Photography by Rob Howard
Ryan, Dancer & Actor: The theater community is a very small one, so I knew who Matt was—we’d worked with the same director in movies (Private Romeo for Matt and Five Dances for me) about a year apart, so that was our one-degree of separation. I’d seen pictures and found him so darn cute—he looks like a Disney prince—that I was crushing from afar. We were at a mutual friend’s birthday party and I walked in and I saw him from the other side of the bar. I gave him an awkward smile and a wave and continued ordering my drink. And then I realized I was being stupid and needed to go over. I felt so fumbly the entire time, but I knew I wanted to keep the conversation going with anything that came into my head.
We went for a date in Hell’s Kitchen a week later. I was just coming from a show, so I looked sweaty and gross and not put together, and he, of course, looked perfect. We were among the last to leave the restaurant. It was raining, and I didn’t have an umbrella so he walked me home under his umbrella, and halfway down 43rd Street he just leaned in and kissed me.
At the end of January, we’re taking a mini-hometown tour—I’m taking him to my hometown in Walled Lake, a suburb of Detroit, and he’s going to see my old dance studio and my school. And I’m going to go to his hometown. Growing up there, I was part of a large community of male dancers in Detroit, which was wonderful. I didn’t have to think too hard about coming out—I did a lot of traveling to compete and study with different teachers, so I was so exposed to that world that I didn’t think it was weird having those feelings. I came out right after taking my mom to see Milk. It felt like an appropriate moment.
Matt, Actor & Musician: I nearly dropped my drink when Ryan started walking toward me. It sounds ridiculous, but it was one of those situations where it was love at first sight, or, at least, first meet. From the moment he came over, I had this “Oh, this is it” spark of knowing he was someone I had to get to know and have a relationship with. I went home and sent my mother an email saying, “I’ve definitely met someone really, really special.”
I told Ryan I loved him two months in—I was trying to wait three months, but it slipped out one morning. We got coffee together, and I couldn’t believe I had to go home and not see him for the rest of the day. Luckily it went very well; he said it back, turned bright red, and was as giddy as could be.
My father is rather conservative, and Ryan is the first guy I’ve introduced to him. It’s always been a sensitive issue, but everyone has his processes. It’s really only been a couple of years that we’ve had an open discussion between us, but he’s been overwhelmingly welcoming and loving toward Ryan, and it was really special to have him at my home for Thanksgiving.
Oddly enough, I have very traditional values myself. When I finally had the conversation with my father, one of the things I said was, “Out of all of your children, I probably want the most traditional things—I want to get married and I want a family, and I want a typical nuclear household.” I’ve always wanted very traditional things, and I think Ryan has as well. I have two sisters, and I think we all dreamt about meeting our Prince Charming when we were growing up.