By Patrick Duvall
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.
Friends First…No Really, Just Friends
It all started on MySpace, believe it or not.
On a boring Friday night in in Chicago in November of 2006, Scott, then 37, signed up for an account on the social networking site after being badgered by an office-mate for weeks, and quickly found Armando’s profile through a mutual friend. The pair soon discovered they had quite a bit in common, but bonded, at least initially, over their shared Catholic faith.
Earlier that year, Scott started attending weekly mass with his roommate after over two decades of shunning his Polish Catholic upbringing. Armando, then 31, had already fully embraced his Catholicism. After ending a 10 year relationship in 2005, he began as the catechism instructor at his church, and involved himself as much as possible with his community.
The tradition of Mexican Catholic Churches in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, where Armando grew up, was much more liberal than other denominations. They accepted anyone as long as they were willing to put in the work to help better neighborhood. For Armando, the official anti-LGBT stance of the Pope and the Catholic Church didn’t reflect the community he knew and loved. Like so many other issues, the Catholic Church was wrong about LGBT rights, and would come around eventually. Until then, Armando had decided that the good the church does in building up communities in need far outweighed the negative aspects of the faith. He even knew a few Catholic priests that performed LGBT weddings on the sly.
Many of these thoughts were written on Armando’s MySpace profile, which immediately sparked Scott’s interest. Armando’s commitment to community service spoke to him, too, as Scott had recently started taking introductory nursing classes at night to have a more positive impact on the world.
Armando was also working an office job, while taking classes at night, but they both put in the effort to keep the communication going, often staying up until the early hours of the morning writing messages. “I would get up in the middle of the night at like 2 in the morning to see if he had sent me something, because he would sent them at, like, 1 o’clock” Scott
recalls of the time. “And they would be these long emails, and I would read through [them] before I went back to bed.”
On December 9, 2006, they met in-person for the first time at a comfort food restaurant called Wishbone. Armando arrived a bit late, and Scott nervously gave him a journal he had gotten for the occasion. He seemed to have such a way with words that Scott thought it might do him good to write them down. In turn, Armando gave Scott music from his favorite artist, and the two spent the rest of the evening casually getting to know one another.
They began meeting up a couple of times a week for dinner or drinks, and, despite Armando’s firm assertion that they remain friends, Scott stole a kiss at the end of a long night at the bar. It had been nearly 8 years since his last relationship, and Scott was ready to jump in with both feet, but Armando was still wary of officially dating anyone after spending all of his 20’s in a failed relationship.