Fabien and Shontonia have passed their one-month anniversary as a married couple. (Picture by Christoff Griffith.)
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They’re now officially the Hall-Barkers. On November 7, couple Fabien Barker and Shontonia Hall tied the knot in a small and intimate ceremony in Fort Lauderdale, Miami.
The couple’s story was highlighted in February in EASY magazine after they were bold enough to come forward and share about their relationship in a country where in many spheres, same-sex relationships are not accepted and frowned upon.
But their relationship is not a front by any stretch of the imagination; they are happier than ever and are feeling good to be able to refer to each other as ‘wife’.
In an updated interview at Limegrove Lifestyle Centre, the same location as the original interview, the couple spoke lovingly of each other, their relationship and the process of getting married.
Shontonia explained that they decided to have the official wedding in November a bit earlier than originally planned.
“We decided to do it in November because my dress would have been ready. They originally said it would have been ready in October. Fabien is very superstitious, and that date would have been a Wednesday and in the middle of the week.
“We flew down to Miami. And we had to pay a whole set of money to get married, but it was worth it. It was everything we could have ever imagined. Having two weddings is definitely a lot,” Shontonia explained.
Fabien added, “I love balance so that date was perfect for us.”
Reflecting on the wedding, Fabien said her favourite part was seeing her wife walk down the aisle.
“I was nervous. You know you watch TV and you think about getting married, even though I know we are going to have the big ceremony here, everything just stopped for me. I could hear my friend in the background telling me don’t turn around, but I got a glimpse of her as she was coming and as soon as it hit me that this moment was happening, my eyes started to well up and I just started to cry. But it was happy tears,” Fabien said.
For Shontonia, her favourite part was hearing the officiant pronounce that they were married.
“You know that moment when you are at a wedding and everyone waits for that speech . . . 'on behalf of my wife and I,' it was a great moment hearing that,” she said. The big shebang is still planned for April next year. The couple were tight-lipped about the details, but said it would be spectacular.
“Plans are coming along good for the April wedding in Barbados. Our wedding planner is doing most of the work. But we want to be involved as well. The theme is royalty so expect it to be very grand,” Shontonia said.
But getting to the point of being officially married wasn’t easy for the couple; in fact, on returning to Barbados, they encountered some challenges.
“We are officially the Hall-Barkers. It sucks that I have to pay to change my name because they won’t recognise the certificate here in Barbados. So I’m going through the process of legally changing my name. We had to go through all that trouble to get married,” Shontonia lamented.
Fabien chimed that she was disappointed that the Caribbean had not yet caught up to the rest of the world with regard to same-sex marriages, but stressed that “I would have paid any amount of money to marry her, so I don’t mind."
“ . . . .That is how the Caribbean is. Slow to adapt and catch up to the rest of the world. It honestly doesn’t faze me,” she said while gazing at her wife.
However, Fabien added, “If we were married overseas and have a legal document supporting that, why is it that they can’t recognise it here? I understand you don’t want to legally marry people here, but we have documents saying that we are married, legally; there should be some concessions in place for that.”
Since being married, Shontonia, while she’s elated said she doesn’t really feel any different, but Fabien said having it on paper means the world to her.
“I feel different but my wife doesn’t. It’s just something to be said about having the commitment on paper and then having the visual representation, the ring and so on. Something in my mindset is a little different,” Fabien said.
With her infectious laugh, Shontonia said, “I’m enjoying it. I love being married, I love being called a wife and referring to her as my wife. I still want to say we are the same Shontonia and Fabien. There is no extra pressure or anything,” she said.
They stressed though that nothing much had changed in their relationship and their favourite things about each other remained the same.
Fabien said, “My favourite thing about her is still her smile. The joy and happiness that she brings to every scenario that she’s in is amazing. Sometimes she gets on my very last nerve, but I love her. We have a very honest relationship and I love that.”
Shontonia added, “I love how she’s so ambitious, she pushes me like there is no limit. I’m happy to have married someone who is always going to be there for me and pushes me to be the best all the time.”
The couple said since officially tying the knot they have been receiving lots of positive feedback.
“We received lots of positive feedback on our own platforms. They really support us and our relationship. We haven’t gotten the volume of negativity we got after the first article went out and people were commenting on that. We get well wishes from people we don’t even know. We went to get our Christmas tree and this lady passed us and was like congratulations. We didn’t even know who she was, but she seemed really happy,” Fabien explained.
Of course the negative feedback is there as well, but as usual, the couple doesn’t let it bother them.
“As soon as we posted the first set of photos to social media, a blog screenshot the photo and posted it to their page and was talking about me incorrectly making references to my parents and so on. But I don’t mind it,” Fabien added.
Shontonia, the feistier of the two, said the comments usually annoyed her, but with the help of her wife, she’s learning not to prioritise them anymore.
“People were making comments like ‘so who is the husband and who is the wife’ and things like that. But they must obviously be slow. She’s a female so she must obviously be a wife, my wife to be exact. I was so ready to comment, but I had to remind myself that I’m a wife now so I must behave differently,” she said adding that “I guess we are growing on people because they see we are not afraid and not hiding.”
As for their families, the couple said the ones who matter, don’t mind.
Babies now are in the near future for the couple who are still undecided if they want to have two or three kids.
“I always said I want to have kids before 25. I want to have time with my children . . . . My mum died at a very young age . . . . I had 18 years with my mum. So I want to be there for as long as I can with my children and have great family moments. And I want to carry my own child. Barbados has one of the best IVF clinics, so we will be fine,” Shontonia said.
Fabien added, “I’m working with her time frame.” (DB)