Majo & Haley- The Courage To Love

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Can we first start by appreciating that Majo and Haley reached out to our Love Les team to tell us about their story. They knew they had the type of story that would speak to us, as well as make us swoon, and ladies, your story did just that. Your love is remarkable, bold, and brimming with beautiful hope. It is clear you are both extradinary and adventurous souls who are going to do amazing things and impact so many lives. Thank you for reaching out to us. You have the type of love we are here to celebrate all day long.

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Let’s start with when you met one another. Walk me through that story.

Haley: Majo and I met on a beginning-of-the-year retreat for an office we both worked in at Creighton University in Omaha, NE. It was just after lunch and we were waiting for a session to start. I was sitting in a chair in the meeting space when Majo walked up to me. At the time, I was wearing a bracelet that I had just gotten in Cochabamba, Bolivia where I studied abroad for 6 weeks that summer. Majo came up to me and asked me where I got my bracelet and I told her. She was shocked because she is from Bolivia. It turns out that we had been living 10 minutes away from each other that summer while she was home visiting family and I was studying!

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Majo: I was so surprised that Haley had been to Bolivia. Knowing that she had been to my hometown made me feel more connected to her right away. That was the beginning of her sophomore year of college, my junior year. That year we spent a lot of time together and got to know each other really well. I normally have a hard time opening up to people, but with Haley I was surprised by how vulnerable I got with her right away. Our first friend date was to Chipotle where we shared a vegetarian burrito. It was the beginning of a long, deep friendship like neither one of us had ever experienced before. Over the next couple of years, while we were still at Creighton, we hung out all the time. We even went on a double date while both of us were dating other people.

Haley: After Majo graduated, we traveled to South America together for a 5-week backpacking trip. At the end of the trip, I came back home for the rest of the summer, and in August, I welcomed Majo to Portland where she was starting a year of volunteer work with Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest. A program places people in volunteer sights all over the Northwest (including Alaska!). I call it fate that she was placed in Gresham (a city right outside of Portland). Although I had to go back to Omaha a couple weeks later to finish out my last year of undergrad, every time that I came home that year I got to see my bestie.

Majo: That year was hard! Haley and I had gotten so used to spending time together at school that being in a long-distance friendship felt unbearable at times. We texted all day every day, sent hundreds of letters (I’m not exaggerating! We have over 250 letters that we handwrote to each other), and talked on the phone for hours most nights. One of my favorite moments that year is when I flew to Omaha to surprise Haley for Valentine’s Day. And no, we weren’t dating yet! We didn’t even have feelings for each other at that point, at least ones that we were aware of yet. A lot of our friends and family started asking us if we liked each other or if we were more than friends. But we honestly were just the best of friends who loved spending all of our time together.

Neither of you had dated a woman before, how did you navigate in your first same gender relationship?

Majo: Haley and I dated for a few months before telling our parents that we were together. And over those couple of months, we only told a few of our close friends that we were together. During that time, we were still discerning if being together was really what was best for us. We didn’t want to have to deal with “coming out” if our relationship didn’t last very long or if we realized it wasn’t actually what we wanted. I also wanted to tell my parents in person, so I waited for that reason as well.

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 Haley: Yeah. I am really glad that we waited a few months before telling our parents that we were dating. Sexuality is such a personal thing, and relationships can be such an intimate, vulnerable commitment. I think it’s important that people don’t feel pressured to come out to their parents, or anyone for that matter until they are ready. Discerning one’s sexuality is such a beautiful process, but it can also be extremely difficult and confusing; especially if you are raised by parents who don’t understand the fluidity of it. When I was young, I remember asking my mom, “How do I know if I’m lesbian or not?” And she said to me, “Trust me Haley, you like boys. You don’t like girls.” To be fair, when I was young, I was totally boy crazy! But that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t eventually fall in love with someone of the same gender. I think seeds like that that were planted in my head as a kid made it take me a lot longer to end up accepting that I was in love with someone of the same gender.

When I told my parents that I was dating Majo, my mom told me that she felt betrayed since we had been dating for a few months before I told them. My dad told me that he loved me. But I could tell that neither of them understood. For a while, they questioned whether I had, “just settled” with Majo. They were so convinced that I was heterosexual that they couldn’t wrap their minds around me falling in love with a woman. Eventually, they ended up coming around. They came to our wedding and have recently been very supportive. It did, however, took a few years before they accepted our relationship.

I don’t know if they fully understand it now, but some things, like love, can never be fully understood.

Majo: When I told my parents about me and Haley, one of their first questions was, “So are you still Hare Krishna?” I was raised in the Hare Krishna faith that traditionally teaches that marriage is between a woman and a man. I remember thinking that was the silliest question, not understanding how my sexuality had anything to do with having a strong faith. My step-mom was a little better at explaining how she didn’t understand, but that she thought it was important that I go on my own journey and figure out things for myself. My biological mom was very supportive. Bolivia is a few years behind the states in terms of accepting people in the LGBTQ community, so I don’t think she fully understood at first, but she always told me that Haley was an angel; she was happy for me that I had found love. It only took my parents about a year and a half to end up fully coming around. Once they spent more time with Haley and I as a couple and saw how life-giving our love is, they became very supportive of our relationship.  

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Prior to your relationship with one another, what were your thoughts about sexuality and the LBGTQ community?
Haley: When I think back to my feelings about the LGBTQ community before falling in love with Majo, I am honestly a little ashamed. On an intellectual level, I was 100% supportive of people loving whomever they loved. I was always pro laws that gave people in the LGBTQ community the same rights as those who do not identify as a part of the community. I had friends who identified as gay and was supportive of them. However, when I would see a same-sex couple in public holding hands or kissing, I did feel a little uncomfortable. Now when I see a same-sex couple I think it’s the cutest thing ever! Reflecting back, I think my discomfort stemmed from having very few experiences of seeing displays of affection between same-sex couples.

Ok, so I heard you two had a double proposal. Tell me everything!
Haley: Ok I’ll go first because I proposed first. Majo and I had been talking about marriage since before we even started dating, but the first time we talked about it as a couple was 2 months after we became exclusive. We both knew from the beginning we would end up together. But it wasn’t until we had been together almost 3 years that we were ready to take the plunge! In Spring of 2018, we went to look at rings together, and soon after, we ordered them online. Our 3 year anniversary was coming up (June 12, 2018), and I knew that the only way I could surprise Majo is if I hid the rings when they were delivered so she would think they hadn’t gotten to us yet. So I hid them and planned a scavenger hunt to ask her. Majo had about 6 stops around Portland, and I involved approximately 9 people in the hunt. After she made it to all of the stops, we ended on a dock on the water. I was on a blanket with my guitar and about 25 of our friends were standing in front of me. As Majo walked down the ramp, our friends moved to the sides revealing that I was sitting on the floor waiting for her. I re-wrote the lyrics to our song, “Bloom” by The Paper Kites, and sang my proposal to her. The first words out of her mouth were, “I’m going to need to see a ring first!” Majo was shocked as I pulled the ring out from behind me. And of course, she said yes!

Majo: 6 days later, on June 18th, I surprised Haley with my proposal in our apartment. I lit the hallway with tea light candles and created an, “art exhibit of our love.” I put up various cards and cute things I had made her in the past. I hid about 10 friends in our room while I led Haley into the apartment and had her sit down and close her eyes. I ushered all of our friends to stand in a circle around Haley, and then over the course of about 25 minutes, they read letters I had written to her over the years. I also included a few voice recordings of my letters from her friends who live out of town. After all of the letters were done, I had Haley open her eyes. I asked her to marry me, and when she said yes, we were officially engaged. We chose our wedding date for about a year later as June 15th because it was halfway between the days that we proposed to each other. 

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Ugh. I can’t handle how cute you two are. And you also teach yoga. Like what!
Majo: Yeah! I’ve been practicing about 9 years, and Haley has been practicing about 8.

Haley: I originally got into yoga during my freshman year of college, but after falling out of it for a few months, Majo was the person who got me back into it! She got me into veganism too. Thank goodness for this woman!

Majo: I don’t instruct right now, but I do have my 200-Hour certification from Kranti Yoga (Goa, India).

Haley: And I’ve been teaching for a little over a year. I got certified in Bali, Indonesia with The Sacred Fig. I see teaching yoga as a launching board for me to get into the wellness profession. I would love to use my teaching as a tool to do something on a bigger scale-like hosting wellness retreats!

Majo: And that’s part of our plan, actually. Haley and I are in the midst of creating a business called A.G.A.P.E. Wellness. It is going to start as a wellness platform online where we will share yoga videos, guided meditations, a blog, and other resources to help people on their way to wellness. We plan to spend the next couple years taking various trainings and traveling, and we will end up eventually settling somewhere to create a wellness center. Along the way, we will be offering workshops and wellness retreats. What sets us apart is our mission: To foster a community of unconditional love, abundant joy, and respect that supports its members on their journey to wellness. We want to make wellness resources more accessible to all people. Therefore, all of the videos and meditations on our site are free. Our website is now live, make sure to check it out!

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Now that you’re living life “outside the closet,” or rather, in a healthy relationship that gives you life, what coming out advice would you offer readers? 
Haley: I would like to reiterate that your sexuality, your relationships, your gender identity, these are all very personal, intimate parts of yourself. And you don’t have to share any of those things with anyone until you’re ready! That being said, when you do decide to share these parts of yourself with others, start with the people in your life who you think will be the most supportive and will react from a place of unconditional love. Start with people who you think will understand or who will at least respect you even if they don’t understand. Then, as you continue to share who you are with more and more people, you will have those people to fall back on if a conversation doesn’t go well.

Majo:

And to add to that, know that although it may be hard at first, or even for a few years (like it was with our parents), there will be moments of grace if you look for them.

Sharing our love has been challenging at times, especially with extended family.But by sharing who you are, by sharing who you love, you will find out who truly loves you back. For the people who turn their backs to you or decide that they aren’t going to acknowledge that your marriage is real (we have some family who won’t acknowledge that we’re married), don’t worry about them. Love will prevail!

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Leslie Cox