Written and photographed by Andrew Armano | www.AndyArmano.com
David and Aaron Currie call Fort Lauderdale their home and have supported the gay community for many years. Well-known locally, they are also globally recognized. On January 6, 2015, they were among the first gay couples legally married in Broward County. The image of two dashingly handsome men, one a Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy (BSO) in uniform and the other a former Marine went viral, touched uncountable lives, and provided visibility to our community. Since that time, they have been very involved in the local community, participating in fundraisers and community events. They recently sat down with me and OutClique for a more personal discussion of their life lessons, the power of community, their relationship, and balancing the personal with the public.
Full disclosure here, I have known David and Aaron for several years and I am lucky to count them among my good friends. Like many people, I knew who they were before I met them. I confess to being a touch intimidated when I met them, but their warm smiles and direct eye contact immediately won me over. As I got to know them, I came to know two grounded and honorable men who respect others in action and word.
For those who haven’t met David and Aaron, what first jumps out at you is the yin and yang of their union. Aaron is extroverted, full of energy, and quick with wit. David is an equal with a presence-centered, self-contained energy, an always engaged smile, and a twinkle in his eye.
Andrew Armano: I know you must get this question a lot, but what’s the secret to your relationship?
Aaron Currie: Honesty and communication. Being honest with your partner can be difficult, but it’s better when it’s all out on the table. Nothing pent up waiting to explode, nothing to hide. If you have a disagreement or an argument, you hash it out. If need be, you separate from each other for a couple hours and then reevaluate it later.
David Currie: With honesty and communication, you can work through the relationship. You evaluate, and decide what works. You come back and reevaluate again if you need to, and you make your relationship work.
AA: With the territory of publicity comes significant challenges, especially as you become the focus of intense scrutiny, not all of it driven by the most charitable motives.
DC: That takes us back to honesty. There is nothing that anyone could tell me about him that I would say, “Really? I didn’t know that. He did that?” Never going to happen. And he could say the same with me because in this arena, people have tried to be catty and tell me things they assume I don’t know and just respond, “I know that. Of course I knew that.” We share everything; nothing ever comes as a surprise to the other.
AC: It seems people will more quickly choose to tear someone down than build him up. I’ve seen that. I’ve experienced that. I’ve been part of that. When I was in my early 20s I fell in line with what I saw happening around me, but when I realized how I was behaving, I wanted to change. It has not been something that happened over night. I make mistakes and I grow and I learn, and when things are brought to my attention, I think about it and I try to find the next best possible approach in a future situation.
AA: There is also the tendency in this social media world to cultivate the image before the actual life you’re living. How do you guys navigate that?
AC: I think you start by being accountable for yourself and living with integrity. Leading by example is not in my opinion just leading, it’s being open to hearing feedback. Sometimes, you have to listen to feedback and evaluate whether or not it’s helpful. Other than that, I believe when you set parameters in your life for positive and fulfilling and loving things, then that is going to be what you experience and it radiates out.
DC: We make conscious choices about what we allow in our lives. There are a number of things we don’t tolerate. Drama is probably one of the biggest things. We will remove ourselves from that situation.
AA: We know the public story of your marriage photo going viral. Aaron, tell me a little about your personal experience what the right to get married meant to you.
AC: It was Christmas Day and I used to help to feed the homeless at the shelter in Hollywood. We had been together just over a year at this point and I asked David to come with me that year. After, I told him I wanted to go to the beach and take Christmas photos, I thought he would have realized because it was Christmas Day, it was a little late for Christmas photos, but he didn’t pick up on that. I sorta tricked him, I had the tripod and everything with me ready to set up and I had the ring hidden. He was off looking at the ocean as I set everything up to record on my phone. The moment was beautiful, yet hilarious at the same time. I had never seen him so taken aback, he just shrieked and gasped. He was bawling in disbelief.
DC: Speechless is an understatement. I couldn’t catch my breath. The first time ever in my life I could not catch my breath or compose myself.
AC: But, something really extra beautiful happened then. A woman was nearby watching me propose and she took pictures. I remember we were standing there, we were holding hands and he was still crying, and I saw this woman approaching us. My first thought honestly was this woman is going to be belligerent, “How dare you. This is disgusting,” sort of thing. It was the exact opposite. The woman said “I was at the traffic light and I saw you guys, and I saw you propose. It was so beautiful and I took pictures. I want to send them to you.” We gave her our email addresses, and she sent them to us.
AA: David, tell me a little something personal about that time in your life, too.
DC: One that moved me deeply in an unexpected way was when Sheriff Israel gave his approval for me to wear my uniform to be married. It was a busy day and a million things to do when my phone rang. I pulled it out and I saw, just by looking at the prefix of the number, that it’s a BSO phone number. I answered the phone and it was the former Sheriff’s General Counsel. I answered and the person said, “David, this is Ron Gunzburger. So, I hear that you want to wear your uniform tonight to get married at the courthouse?” I responded, “Yes, Sir.” He said, “Hold for the sheriff please.” It still chokes me up. Sheriff Israel picks up the phone and says to me, “David, I would be absolutely honored if you wear your uniform. I’ll be there. And I support you 100%.” His blessing meant the world to me.
AA: Those moments are beautiful in every life, but for gay people who have experienced so much prejudice, these moments can be deeply healing.
AC: Yes. I feel like a lot of people that have not had the difficulties that gay Americans have had, don’t understand the smallest little thing of feeling accepted means the world. We’re all just trying to do the best we can and be the best people we can and we want to feel the same rights and acceptability as anybody else, not to be made second class citizens. That was one of the things, being able to be married and legally change my name, I just felt like an American, [even] after having been in the military and served and still wasn’t allowed to have certain rights and benefits.
DC: I agree. I remember it was two weeks after we got married, I went to Jamaica, dispatched to the State Department for work. I had to train their National Police on some aspects of crime scene investigation. As I was filling out the travel documentation at the airport to go to Jamaica, and where that box is that says, “Single,” “Married,” “Widowed,” “Divorced,” I, with the biggest smile, checked and circled where it said “Married” because I never, in a million years, thought I would be able to do that. We deserve the same rights as everyone else and now I have them as a married person.
AA: So what’s next for you guys. Where do you see yourselves a few years down the road?
DC: I’ve been with BSO since February 1992 and a forensic detective assigned to the crime scene unit since October 2000. I’ve handled a variety of different types of cases, mostly investigating all manners of death whether it be accidental or intentional. In 18 months I can retire. I have no idea what I’m going to do next. I mean, what do I do when I grow up? I don’t know. I haven’t decided, yet. I’m not in a rush or in a hurry to figure out what. I’m sure something will come to me. Something that interests me that I don’t have to do it for the money. I want to learn something new, something different. I don’t care what it is.
AC: I am in a really good place in my life personally and professionally. I don’t see a massive change. I have been at the salon for 10 years and I’m so happy there. With David’s retirement, that will be a change and I am open and looking forward to that. I feel weird, but I don’t have any complaints as I have to remind myself I had to create this life and experience for myself. So, I will keep doing that.
AA: Thank you both for talking with me and sharing a part of you with OutClique. I appreciate your ability to open up and share. I was hoping we could give readers a glimpse into the personal side of your lives, and I appreciate your willingness to go along with me.