Joe Buches was appointed as artistic director of the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus in 2004 — and found much more than a new creative outlet through the venture.
Buches met PGMC member Glen Abrams that year, and a decade later, the two were married.
The couple was joined Oct. 11 at Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion, where Buches serves as musical director.
The men, both 45, live in Northern Liberties. Buches is a native of Bethlehem and Abrams hails from Copley, Ohio, moving here to work for the City of Philadelphia in 1998. He now serves as the director of sustainable communities for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.
Abrams said his husband’s outgoing nature quickly drew him in when they were introduced at a PGMC event.
“The first impression most people have of him is his dynamic, gregarious personality,” he said. “One of the things I talked about at the wedding was his laughter; he’s always willing to laugh and it’s infectious and will always make me smile. That’s one of the things I so appreciate and love.”
Their initial common interest, music, proved to be an important one, Buches said.
“We’re both very into music. His family is very musical so I fit right in with them and him with mine. We clicked right away,” Buches said. “Family is a big, important part of both of our lives.”
Abrams added that, while each has his own strengths, they complement each other.
“We definitely have similarities but also distinct differences that are actually complementary,” Abrams said. “It’s the ways in which we differ that kind of challenge each other, and at the same time keep us grounded.”
Being present, Abrams added, and remaining committed to communicating and listening has also been integral in their decade-long relationship.
“It really comes down to we just have a good time together,” he added.
They decided to take their relationship to the next stage after Pennsylvania adopted marriage equality in May.
“We had talked a lot about marriage before but wanted to wait until it was legal here,” Buches said. “So shortly after Pennsylvania passed it, we decided to get married and decided it was important to have our friends and family there with us.”
The couple hosted an intimate dinner for family first, followed by the ceremony and reception for a larger crowd, all of which was held at the church.
Now that they’re legally wed, Buches said, their relationship has taken on a new dynamic.
“It actually does feel different,” he said. “I could feel the difference just by saying, ‘I do.’ It’s a really wonderful feeling.”
Abrams added that they were impressed by the significance of being able to share their relationship with their loved ones, and to have that bond sanctioned by the state.
“It was a very public declaration in front of all of our family and friends and that was important and very moving. People knew us as a couple but because we had that declaration, and had chosen to do a ceremony at a church, it really added importance for us,” Abrams said. “And there’s added weight now that there’s legal recognition. The commonwealth recognizes us as a couple, a family, and that feels wonderful.”