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Same-sex Dickinson couple reflect on marriage

A milestone in the LGBT community was reached in June 2015 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage should be recognized in all 50 states.

Left, Kyle Gengler and Julian reflect on the ability to enter into a recognized union. July marked a year since gay marriage was legalized in all 50 states. (Press Photo by Mary Shown)
Left, Kyle Gengler and Julian reflect on the ability to enter into a recognized union. July marked a year since gay marriage was legalized in all 50 states. (Press Photo by Mary Shown)

A milestone in the LGBT community was reached in June 2015 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage should be recognized in all 50 states.

While gay couples have been able to marry their significant others legally, there have only been three same-sex marriages issued in Stark County in the past year. The LGBT couples married in Stark County include a female couple from Dickinson and a male couple who no longer live in the area.

The third couple is Kyle and Julian Gengler, of Dickinson.

The happily married couple will celebrate their one-year anniversary in December.

While Julian, 20, said he was always open about his sexuality, Kyle, 31, didn't come out to friends and family on Facebook until after gay marriage was declared legal.

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"I just called my mom and told her, 'There's something on Facebook that you should go read,'" he said. "It was actually right after the gay marriage because I had some family members that were voicing their opinion on it, and so I kind of had to. It worked really well. I got a lot of 'I'm sorry.'"

While there has been progress in western North Dakota, there is still room for more acceptance.

Prairie Pride, a new LGBT organization in the area, is trying to raise support in western North Dakota and has received a lot of interest on social media in the past month.

Though he's not yet old enough to legally drink alcohol, Julian said he hopes one day there will be a LGBT bar in Dickinson where people can go to feel safe and to have fun.

"Believe it or not, people believe a gay bar is just for gay people, but it's actually a safe place for gays to go, lesbians too," he said. "(It's) a safe place for them to go, exchange stories, meet fun people. It's not just a bar. It's a safe zone."

Julian said there is a sizeable gay population in Dickinson, but not all of them are out in the community.

"There are actually a lot of gay people in Dickinson," he said. "A lot of them are not fully fledged and they aren't all the way out there yet. They haven't told their family yet, but you get to Bismarck and ... everybody is already out. They know people. (It's) the same thing with Williston and Minot. I don't know why Dickinson is like the last of the group."

Julian said that he came out when he was in high school at age 16, but said he never felt people treated him differently.

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"We blend very well into the community," he said. "I grew up in Montana. I had to just kind of blend in, ride it out. People would ask and I'd say, 'Yea I'm gay.' But they would never follow that up with anything and they'd leave me alone."

As for Kyle, he said he decided to come out later in life because he didn't feel like it was anybody's business.

The couple were married in Dickinson in December at the Bingo Hall in a short and sweet ceremony with Julian's best friend officiating the wedding.

Julian said he felt like it was about time that gay marriage was recognized as a union.

"The world changes very quickly," he said. "You either get with it or you get left behind."

While Julian said he doesn't feel like people criticize their marriage, he is also mindful of being respectful while in the community.

"We're pretty respectful about it," he said. "We're not making out in the park or hanging off each other at Walmart. We're not really crazy about it."

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