It's been said that major U.S. cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and San Francisco can be an extremely lonely experience when it comes to matters of the heart, and that's just for heterosexuals. But it can often be an even greater challenge for same gender loving couples of color who are looking to enter into committed relationships.
Allow me to introduce you to Jason & Anthony, an educator and fashion stylist and our latest couple to be featured in our ongoing "Coupled Up" series. This couple hails from Los Angeles and are proving that long-term commitment exists in the city of Angels.
Jason & Anthony on how they met:
Jason: How we met is two fold. Initially we saw each other in church; I was ushering and the Pastor’s wife invited Anthony. I remember staring at him the whole service to the point that I know he must have felt uncomfortable because I felt uncomfortable for paying more attention to him than to the message; however I swore that I would get him.
Two weeks later I was on a phone chat line and I had a message in my inbox from someone named Tone. We exchanged messages over the next day or so until we decided to meet. When he pulled up to the front of my house he asked me to come down. When I saw him in the car I almost passed out. “You look familiar do I know you?, he said. “I don’t think so, but if you remember I don’t want to know", I shot back. I invited him in and as the say the rest is history. We have been together just over 4 years.
Anthony: The first time I saw Jason I was like "why does this guy have on lounge shoes while he is ushering"?. I come from a staunch Baptist church. Jason walked past me about 100 times to the point where I could not concentrate on the service. I didn’t think too much about it at the time until he walked up to my car two weeks later. For the life of me I could not place how I knew him, but I knew I did. When I left his house I called him and that’s when he told me where I knew him from, and we’ve been together ever since.
Reflecting on the early possibility of their relationship becoming serious:
Jason: When Anthony left my house I have to admit I was struck, 5-10 minutes after he left he called me and we spoke that night until about 3 or 4 in the morning. That’s when I knew this was it. Not a day has gone by in 4 years that we have not spoken on the phone or in person.
Anthony: When I met Jason I thought that it would be just a hook up, because I did not think that there were sexy, smart and intelligent guys on the chat lines. However, the great night, green eyes and great conversation until 4 in the morning captured my heart.
Jason & Anthony on their courtship:
We were pretty serious immediately. The only time that we have not physically been in each other’s presence is when either one of us are away on business. My best friend said to me I give you 6 months and you guys will be living together; well it was 6 months and 1 day before he moved in.
Jason & Anthony on the reaction of family & friends after coming out individually & as a couple:
Jason: I came out when I was a teenager and my family has always been supportive. I didn’t come from one of those families that put you out in the street or disowns you. We are very tight. Before I left Philadelphia we would get together once a week as a family and go out to dinner. My family accepted Anthony with open arms as part of the family; their first meeting was at Thanksgiving and Anthony was scared to move. Everyone was looking at me wondering why I was making his plate.
Anthony: When I was a little boy I remember an annual car ride with my mother to Florida to visit my aunts and uncles. This one particular time with silence in the car my mother turned and said, “No matter what you are my child; no matter what anyone says I gave birth to you and I love you. My family is a true black American family; anyone who crosses the threshold is welcomed with open hands. Jason was scared of my dad and whenever the two were in the same room Jason would never speak. My dad eventually asked if something was wrong with him.
Jason & Anthony on the myth that committed black gay couples are non-existent:
Jason: I know several black SGL men who have been in relationships upwards of 25 years. That’s where my inspiration comes from and that is what I strive for. There are a lot of black SGL couples out there who are raising families, building homes and giving back to the community.
Anthony: I have always taken pride in my relationships and believe that sustainable, committed relationships can be obtained but it just takes work. The question is, are you willing to put your hand to the plow? I think seeing two black SGL male couples is one of the greatest things to see and Jason and I often gush when we see other couples out at dinner.
Jason & Anthony on the obstacles of maintaining a healthy relationship and resolving conflict:
Jason: Our biggest obstacle was communication. I was very independent and did not feel as though I had to explain myself to anyone because I'm capable of taking care of myself. After several arguments Anthony sat me down and explained his views, which were valid.
The way that we resolve conflict is to always try to listen to the others point of view. No matter how mad we get, we both sleep in the same bed. As long as both parties are under the same roof things can often be worked out. When someone feels the need to sleep somewhere else that’s dangerous territory. For us divorce is not an option. We have both agreed to work out whatever problems may arise and so far it is working for us.
Anthony: I think taking a vacation every chance you get whether it’s 8 days in Vegas or jumping up from the dinner table and heading to Palm Springs for two days in the sun always helps make for a healthy long lasting relationship. There’s nothing like getting to know your partner on vacation.
Jason & Anthony on the future prospect of marriage:
We do not need the title of marriage to feel committed to one another. There are countless straight couples that have been married only to get divorced within the first year. Mainstream America constantly says that gay marriage will destroy the sanctity of marriage. We think straight marriage is doing a good enough job of it on its own. We are happy and at peace. We do believe that SGL couples should have the same benefits as straight couples, but until then we make sure that we have protected one another with living wills, trust, policies etc.
Jason & Anthony on the importance of religion/spirituality in their relationship:
There is no conflict between our spirituality and sexuality. We are a couple that has been joined together and through faith believe we’re meant to be together. We both come from very religious backgrounds. In our home God is first and we consult him before we make decisions. “In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your paths.” Jason’s spirit was one of the first things that attracted me to him. We love the Lord and both serve in our church.
Jason & Anthony on how they keep the flame burning in their relationship after four years:
Jason: Well “I” know what makes him happy and I do my best to keep him that way. I can’t put to much information out there; when you have a good man you want to keep him. They always told me if you want to keep your man don’t talk too much, can’t let everyone know everything. But I will tell you this we spend an unusual amount of time together.
Anthony: We know where each other lack and we build up where the other is lacking. One thing that always turns my head is his cooking. Jason loves to cook and express his love for me through his cooking. Many times watching him cook has led to late dinners (if you know what I mean).
Many thanks to Jason & Anthony for sharing their love with us.