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23 comments | Thursday, April 29, 2010

So often I hear the myth being perpetuated that same gender loving men of color aren't interested in or capable of having long-term relationships. Well this next couple I'm about to introduce you to in our ongoing "Coupled Up" series defies that myth. Meet Atlanta couple Christopher & Shelton. After being introduced to each other by a mutual friend eight years ago they're still going strong and have extended their love to include a son, five year old Jonathan.

Chris & Shelton on past relationships and how they knew this one was different:

Chris:We had dated other guys in the past and those relationships were fun but always revolved around superficial things like partying. We both were looking for a long-term commited relationship with the "house in the suburbs with the white picket fence and 2.5 kids". It was very encouraging to know that Shelton was supportive in my "coming-out" phase as that was a stressful time in my life.

Shelton: I also admired that Chris wasn't just interested in sex alone and was willing to take it slowly with the relationship. We both became good friends before we became lovers and to this day we are still best friends and can confide in each other our deepest secrets.

On coming out individually & as a couple:

Chris: Shelton was always more confident in his sexuality and came out to his family while in college in his early 20's. His family welcomed him with open-arms and indicated that they had known all along and was just waiting for him to be comfortable in his own skin.

Shelton: Chris, on the other hand, was not openly gay to his traditional Caribbean family but I encouraged him to be honest with them and with my support Chris composed a letter to his family regarding his relationship with his "room-mate" (as I was know to Chris' family back then).

Chris: After the storm cleared both families have embraced us with open-arms and we both regularly visit Shelton's family in North Carolina and my family in Florida for holidays each year. Our coming out has definitely made us closer with our families. We both have also lost some friends after coming-out but realize that these were not really friends after all.

On obstacles they've experienced maintaining a healthy relationship:

Chris: Most definitely homophobia! We both enjoy traveling and dining out and find it challenging in our society to express public displays of affection. One of our most memorable vacations was our trip to San Francisco as it was liberating to walk in the Castro district while holding hands with each other. We love Atlanta but still wish that it was more liberal and accepting of same gender relationships.

Shelton: We have the same problems in our relationships like other couples but we have always maintained that communication and honesty is the key to our bond. We try our hardest to listen to each other's side of the situation and compromise on the resolution.

On starting a family:

We both have always wanted to have kids and knew that was not negotiable in our future. We actually tried for one year to adopt kids through the foster care system in Georgia but after numerous rejections by social workers because the "kids would do better with a mother and a father" we decided to go the route of private adoption and within 1 week of employing an adoption agency we were matched with a birth-mother that was pregnant.

Everything went really quickly after that and one week later we were in the delivery room in Louisiana at the birth of our son, Jonathan. Our families were both thrilled to have a new baby in the family and Shelton's mom was overjoyed that he was born on her birthday. Having a child changed our life and many of our gay friends found it difficult to relate to our "domesticated lifestyle".

Responding to anti-gay critics who say children are best raised by two heterosexual parents:

We tell them the same thing that we tell our son and even he understands the basic premise - children need a loving family and the world is made up of different types of families. We believe strongly that the success of raising a child has nothing to do with the parents sexual preference but more so based on instilling good values in the child.

Chris & Shelton tells loldarian.com "that over the past 5 years since his (Jonathan's) birth we have changed the minds of some critics that thought that we would not be able to raise a child. One particular critic was Shelton's cousin Darrell who left an amazing message of support on Shelton's Facebook page after having a change of heart:

"All I can say is I have seen first hand how much two people can love each other and a child regardless of sex. Shelton is my cousin and one of my best friends and we love Chris & Jonathan just as much. My children adore Jonathan and love his company- he is one of their favorite cousins. I can't imagine not having Shelton, Chris & Jonathan in our lives.

I used to be obnoxious, ignorant and rude to many things and Shelton helped me become a better person and grow to learn that love truly has no boundaries. I admire your relationship and respect your freedom of choice. Together you guys have inspired me and my family in ways you may never know. I fully support you in all your endeavors and wish you all the happiness life has to offer. Together you all have done so much good. I know the future only holds brighter days. I pray that life continues to bring you joy and you both continue to be a blessing to my lil cousin."

Many thanks to Chris & Shelton for sharing their family with us.


<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Great story man.

September 10, 2009 2:31 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Wonderful story!

September 10, 2009 2:34 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

that little boy is tooo cute...I love the coupled up series.

September 11, 2009 7:49 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

What a wonderful profile of a real family. That is what I want and hope to have someday. This series is great!!!

September 11, 2009 9:38 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

I have yet to meet Christopher, but I have always loved Shelton. His zest for life has always been inspiring. It is great to see Shelton happy and in love.

September 11, 2009 8:02 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

omg love them!!! we need more stories lyk dis!

September 13, 2009 12:08 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

They are such a beautiful family.I hope that I will see the day when I have a child.

September 13, 2009 1:27 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

I LOVE THIS!!!! Great article! What a wonderful example of black gay love!!! :-)

September 13, 2009 11:22 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Anita Davis: WOW! WHAT A GREAT ARTICLE! I'm so happy that you are happy ! May you and your beautiful family continue to be blessed!

September 13, 2009 11:24 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Krisia Haynes: September 11 at 9:33am
Beautiful article! I'm not in touch with you guys nearly as much as I should be. I'm not in the least bit surprised that you guys are happy, loving parents in a strong relationship. Chris and I spent a lot of time talking many years ago and I've always known that he would be a good partner and father. I know that by association, you must be every bit as amazing.

As I go into this next phase of my life, getting married when so many of my friends have been married and divorced, I look to families like yours, who have weathered the bad, shared the good, and stayed together through all of it, as my inspiration.

I wish the three of you all the happiness in the world!!!

Love, Krisia

September 13, 2009 11:26 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

This is wonderful... much love, as always, to Chris and Shelton!! And to lil Jonathan, too!!

September 13, 2009 3:41 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Love is the highest form of intelligence.

Everyone should feel free to be who they are at all times.....no matter what that is.
Freedom should never be taken for granted!

I think this story is great, and also think ATL. needs a little Frisco in it. It sucks that Atlanta isn't as open as San Fran.......but that also explains why the the quality of life in California is much better.

Shelton "Hollywood" Stroman will always be my homee and I am happy for his family.
I didn't know Jonathan was adopted until I read this. He's a lucky kid.

Peace and Protection,
My Cousin Troy - (Johnny)

p.s.- I find it amusing how some people want to leave a comment anonymously, as if somebody might read their comment and think they are gay or something. Silly........
It's almost 2010 y'all !!!

September 13, 2009 4:03 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Kevin Pierce: September 13 at 3:45pm
this is awesome!!! great post.... this should be published all over the place!!! congrats. maybe M and I will hit up Darian sometime to be featured. thanks for sharing this.

September 13, 2009 6:47 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Denisha Nelson September 14 at 11:49am
What a beautiful and inspiring love story. May you and your family continue to be blessed.

September 14, 2009 6:32 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Wow Darian I love these! You're reasoning behind these is exactly on it. Our community needs to see these, to absorb it into our consciousness, especially to counteract the poison of the mainstream media's image our who we are.

We hope there are many more of these features!

September 15, 2009 8:02 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Alphine Berdel Stroman September 15 at 4:33pm Reply

That was beautiful!!!!!!!!!! You know how much I love you all; Chris your lke a real brother to me, not just a brother-in- law and Jon-Jon is my boy. Love you guys so much.

September 15, 2009 9:16 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Andrea M. Walker September 14 at 11:39pm
I just got to read the article and I have to say "Congratulations"! You and Chris deserve the recognition! Jonathan has grown up quickly! All of you look wonderful and I wish you continued blessings!

September 15, 2009 9:20 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Chantelle Capel September 14 at 10:35pm Reply
The article was very inspirational. I am even going to print it and post in my office to show off my UNCLES. As a social worker here in Durham,NC. I know first hand that a child needs nothing but a LOVING home so that they too can thrive. I am the first to ADVOCATE for same gender loving(either males or females) to be adoption or foster parents becasue I know what ABUNDANCE of love the child would get....Thanks to the both of you all. I am PROUD of my UNCLES and will shout it to the world that I am one of their BIGGEST supporters. Love knows no boundaries. Stay blessed and kiss baby Jonathan for me and hug and kiss yourselves for me too.

September 15, 2009 9:24 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

This is sooooo beautiful!
And the little boy just brings tears to my eyes!

This is what a family is all about!
Love, Commitment, and a willingness to work in the relationship & family structure to keep it going.


September 19, 2009 7:25 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Kimberly Prince Purvis:Thanks for sharing the article. What a beautiful family. I love you guys.

September 20, 2009 2:18 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

I am so happy to be blessed to get to know Chris, Shelton, and Jonathan. They are honestly a great example of true love and a great family. May god continue to bless you all!

September 24, 2009 8:52 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Telleia Little: October 8 at 9:46pm
This is really nice cuz. I congratulate you and christopher for finding each other. You have to pick through the bad apples to find the one perfect for you. I love you guys.

October 09, 2009 3:12 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Thank yyou Darian for posting this archived posting up front. We need to keep on seeing excellent examples of stories like this. Yes, it is definitely a myth that sgl couples don’t want a monogamous LTR. I’m excited to see new examples. Though my relationship is approaching the 4-year mark this year, Mack and I have something special and we know it’s something special and different. Seeing these sorts of examples is great encouragement. I need to go and look through those archived blog postings to see what other gems you have tucked away in there.

April 30, 2010 12:08 PM


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