I met Jared and David at this year’s New York Gay Pride as they modeled shirtless in their underwear. I soon found out that they were a couple with a fascinating story as to how and why their relationship has lasted in a world where they very often don’t.
Both work as models, dancers and in the bar industry, and both are exposed to the gay nightlife that encompasses us all. Here is their story.
How and when did you meet?
Jared: We met at G Lounge, now REBAR where I’m sure many gay couples have met. David was working as a server there, and I was go-go dancing occasionally. He saw me dancing one night and started lightly flirting with me by smiling at me and bringing me Blow Pops or Ring Pops on the nights when I worked, which I thought was adorable. One night, the magic finally sparked, and we felt that immediate connection when we kissed. I invited him to come with some friends and me to a dance party after work, and that kicked off the start of our romance.
David: Ha! I had my eye on that booty long before we met. LOL. I was serving cocktails at G Lounge, and he was dancing. I used to just stand a few feet away from his box while he was dancing and just stare, never really saying much; that’s probably why he paid little attention to me. If he had, this relationship would have started sooner. But yes, I always brought candy to work for the bartenders and go-go boys, and I’d usually save the Ring Pops for him. Then one day, that one kiss started something pretty damn amazing!
You two have a special kind of relationship. Can you explain it?
David: This definitely is one of the most unconventional relationships I’ve ever been in, but honestly, also the best. Every open relationship is created different. In the beginning, I didn’t know if I even wanted an open relationship. My friends even asked me what I was doing, because I had never been that type of person before. But Jared had a lot of patience and gave me room to figure that out for myself. We spent a lot of time expressing our needs and desires, and I’m very happy we were able to find a way that worked for us.
We set up boundaries based on where one of us might feel uncomfortable, but we were open to changing those as well as we learned more about ourselves and each other. Mostly, we like to have fun, enjoy life and see each other happy. We love experiencing new things together, and we don’t mind testing the waters to see what works and what doesn’t.
Jared: Our relationship had a very unusual start. We were both in relationships at the time. David was ending one, and I was still very much in an open relationship with Seth Fornea. As his relationship ended, ours evolved into somewhat of a throuple with my partner at the time, but I think what we really became was just one big family. There were a lot of conversations had, of course. But they were honest conversations with loving listeners. Early on, when David and I first started seeing each other, Seth pulled him aside and said, “Thank you for making Jared so happy.” We all still live together, love and support each other. It’s really a very healthy situation.
Why and how does it work for you?
Jared: The big thing that I think a lot of people don’t realize is that open relationships aren’t really that different from monogamous ones. They both work and don’t work for many of the same reasons. I think that for me, it has worked first and foremost because I really had to realize that an open relationship is what I wanted. And the main reason for that was because I wanted a style of relationship where my partner and I could feel completely comfortable being honest with each other about our sexual desires without feeling uncomfortable or needing to bend the truth, lie or cheat. I think a lot of relationships don’t work because people aren’t honest with themselves first or haven’t even bothered to think about what they really want, and just let society dictate to them how their relationship should be defined. For David and I, we have our own rules, and we have built trust for each other. And honestly, there have been times when we thought it might not work between us, that we had run up against an unresolvable difference or let emotions flare up and get the best of us. But when we took a little time to empathize and learn from each other, we found our way back and were stronger because of it.
David: In short, it works because we want it to! And we are willing to work with each other. Of course, we have the love and respect and communication. But we both want to help each other to grow and make positive changes, as a couple and as individuals. Progressing in life and learning to better oneself and each other is special, and that’s what we have, and that’s why it works.
Jared: Oh! And you can’t leave out non-verbal communication. One of the early things that we both loved about each other was that we are both instinctively very physically affectionate people.
I never get tired of him coming over to give me a kiss on the cheek or even just to lean on me. That, and the sex is out of this world!
You also sometimes work together. How does that affect your home life?
Jared: We really enjoy working together when we get the opportunity, usually go-go dancing, hosting events or brand promotions, which is fun work to do together. Overall, I think that the effect is positive and brings us closer together. And when all three of us get to travel together for work, we have a BLAST!
David: We have a lot of fun working together—all of us. We tend to stay away from drama and keep it positive. We definitely have our fair share of disagreements, but we keep that home, no matter what. Some producers won’t hire couples simply because of drama they could bring. That’s not us. On the other hand, we’ve had some wild experiences in the past two years, especially when we travel to new places together. Most not PG rated.
Is there ever jealousy involved?
Jared: I’m not really a very jealous person in general. I’m genuinely happy for my partner to succeed and want to help him if I can. A win for him is a win for us. If you are referring to our openness, generally no. I want my partner to have an amazing life full of diverse experiences. There have been a few times when one of us felt a little jealousy, but we found it really wasn’t so much about being jealous as it was about expressing a need for other’s attention and affection. It has happened often enough that we use a code word now to quickly and discreetly express to each other that we need to have a little alone time, away from others, to show each other a some extra TLC.
David: I occasionally was a jealous person in the beginning—not cute, possessive jealous, but insecure, worrying jealous. It did cause some problems between us that could have possibly ended us. I didn’t think jealousy was cute or a trait I wanted to have. I knew it was something I wanted to change, and I didn’t want to lose Jared. I realized that my jealousy was really coming from my own insecurities. Jared was really patient with me, and I learned how to overcome it, which took, among other things, gaining a lot of confidence in myself. Going to see a therapist (which I’ve been going to for years) is probably one of the healthiest things I’ve ever done for myself. And bringing this up to my therapist actually helped me to have an understanding of where that was coming from. I think everyone, especially our in community, should go to therapy. It helps in every aspect of your life.
Do you plan on getting married, or are you already married?
Jared: We are not yet married, but we have talked about it!
David: We will be getting married!
You must have interesting stories. What’s your best or funniest?
David: It isn’t necessarily funny, but one of our more memorable moments as a couple happened when we were working for Cherry in D.C. The three of us—Jared, Seth and I—were in the bathroom, and we just looked at each other and all started crying like little girls and telling each other how much we love one another and how happy we are as a family.
Jared: Too many! Quite a few that probably shouldn’t go in print. A few years ago, Seth and I were dancing for Independence Week in P-town, and the day before the beach party, I was riding my bike back to the house. There was one hill that I had gone down many times before with a near 90-degree turn at the bottom. I was going down the hill at maybe 15-20 mph, but what I didn’t know was that it had just rained, and sand had collected at the turn. I saw it too late and had to choose between hitting a fence and flying over into a field or skidding the bike into the ground. I managed to keep my head up, but bodysurfing asphalt took off more than a few layers of skin from my hands, side and knees. When I made it back to the house covered in blood, all the go-go dancers jumped up from dinner and helped me get cleaned up and bandaged.
I took the night off to recover, but of course, the next day, I got back on my go-go box wrapped up in gauze, and still served up a fun beach party. A local NYC promoter took a video of me dancing with the caption, “I want to be her when I grow up!”
Is there anything that you would like to promote for yourselves?
Jared: You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or SoundCloud under Jared Bradford or @jbradfordinc for music I’ve created, modeling, appearances, fun events and parties and more thoughts on everything from nutrition, science, politics, and life in general. I performed and produced the audiobook of “My Hero,” a gay romance novel by Max Vos, available on Audible, iTunes and Amazon. It’s a touching coming-of-age, first-love story with some steamy moments to make you sweat a little. Also, I love teaching, and I’m a great math and science tutor if anyone needs help! Email email@example.com for inquiries.
David: Find me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter under David Emmanuel or @demmanuelny. Signed model, dancer, spokesmodel for FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobile) and in the process of pursuing voice-over acting. I still go-go dance and host events as well. I’m also a personal chef (in the industry for 19 years), so if you’d like to hire a personal chef for yourself, private events, nutritional needs, etc., email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Any advice to couples in the same situation?
Jared: Sure! If you are getting into an open relationship, make sure that you spend a lot of time talking about what that means to you and your partner, and work together to figure out what works best for the both of you. As differences arise, take time to get to know and understand each other instead of getting angry. Through that process, you can begin to love someone for who they are, and not for who you think they are or who you want them to be. Of course, that takes a lot of understanding, honest communication and willingness to experiment a little with what works and what doesn’t. And above all, I think it requires a willingness to put aside egos and learn from your partner without assuming that you know everything. If you keep that attitude, you may even learn things about yourself that you never realized you didn’t know.
David: Be honest with yourself, and be sure, or at least have an idea, of what you want in a relationship. Try to keep an open mind and willingness to experience and learn from one another. Don’t force something that doesn’t work for you. Ask questions before you make conclusions. It’s easy to understand your own perception of someone; it’s much harder to understand how someone perceives himself.