Photograph by Martien Mulder
Sitting on a loveseat in their Brooklyn apartment, Amos Mac, right, and Rocco Kayiatos look every bit the happy couple. The two, both 32, stare at each other adoringly, finish one another's sentences, and speak excitedly about Original Plumbing, the quarterly magazine for trans men that they run. Except they're not "together." Despite sharing an apartment, a business, and a mentality they refer to as "the cult of two," the boys are what they call "lifestyle partners," meaning they're cohorts in everything except the physical or romantic.
It started because I had never had a close friendship with another trans guy, and when Amos and I started spending more time together and conceptualized Original Plumbing, we connected creatively. I'd never felt such chemistry with someone, I'd never felt so inspired and at such ease.
I'm not jealous of Amos's relationships, because I don't have a romantic interest in him. We don't want to date. There's no competition, but other people feel threatened because we have such an interwoven and intimate relationship.
I'm a twin. So I create these twin relationships with everyone, but if there's a pyramid structure of relationships, this one is at the top. My sister and I have a very elaborate fantasy world, but I've never created a secret language with a friend before.
There's always turmoil in romantic relationships. And in terms of fulfilling my needs, this is the most authentic, adult relationship I've ever had. It makes me think differently about relationships because we create this hierarchy about what's the most important relationship. I know that romantic relationships don't last, and this one seems enduring.
People we've dated have been jealous and threatened. My last girlfriend -- when we broke up -- said, "You know that you did leave me for Rocco," and I saw exactly where she was coming from.
I went home for Thanksgiving and Rocco was coming to my mom's for Christmas, and she asked, "Should I push the twin beds together?" When I said, "No," she was like, "You never know. I don't know what you're not telling me."
We once tried to have a "third" in the relationship for a second, but he had to leave. "The unwell third" -- that's what we call people who don't work out. We had a new roommate move in recently, and we were like, "We have to keep the weirdness to the side of the apartment where our bedrooms are."
Nothing outlasts the bond and love we have for each other, and we know this relationship will last for the rest of our lives. We will be living together with 18 cats on our dying days, our tattooed bodies unfortunately sagging.
As told to Adam Rathe