They had met once before, Aaron and Josh, and while they were certainly intrigued with one another, nothing had come of it that first time.
Then they saw each other again during the Pride festivities in Columbus, Ohio, in 2006. After he reintroduced himself, Josh, then 21, bought Aaron, six years his senior, a hotdog with the last dollar in his wallet. Perhaps because of that hotdog, the two began dating straight away. A few months later, Josh moved in with Aaron.
For a while things were good, and then they weren’t. After only a few months, Josh moved out.
Josh now had to choose between living in his mom’s basement or joining the army. The army won.
But the guys didn’t forget each other. During Josh’s basic training, they stayed in touch. They wrote. And when Josh came back for leave, they started seeing each other again. Soon, without a ring, Aaron proposed to Josh.
While Josh was deployed in Iraq, Aaron was planning their wedding.
They had to be discreet about their relationship as Josh was serving under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Boyfriend Aaron became “cousin” Aaron. They cleaned up their online lives as best they could. Josh’s MySpace was completely “Aaron-free,” but they forgot to remove from Aaron’s account one particular photo in a background collage of photos: a picture of the guys kissing. Before long, that photo got Josh into trouble. The army initiated discharge proceedings.
Josh and Aaron kissing on Mount Rainier, Washington
Josh never experienced any homophobia as a service member – with the exception of one man in his battalion perhaps – and no one had anything bad to say about Josh. He received an honorable discharge.
On July 5, 2008, Aaron and Josh got married!
Aaron and Josh at their wedding and cutting the cake at their reception
The whole discharge mess turned out to be the catalyst for something incredibly positive: they began talking about starting a family. First, the thinking was, let’s adopt! But soon, for reasons they can’t really remember that clearly, their thinking changed. Surrogacy came into view. Via surrogacy they became the loving dads to twins. Time flies: The twins are now 4 years old.
Birth of the twins, January 2, 2012
Born into a farming family, Aaron was a farmer before college; after college he became a farmer again. The surrogacy experience changed him, and ready for a professional change, he decided to accept a job at their surrogacy agency. Aaron opened a location and specializes in fertility options for same-sex couples. He frequently holds informational meetings geared towards same-sex parents. Josh is now a happy stay-at-home dad.
Life with twins: One is an angel most of the time, cleans up behind her brother, gives hugs and kisses, and is very affectionate. The little boy is a free-spirited, not-a-care-in-the-world kid. He especially likes to wind up his sister. All the time!
Are they thinking of more kids? No, they say. But also, “Never say never.”
When we asked for advice for those considering fatherhood, Aaron said: “It may be scary but we absolutely have never regretted it. We can’t believe there was a time we were might have considered not having kids.”
They are very much part of a gay dad community in Ohio; Aaron was just elected to the Board of the Family Pride Network in Ohio.
Their immediate families have been very accepting. Aaron’s parents were very excited to be grandparents and his closest relatives have been wonderful. (Unfortunately, his extended family has not been that welcoming, due to differing political and religious views.)
Josh’s family has been accepting as well. His mom took a little while but as soon as they had kids she came into her own as a grandmother.
Aaron and the kids
Both Josh and Aaron are called Dad by their kids, something that wasn’t intentional or practical, really. But if the wrong dad answers, it’s “No, other Dad!”
These men are living open, productive, loving and connected lives in their Dublin, Ohio, community, in the suburbs of Columbus.
Aaron is very excited to be working with kind and caring people, and to be working with a community of gay dads and dads-to-be. Quite a change from when he was working on the farm, where he always had to live “with one foot in the closet,” as he calls it.
And they are quite an inspiration to our growing community of gay dads.
Family at Columbus Pride