Today, Armando and Scott are firmly, unquestionably in love. They share a house they own together, last summer they got civilly united, and they spend their days wrestling with nieces and nephews and generally providing a home for those that don’t have one. But it wasn’t always this way. This is their story.
Meeting the Family Up Close and Personal
For Christmas, Scott went back to Michigan, where he was raised, and Armando spent the holiday with his family in Pilsen. As New Year’s approached, Armando decided to invite Scott to his family’s annual celebration. Every year on December 31st, Armando’s entire family gathers together for a huge party that lasts until midnight. It culminates with everyone being wished a happy New Year, and then all the children and grandchildren disperse to pursue their own plans.
On the night in question, Scott and Armando arrived at his sister’s, and Scott was a bit overwhelmed at the sheer number of family members waiting for them. There were over 50 people milling around the apartment sipping drinks and telling boisterous stories. Armando introduced Scott to a few people, but soon was pulled off to engage in the celebration he’d engaged in since he was small.
Seeing that he was alone and out of his element, Armando’s sister took Scott under her wing, and continued the introductions. His efforts at blending in paid off, and the crowd soon warmed to him. He marveled at their openness. His own family was still adjusting to his gayness, but that seemed to be last thing on anyone’s mind as he spent the evening chatting and cracking jokes.
When midnight struck, the family tradition got into full swing as every single person in the family got a hug and a kiss from everyone else, Scott included. Afterward, Armando & Scott said a few goodbyes and rushed out into the night to meet some of Scott’s friends at Berlin Nightclub in the Boystown neighborhood. They spent the rest of their evening talking closely and dancing slowly, much to the interest of Scott’s friends. At the end of the evening, they stumbled back to Scott’s apartment and spent their first night together ringing in the New Year.
In early 2007, the two fell into a weekly pattern. On Fridays, Scott brought a duffel bag with him to work, Armando would pick him up, and they would head off to Pilsen to spend the weekend at Armando’s apartment, with Armando dropping him off at work on Monday morning.
Valentine’s Day came and went, following the same pattern, but Armando was still struggling with his perception of their relationship. They were just friends in his eyes, something he repeated often to everyone in earshot. But, as his friends pointed out nearly as frequently, while Armando’s words loudly proclaimed friendship, his actions gave of a distinct boyfriendish vibe. While it was undeniable that Armando enjoyed spending time with Scott, they were together every single weekend, after all, the thought of getting into another serious relationship was too unnerving to commit to. He’d spent 10 years of his life tied down in an unhealthy relationship, wasting much of the time he could have spent enjoying being young and gay in the city. Leaving that relationship was shattering in ways he was still dealing with, and the thought of starting something new left an acrid taste in his mouth.
This isn’t to say that Armando didn’t enjoy the time spent with Scott. Having him around brightened up the sometimes overly serious life Armando led. He had his ups and downs, but Scott could always make him laugh. They spent their weekends touring the bars and restaurants in Armando’s neighborhood and having epic nights getting to know each other’s social circles.