Celebrating same-sex marriage

Jennifer Roberts-Olsen and Becky Olsen
Jennifer Roberts-Olsen and Becky Olsen

By Breanne Massey

Pioneer Staff

The decision to get married was easy for Becky Olsen and her wife, Jennifer Roberts-Olsen.

The Columbia Valley couple worked together at Backcountry Jacks in Radium Hot Springs after university almost seven years ago.

The duo chose to get married at Grizzly Ridge behind CastleRock about two years ago, after Becky proposed to Jennifer in front of the fireplace at an intimate gathering with their friends.

We have a functional relationship, said Jennifer. We just happen to be two women, and nobody ever leaves the seat up (on the toilet) at our house and its great Its true though, Ill never fall in the toilet in the middle of the night and Im totally good with that.

The decision to live rurally as a lesbian couple holds a firm grasp on their lives and that of Jennifers daughter, Summerlee Mahon in the valley just like it does for other couples who support Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month.

We live it, said Jennifer. In a small town, you live it every day. Most people will ask you what its like, and its pretty much the same. You dont meet very many people who have something negative to say about it, and if they do, they are not voicing it to us.

LGBT Pride Month is celebrated annually in June to honour the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City (NYC), which was a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States of America.

The Stonewall riots were a string of violent yet spontaneous demonstrations by the gay community against a police raid that took place early on June 28, 1969 at the Stonewall Inn which was located in the Greenwich Village of NYC. It has been dubbed the most important event in the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights.

Two moms wins over one, said Jennifer. (Summerlee)s got the best of both worlds. Shes got somebody who can teach her about sports and stuff like that, and somebody who can teach her how to fix her hair and do her make-up all of the girly things. She gets it all, and shes got a Dad and a step-mom as well. She trumps those kids with only one she totally has it all.

The relationship has encouraged their nine-year-old daughter to focus on being happy, healthy and embrace the fact that every family is different.

Becky added that Summerlee has been advocating for gay rights and educating her peers at Eileen Madson Primary School about their vibrant trio.

I just say that I have two moms, Summerlee explained when asked about the relationship.

And do they ask you why? Jennifer casually asked her daughter.

Yeah, said Summerlee. They ask why I have two moms, and I say because theyre gay.

Is that the end of the conversation, Jennifer replied.

Yeah, said Summerlee, then we talk about the next thing.

When asked about coming out to their friends and families, along with what advice the couple has to offer teens who are struggling with their sexual orientation Jennifer replied promptly.

It wasnt easy for me to come out, said Jennifer. But it gets better and it gets easier. Theres a whole world outside of this place, and people arent as bad as you might think they are.

She added being a gay male in a rural community might be harder than it would for a woman.

You learn who your real friends are and you learn what you can truly handle, Jennifer said. And it does, it gets easier. In the end, youre only your own worst enemy if youre keeping it (sexual orientation) a secret.

It is a freeing feeling to be able to be honest, be true to who you are. I feel like I am a better person because of it Im not holding something inside because of it.

Her wife, Becky, who grew up in Invermere, agreed with that sentiment, adding the community has been supportive of their marital union. She joked that paying taxes as a couple was the only time when it became a burden.

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