To see a living representation of LGBTQ progress, look no further than a cute, comfy home nestled in the trees of suburban south Charlotte, N.C. There live the Brock-Boone clan, whose lives have illustrated shifting time, attitudes and laws surrounding LGBTQ rights.

Ginger Brock, 40, and Katie Boone, 39, met as rival rugby players when their teams faced off in the early moments of the new millennium. While Brock’s team at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and Boone’s William and Mary team attempted to tackle and score, the two women set eyes on the face of their life partners.

“Rugby teams like to party a lot,” Brock laughed. “So I’d drive up to see them, and she’d drive up to see us.”

Party buddies became more serious on a gloomy midnight in the rougher parts of Wilmington, N.C. Sent out to put gas in Katie’s car, Ginger Brock found herself reflecting at the pump. She says that this was the moment she knew their relationship would go the distance.

“[Ginger’s] like, ‘I would only do this for you’,” Katie Boone said, smiling. “This is a long-haul kind of commitment, a midnight gas run to the shady gas station.”

Seventeen years later, Ginger and Katie are five years’ married with two happy, healthy kids. Colin, five, came along when the pair had been together for over a decade. Their decision to start a family was a long time coming, and even in 2012 it wasn’t an easy one.

“We got married once Ginger was pregnant. You have to sort of cover all your bases,” Katie said. “At that point, our marriage didn’t mean that much in terms of the laws. We got married in New York, and we actually had Colin in Washington, D.C. so that I could be on the birth certificate.”

Soon after, North Carolina’s Amendment One debacle to ban same-sex marriage presented another trial for their growing family. Ginger, Katie and tiny Colin went together to the polls.

“We encountered a lady who was just making comments,” Katie said. “We’re walking in together, and she didn’t seem to realize what we were.”

Then she did.

“She was very vocal,” Ginger recalled. “She was like, ‘what do you guys do about that baby?’”

“We just walked away,” sighed Katie.

Little Wren, now 10 months old, was an entirely different story for the family. After their marriage became nationally valid with the 2015 Supreme Court decision on Obergefell v. Hodges, the couple returned to Charlotte’s REACH fertility clinic to bring a baby girl into the world.

“When Wren was born, we had her at University Hospital. I still did a step-parent adoption, but we did it here in Charlotte and it was so much easier,” Katie said. “I remember the first time I held [Colin], it was all of that stress and all of that fear, and I was terrified. And I think it went beyond the terror of having a new baby. The second time around I could enjoy it. Those fears had been assuaged a little.”

Now, the open, sunny rooms of the family home have a distinct air of contented peace of mind. Colin and Wren have an entire playroom just off the kitchen, but their colorful toys litter the house in the typical fashion of small children.

Ginger works from home as a clinical researcher, and Katie does part-time marketing and is pursuing her Master’s in counseling. Even with both parents at home much of the time, Katie and Ginger say that parenthood sure ain’t easy.

“I’m in awe of people who can single parent, because to me, the most important thing in parenting is the ability to tap out and take a break,” Katie said. “Not having that would be hard.”

Luckily, the family gets away from the bustle of city life every once in a while; one of their frequent family trips is an unplugged campsite with a group of parents and children Colin’s age.

“The first time [we went], when the kids were two, everyone was terrified that they were going to get lost in the woods or step in the fire,” Katie laughed. “But they all sat in their tiny little chairs, and eat their food at the table, and stay within 10 feet of the campsite, and they’re still like that. They listen, they behave. Outside is where kids are meant to live.”

Of course, getting away from it all and having some couple’s bonding time isn’t always as easy.

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“It’s been so long since we had a date,” Ginger lamented. “My ideal date, food is definitely involved. I feel like I haven’t had a warm meal in five years…really good food and a concert. The last concert we went to was the Avett Brothers. Uninterrupted sleep would be included.”

As any parent knows, however, sleep deprivation and cold leftovers don’t mean much in the big picture.

“Just watching them grow every day, watching them do something new or understand something they didn’t, and knowing that, you know, you’ve been listening! Just seeing who they are gives me such joy every day,” Ginger said. “[Colin] loves to hear the stories of how he grew in my belly, and in Katie’s heart, and how she cooked really good food so he could grow big.”

For a little boy of four years, becoming a big brother is a momentous event. Colin’s energetic, affectionate personality intensified as his baby sister made her way into the world.

“It was really fun for him to watch her grow,” Katie reflected. “He could not wait for the baby to get here. He decided that, right now it’s a girl, but when it pops out it will be a boy. He had a lot of theories about how that works.”

“Colin is such a sweet, sweet kid,” Ginger said. “He’s getting used to kindergarten. It takes a lot for him to be good all day, so he releases that when he gets home.”

As for the baby sister, if Wren resists the urge to steal her brother’s Legos, she’s busy squealing with joy and making her voice heard. She’s very tempted by the Legos, though.

“Since very early, she’s been like, ‘I’m going to get what I want, you’re going to get it for me, you’re going to do it now, get out of my way’,” Katie laughed.

“Wren is a firecracker. At 10 months we can tell she’s got a strong will,” said Ginger. “She can vocalize exactly what it is she wants, but she’s such a happy, smiley baby. It’s hard to differentiate her screams of ‘I’m in pain’ from her screams of ‘I’m happy.’ They’re all kind of the same.”

Colin is just as mischievous and energetic. He drags his moms all over town, from pumpkin-picking at Hall Family Farm to LYNX train rides and even the rainbow storefront of Central Ave.

“Colin loves going to White Rabbit,” Ginger said. “He likes taking the underwear down and taking it through the security beeper. Luckily they’re very patient.”

The chaos of parenthood has its own rewards, these women know. Even with the everyday pressures of errands, school, work and desperately trying to get some sleep, Ginger Brock and Katie Boone have no regrets.

“Growing up LGBT, this nuclear family was not something that I thought I could have,” Ginger said. “It’s a crazy life, but it’s a wonderful life. I’m living my dream.”