Three years ago, we sent two couples on a double date. Now one couple is married, and the other couple officiated.
Three years ago today, the It Gets Better Project partnered with Soul Pancake and Lexus to bring two generations of LGBTQ+ couples together for a double date. Tori and Belle, who had been dating for a few years, and Van-Martin and Barry, who met in a bereavement group after they both lost their spouses.
We hoped the dinner date would spark conversation, that the two generations of couples might learn something from each other, even strike up a friendship. We couldn’t have expected that these two couples would form a lifelong bond.
“They are basically our godfathers now,” Tori told us when we checked in for an update to see how life has changed since the original date.
In fact, they’re so close, that when Tori and Belle walked down the aisle in 2021, they asked Van and Barry to officiate the wedding. We’re not crying, you’re crying.
Revisit the original video here and then read on to see how things have gotten even better for Tori and Belle (and Van and Barry) since that original dinner date.
What has changed most about your lives since you filmed the “Double Date” video three years ago?
Tori: In 2021, we got married! A video from our wedding had a viral moment on TikTok, and it felt like the rest of the world could finally see what we have known all along: we belong together. We also moved to the Bay Area. Belle started working with a tech company, and I’m a journalist for a tv station in San Francisco.
Belle: Both of those decisions being some of the best we have made to date!
What has surprised you most about being married?
Tori: That it doesn’t feel all that different from dating lol I’m just as obsessed with her as I always was, but now it’s legal. I’m so thankful to call her my wife.
Belle: What surprised us most is a change in perspective. We were always one another’s biggest cheerleaders when it comes to our individual goals, but now we have long term goals for our family. We feel like we are really building something together, and our marriage kickstarted this part of our journey. To be clear, we don’t think you need to be married in order to experience this but it’s just what happened for us.
We were so excited that you stayed in touch with Van-Martin and Barry. Are you still in touch with them? What is that friendship like?
Tori: Yes! They are basically our godfathers now!
Belle: Van-Martin and Barry have been such a beautiful addition to our lives since we met on set! Their friendship feels easy and joyful, they are a constant reminder that life is a thing to be celebrated and enjoyed.
What do you remember most from that first meeting with Van-Martin and Barry? Is there something about that day that stands out?
Belle: I am camera shy so the fact that I was so quickly able to feel comfortable around them was amazing. I didn’t really expect us to click like we did, and was so pleasantly surprised to feel like I was having a conversation with strangers that had amazing friend potential! So rare these days.
Tori: I remember how excited we all were to meet each other. Barry and Van are both such generous humans, their kindness that day was merely a glimpse of the light that they would become in our lives.
What made you decide to ask Van-Martin and Barry to officiate your wedding?
Belle: It was an easy decision. When we were deciding on an officiant, we looked at the people in our lives and thought “who inspires us? who do we want to be when we grow up?” Van Martin and Barry were the first and only choice for us.
Tori: We had been secretly engaged for more than a year when we decided to get married. When we called to ask if they would officiate, Van Martin said he’d happily do the ceremony and Barry volunteered to handle our paperwork. So Van Martin was our officiant and Barry was able to notarize our paperwork. On the same call, they stunned us by offering their home in Pasadena as a venue for the wedding. A month later, we were getting hitched under an arch of roses in their backyard. This was during that sweet spot after vaccinations and before COVID’s Delta strain, so we were able to gather a small group of our family and friends.
What advice would you give to young LGBTQ+ people who are reading this and watching your video for the first time?
Tori: Trust that you will find your people. There will be challenges, adolescence is full of things outside of our control. But I would live through it 1000 times over if it meant I’d grow into the woman I am today and still got to love Belle.
Belle: Love is a living thing, don’t forget to nurture the love you have for yourself and for the people you cherish. Be kind and gentle when you can. Be strong and brave when you have to.