interview with Karl & Le'Son
Karl: The very first time Le’Son and I went out was great; however, the evening did not start out as a date, really it is the first time he and I had real conversation. Le’Son and I had just left a Bar-B-Q at a friend’s house in Brooklyn. I agreed to give him a ride home. Both of us being new to the city we got lost making our way back. It was stormy and dark, the Best of Donny Hathaway was playing. When track 10, “You Are My Heaven”, started to play we both had the same reaction. It is one of our favorite songs. We sang and laughed together. When we finally negotiated our way back into the city we agreed to stop for a drink to celebrate. Our laughs and great conversation continued until closing time.
2. How did you guys meet? who approached who?
Karl: Le’son and I had met a few times. As stated before we had mutual friends. The first time we met was at a “SEVEN” party. We met again at a Brooklyn Film Festival where Le’Son was a guest on a panel discussion. After the discussion, I learned that Le’Son was from Ohio, and that we knew some of the same people. I suggested we exchange information and keep in touch. To do so, Le’Son called my cell phone from his, so his number would be in my phone log. The next day I noticed I had a missed call. I had forgotten that this was the call from Le’Son from the day before. I returned the call. Le’Son did not answer, so I left a message. Later that day we ran into each other at a party and that was it.
Le'Son: Karl and I met at the New York hot spot Luke and Leroy, and that is when we were introduced by a mutual friend. Karl did not catch my attention then because I thought he was very nice looking, but a little to short for me. So I kept stepping.
Karl: I can think of many things that have been outrageous during our time together. However, the one that stands out the most is our attendance at a bridal seminar. Le’Son had been investigating different ideas for the upcoming wedding. He was chosen to attend a bridal seminar for brides-to-be and their fiancés. When the call came Le’Son had to register us as a couple. He was listed as the Bride and I was listed as the Groom. When we arrived at the event there was a seating chart and all the couples sat together. The host and his team did not realize we were a male couple until we arrived. We reviewed China patterns, and wedding strategies with the other couples. It was great!
Le'Son: The most outrageous thing Karl and I have done... well, I was making wedding plans and needed to get some info off the internet. A friend sent me some info on a contest for New York brides as a joke. So, I entered the contest and low and behold, I receive a phone call saying I was one of the winners! I also was selected to represent as a New York bride at their upcoming event in Time Square this Saturday. So, I said what the hell I can't let them down. So Karl and I walked into that room with are heads up, with a few other very traditional couples staring at us as we walked in. As soon as they figured out who the bride was, they could turn back around and continue. But they were all very nice people and congratulated us with best wishes.
4. How important do you think it is for black gay men to find partners?
We have spent so much of our time hiding the love between two strong black men that we have made it extinct. People don’t believe it does exist or can exist. Children are “coming out” and stating their independence much younger. We have an obligation to protect them and provide role models. We didn’t have positive role models in our youth. Now there are schools geared toward our young, there is programming on television, and there are debates in legislature about our future. By coming together in positive partnerships, we are proving we can also be a part of the dream. It is very important to Le’Son and I, that we make a difference in everything we do. Our partnership is no different. We want our partnership to be an inspiration and carry the message to other gay men that we do have choices; to help the younger generation set goals for their lives, and show that a healthy relationship is attainable; also to communicate to the rest of the world our similarities. The gay community spends so much time exploiting our differences we forget to talk about our similarities. Yes our differences make us unique; however, our similarities make us a community.
Le'Son: I think it is very important for anyone to find and have a healthy partner or spouse in their life. I really think that as black men we need to work harder on keeping that. I don't think the problem is finding a partner, but "KEEPING" it and working at it seems to be the problem. Even if you have grown up having both parents or strong relationships around you, at some point in your life someone has put out there that "black men ain't shit", and they are all the same straight or gay. It is time for people to see that we can be faithful and have strong relationships. However, some of the black men who have successful relationships are scared for it to be public. So it is time we take responsibilities for our own actions and stop harping on the negative and bring more of the positive to light.
Karl: I take offense to this being called a commitment ceremony. Le’Son and I are legally joined, and have confirmed our commitment to each other with a justice of the peace, and we affirm it to each other every day with each embrace, each disagreement, and each reconciliation. Our ceremony, which will take place Memorial Day Weekend 2006, is a wedding. It is an opportunity for us to celebrate the love we have found with our friends, family, and the rest of the world. Since we have come together as partners, this will be the opportunity for the important people in our lives to relinquish the roles of supporter, friend, and family to the both us, and find peace in the realization that we will cherish each of those roles for one another every day, for the rest of our lives as we dream new dreams, reach higher goals, and live each day like we wrote it.
Le'Son: The Ceremony that we are planning is going to be at the end of May 2006 celebrating are union and giving everyone else a chance to celebrate with us. As of Nov 17, 2005 Karl and I were legally married so we have done the nervous and special part of the ceremony and that was good enough for us. We had a very traditional engagement party that was given to us in Atlanta, by a really good friend of mine, so now it is time to celebrate and party.
6. Where are you both from?
Karl: Le’Son is from Cleveland and I am from Detroit. Ironically we have always lived in neighboring states and had mutual friends. Le’Son then moved to North Carolina, and I to South Carolina. Then him to Atlanta.
Le'Son: I am from Ohio and Karl is from Michigan. Prior to both living in New York City, I Iived in Georgia and Karl lived in South Carolina. We have always been in neighboring states, but it took us both to be in New York City to find each other.
Karl: Our families have welcomed us with open arms. Le’Son’s family had a mini reunion when we came to town and I was able to meet them all. My family has been a major support as well. Many of them have been here to visit the two of us during the holidays and members of both our families will be participating in the wedding this May.
In 2003, Le'Son was offered the role of "Donnell Cross" in the groundbreaking DVD drama series The Closet. "I felt the series had a great concept and would make history. I want to be an actor who is not afraid to touch and get involved with a memorable project that has a controversial story line." says Le'Son.
He is the youngest of five children. When he is not acting in front of one camera, he enjoys modeling in front of another. In his spare time, the Libra enjoys relaxing-simply spending time with friends, watching his favorite television shows and traveling. Le'Son is also a former collegiate and professional Cheerleader, and provides training and choreography across the United States.
More about Karl -------
Karl, a native Detroit, has made a name for him self in corporate finance. After completing his MBA in finance, Karl was recognized as a visionary and held management positions with Global Fortune 500 companies.Recently promoted to Senior Director of Finance, Franchise Development, & Business Analysis, the “twenty-something” continues to be recognized as leader. “My ability to apply financial principles to everyday life has allowed me to develop new techniques to conduct traditional business”. Look for Karl in the April issue if Black Enterprise; He will be featured in the “From the Experts” series, where he will address issues of business development and franchising.
In 2001 Karl founded a non-profit organization called H.O.P.E ( Helping Other People Excel) dedicated to helping under represented youth attain personal goals related to college education.
Outside of the board room, the Taurus enjoys the Arts, Reading and Horse back riding.