Life and Art Side-by-Side

A while back a family friend who always knows what’s what around Ashland, Mechanicsville, and Richmond told us about Ken and Gina Hale, who bear a circumstantial resemblance to Jonas and Melinda, two characters from Mattaponi Queen. He’d see them at Wal-Mart or around town, but didn’t know their names.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch ran a nice profile of the couple this past weekend. Though they dress a little more stylishly than my characters, Ken and Gina share the same strong bond of love and acceptance. Middle school sweethearts, the Hales have been married for thirty-five years. Two years ago, Ken started openly dressing like a woman, and Gina was able to accept it because she understood that he didn’t love her any less. Now they frequent Ashland thrift stores and malls, often dressed almost exactly alike, and graciously let local people take pictures with them.  (I’m amused when people still refer to the South as a closed-minded place. Yes and no, but mostly no.)

Click here to read about the Hales, and here to read “Jonas.” “Jonas” is one of my favorite stories to read at readings, mostly because it has one of my happier endings. I’m glad Ken and Gina found that place in their own marriage.

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