Brandi Nelson & Tonia Lucio

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Residents of Austin since 1997, they officially met through a mutual friend in Houston 20 years ago. Nelson is the Special Events Coordinator at the Paramount Theatre, and Lucio is an employment law and litigation attorney/partner at Richards, Rodriguez & Skeith, LLP. They celebrated their fifteenth anniversary in November and took some time during the pre-holiday rush to share their connection as a couple and how they maintain the bond of love in their relationship.

Where and when did you meet?

BN: We met through a mutual friend about 65 million years ago when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth.

Tell us about your first date.

BN: We got dressed up and Tonia took me to Benjy’s in Houston for dinner. Then we might or might not have gone to a bar to dance. It was a wonderful night and I was so happy. I already knew, but she took some convincing.

TL: We went to Benji’s restaurant in West U (Houston). I was nervous and happy at the same time.

What’s your favorite place to visit as a couple and why?

BN: We love to eat, so San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and New Orleans are favorites. We also like to go see bands we love in other cities, and those have been some of our best trips. We love Aspen. It is so beautiful, and the hiking is spectacular. We are both really happy when we are there.

TL: Pretty much any place we can have great meals together, and if we can center the trip on hiking or going to see a band we like, all the better. I love to visit Aspen and pretty much all the great food cities as a couple.

Tell us one fact that most people don’t know about each of you.

BN: I have a full on, A&E-style hoarding situation going on in my closet and love to watch Murder, She Wrote. Tonia is very silly. That is more than you asked for.

TL: I was the prom queen in high school.

How do you maintain a strong, relationship?

BN: By not losing sight of the qualities and traits that first drew us together. It is very easy to wrestle with the unimportant details of everyday life and forget what is special and precious, but then we both start laughing about something we are being ridiculous about and it is all ok. We are so fortunate to have found each other. TL: Not getting bogged down in the trivial day-to-day stuff and instead focusing on those things that we like about each other. Also, it has been a particularly big challenge for me to convince Brandi that I am always right. She’s onto me.

Remember what your first argument was about?

BN: It was about a blender.

TL: I don’t remember, but it may have had something to do with the fact that I got her a blender for our first Valentine’s Day together. Still not sure what was wrong with that. It was a nice blender. It still works, by the way.

If gay marriage was legal in Texas, would you tie the knot? Have you already been married elsewhere?

BN: We are not married. I would love for us and everyone else to have the choice. Until then, I guess we have to settle for being like Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn.
TL:Yes.

What’s your biggest pet peeve about each other?

BN: I live in a world of gray and Tonia is pretty black and white. She takes my deposition during an argument and she is well trained so I usually don’t fare too well. She is much better at making her point than I am and that infuriates me.

TL: Brandi won’t acknowledge that I am always right.

What do you love the most about your partner’s personality?

BN: She has the most personal integrity of anyone I know. She does not take the easy way out, and if she says she is go- ing to do something, she does it. She also loves dogs almost as much as I do, and that is a pretty big deal.

TL: She makes me laugh and she loves dogs. Do you have plans to start a family?

BN: We don’t intend to have children other than our canine ones. We like to enjoy time with our nieces and nephew and friends’ children.
TL: No plans to have kids but we do enjoy our nieces and nephews and our friend’s kids. We currently have two dogs: Desmond is a Chihuahua/toy fox terrier mix and Joaquin is an Italian greyhound/Jack Russell mix. Since we have been together we have had a black Lab, Great Dane, Lab/beagle mix, a wire-haired terrier and a rat terrier that have all gone off to college, as a friend of ours likes to say. All rescues.

Who (if any) are your gay couple role models?

BN: Our friends Lori Martin and Stacey Fellers here in Austin and Beth Goodman and Kimberly Morisak in Houston. Both couples are very romantic and good to each other in spite of being together for 19 and 20 years. They have given me many valued pieces of advice over the years, both humorous and serious. I also admire Pud Cusack and Kelly Schexnayder’s marriage, even though they are only short-timers at 5 years. TL: Ditto.

How do you typically celebrate your anniversary?

BN: Our anniversary is on Thanksgiving weekend, so we usu- ally don’t have it to ourselves. I didn’t really care for that at first, but now I appreciate that we are fortunate enough to have a lot of family and friends that are dear to us and that we get to spend it with. It makes the whole thing bigger than us, and I love to see the important people in our lives together. Also, there are other anniversaries and birthdays that week- end amongst our friends and family, and over the years we have spent the day at some pretty special events and on some spectacular trips.

TL: It is around Thanksgiving and so we usually don’t do have much time to ourselves. In years past, we have been on some pretty great trips. This year we spent it with friends and family, and just had a great time being with them.

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