Gay hospice patient marries boyfriend in bedside ceremony

Gay hospice patient Alfredo Garcia III’s last wish was to marry his boyfriend.

On Wednesday, Garcia, 31, had a bedside commitment ceremony at his hospice facility outside Chicago with Erwin Sigueroa, his boyfriend of five years and the love of his life.

“It was very emotional. There were a lot of tears, but it was definitely happy. It’s what Alfredo wanted,” said Bryan Pottow, a national director with Seasons Hospice MacNeal Inpatient Center in Chicago’s western suburb of Berwyn, who attended the ceremony and helped organize it with Garcia.

Arrived at hospice

Garcia, who has lived with HIV for eight years, was diagnosed in January  with stage IV liver cancer and Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer that spreads through the lymph system, which includes the tissues and organs that produce, store, and carry white blood cells that fight infections.

Garcia arrived at Seasons Hospice July 18. During the intake process, Pottow asked Garcia what wishes he had. Garcia said he wanted to marry Sigueroa. The couple had been life-long friends and grew up in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood.

Wanted to be married

“They had been talking about being married for a year,” Pottow said. “I told Alfredo, We can make that happen.”

Garcia, Pottow, and the staff at Seasons Hospice started planning Garcia’s wedding last week, but in the past 48 hours, his condition took a significant turn for the worse.

Pottow had been trying to arrange the presence of a courthouse official, making it a legal wedding, but the hospice staff fast tracked the process and opted for the commitment ceremony.

Life-long memories

The ceremony lasted approximately 30 minutes. About 12 people attended, including Garcia’s brother and sister, Pottow said.

After the vows, everyone enjoyed a champagne toast.

“It was lovely to carry out Alfredo’s last wish with Erwin. Alfredo also had the opportunity to be surrounded by his family,” Pottow said. “They were very happy with it. These are life-long memories for Erwin. He will cherish them forever.”

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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