David Smith and Charlie Brown have known each other for 29 years. Their story begins in Tennessee, in a frat house at Sewanee: The University of the South. They smile and shake their heads, telling the story now, how they were too young to identify the feelings they had. Brown said, “I knew I was attracted to men, but I still thought I’d meet the right woman and it would change.” But even then, young and naive, they knew they just wanted to be together all of the time; they hung out, ate meals together, did everything together. Smith can remember exactly how Brown was standing during a fraternity president nomination, as well as what he wore and how the light came in the windows to shine on him. “You don’t remember that amount of detail unless something is going on,” Smith laughed.
After parting ways after graduation, the two kept in touch. They both remember hearing that the other had come out, Smith in Austin and Brown in Atlanta. They were both in relationships on and off through the years. Recently, when Brown and his then-partner were visiting Smith (who was single at the time), Smith and Brown shared an electric moment—fingers grazed, eyes locked and they knew. The trip ended, and when they saw one another at their college reunion this past fall, they were thrilled to reconnect. Over telephone conversations in the following weeks, they began to name the love they felt—the love that had been there all along.
When Brown visited in late January of 2013, the two spent a weekend at a B&B in Fredericksburg, explored Enchanted Rock and logged some much-needed quality time together. They call this their first date, 29 years late. Because they have known each other for so long but have only been living together since March, they have a keen understanding of themselves and each other and put careful intention into their relationship. Though they have made a pact to always be proactively honest with one another, learning to live together still requires some adjustments. Smith said, “I am talking probably much more than I otherwise would be comfortable doing, but it’s so much better.” They view every conversation—no matter how routine—as an opportunity to know each other more deeply.
Don’t be misled—their daily lives are not all so serious! Their morning routine consists of coffee for Brown, oatmeal and eggs for both, along with the headlines from the New York Times, and then Smith is off to his office (he is currently working with Conspirare) while Brown settles in the home office he works out of as a life coach. These two have lives dedicated to service, with Smith calling it his main passion in life. Smith’s resume certainly shows this passion—before Conspirare, he spent years as the executive director for the Hill Country Ride for AIDS and the Mamma Jamma Ride, helping those who would be choosing to pay rent over getting medication for the month. He has a strong sense of justice that feeds into service. Brown, too, feels it is a privilege “for people to trust me to hold this sacred space in their lives…that I can serve them by helping them get in touch with their true divinity.”
Spending time with Smith and Brown is medicine for the soul. It is impossible not to feel the love they have for one another and for the world around them. When asked to describe their relationship in a word or phrase, they were hard-pressed not to write a dissertation. “He makes me love the whole world more,” Smith said, with complete sincerity. Brown’s response? “Our deep love and honesty helps me feel joy and be more of myself.” Enough said.