Photo via Brittany Cavallaro
Widely recognized from the successful, LGBT-themed web series, EastSiders, Kit Williamson and John Halbach may not be lovers on screen, but they just got engaged off it. The fiancés — who recently celebrated their eight-year anniverary — have traveled from New York to Los Angeles and back again, all the while retaining a sense that they'd never drift apart. As Williamson puts it perfectly, "Place is secondary to the person you love."
While the two men settle back into New York life and prepare for the forthecoming launch of EastSiders Season 2, they shared the story behind their coast-to-coast romance.
Out: I heard you two just got engaged. Congratulations! When’s the wedding?
John Halbach: We’re in talks about keeping it on our same anniversary.
Kit Williamson: I like to say "manniversary," for the record. I have been lobbying pretty hard to keep it on our manniversary because there’s something nice, after eight years together, to have it be on the same day. I’m terrible with dates, but I have this one down.
That keeps it easy. Do you know where you’re going to have the wedding?
JH: We haven’t decided that yet either.
KW: We’ve been deciding between New York, LA, or some destination wedding. Our friends and family are split all over the country. His family is in Minnesota, mine’s in Mississippi. It’s kind of not convenient for anybody, so maybe we’ll just go to none of the above and have a destination wedding!
Backtrack…who proposed to who?
JH: I proposed to him, even though he had secretly planned to do it on our manniversary. But I beat him to the punch! It was the night he finally got to our new apartment in New York. I had been living there for a couple weeks, getting everything set up, and I thought it would be a good chance to surprise him. I met him at the door downstairs with champagne and took his bags and he headed up the stairs in front of me. He opened up the door to my proposal magic, but he was talking over his shoulder and didn’t see that there were fifty candles and a light-up sign and mood lighting.
KW: I backed into the room like I was in a sitcom.
That’s too good. When did you realize?
KW: I actually waited an embarassingly long time to notice. He had to tell me to turn around.
JH: And then he said yes before I had time to get down on one knee.
Two questions: What music was playing and did you exchange a ring of some sort?
KW: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros was playing. There was no ring exchange, though there has been talk of a tattoo.
So a tattoo instead of a ring.
KW: We haven’t decided on that. We have a lot of decisions to make!
I like that you guys are just winging it. Same-sex couples being able to marry is still relatively new and it’s cool to see how various couples officiate their engagements. Everyone seems to do something a little different.
KW: I totally agree. I think it’s really exciting to be a part of a tradition, but also liberating to feel that we don't have to check off all the boxes of a traditional wedding. There are some parts of the tradition that I don't relate to and there are other parts that I really do, which mean a lot to me and feel universal.
We’re going to go back in time to when you two first met. You’ve been together for eight years, right?
JH: Yes, it was eight years in March.
How’d you first meet?
JH: I was bartending at a restaurant in Times Square and he was in a play at the time with one of my best friends from college. He and I made eyes from across the crowded room, and our friend talked to each of us individually. Then we ended up chatting for the rest of the night and have been together ever since.
KW: I’d like to make one amendment to that story! John was bartending at a Scottish pub — which I think is awesome — and also when he tells this story he usually says that we made some “enchanted-evening-eyes at each other from across the crowded room.” I think that’s the cutest thing ever.
What were your first impressions when you saw each other from across the room?
KW: I thought he was the most handsome guy I’d ever seen. I’d actually noticed him before at that pub, but I had been too intimidated to talk to him. I was really giddy and excited to finally have an excuse to.
JH: Almost the same story. I had noticed him around the neighborhood and had seen him perform and remembered his name — Kit Williamson — it was such a cool name. I thought he was so handsome and wanted to get to know him, and that night I got my chance.
Do you guys believe in love at first site?
KW: I don’t know if it’s about site. But there was definitely an immediate connection once we got to talk to each other. We literally didn’t stop. I stayed past last call. They were cleaning up the bar and taking trash bags away, and I had to ask if it was okay if I was still there. From our first date on we were a unit. We were dating immediately. Within a month I moved out to Astoria to live in the neighborhood near him. I chose to live as close to him as I could.
JH: There was no doubt in my mind. There was just a sense that we’d be together.
KW: Although I did get the flu before our first date!
What was your first date after your got better?
JH: We went to see Spring Awakening.
Nice! I love that show.
KW: It was so good! Original cast. It was a great night.
JH: Then we got some dinner and had our first kiss at the 49th Street NQR subway station.
KW: Amazingly, we were at this vintage junk sale in Brooklyn right after we got engaged and I found an old 49th Street subway sign. We have that in our apartment now.
When was the moment you knew you wanted to marry one another? John I know you proposed, but Kit had it planned for just two weeks later.
KW: It was something we talked about for a long time.
JH: There came a time after eight years, and after moving across the country twice, and making a TV show, and everything that we’ve been through together, that it just didn't seem enough to say, “This is my boyfriend, Kit.”
KW: It wasn’t a definable moment. It seemed like it was time, even if it was spurred by this move back to New York. I love California, but place is secondary to the person you love.
There’s also something sweet and full-circle about returning to the place you met to get engaged. Zooming out from the personal, here's a big question: How do you feel identifying as a same-sex couple in the middle of our country’s legal battle for marriage equality?
JH: I feel so lucky to be alive when we’re alive and to see everything that’s happened since I realized I was gay. The fact that we’re getting married and marriage equality is in all the states I’ve ever lived in is so amazing. That it could be everywhere imminently is also very amazing.
KW: Growing up in Mississippi, I thought there was no way I’d ever get married. I thought there was no way I’d ever get to meet somebody. I couldn’t imagine my life now. So I’m really grateful for that. I think and I hope that it keeps me from taking it for granted.
JH: Yes. It’s easy to take for granted that everyone in my family is loving and supportive. But every once in a while you do meet someone who is not so lucky.
KW: The more stories we can get out there the more people can see that a happy life is possible for them. It’s another part of our storytelling tradition now. It’s another reason I enjoy telling stories that include LGBT characters who are not defined by their sexuality. I like to show that we’re all human because nobody is one thing.