| AMY TANNENBAUM
Before Craig and Joel’s lives intersected, they grew up across the country — Craig in Cincinnati and Joel in Houston, TX. Craig grew up the youngest in a small family, raised by open-minded and progressive parents. Joel grew up the youngest of seven in a Catholic family, where coming out proved more of a challenging experience — but he is happy to have the support of a majority of his family.
Ohio State University brought Craig and Joel to Columbus, and they met at a mutual friend’s birthday party in 2011. They have called Columbus home for many years now.
Both Joel and Craig work in the non-profit sector. Craig is a Development Manager for OhioHealth, while Joel works for AIDS Resource Center as the Chief Marketing and Community Relations Officer. Outside of work, they both support the Human Rights Campaign, with Craig co-chairing their recent Gala in 2015 and Joel co-chairing in 2009. They’re both involved in local politics as well, recently co-hosting a fundraiser to support Columbus City Councilman Shannon Hardin, the first openly gay man to serve on Columbus City Council.
On a Thursday evening in April of 2014, it was with their love of Columbus in mind, that Joel surprised Craig with a tour of the city. “I came home to flowers and a sealed envelope,” recalls Craig. “Inside was the first in a series of clues that led me on a scavenger hunt across Columbus. Each stop was a milestone in our relationship, eventually leading me to the Columbus Museum of Art where we had our first date. There Joel proposed to me in Derby Court.”
With Craig’s acceptance, the couple has been hard at work ever since, planning their dream wedding: at a Villa just outside Sitges, Spain. (Appropriate with their love of travel!) Their close friends and family are joining them in a small ceremony. “Marriage is important to us because it begins a lifelong journey of love and commitment to one another,” explains Craig.
As they put together all the details for their nuptials later this summer, they keep each other distressed by keeping one another laughing. “My favorite thing about Joel is that he always finds a way to make me laugh, even when I’m having a rough day,” says Craig. Meanwhile, Joel says, “My favorite thing about Craig is his sweet and attentive personality. He puts a smile on my face every time I see him.” Their relationship works because they have very similar personalities and a lot in common. “We believe that community is key, and we support each other in everything we do,” explains Craig.
So after the wedding, what’s next for this dynamic duo? Adding to the family! They plan to begin the adoption process next year. Says Craig, “with any luck, we’ll have a baby in 2016!”