended family, the dance floor stays packed all night.
Antonio and Kirven: Role models for love
A traditional toast by a best man and maid of honor would not do, so instead wedding party members give separate toasts.
The speeches are personal, funny and enlightening, but the message of Alicia Graf Mack, a fellow Alvin Ailey dancer, is especially succinct.
“I don’t think you guys realize how much of a blessing you are to other people. I think that’s one of the main things we strive for in life,” she said of Antonio and Kirven’s lasting love.
Follow Demetria Irwin on Twitter at @Love_Is_Dope.