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Recently, DemiTv’s President of Programming, Demetrius Malone and long time partner, McKinley Harris were married in a beautifully intimate and private ceremony surrounded by loved ones.

I was honored to be among the guests of the Harris-Malone Sacred Ceremony. I admit, I cried uncontrollably the entire ceremony. The ceremony was perhaps one of the most beautiful and powerful expressions of love that I have ever witnessed. In the recent weeks following the wedding, I had the honor of chatting with the grooms on life, love, and their special day. Here is our conversation.

- Jainitta Roberson

When did you know he was the one for you?

Demetrius: I’m not sure if there was a clear moment. I just realized that after 10 years, we’d seen one another through every season of life such as grief, depression, illness, success, loss, financial ruin, and so much more. He never wavered. He always said, “I’m not going anywhere”. In our first year, a couple of times, I aimed to cut all contact with McKinley. I feared the chaos in my life was a function of my “same sex relationship”. I was still struggling with religious dogma back then. He’d listen to me, and support my decision. Then he’d call me the next day like I hadn’t said a word. God has proven His seal of approval over us so many times now that it would be an insult to my faith to continue questioning Him. We were as loyal and committed as a married couple for many many years. We just decided to honor that loyalty with a covenant.

McKinley: I don't know when it clicked for me exactly, but I remember being pissed… at him, at work, at family, at life in general lol… Everything in me wanted to run away from everything, but I remembered that he had already fought his worst behaviors and his best judgment to choose me… of all people… he chose me with all of my imperfections. I knew then that if I gave in to my avoidant tendencies, I would be betraying him and us. I can’t say that I no longer wanted to run, but wherever I ended up, I wanted him with me!

How long had you all been dating?

Demetrius: Ten years as of September.

McKinley: About 10yrs.

Were you afraid of what people might have thought?

Demetrius: I was never concerned with the opinions of the general public. When God gives you peace, He gives the type of peace that surpasses all understanding. I not only have peace with who I am, but I have knowledge to understand why so many have homophobic views.

I hold no space for anger or resentment towards those with different views, but I also hold no space to care for their opinions.

Many people now believe we just “came out”, but we’ve both been “out”, if we were ever in. Now we’re just sharing some of our private lives in efforts to empower others. All of our friends, family, and everyone at DemiCo and DemiTv have known we were together. We are just relatively private people. We were together 10 years and never announced our relationship on social media- we just popped up married. There really weren't too many pictures of us together on social media. We didn't need any of that to measure our love and commitment to one another and all those around us knew of our relationship.

I have to admit that I was a tad concerned over the chance of professional backlash. While there has been a minuscule amount of business that I know ended as a result of my marriage announcement, I’m not bothered. I am never offended by the actions of others. I also knew that my time and place in the black church would never exist again.

You have to understand that I was once a preacher, pastor, worship leader, pianist, and quartet singer. I understood that my decision would mean the end of that part of my past. I am fine with that. Today, I care more about empowering others and teaching the inclusive love of God, and writing for many tv networks and DemiTv offers me the opportunity to serve others around the world, right in their homes.

McKinley: Not really. I wasn’t raised to be too concerned with what other people think. My mom was very adamant about “thinking for yourself” and “being your own person”, so I had a good foundation with that. I realized early on that I was interested in men and women romantically, but I had never officially declared it other than casual conversation with a few friends here and there… So, my biggest thing was not wanting people to make a big deal about our choice to be private.

D and I were best friends to begin with and as we got to know one another, we developed feelings for one another unexpectedly. I always loved him, but honestly never considered the idea of being in love until it just happened. I low-key was trying to be a little player, but that life honestly wasn’t for me. In the end, I couldn’t have chosen a better person to do life with though, because surprisingly, we both were on the same page with wanting to discover the other without outside influences. We also shared a drive to embark on a journey of growth and healing individually. Us doing life together so well (even the rough parts) was all the empowerment I needed to go forward.

What was the wedding experience like for the both of you?

Demetrius: Wow. First I have to address the proposal. I was so stressed. My best friend Drake would call every day and ask if I’d done it yet. He and I have been best friends for 36 years, so he was trying to give me ideas. Grace (Major), my daughter, Alaura, and a few others were all checking in on the proposal process too, but I struggled to find the perfect proposal. Honestly, it kinda annoyed me that being a same sex couple, it might not have been safe to just propose at a local restaurant or public outing. I didn’t want to risk that moment being forever tied to a homophobic experience. I wanted it to be perfect. Then I realized that I would never find a moment or a ring glorious enough to capture what McKinley means to me.

So, one summer afternoon we went hiking through the woods and rested on a bench. I had the whole ring box in my pocket. There were 3 rings in the box because I didn’t know his size. I had already turned on “From This Moment”, by Shania Twain, and out of nowhere I proposed.

He cried and cried. Then I cried that the idea of marrying me touched him in such a way. The wedding was perfect in every way. We are both minimalists, and we live a very peaceful and stress-free life. That day wasn't about proving how creative we could be. We do that with our corporate events. We didn't want the meaning of the day to get lost in theatrics. We wanted the ceremony that reflected our lives and our love. We both decided Grace Major would be the perfect officiant. She models all the qualities of love, charity, and peace that we live by, and we knew that she loved us both dearly.

The city gave us a spot that included park benches in a circle of beautiful crepe myrtles. We were married with all our close loved ones surrounding us. We chose to invite people who were 100% in support, not 10%, 50%, or even 85%- 100%.

The cumulative feeling of love and joy was stronger than anything I’ve ever experienced. Our guests wept with us and celebrated love with us. McKinley shocked me with his vows. He HATES public speaking but he insisted on us reciting our own vows. He touched my soul with his vows and by the time my best friend prayed, and my daughter sang, I was just speechless. The joy and happiness on Alaura’s face moved us all.

McKinley: I had loved this man for so long, I could not wait to let everyone in on what he means to me. It got a little stressful at one point, because I still had a lot going on personally and professionally. My boss was giving me a hard time, and I had many things that I really needed to stay on top of while planning our ceremonial displays. The goal was to get decor pieces set, do a few trial runs ahead of time, and then assign arrangements to our loved ones who stepped up to make it all happen, so that I could just focus on our day without having to set it all up myself.

We could’ve hired a wedding planner, but this was something special to me, and I wanted to take my time to put my heart in it as a gift to us both. I tend to be the perfectionist / interior decorator / set designer / workaholic amongst my circles so, once I added my creative touch, my team decided to lovingly take over lol. I love them so much! They made our day so special and all we had to do was show up and be. S/O to my photographer, Mallory Sharp, with ‘Short and Sharp Moments’.

What advice would you give someone who is wanting to be married or searching for true love?

Demetrius: Heal before you start looking. Many families are broken because people chose the spouse their trauma wanted versus the one their healed soul needed. You’ll be surprised at the type of spouse and life you’ll be attracted to once you heal. There are couples out there right now who are miserable because they healed and realized that they accumulated a whole life they no longer even need or want. Work on yourself.

As important as it is to know what you don’t know, you also need to know what your family and friends don’t know either. If you’ve had the same plan for dating for years, and it’s not working, it’s time to admit you don’t know what you’re doing. Although McKinley is just 8 years younger than I am, we share the same core values and we respect one another’s right to be an individual. We have done couples counseling as well as individual therapy. Yes, we've been together ten years, but we have spent the entire ten years healing our minds and souls. Our wedding wasn't just our wedding, it was the celebration of our journeys. A healed soul is always the most attractive person in the room.

McKinley: Start with yourself! Figure out what it is that you want for yourself, from yourself, and out of life. Go to therapy and talk to professionals about what those things mean for you, why you want those things, and what that might look like. Be open to those things manifesting in ways that you didn’t expect. Explore. Explore some more. Get to know different people and be open to what you could possibly learn from them. Date around, but take your time, and don’t be so consumed by the idea of love or marriage.

I think the best thing D and I could have ever done was develop our relationship as a friendship first, with no judgment, little to no outside opinions, while being honest and communicating boundaries and a few desires along the way… and most importantly, giving grace to one another. Many people aren’t built for marriage and that’s ok. We’re all worthy of love. If you are someone who knows that’s what you want at some point in your life, I say focus on personal growth and healing now and let it happen when it happens.

How did your friends and family respond?

Demetrius: I was never “in the closet”. Everyone I ever dated knew that I was bisexual early on. I felt it wasn't anybody else's business. I knew that my parents were always in my corner. Even though my Dad is a traditional Baptist preacher, he and my mom are our biggest supporters, aside from McKinley’s parents.

Growing up, my home was a safe space for older LGBTQ family members. My parents have always treated everyone the same. I’m 40 years old and I’ve never heard any sort of homophobic comment from them. I always knew my parents would support me finding true love, but I just never expected them to be so very happy for me. Trust me, I know what it looks like when my parents don't approve of someone I'm in a relationship with. They don't hide or fake it. Their joyful reception of McKinley was unmeasurable to me. My parents refer to McKinley as their other son, and my Dad regularly reminds us to never let anyone shame us.

Having my parents literally behind me at our wedding was everything to me. Every few moments I would hear my Dad saying, “Amen” or something of the sort. Every time I heard his voice it reminded me that he was literally and figuratively behind me. For a moment, I felt fear. I wasn't afraid of marriage, but the evil of this world. Having my Dad there in the joyful magnitude that he was there made me feel like a ten year old little boy who had his Dad cheering him on from the sidelines. My Dad never made me feel that I was less of a man for loving a man. My parents raised me to not care what others think, but to find peace with God. My Dad always supported my free spirit. He’s a free spirit too, and if you want to make him angry, express judgment towards someone. Last Thanksgiving, a family member made homophobic remarks about me online and stated that she’d do everything in her power to make sure McKinley and I are never comfortable in her presence. Other than that, I’ve experienced no other hatred from my family. So, it hasn’t been perfect, but it’s beautiful.

I only cared about the opinions of my son and daughter. McKinley has been in Alaura’s life since she was 4. She is crazy about him. My son expressed the same joyful and supportive sentiments. I think I was more concerned with my son's reaction than anyone's. I wasn't quite sure how he'd reconcile his dad marrying another man, but he told me that my happiness is all he cares about. I should have known that from the beginning, but I think I was still a bit scared. Our family outings are everything to me.

McKinley and I opted to do a small intimate ceremony because we wanted a ceremony that reflected us. We knew that we have hundreds of friends and family members who would have wanted to be in attendance to support, however we wanted simplicity. Our friends have all been of great support also.

McKinley: We got lots of support. Most were really excited and of course shocked. Some were very chill as expected and just wanted to know what to wear and where to be. I got a few that weren’t so positive, but it is what it is. Then there were those who were so pumped, that they demanded to be there no matter what!!! We both have come across so many people that are very special to us so imagine our dilemma when we decided to keep it simple.

As much as I love my whole family, blood or not, it would be too much for what we had in mind for our sacred ceremony. We chose ritualistic intimacy with a boho theme for our day which meant just a few close loved ones and God! Still, I’m all about a “turnup” every now and then, so a huge celebration for everyone is definitely in the works! Lol

If you could have done anything differently leading up until now, would you?

Demetrius: Nope. He’s literally my best friend. We’ve grown so much individually and collectively.

McKinley: I don’t think I would. Maybe I would have been kinder at times, but I love our journey together.

Who was the first to know?

Demetrius: I think we told Grace we were engaged first. Then I told my kids and my parents. Considering it had been about 10 years, we just kept getting, “Bout damn time” from everyone.

McKinley: Our “Amazing” Grace lol and of course my little sister and parents.

Was the outcome everything you imagined? Or Different?

Demetrius: It could not have been more perfect for me. However, I wish my son would have been able to attend. He was sick that week with Covid, but we were married knowing he supports us.

McKinley: Even better. I think we both almost broke down walking up to the entrance of the ceremony… seeing smiling faces, tears of joy being shed on our behalf as we stepped into the circle of bodies and we all just looked good!!! It was so beautiful!!! Everything, from the cast iron bell tower dressed in white sheer, florals, and cream feathers, to the spread of candles and our alter rug… it was all perfect!

Do you plan on having more kids?

Demetrius: I used to say, HELL NAW! But you’d be surprised of what you want when you’re no longer deciding your wants and don’t wants from a place of brokenness. Who knows?

McKinley: I always said I wanted a set of twins, so who knows. For now, my heart is full with my new son, daughter, and grandson.

Staff Writer: Jainitta Roberson

Photographer: Mallory Sharp with "Short & Sharp Moments"

Photographer: Allie West

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