Tennessee Gay Couple, Turned Away by Wedding Venue, Get Support, Plenty of Options

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday September 21, 2021

Michael Gill and Coty Heaton
Michael Gill and Coty Heaton  (Source:Facebook)

A gay couple in Tennessee who were bounced by a wedding venue because they are both men have been flooded with offers of wedding services at a discount since their story hit the news, TMZ reported.

Michael Gill and his fiancé, Coty Heaton, thought they'd found the perfect wedding venue — Barn in the Bend, a Nashville business that advertised they "offer same sex marriage ceremonies only" — were subsequently turned away when that promise turned out to be a typographical error that should have said, "We do not offer same sex marriage ceremonies."

It was a nasty shock, but solace soon followed. Gill told TMZ that "several venues reached out looking to help after reading their story, with offers coming in from places elsewhere in Tennessee, plus West Virginia and Louisiana," the pop culture news site reported.

After hearing from a number of prospective venues, Gill and Heaton elected to say their I Dos "at The Grove at Williamson Family Farm," the TMZ article said. Along with the offer to accommodate their wedding, The Grove also offered the couple a significant discount, TMZ added.

Other wedding vendors followed suit, also with offers of discounted services. The article specified that the couple had selected a wedding photographer — "Jared Laycock from Wish Well Photography" — who had reached out after hearing about the rejection.

As EDGE reported previously, an email from the owner of Barn in the Bend, Jackie Daniel, had initially included the line, "We offer same-sex marriage ceremonies only."

But shortly after he got that email, Gill "received a second email from Daniel, whose signature had now been changed to read: 'We do not offer same-sex marriage ceremonies.'"

In the followup email, Daniel asked, "Did you mention that your partner was a 'he'," and added, "if I'm wrong I'm sorry."

"However, I don't want to waste your time since we do not offer same sex marriages here," the email continued.

Gill posted about the strange and disappointing reversal on Facebook, where he was met with an outpouring of support.

Gill then expressed his gratitude for the support he and Heaton had received, writing in a subsequent post: "The outpouring of love and support that we have received has been overwhelming. We couldn't be more thankful to be apart of THIS Nashville."

The story took another uplifting twist when recording artist George Jackson, whose own wedding had taken place at Barn in the Bend, heard about Gill and Heaton's ordeal and took to Facebook in his turn to announce that he would donate half the proceeds from his album "Time and Place" to The Trevor Project.

The album includes a waltz Jackson named after Barn in the Bend — a tribute Jackson had wanted to make in "thanks to the wonderful family and friends who surrounded us on that day, including the many LGBT friends who were there to support us, and who I now know we could not do the same for in that place."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.