Christian, the dapper gent in the tie, (he/him/his) and Brandon, the handsome man with the unbuttoned collar, (he/him/his) met at Flagler College. Aside from being absolutely adorable together, Christian is working his way into the political arena and Brandon runs one of Maple Street’s dining establishments. Both of these men are incredibly passionate about their futures, careers, and redefining “traditional” values.
How do you identify?
B: Gay. Yeah. A Kinsey 6.
C: Bi. It’s funny, every time I’ve done the Kinsey test, I'm always in the middle of the road. A solid 3.
*If you’re not sure where you fall on the spectrum, the Kinsey scale is a great stepping stone. Here’s a quick Buzzfeed version: https://www.buzzfeed.com/awesomer/lets-talk-about-sex?utm_term=.sdek35K8A#.gkabk1QyZ
When did you know?
C: Looking back, I can see things like when I was super little watching Hercules. Hercules did things for me, but so did Meg! I realized in high school, my junior year, I identified as bi. So, I could date a girl and I didn’t have to tell anybody then.
B: I knew in middle school. In the sixth grade, I started telling people that I was probably bi and that was kind of my stepping stone. By my junior year of high school, I kind of started to realize…it was like, “Ok, this is who I am. This is it.”
Is your family-affirming?
B: Mine are fine. They are super liberal. Like, my mom knew about Christian right away. I told her, “Mom, there is this boy and oh my God!”
C: My family is fine as well. When I came out to my parents, my mom said she knew since I was two. I don’t know what a two-year-old would do to make someone know that, but she knew!
B: My mom was very similar. She was like, “I knew when you were two years old!” And I was like, “What?! Why didn’t you tell me!”
C: Yeah. We could have talked about this sooner!
How did you two meet?
B: At Flagler College. The first time I met Christian I was an RA and he was a first-year student. I was at the security desk and all of a sudden I heard this ruckus behind me. And there was this boy pushing these four girls into an elevator. My initial thought was, “Oh my God. I’m going to have to write this person up!” But they all looked up, and the fear was there and he got out of the elevator and walked away. I remember that everywhere since then I would wonder, “Who is this person?” I would see him all the time! And eventually, we ended up meeting.
C: We ended up having a mutual friend so we started to hang out. We would do homework and study. And it just naturally happened.
Tell me about your first date.
B: It was the Ice Plant! I took him out to lunch. We had just started hanging out and I didn't want to be super forward. We had just finished class and I wanted to go out for lunch. So, I texted him asking if he wanted to go to get lunch at the Ice Plant. I also offered to pay for it, you can't say no to a free lunch!
So we both ordered the meatloaf sandwich and Florida mules and our sandwiches came in a heart shape. Meanwhile, I was trying to play it off super casual. I didn’t want him to think this was a date! But it totally was, I planned it and paid for it, and it was a great time, and our sandwiches were in the shape of hearts!
And it just worked from there?
C: Originally, we thought that this was going to only last three months. We met in February and I was graduating in May. And I wasn’t out. So we kept thinking we would just say “Alright, see you later!”
B: And I was going home to New Jersey but then, we just kept talking like every day. When he dropped me off at the airport, we were both crying. Eventually I changed my plane ticket back to Saint Augustine from August to June! Like only two weeks from when I left. So I got back and he needed someone to sublease his apartment and I thought, “Wow. This works really well for me!” So, we just kept going and it persisted. It was that Fourth of July weekend that we decided to be a couple.
What is Love?
C: I mean I’m not super lovey-dovey.
B: Neither of us are. I’m not like, “Oh my God I’m going to hold your hand every minute” or say “I love you” every minute.
C: I mean we do say I love you!
B: I don’t know, it’s something that’s given but not expected or asked for. It’s sometimes not deserved but it happens. It’s as small as, “I’ll hold the door open for you.” Or in his case, “I’ll do the dishes for you.”
C: I'm more of a Show It than Tell It person.
B: Like I know that when he’s making plans, like planning out our next five years, that’s how he’s showing me that he loves me. For me, it’s more of a how can I help you.
Do you think you’ll get married?
B: Oh yeah! But, he has his family church in Madison Florida that’s Methodist. And Methodists as a collective front are not really affirming. They’re not open to gay marriage. So, we can’t get married in that church. But his whole family is like, “We have keys! We could sneak in, in the middle of the night!”
C: It’s only so recently that we could get married. My uncle got his license so he could marry people. In this region, he was the only one who would perform same-sex marriages. He was replaced with a man who doesn't want to be faced with discrimination so he’s not issuing licenses to anyone. He says he wants to bring family values back. But it’s my family’s tradition to get married in this church.
B: It’s still possible to be traditional. We just need to focus on creating more families. Like, it’s not conventional but it still follows tradition.
C: There’s an Instagram couple that I love. Dadsnotdaddies. It's two men and their kids in Salt Lake City. For me, it’s like a visible gay traditional family.
What are you passionate about?
C: Definitely politics! 24/7! So, I work for a republican politician here currently. It’s temporary work, but it’s a great stepping stone potentially. But it’s hard. I’m not out to the people I work with. I’ve come out to small pockets of people. Like, I’m out to one co-worker. And she was like, “don’t worry, our immediate boss doesn't care.” But our head boss is very conservative and Southern Baptist, he’s a super nice and sweet guy, but he’s not affirming. In Florida, you can still discriminate. I’ve gotten student loans and car payments so I have to be careful.
I first got interested in politics when Obama first came up and I was in love. My family never sat me down and said, “We’re democrats!” They let me discover what I believed and then they came out to me once I formed my opinions. “We’re all democratic!” For me, I’m interested in the public service of politics
B: Ha! A lot of things! I’m really passionate about my job actually. I work at Maple Street and it combines my passions. So, people, that’s my biggest passion right now. Like connecting to people. Finding out who they are. Helping them out through service. Learning their stories. Like with our regular customers I can tell if they are having a bad time and help them in any way I can. That’s my main focus.
The other aspect of my job that I’m passionate about is food! I’m a foodie. Foodie foodie foodie. We’ll be sitting on the couch and I’ll ask, “Can we watch Chef’s table? It’s like the best show!” And he’s like, “No. God No!” So I tell him he can go to sleep and I’m going to watch it!
What is it like working in politics not being fully out?
C: A longtime friend of the politican I work for came out to my boss, and it wasn’t a big deal. He knew he was gay, but they don’t talk about it. One time at an office party someone brought it up, and they shut down the conversation. Which is a kind of silencing in a way. It’s challenging to keep my job and be who I am working for Republicans and being the minority. I don’t want to worry about all the negative possibilities about me simply being who I am and how that could affect my career.
It wasn't actually a coworker, just a longtime friend of the politician and we weren't at a bar, it was at an office party. The guy came out to the politician at a bar but the politician was retelling the story at an office party.
B: Yeah, it’s hard. Like the other day, he had an office kickball game and then an after party and it sucked because I couldn’t go with him whereas if I was a woman it would have been no question. I would have gone. That’s our current reality and we have to pay attention and be aware.
Do you have advice for anyone coming out now?
C: Do it on your own time. There was this thing on TV where two people were talking and they just kept saying, “Just do it!” But you shouldn’t if you’re not ready. It’s a big step. If you’re from a rural area and living there, things are harder. I was worried about the people who had said, “Good morning” to me, every day of my life suddenly not saying it anymore.
B: Small things like that you notice. No one has to be outright rude to you, it’s the small things. So do it when you’re comfortable and you know yourself. Be yourself. Know yourself. It’s important to know who you are and have a plan. I was super fortunate, but there are people out there who have to worry about their living circumstances. There are people who come out and are suddenly living on the street.
C: There was this guy I knew whose family disowned him for a while.
B: You need to make sure you can take care of yourself and you have a plan. It sucks but you have to be careful. It’s not really fair. With all things in life, you have to be strategic. Life is a game. We’re all players. You have to be aware.
C: And make sure you have a friend. I was super nervous. It’s important to have support.