Christopher Landis had kept his marriage secret because he wasn't sure how students or parents would react.
Christopher Landis, a choir director at Hingham Middle School in Massachusetts, didn’t tell his students he was engaged to Joe Michienzie three years ago. According to Inside Edition, whenever they asked who Michienzie was, Christopher would say, "That's Joe. He's my friend."
Landis kept his relationship a secret in front of his students because he wasn’t sure how their parents would react. Sadly, even today, LGBTQ people still have to be discreet about their personal lives in some professions.
This is sad for the teachers who have to stay closeted and also for the LGBTQ students who miss out on having a positive role model.
However, somehow the secret got out and two mothers of Landis’ students, Margit Foley and Joy Foraste, approached Michienzie to see how they could get the students involved in their wedding.
“At the end of the summer, Margit and I heard he was getting married. He’s the best teacher, and he’s got this great energy, and he makes every school function fun. We thought, wouldn’t it be awesome to do something for his wedding?” Foraste said according to The New York Times.
The women emailed the other choir parents to see if their children could perform at their teacher’s wedding rehearsal dinner.
“We hoped we’d get at least 15 kids to do it,” Foraste said. But 50 of the 70 kids in the chorus said they’d be there to support their teacher’s wedding. They secretly rehearsed for four Sundays in a row at a local library so Landis wouldn’t catch a whiff of the plan they hatched.
The kids and their parents kept the secret for four months before the big day and had to get off school and travel 30 miles to the event. Landis had no idea what was about to happen but he felt something was up when people at the dinner started picking up their phones.
Out of nowhere, 50 kids filed into the room, songbooks in hand. After Dona Maher, a colleague of Landis’, banged out the first few notes of the French National Anthem on her keyboard, the kids began to sing the word, “Love.” It was the perfect song for the occasion, “All You Need Is Love” by the Beatles.
Video taken by the bartender at the event shows Landis unable to hold back the tears as his kids sang their hearts out. It was a beautiful moment of acceptance for a teacher who wasn’t sure if his kids and their parents would understand his love for his husband-to-be.
After the performance, Landis turned to the crowd with a huge smile and said, “These are my kids."
"It was so wonderful for the kids to see him with his family and his close friends, and they saw him as a person, not just their teacher," Foraste told The Patriot Ledger. "They saw how much it meant to him. He immediately started crying and the kids started crying. It's something they’ll never forget."