Happy Valentine’s Day to all those reading this! Are you ready to grab a romance novel, sit by the fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa and read the latest adventures of some dashing fictional characters? Well, then, you will have to put this article aside and find something else to read! This article brings you romantic tales that are all non-fiction. These stories are real—as real as the loving people behind them. I held email interviews with these couples, and they willingly shared their stories—and their lives—with me. Thank you all.
For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.Judy Garland
Beth and Linda met at a business conference in San Diego 24 years ago. At a dinner of 4.000 people, they were total strangers, yet sat next to each other. Once the small chat subsided, they discovered that they lived only a few miles from one another in the D.C. area, and that they both had vacation homes in Rehoboth Beach. Being women of faith, they feel God brought them together. Back then, neither of them were completely “out,” as their respective professions did not provide that environment.
Early in their relationship, Beth and Linda had to be cautious with whom they shared their connection. This became a problem with their careers, since they attended business functions where a male “escort” was the norm. They enlisted several of their gay friends to serve that role. As time went on, however, Beth and Linda decided to drop the pretense and traveled together as a couple. They shared with me, “Coming completely out took a great deal of pressure off our relationship, as it became confusing to remember who knew and who didn’t, and who we had to ‘sanitize’ the house for during visits.” Beth and Linda were married in Delaware in July, 2014.
Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies. Aristotle
On February 13, 21 years ago, Charles and Stu met at a bar on a snowy Sunday evening. Charles was “out” with friends and family, but not at work. Stu had previously been married to a woman, but had no children. With Stu owning his business, there were no career choices he faced as a gay man. Charles, on the other hand, played it cool at work, not being openly gay, but also not playing it “straight” either. One amusing exchange at work took place when Charles’ gay boss asked him why he had not told a co-worker that he was gay. Charles answered simply and without thinking, “Well, she didn’t tell me she was heterosexual!”
Their relationship has deepened over the years, and for the most part, their families were accepting of Charles and Stu being a couple. They are unmarried, feeling quite satisfied with their partnership as it is today. When you see them out and about in Rehoboth Beach, there is no doubt that these are two men in love!
True love begins when nothing is looked for in return. Antoine de Saint-Exupery
A personal ad placed in the Village Voice 27 years ago brought Faye and Gail together. The ad read: 32 y/o GWF body builder, scuba diver, seeks companionship with GWF to share a bottle of fine wine over fish stories. Six months after they met, they exchanged vows at sunrise in P-Town, “with two friends and hundreds of seagulls as witnesses.” Years later, with 30 inches of snow on the ground, they were legally married in New Canaan, CT. While the wedding date holds some fond memories for them, Faye and Gail joyfully celebrate their exchange of vows as the date that holds more meaning for them.
While nurturing a new-found relationship between two partners is difficult enough on its own, being able to live in that relationship with one’s family of origin can sometimes be problematic, This was not the case for Faye and Gail. Gail’s father, who never liked any of her previous dates, adored Faye. Attending all family functions as a couple, Gail and Faye have, over time, become closer with Gail’s cousins.
And the trouble is if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more. Erica Jong
A “fledgling, quasi-gay organization” in Baltimore was the place Denny and Russell met in 1978. But it was at a Tidewater Gay Conference in Norfolk over Memorial Day weekend that they decided to be “boyfriends.” As they describe it, “It didn’t take long until we got an apartment together, because living with other roomies was a little too cozy…alright, they were lesbians…and we needed our own space!” Denny and Russell have never hidden their relationship from friends or family. One of the worst offense they suffered was having one of their names omitted from a family Christmas card. But that was from those “narrow-minded” relatives.
Denny and Russell made it a point to tell me that one question I did not ask them was: How the HIV/AIDS crisis affected their relationship? In their words, “It was VERY scary at the beginning—not knowing how it was being transmitted, not knowing if you might be infected by kissing or by…to this day, it is a deeply innate fear. Some people today take HIV/AIDS too casually.” Denny and Russell have proven that true love, even over 37 years, always endures.
Grow old with me, the best is yet to be. Robert Browning
Happy Valentine’s Day to all these couples, and the hundreds more among our readers. Long-term, loving relationships are not the domain of the heterosexual world. I lift my glass to you in celebration of your perseverance in the midst of a world that did not always welcome or embrace gay relationships.