Prizm News / February 1, 2018

A collection of connections sharing a common love within our community.

 

Amy Ann Photography
Amy Ann Photography

Brandon Buchanan & Joseph Pedro –
Columbus

 

How did you meet?

Joe: Brandon approached me first and asked me on a date, which is something I would have never done. I wasn’t out and didn’t have the confidence that Brandon had to walk up to a guy and ask him on a date.

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We were supposed to go bowling, but I fell asleep (Brandon claims I blew him off). I showed up late to our rescheduled first date at Press Grill, and the night ended with a firm handshake.

I worked up the courage to ask him on a second date and he said yes. We shared Jeni’s ice cream and a walk through the Short North. Ice skating, movie and dinner dates, three Beyonce concerts and so many other encounters brought us to our marriage 5½ years later.

What is your favorite story about your partner?

Joe: When we lived in Ann Arbor for a short time, I was away on a work trip and Brandon called because he was afraid to go into the apartment. He said the squirrels around our apartment were being intimidating.

Brandon: Joe taught me how to drive a stick shift in two days. On the first day, I had a panic attack because I kept stalling. I got out of the car in the middle of traffic and made him drive.

Jason Thomas Crocker Photography
Jason Thomas Crocker Photography

LaRaun Clayton & Charles Donaldson Jr. –
Cleveland

 

 

How did you meet?
Yes, you can find love on Grindr!

We met in the summer of 2011. After dating for a little under a year, we officially became a couple despite the fact that Charles was accepted into a graduate program at Indiana University. For two years, we traveled back and forth from Cleveland to Bloomington, Ind., in order to spend time with each other.

How has your relationship affected
those around you?

Since we’ve always lived and loved in our truth, our relationship has inspired those around us to pursue love unapologetically.

What do you love most about your partner?
Charles: I respect LaRaun’s perseverance and his ability to challenge those around him to think outside of the box. I cherish LaRaun’s beautiful eyes and his appreciation of life.

LaRaun: I respect Charles’ drive, determination, self-discipline and his “can do” attitude. I cherish Charles’ laughter and smile.

How did your personal world change from your relationship with your partner that you did not expect?
One common perception of marriage is that in the process of becoming one, individual identities are lost. What has surprised us is how easy it has been to simultaneously maintain our sense of self and a strong and healthy marriage.

Photography by Mary Beth Bartholomew
Photography by Mary Beth Bartholomew

John Nosek & Leon Stevens
Cleveland

How did you meet?
We happened to be living in the same apartment building in Cleveland Heights in 1974 when a work colleague introduced us to each other. The chemistry struck immediately and we’ve been together ever since, going on 43 years.

Our relationship solidified when we became gay activists from 1975 to 1978 and volunteered for GEAR, the Gay Education, Awareness and Resources Foundation. We became managers of High Gear, Cleveland’s first gay monthly journal. … High Gear’s profits were used for gay services and seed money for the Cleveland LGBT Center. Indeed, GEAR was the original parent of today’s center.

What do you respect and cherish the most about your partner?
Security, companionship, cooking skills and willingness to support LGBT causes.

What do you feel is the key or to a successful, sustainable relationship?
Enduring patience and trust.

What two pieces of advice would you give to other LGBTQ people out there looking for love?
Be willing to compromise and always be empathetic to the one you love.

When it comes to love, what one bit of wisdom would you share with your younger self?
Age may not change your personality much, but life does indeed get better.

BrianaSnyder Photography
BrianaSnyder Photography

Michelle Riley & Mary Wiseman
Dayton

How did you meet?
Mary: We were neighbors who became good friends. Michelle was recruited to work on my City Commission campaign. We laughed so much together, turning hard work into joyful fun. Then we shared a first kiss and we were both over the moon for each other.

How has your relationship affected the world around you?
Loves changes everything around you. Twenty years ago some family, community members, workplace colleagues and friends were not ready for us. We made it hard not to be happy for us and for our newfound love.

Over time our devotion to each other changed attitudes and behaviors. Love won over fear and prejudice. Love always wins.

What do you love most about your partner?
Mary: I most admire Michelle’s joy for life. She is constantly full of energy and creativity. She truly cares about others. She is my personal superstar.

Michelle: I’m crazy about Mary. The question is better asked, what don’t you cherish about Mary or what one thing would you change about her. The answer is I cherish everything about Mary and I don’t want to change anything about her. I celebrate Mary for who she is. You don’t get to pick and choose. I won the full package.

Photography by Staley Munroe
Photography by Staley Munroe

Amanda Broughton & Michele Hobbs –
Cincinnati

 

How did you meet?
Michele: When we met Amanda was working for some friends of mine. We became friends and would hang out in the same groups occasionally. After a couple years our friendship turned into something more special over a trip we took to California.

 

What do you think is the most important thing we face as a community?
Marriage equality is one thing, but there are many people in our LGBTQ family who are still fighting for dignity, and in many parts of the country being gay can still get you killed. I’m not sure the percentage of our community who are married, but I would think a larger percentage still feel marginalized.

Marriage may be a right, but dignity is righteous. And if we cannot have dignity, then we have very little.

What obstacles do you face as a lesbian couple?
Honestly, I think we have both been, and continue to be, very blessed. If I could promise and deliver to every LGBTQ person the kind of safe and happy love we share, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

It breaks my heart to see people unhappy. And to think many in the LGBTQ community struggle just to make it through the day, those are the folks whose struggles I think about.

Photography by Staley Munroe
Photography by Staley Munroe

Zhane Dawlings & Al Novoa –
Columbus

How did you meet?
Zhane: We met at one of my performances through a mutual friend. It was late that night and Al carried my bags out to my car, which proved to me that he was a gentleman. He continued to prove it time and time again, which is how our love grew as strong as it is today.

How has your relationship affected the world around you?
Al had prior relationships which conformed to a lot of the heterosexual community standards, so it became challenging for some family members to accept his relationship with a transgender woman.

He has faced issues with his son not understanding and being misled by perceptions of others. Yet, while overcoming his own battles he is teaching his son that love has no boundaries.

What is your favorite story involving your partner?
We were in Costa Rica on an ATV tour and had not anticipated that during our ride we would become so dirty. So we ventured back to our hotel room, which sat on top of a mountain overlooking a volcano with a grand pool. We jumped in it. Fully clothed!

Bob Vitale
Bob Vitale is the editor of Prizm. A Toledo native and graduate of Toledo Public Schools, he has worked as a local government and politics reporter for The Columbus Dispatch, as a Washington correspondent for Thomson Newspapers and as editor-in-chief for Outlook Ohio. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science from Ball State University and a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield. Contact: BobVitale@prizmnews.com