These True Life Love Stories Are Queer Magic

Newlywed grooms kissing
Newlywed grooms kissing

How did you meet the person you love?

With Valentine's Day approaching, that's the question I sent out via Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. And I got some beautiful responses -- some involved hookup apps, some were about falling for your best friend. One involved a strange request with a cigarette, another a dance class, and there was a story involving a club for bearded men.

A couple of people responded with video, and I gathered them together into a video of cute-meet stories below:

The one thing these stories all have in common: they were surprises. Nobody expects love to strike -- it just does, which is a little crazy, since those meetings are among the most important of our entire lives. And yet there's no way to anticipate them, or to force them to happen. No way of knowing when you're about to meet the love of your life, or when they might pass right by.

So is there anything you can do to prepare, or to practice? To improve your odds of catching love when it comes along, and for nurturing the feeling once you've found it? I think so.

I set out to answer those questions this week with a special Valentine's Day episode of my podcast, The Sewers of Paris. Most weeks I talk to a different guest about entertainment that changed their life, but this week I chatted with six gay men about their favorite love stories and how they've fallen in love. Like the people in my video, love often hit them by surprise and took unexpected turns.

Portland artist Terry Blas, for example, told me he's obsessed with grand romantic gestures in movies like Amelie and A Very Long Engagement. For him, love means being ready to give your time to another person, and to acknowledging the feeling when your heart swells.

But Louis Virtel (whom you may remember from his Jeopardy victory snap heard 'round the world) joined the show with a different take. He says that while the feeling of love is fine, he prefers to talk about it and analyze it, rather than just experiencing it. That's probably why he cited Cher's wry performance in Moonstruck as his favorite romance.

Comedian Kevin Yee said that falling in love is beautiful, but acknowledged that it often ends in pain. His challenge, he said, is finding someone for whom that pain is worth the risk. And my guest Conor is obsessed with doomed couples, like the boys of Weekend or like Buffy and Angel, since he's not sure that true grand romances are actually possible.

When I spoke to Terrence, a writer, he cited Edith and Archie from All in the Family as among his favorite. They're a couple who don't always talk about their feelings, but are devoted to each other. And that triggered a memory from his past, a boyfriend who demonstrated his love with a grand gesture instead of words. That gesture came too late for Terrence to realize how they both felt about each other, but it was a learning experience, preparing him to recognize love the next time it happens.

And my final guest, food writer and Great British Bake Off star Edd Kimber, is a diehard optimist when it comes to love. He found movies like Trick and Beautiful Thing when he was just thinking about coming out, and they gave him reason to take the plunge of coming out and looking for love in the hopes that he might fall madly for someone who loved him back.

Those are just a sampling of the love stories I've gathered. We'll be reminiscing about our favorite romantic movies this weekend during a live video chat with guest Brady Ginn and comedian Cody Melcher, and I hope you'll join us for that.

The love stories of my podcast guests mirror the cute-meet stories of the people who sent me videos. There's no predicting when love will strike, or who you'll find yourself falling for, or how different people might express their affection.

But you can prepare for love and keep your relationships strong by asking yourself:

How do I want to love someone? And how do I want to be loved?

Those are questions we should never stop asking, as our answers will change over the years. We can find suggestions in the love stories that we tell each other, whether they're stories in film or stories from real life. But ultimately, the answers lie with us. Each answer deeply personal, entirely unique, and waiting to be shared.

Check out the podcast Sewers of Paris for more revealing intimate stories about entertainment that changed the lives of gay men. And join us this weekend for a live video chat about love stories: it's at noon Pacific time on YouTube, and we're looking forward to hearing about your favorite romances -- both from movies and real life.