In ‘Apocalyptic Times,’ Marching Forward Together


Whereas dancing round a bonfire to the rhythms of a drum circle in Might 2013, Melody Christine Dankemeyer, who goes by the title Melody Sage, felt “a tingling rush of energy” course by way of her physique.

It was at that second when she rotated and caught sight of Rosco Kickingstone Siragusa, who goes by Rosco Kickingstone.

The 2 launched themselves, however Ms. Sage may solely handle a brief dialog with Mr. Kickingstone earlier than she danced away. “I was overwhelmed,” she mentioned, describing the feeling as “such a strong feeling that I had never experienced.”

The day after the bonfire, their paths crossed once more. Ms. Sage mentioned that Mr. Kickingstone, who had jumped out of a tree and broke his foot simply hours earlier than they met, was not tough to trace down.

“I joke that he was easy prey,” she mentioned.

Their second dialog lasted so much longer. She advised him about her pirate radio present, Chicas Unidas, which featured feminine friends discussing a variety of points. He talked about his participation in teams together with Meals Not Bombs, which distributes free vegan and vegetarian meals, and the Occupy Movement born from the 2011 Occupy Wall Avenue protest in Decrease Manhattan.

From then they spent many of the pageant in one another’s firm, with Ms. Sage typically procuring meals for an injured Mr. Kickingstone. Activism, every discovered, was not their solely widespread bond.

As youngsters, each had come out as queer — Ms. Sage, who grew up in Santa Cruz, Calif., at 18 years previous and Mr. Kickingstone, who was raised in San Diego, at 15. 4 years later, at 19, Mr. Kickingstone, whose blended ancestry contains Indigenous American and Mexican roots, got here out as a transgender man.

“Coming out so young” helped each study “to live and be comfortable with ourselves,” mentioned Mr. Kickingstone, who additionally identifies as Two Spirit, a time period that refers to gender non-conforming Indigenous People.

Earlier than the tip of their week in Oregon, Ms. Sage had initiated their first kiss.

After the pageant, they parted methods. Ms. Sage, now 34, was on the time dwelling in Santa Cruz, and Mr. Kickingstone, now 36, in Seattle. However just a few weeks later, Ms. Sage traveled to Seattle to go to one other good friend and ended up staying with Mr. Kickingstone for 2 weeks. On that journey, they sang quite a lot of karaoke and he or she accompanied him to a thirtieth party for his sister.

Not lengthy after Ms. Sage left Seattle, Mr. Kickingstone visited her in Santa Cruz, in June 2013. Whereas there, they went to the San Francisco Satisfaction celebration, throughout which they participated within the Trans March supporting the transgender group, an annual occasion they’ve since attended usually.

Although they noticed different individuals within the months that adopted, the 2 continued to develop nearer, protecting in contact by cellphone and by way of textual content message, and visiting each other after they may.

“We were so much on the same wavelength, spiritually, emotionally and physically,” Mr. Kickingstone mentioned.

That December, the pair went to Mexico, the place they spent a month backpacking in Chiapas and Oaxaca. By the tip of the journey, Mr. Kickingstone was able to take the subsequent step with Ms. Sage.

She, nevertheless, felt conflicted. “I’ve always been a bit of a love skeptic,” Ms. Sage mentioned. “Very few relationships of the people in my life have been long-lasting, except for my grandparents.”

In February 2014, Ms. Sage, a graduate of Mills School in Oakland, Calif., moved again to that metropolis to attend a manicuring program on the Worldwide School of Cosmetology. When Mr. Kickingstone broached the topic of shifting there himself, she at first was skittish, telling him she didn’t need to be the one motive for his transfer.

He assured her she wasn’t. “I wanted to be around more people of color and radical queer people,” Mr. Kickingstone recalled telling Ms. Sage.

That April he moved to Oakland, right into a home with 9 roommates — one in every of whom was Ms. Sage, who discovered he was shifting in when different housemates advised her Mr. Kickingstone was their most well-liked candidate. (He utilized for the room by way of Craigslist not understanding it was in the home the place she lived.) Three months later, forward of development on the property, Mr. Kickingstone moved out and into one other home.

As soon as dwelling in the identical metropolis, he and Ms. Sage determined to cease seeing different individuals. They remained monogamous for the subsequent 12 months and a half, earlier than opening up their relationship once more in October 2015. Their interval of monogamy was a manner for the 2, who had each beforehand been in polyamorous relationships, to “establish trust,” Mr. Kickingstone mentioned.

“As someone who’s really flirtatious and had hurt people in the past,” Ms. Sage mentioned, “I didn’t want to hurt him, as I loved him so much.”

That December, they moved into a brand new place in Oakland collectively. Ms. Sage, who holds a license from the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology, is now a nail artist at Fig & Clover, an area salon. Mr. Kickingstone works as a producing technician at Slingshot Biosciences in Emeryville, Calif.

Within the early years of their relationship, neither had a lot of an curiosity in marriage. Mr. Kickingstone’s dad and mom divorced quickly after he was born, Ms. Sage’s dad and mom had been by no means married and each mentioned the Supreme Courtroom’s June 2015 resolution legalizing same-sex marriage didn’t really feel significantly related to them.

“This system has never served us,” Ms. Sage mentioned. “We queer people have never been seen as fully human.”

As their romance developed, although, Mr. Kickingstone turned extra satisfied that what that they had discovered was value celebrating.

“We have to build our own families, often because our own don’t accept us or are just not emotionally available to be the support we need,” he mentioned. “I always wanted a primary partner to maybe build a family with, even though I don’t agree with the whole marriage system, and Melody is my person.”

However when he shared his ideas about their future with Ms. Sage after her thirtieth birthday in 2018, she balked. Throwing herself a celebration that 12 months had been overwhelming sufficient. “Bring it up in another two or three years,” she recalled telling him.

He didn’t have to attend that lengthy. In 2019, whereas the couple helped Ms. Sage’s household plan an eightieth party for her maternal grandmother that March, she got here round to the thought of marrying Mr. Kickingstone.

As Ms. Sage put it, “The world is so turbulent and full of grief and sadness. That Rosco and I can hold and process that together, but also have so much joy together and laugh every day and be able to grow together and make space for each other, is really special.”

Two months later, in Might 2019, Mr. Kickingstone proposed whereas the 2 had been on trip in Hawaii. In fascinated about an engagement, he mentioned that presenting Ms. Sage with a hoop as a part of a standard proposal was necessary to him.

“To have found love and made it into our 30s is kind of a big deal,” Mr. Kickingstone mentioned. “So many trans people don’t make it that far. People outside the queer community don’t really understand the daily struggle to live in this world that is actively trying to kill you or take your rights away.”

After some preliminary delays attributable to the pandemic, they started to plan a marriage — or “celebration of love,” as they known as it.

At first, the occasion was solely going to be a symbolic union. However because it neared, the couple determined to include a authorized ceremony for purely sensible causes: So Ms. Sage may grow to be entitled to the well being advantages supplied by Mr. Kickingstone’s job, and so she may make his physician’s appointments for him.

On June 18, the couple held a symbolic ceremony at Fern Cottage on the grounds of the Kennedy Grove Regional Recreation Space, in El Sobrante, Calif. Led by a good friend, it included a blessing with crystals and the pagan ritual of invoking the 4 components: earth, air, fireplace and water.

At a reception that adopted, they and 50 friends sang karaoke and loved salads and agua fresca from Understory Oakland, a worker-led kitchen and restaurant, together with a ramification of charcuterie and cheeses.

Lower than every week later, on June 24, the 2 had been married on the Helen Diller Playground in San Francisco’s Mission Dolores Park, simply earlier than the Trans March kicked off as a part of town’s 2022 Satisfaction celebration. Annie-Rose London, a good friend of the couple and a Common Life minister, officiated.

Each Mr. Kickingstone and Ms. Sage wore white denim vests custom-made with gold studs, rhinestones and rainbow-colored patterns on the again. He paired his with a fedora and matching white denims; she paired hers with a white bathing swimsuit, a pink tulle skirt, pink knee socks, platform sneakers and a veil.

Forward of the ceremony, Ms. London acknowledged the Indigenous Ohlone people — the primary inhabitants of the land now generally known as the Bay Space — earlier than reminding the roughly 30 buddies of the couple in attendance of the rationale that they had gathered that day: So Ms. Sage may get Mr. Kickingstone’s medical insurance.

In her remarks, their officiant acknowledged that Mr. Kickingstone and Ms. Sage had been exercising their proper to marriage on the identical day that the Supreme Courtroom revoked one other long-held liberty, the proper to abortion, by issuing its resolution that overturned Roe v. Wade.

“It’s an honor to show up for love and pride even though you have a broken heart over a million different reasons,” Ms. London mentioned.

The couple then climbed to the highest of an extra-wide slide, the place two witnesses signed their marriage license utilizing the newlyweds’ backs as exhausting surfaces. Mr. Kickingstone and Ms. Sage then slid down as their buddies waved ribbon wands on both aspect of them.

“Melody is the one I want to be with in these apocalyptic times,” Mr. Kickingstone mentioned. “I love her with every thread of my being.”

When June 24, 2022

The place Mission Dolores Park in San Francisco.

Undress Code Attendees of the couple’s authorized ceremony dressed extra for the event of Satisfaction than their wedding ceremony. One good friend confirmed up in a leather-based harness with rainbow-sticker-covered nipples, and one other in pink boxer briefs.

Put up-Marriage March Following their nuptials, Mr. Kickingstone and Ms. Sage, who was holding an umbrella that mentioned “Just Married,” walked within the Trans March, incomes congratulations from fellow contributors who included one in every of Ms. Sage’s former professors.


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