Unlike many gay Utahns, James Nettleton was not parked in front of the radio or the internet when the California Supreme Court handed down its ruling in favor of gay marriage. In fact, he was on his lunch break when his aunt, a minister in San Francisco, called him.
“She was all, ‘Guess what, guess what? You’re going to be in California in two weeks and I’m going to marry you!’” He laughs.
The funny thing is, Nettleton, 22, and his partner Kyle Wilson, 23, actually moved to Berkley, Calif. when they became a couple two years ago (“that’s twenty years in gay time,” Nettleton jokes). Nettleton, who grew up in Southern Utah, met Wilson through cousins living in Spokane, Wa. The two decided to settle in the Bay State, he said, to start a life of their own. They moved back to Utah last September when the Blockbuster Video store Nettleton managed closed and he was given the choice of transferring to Utah, Las Vegas or Oklahoma.
“Kyle doesn’t like the heat [in Las Vegas], being from Washington and Oklahoma was too far of a drive,” he explains. Besides, “Utah’s my home base and I wanted to come back for awhile.”
Originally, the couple planned to marry in Canada so Nettleton’s family in the north could attend. But given the opportunity to get married on his aunt’s beach front property, Nettleton says they’re hopping a flight to the West Coast instead.
They plan to marry on June 20 – their third anniversary – and to have a “full ceremony,” complete with Wilson’s mother giving him away.
“We were talking about it, and I was all, ‘I want thousands of people there!’ and he was all, ‘You’re such a size queen,’” Nettleton laughs. “So it’s more like 20 people, just close family. With the short notice and all our friends being kind of scattered, we’re going to keep it intimate.”
“But it’s going to be extravagant!” he added. “We’ll have flowers and lights and everything, so it’ll be big in that sense.” And for the honeymoon? “We’d like to go on an Alaskan cruise. We’re kind of traditionalists. It’s kind of funny.”
Although their marriage won’t be legal in Utah, thanks to the Defense of Marriage Act and a 2004 constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, Nettleton said he and his spouse plan to move back to California eventually, particularly as he would like to adopt children.
Nettleton also says he hasn’t given up hope that Utah will someday recognize gay marriage.
“It’ll be one of the later states to do it,” he predicts. “I think we’ll be number 45, 46, but ideally we’ll be in the 20s. I think if we get the right presidential candidate that I the wildfire starting in Massachusetts and California will spread faster and further.”