|Anne Price and Claudette Cole|
Anne Price and Claudette Cole, both educators, became friends while working at a local Head Start program. Claudette, now retired from education, had four children from a previous marriage. Their shared passion for art, gardening and education — and their four grandchildren — brought the pair together. Now Anne is the director of the Office of Field Services at Cleveland State University, where she oversees student teachers. On June 26, they put the official seal on their 15-year relationship.
Anne: I grew up gay. I knew I was gay since I was 12 but didn’t come out until I met Claudette. I’d been in a relationship prior but didn’t see the benefit to coming out because there wasn’t any at that point. Growing up in the ’80s, absolutely not. I grew up in a small town outside Columbus, very homophobic, still is, and watched folks that I knew through the Girl Scouts, people I met through volleyball, whose lives were made hell because it came out. As a kid graduating high school in 1984, that was a pretty bleak thought of what could be. [When I met Claudette], she was Jamaican, she was married, she’d had four kids, but there was this energy between us. I was going to be in charge while she left for three weeks to go on a trip. And she called me that evening and wanted to know something dumb like if I had the key, which I think was a farce, and we met. She asked me a question, and I thought the question was, "Are you game?," like can I ask you a question. That wasn’t the question. It was, "Are you gay?" And the answer was, "Yes," to both. That was it, Aug. 1, 1999, and the rest of it was history.
Claudette: I remember one evening, Anne was on one side of the car and I was on the other. You know the Colgate thing, where there’s the little bling on the tube? I could just feel her energy going right into my soul. I felt it, and I was like, uh-oh. I didn’t say anything to her, and I called a friend. We met at Garfield Park Reservation, and my friend said, "What is it?" I said, "I fell in love with a girl." She said, "Shit, I thought you were on drugs!" I’m like, "No!" So she and I talked, and I went to a counselor, who didn’t think it was a big deal. Then I went to my pastor, and he didn’t say anything. I thought, What is wrong with these people? Somebody should find something wrong with this, but they didn’t, they just kept rolling. Nobody said stop, pause, nothing. We’re just so compatible. I wrote her a note that said when God created her in this little town near Columbus, and me in Jamaica, we were bound to come together. — as told to Sheehan Hannan
Editor’s Note: In the September issue of Cleveland Magazine, we interviewed 10 same-sex couples that were engaged or married following the June 26 Supreme Court decision. Check back every Wednesday for more stories through Sept. 30. For all the stories in this series, click here.