2 min

Love at first sight

Magic moment fours years ago leads to marriage

STAYING TOGETHER. Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell say the secret is the support of family and friends. Credit: Angelique Caplette

Four years ago Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell fell in love at first sight – and they’re still together to tell the tale.

“The moment was simply magic,” says Varnell.

“Our story sounds cliché,” adds Bourassa. “Falling in love at first sight sounds like the kind of thing that never really happens. But then we met and it was clear very quickly to both of us that we were with the person we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with.

“Right after we met we went away for the weekend and came back to my apartment. By the very next weekend it wasn’t my apartment anymore – it was our apartment… we had decided to move in together.”

Varnell and Bourassa plan to be make their commitment to each other public and legal on Sun, Jan 14, in a wedding ceremony at the Metropolitan Community Church Of Toronto, a congregation where they are both members.

Church membership is one of the factors that they credit for sustaining their relationship, but they’re both quick to say that they’re not Bible thumpers.

“Sometimes we miss church and we’re not particularly involved in the service,” says Bourassa. “But it provides a role model for us of treating each human being with respect and dignity and that’s how we strive to treat each other.”

“What makes this, and any other relationship, work is that we always speak to each other with respect,” adds Varnell. “Even if we disagree, if we can talk about an issue while still treating each other as full human beings it doesn’t matter in the end.

“We knew we were right for each other because of how easily we could communicate. In the first weeks of our relationship all we did was talk day and night.”

MCCT also provides a social network to help the couple get through tragedies without relying solely on each other for emotional sustenance.

“When my mother died last year, Elaine Vautour [a deacon from the church] was with us every step of the way holding our hand,” says Varnell.

The couple’s friendship with Vautour lasted long after the crisis period had passed. Now Elaine Vautour will wed her partner, Anne Vautour, at the same time as Bourassa and Varnell, in a double wedding ceremony officiated by Rev Brent Hawkes.

Bourassa, 42, is a director at CIBC, a big bank. Varnell, 31, is a web developer at the Sony electronics company.

They both say that having a large support system of friends, relatives and community members is the best way to strengthen any relationship, but especially a gay or lesbian relationship that suffers from external homophobic pressure.

“We are surrounded by warmth and love that supports us,” says Varnell.

“I know it is very hard, and sometimes even impossible, for many gays and lesbians to get this kind of support,” admits Bourassa. “But the more you can include your friends, family and eventually the whole world in your relationship the stronger it will be.

“It wasn’t always easy, but when our family saw how happy we are and when they were able to put a human face on our relationship, they understood it was a real relationship. Everyone has the capacity to understand love whether they’re straight or gay.”

This quiet mild-mannered couple is surprised, but not unhappy about how their decision to marry has turned a media spotlight on their domestic life.

They met through an acquaintance who thought that they’d get along. But the pair are unwilling to disclose the details of the story, as it involves mutual friends who don’t want to be in the public spotlight.

Bourassa says: “I hope by talking to the media, people will see that there is hope [for a gay relationship], that life can continue to change for the better.”