Bob and Rich Bob and Rich, born three days apart in 1937, have the honor of being the longest relationship in the First Comes Love Project. They met in 1955 at Trinity College at freshman orientation. Rich looked across the room and when his eyes landed on Bob, "he was so overcome that he started to shake," but was determined to meet him. While most of the guys were out playing softball, their friendship began. Back in those days, everyone was closeted. According to Rich, "Even to each other there was a process of coming out and checking each other out to make sure that this was going to be okay." As Bob remembers, " We sat together in psychology class where we learned we were listed as criminally deviant." They both confirmed that what works for them in staying together for many decades is the "chemistry." The emotional, spiritual, and physical chemistry is just right. Otherwise, they consider themselves quite ordinary. "If our life together were seen through a heterosexual lens, there would be nothing startling about the relationship or anything about us. We're a family," Rich says, "with real family values. If anything should happen to either of us, the survivor would need to be comforted." Mundane as they may claim to be, they have made many compromises along the way in order to live what they consider a "mainstream" life. They have always put their relationship first above all vocational opportunities and aspirations. For these lifelong Episcopalians, the Church plays a very central part of their lives An ordained Episcopal priest, Rich had originally intended to invest himself fully in the Church. But in 1965, a career as a full-time priest of a parish would not have included a life with Bob, the man he loved. It was made quite clear that if he wished to rise through the Church hierarchy, he would need to marry...a woman. Rather than create a façade or live a lie, he chose to serve part-time at different parishes and two cathedrals, while simultaneously pursuing a career in higher education. Bob also worked for the church, serving as parish treasurer and, of course, as test audience for Rich's sermons. For his service to the Church, Rich was installed in 1992 as an honorary canon (for life) of Christ Church Cathedral, Hartford, Connecticut. At a time when closet doors were closed tightly, they made sure that their home was their "impenetrable castle." Rich pursued an alternate career as teacher of philosophy and religious studies at the college level. He earned three graduate degrees, including master's degrees from Hartford Seminary and Yale University and a Ph.D. from New York University. Bob pursued a career in education as well; he worked as a public school teacher of secondary mathematics for 35 years, 27 years as department head, and earned a Master's degree in secondary school administration. Their chosen careers in education allowed them the freedom to travel during their summers and vacations to distant lands where they could be more open about their relationship and not concerned about what other people saw or thought. They spent many summers in Florida. Particularly in the early years of their relationship, two men seen together frequently going to the movies or shopping together raised eyebrows. Going out to dinner could be interpreted as a business meeting, but Bob and Rich were still very cautious. In 1967, they moved into a home that Bob designed: a two-family house, divided into two separate living spaces with separate addresses, entrances, and phone numbers that provided the necessary facade for their life together. For their neighbors - blue-collar, Italian Roman Catholics - it worked. The men chatted with Bob about cars or landscaping, and their sons mowed their lawns and shoveled their snow. As a priest, Rich buried Bob's brother, parents and grandmother, but had to conceal his emotions as Bob's partner and lover. When he visited Bob in a hospital after surgery, he put on a clerical collar in order to gain access to Bob's room. He could only show the emotions of priest to parishioner. Rich lamented, "In those days, I couldn't have made emergency decisions as 'next of kin.'" Every September for many years they celebrated their anniversary, even their 25th, quietly. Only in later years, could they celebrate with friends. As Rich says, "You can't grieve publicly, and you can't celebrate publicly, but we got used to that. We feel that our life together is so enriched in so many ways that it's mostly positive." In 1994, Bob and Rich retired to Florida where they live in a continuing care retirement community so that they can always be close should one need more care than the other. Fully and happily out of the closet, they served as Grand Marshalls in the 2005 Pride Fest parade in nearby Lake Worth. For 53 years they shared a wonderful life together fueled by their love and devotion but protected by no vows or laws. In 2009, Bob and Rich were legally married in Trinity College Chapel in Connecticut back where they first met on that first day of freshman orientation. In September of 2014, they will celebrate their 59th anniversary.