Monday, December 11, 2017
Parenting & Relationships

From This Day: Mark Cichewicz and Michael Grillo

They met in Detroit's Club Gold Coast on April 28, 1985, and soon they were a couple. Mark Cichewicz was a graphic designer for the Chrysler Corp., and Michael Grillo was a hairdresser. Both Michigan natives, they started coming to Florida to visit Michael's parents, who spent the winters here.

"At first, we would come down in April and then Thanksgiving," Mark said.

They celebrated their 20th anniversary a decade ago by purchasing rings together in a jewelry store at the Suncoast Resort on 34th Street S in St. Petersburg, where they spent many a Sunday afternoon with friends from Michigan and Florida, he said. (The Suncoast closed in 2007.)

Now winter residents themselves, the two men became discouraged last fall after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit overturned lower-court rulings in cases from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. The judges' decision denied same-sex marriages in those states.

Arriving in St. Petersburg in early January, Mark and Michael read that a temporary stay against gay marriage in Florida "would not be extended beyond Jan. 5," Mark said, "my father's birthday. My father passed away a year and a half after I met Michael, and he loved Michael from the start. I'm sure he pulled some strings with the man upstairs."

They picked up their marriage license on Jan. 14. Mark, 62, and Michael, 67, are retirees who celebrate their anniversary monthly. "Happy 28th!" they tell each other.

Their wedding took place on the first Wednesday in March, in South Pasadena's Galatea Garden, where they decorated the sea nymph's statue with ribbons in the colors of the rainbow, a symbol of gay pride. Then they and their friends moved to Gulfport's Backfin Blue Cafe for a celebratory dinner.

"It was the most incredible feeling even before we actually got married," Michael said. "We were rediscovering St. Pete, and we started talking with this woman in a gallery because she was so easy to talk to. She hugged us, and ever since that point, it has just gotten better and better.

"We've gotten cards and congratulations from people that I never even expected to send them. People have been so kind and so thoughtful. It's been wonderful."

Their relationship, Michael said, "was great 30 years ago, and it's great 30 years later." Their decision to marry "was the right thing to do for our circumstance, and it was a wonderful opportunity."

Not so long ago, the men said, they received a letter from Chrysler "stating that if we were married, I was entitled to (Mark's) pension benefits," Michael said. "Not that it was a turning point, but it did sweeten the pot, since I had no pension."

And although Chrysler's headquarters are in the couple's birth state, their marriage was not an option there.

"We thank all those who rolled up their sleeves to do the hard work that made marriage equality a reality," Mark said, "and a dream like ours possible."

Comments

Tell Me About It: Parentsí extreme sheltering feels creepy

Parentsí extreme sheltering feels creepyQ: My daughter, 11, has three friends from school. One girlís parents are generous hosts. "Emma" is an only child and has a pool, fun toys, great snacks.The problem is that Emmaís parents donít let Emma be a gu...
Published: 12/10/17
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Dec. 11-17

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Dec. 11-17

Katy Perry: The Teenage Dream songstress roars into Tampaís Amalie Arena on Friday ($45.75-$195.75). amaliearena.com. Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights begins Tuesday, bringing fun celebrations including Hanukkah in the City at the Sundial St. Petersb...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/10/17
Wild weather expected, 2 boat parades canceled

Wild weather expected, 2 boat parades canceled

Boat parades that were planned tonight in South Pasadena and St. Pete Beach have been canceled because of weather fears.Organizers said they will not be rescheduled. Heavy rain is expected to approach the gulf coast near sunset Friday ahead of a stro...
Published: 12/08/17
Fun and profound Hanukkah celebrations around the Tampa Bay area

Fun and profound Hanukkah celebrations around the Tampa Bay area

It’s time to observe the Festival of Lights, starting at sunset Tuesday and ending Dec. 20. Many congregations seem to be having a great time, because Hanukkah celebrations this year are hilarious. There’s a menorah made of fidget spinne...
Published: 12/08/17
From Hogwarts Castle to your home, digital projectors give a real light show

From Hogwarts Castle to your home, digital projectors give a real light show

At night, Hogwarts Castle is suddenly dusted with snow in steamy Florida. It’s not really snow, but light causing this trick of the eye. Projectors and sophisticated software then send ghosts across the castle towers. A turret spins and turns i...
Published: 12/08/17

Tell Me About It: Self-awareness best way to break bad habit

Self-awareness best way to break bad habitQ: I recently had a friend tell me that I have become arrogant since I entered a new career in which thereís a culture of snobbery and one-upping.I was defensive, and would really have liked to believe she wa...
Published: 12/08/17

Tell Me About It: Exís attempt to make amends falls flat

Exís attempt to make amends falls flatQ: My first love e-mailed me out of the blue, after 10 years, to make amends as part of his AA program. The lengthy e-mail detailed my exís love for me, regrets, and urged me to consider a phone call or FaceTime ...
Published: 12/07/17
Three shades of comedy this week: Game Grumps Live, Harlem Globetrotters, Liberal Redneck comedy tour

Three shades of comedy this week: Game Grumps Live, Harlem Globetrotters, Liberal Redneck comedy tour

VIDEO STARS: Game Grumps LiveYou thought video game players were wasting their time, but these days professional players are packing stadiums and making more money than youíll ever see. They also give us hilarious shows like Game Grumps Live, coming...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17

Tell Me About It: Remarks about food choices grow tiresome

Remarks about food choices grow tiresomeQ: Iím going on vacation soon with my in-laws, siblings-in-laws, and their spouses. Over the last few years, Iíve been working on eating fewer unhealthy foods like bread and dairy, and as a result I feel much b...
Published: 12/06/17
A guide to holiday events at Disney, Universal, Busch Gardens and more theme parks

A guide to holiday events at Disney, Universal, Busch Gardens and more theme parks

Instead of shoveling snow, Christmas in Florida means celebrating the holiday season in shorts and T-shirts at theme parks and local attractions. Some parks even haul in “snow” for an authentic holiday vibe. While the last two weeks of t...
Published: 12/06/17