A male couple together 55 years are now officially married, wed at a Miami Beach Gay Pride party by the festival’s publicist, who is also an ordained minister.
Frank Petrole and Marc Rudick, both retired Philadelphia hairdressers who live in Hallandale, celebrated their nuptials at a pride fundraiser honoring “legacy couples” who’ve been together 10 years or more. The wedding took place Thursday in a makeshift chapel at event sponsor BB&T Bank South Beach branch.
“It legitimizes it. It’s sealed. You live with someone for 55 years and it feels different,” Petrole, 77, said Tuesday.
Petrole and Rudick, 87, had obtained a license after Florida legalized same-sex marriage on Jan. 6. The men hadn’t decided when to get married, though, until Thursday night at the pride party.
That’s when someone told them that pride publicist Richard Murry is also an ordained minister.
“It was deeply touching to be able to officiate for Frank and Marc. The spontaneity of the moment added to everyone’s excitement for the couple,” Murry said Tuesday. “I got three people coming up to me after Frank and Marc’s ceremony asking if I did this full time and could I officiate at their weddings.”
Friends and fellow legacy couple Maurice Colton and Norman King, together 43 years, served as Petrole and Rudick’s best men.
Miami Beach Gay Pride began in 2009. This year’s seventh festival takes place April 11 and 12 with events throughout South Beach. The pride committee is planning for 100,000 attendees at the Sunday parade. This year’s grand marshal will be TV personality Mario Lopez.
From the beginning, Miami Beach Gay Pride recognized South Florida’s legacy couples. The concept has since been embraced by other gay pride committees across the nation.
The fundraiser where Petrole and Rudick got married also honored Mary Maguire and Jackie Emmett, a lesbian couple from Fort Lauderdale together 53 years.
Petrole and Rudick, who met in a nightclub on New Year’s Eve 55 years ago, have been a legacy couple for six years. They enjoy participating in the annual parade, but have trouble understanding the fuss — most of their friends have been partnered for 30, 40 years or more.
This year is different, though.
“Ninety five percent of our friends are married. Now they’re married. They used to just be together,” Petrole said. “Before we decided to do it, we thought about it. ‘What's the point? Does that piece of paper make a difference?’ You know, frankly, it really does. It’s not tangible, but you feel it’s more permanent.”