Kevin Goodman and Anton Pulung: Magical turn of events

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Soon they were shuttling every two weekends between Florida, where Anton lived, and Kevin's place in New Orleans.

Anton's mother and father died within weeks of each other when he was only 8, but Kevin's mom, Margaret Goodman, and his grandmother, Margaret Landry, quickly became Anton's family.

"I think she (Kevin's mother) loved me the first time" they met, says Anton, 41.

"My grandmother loved him more," pipes up Kevin, 46.

When Kevin began studying to become a priest in 2001 at New York City's General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church, Anton came along as his partner.

While Anton attended English language classes at Hunter College, Kevin worked at a church in Greenwich Village heading an outreach program for homeless gay teens and those living with HIV/AIDS.

When he graduated from the seminary in 2004, Kevin said he couldn't return to Louisiana and be ordained as a priest. In a backlash after the 2003 election of Gene Robinson as the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, the church there and elsewhere had become more conservative.

"It's a little different in Chicago," an Episcopal priest friend told him. "Come to Chicago and see what happens."

"Anton and I literally put our stuff in storage in New Jersey, got an air mattress and all our plants" and headed for Chicago "not knowing what was next."

They're still here.

Now Kevin is associate dean at Chicago's St. James Cathedral. Anton got a culinary degree and is a chef at King Home, a Presbyterian retirement community in Evanston, and a pastry chef at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

On Oct. 27 — the 11th anniversary of their meeting at the coffee shop at Disney World — they were married in Vermont. Six months later, this past April, their union was solemnized by Chicago Episcopal Bishop Jeffrey Lee. Almost 350 of their friends and family from across the country helped celebrate at a reception after the religious service.

In addition to all the Disney adornments in the Lakeview apartment they share, there are nine crosses on the wall above the TV. God and Disney are well represented.

Their small kitchen is piled high with Anton's baking pans and cooking paraphernalia. "I make a lot of poundcake," says Anton. "Kevin loves poundcake."

"I am a very blessed man," says Kevin. "Every day I thank God. I don't know what I did to deserve such a good person."

ewarren@tribune.com

Love lesson: "God will provide," says Kevin. "I met Anton when I thought I would never be in a relationship again ... When we least expect it, God is helping us love deeper than we can ever imagine."

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