Photography by Brook Pifer
Sam: Rubem and I met on New Year’s Eve two years ago. I was party-hopping, as you do in Miami, and we kept running into each other and locking eyes. Eventually he asked for my number, and a few days later we met for a date. Fast-forward a year, and we are at the same New Year’s party. The host silences the room to make a toast, and I’m thinking, Oh no, this is where everyone has to talk about what they’re grateful for, and I’m unprepared. But then Rubem stands up and I look at him and realize he is proposing.
We both have a very close and loving relationship with our mothers. I think it was obvious to my family that this relationship was different, and the fact that they really liked him and enjoyed being around him was comforting. My parents raised me to be God-respecting—I hate the term God-fearing—and my belief in God is ever-loving, ever-accepting. Whatever frustration there may have been growing up in a certain time, I’m much more interested in making sure that other people understand they can be whoever they want to be, with no fear.
Rubem: I grew up in a really, really small town in the center of Brazil, at a time when we had no idea that we could be ourselves. There are role models for people today, but we had no choice but to become our own role models. I moved to São Paulo when I was 18 to finish my studies and take photography classes, and then to Miami. When Sam and I began hanging out, I didn’t know anything about him—his world was not part of my universe. I don’t watch TV and I wake up at 9:30 every day. The great thing about our relationship is that it developed outside the noise of our professional worlds, without last names, without labels. It was just Sam and Rubem. We started to say the words “wedding” or “marriage” after about six months. Exactly a year after we met, I got down on my knees, nervous as hell, and asked him, “Will you marry me?”