A Gay Valentine’s Day

Despite all of the progress made when it comes to gay visibility in recent years, ranging from out actors like Neil Patrick Harris and T.R. Knight to hit television shows like Brothers & Sisters and Ugly Betty, gay men still have to look pretty darn hard to find images of themselves as romantic couples in the traditional media.

That was why it was such big news when The New York Times started including gay couples as part of their wedding announcement section and why it mattered so much when Brothers & Sisters’ Kevin Walker (Matthew Rhys) was allowed to have an actual love life that included physical affection.

But even with that progress, its doubtful that on this day devoted to love there will be too many television stories, newspaper articles or much else that reflect the lives of gay men as couples.

So to help celebrate Valentine’s Day — and to celebrate the romantic moments between gay men — we asked a number of AfterElton.com staffers and readers to share their stories of romance.

Frank and Craig (AfterElton readers)
When my partner Craig and I first met, President Bush (the first) had
recently taken up residence in the White House. It was the beginning of
a new decade — the 1990s (remember Deee-Lite?)

We were both living at home (in the closet) while attending the
"live at home college," Wayne State University in Detroit, which meant
we didn’t get a whole lot of alone-time, and were constantly looking
for whatever opportunity. Luckily we often got it, thanks to my best
friend since 7th grade, Grat Dalton.

Frank and Craig

While I was sponging off my parents and getting a degree in Theater, Grat was working to support himself. He also lived at home, but in a tiny room he rented on the second floor of his father’s house. Sure it was small, but it had its own separate entrance and a bathroom out in the hallway … and a bed!

On several occasions, Grat would give us the key to his "hide-away" so that Craig and I could escape from the outside world where nobody (other than Grat) knew why we needed an escape. One particular evening about a month into what we still weren’t calling a “relationship,” we were sitting on the floor in Grat’s bedroom…

Now I don’t know if it was because we’d been listening to "Love Changes Everything" on the latest Andrew Lloyd Webber cassette (remember "Aspects of Love"?), or because of the candlelight flickering off Craig’s face as we split an entire bottle of white zinfandel … but I started to cry.

For the first time, the reality of the situation hit me. This wasn’t something I’d been doing just because I’d hit my sexual peak and it felt good, even though it totally did. I was in love! I was also terrified that Craig didn’t feel the same way and everything would come crashing to an end if I dared tell him. Which I did on our first Valentine’s Day.

Thankfully our relationship has lasted long enough to see President Bush (the second) take up residence in the White House… (Whatever happened to Deee-Lite?)

Dave and Chad
(AfterElton readers)
About a year ago the right half of my face suddenly became paralyzed. It sagged lifelessly, making me look like something out of a haunted house. Chad and I spent eleven hours in the emergency room to confirm that I was not having a stroke; meanwhile, most of that time was spent waiting, people-watching, and talking.

At one point, I asked Chad to take a picture of me. I clowned and smiled for the camera, which made my asymmetrical face look all the more ridiculous. Somehow, despite everything, we were both
having a good time, in circumstances that most people would neither consider fun nor romantic.

Dave and Chad

Sure, I have memories of how exciting it was when we first started dating. There were some attempts at traditional romance back then: flowers, intimate dinners, daring to hold hands in public. I remember the giddy feelings, but I also remember feeling self-conscious a lot,
worrying about whether I looked good enough, hoping my personality
was engaging.

I like it so much better now. After 13 years, we are so comfortable together that I can be my silly self and pose for a
picture at my absolute ugliest moment, without worrying whether I am meeting his beauty standards.

That’s romantic to me.

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