One of the only true pleasures that many of us have had during quarantine is fulfilling our incessant need for new content. No, really. It’s everywhere. I’ve never binged so much media more than I have in the last four months. And you know what? It’s great!
I’ve watched it all. Cooking shows, drag competitions, scripted dramas, game shows where people run into stuff, documentaries, even shows about weddings for people who need the extra boost after overcoming major obstacles in life. That last show is one of my favorites!
Earlier this month Netflix dropped their reality show Say I Do featuring eight couples who have been through it in various ways. With the help of three fabulous gay experts, Jeremiah Brent, Thai Nguyen, and Gabriele Bertaccini, these couples learn how to work through their roadblocks and are able to have the wedding of their dreams. Some have lost someone close to them, others have recovered from illness, but one of the very real stories that plagues the queer community is that of Skyler and Randy Caplinger, who are the focus of the season finale. Skyler and Randy have been in a relationship for seven years, but never got to have the wedding they always dreamed of because of the issues of acceptance the couple encountered from family members, and even worse, Randy’s own internalized homophobia.
Their story resonated with me because like Skyler and Randy, I feel that my connection to the queer community is often strained because of my lack of close connection to real gay friendships. This isn’t something that has happened intentionally, it’s just the way things are for my husband and I.
Skyler and Randy’s story of discovery and acceptance is the perfect crescendo for the first season of Say I Do because it reminds us that we are all humans, with faults, and that it is in our hands whether we want to take that next step and progress.
The Caplinger’s story is beautiful, but like many of us in the LGBTQ+ community, we know that trauma and internalized homophobia can follow us for the rest of our lives, but daily affirmations and celebration of who we are is vital in securing that happiness we all deserve.
I had the privilege of getting in touch with Skyler and Randy to learn more about their journey and to catch up with them in the next chapter of their story.
DAVID LOPEZ: So how’s married life?
SKLYER & RANDY: Honestly, not much is changed with our day-to-day life! We already live together for seven years so we are very used to being around each other all the time, however, we do feel like our emotional attachment to each other was definitely high end after ‘Say I Do!’ We learned so much about ourselves and each other, we felt like we fell in love with each other all over again!
DL: Okay, so how’s being married in quarantine?
S & R: It really hasn’t affected us negatively! When Covid first hit, we agreed to let go of our diet and treat it like a “two-week cheat meal”… well, here we are! 😅 and we are in search of new shows to binge because we’ve caught up on so much! But in all seriousness, we haven’t had ANY quarantine-sparked arguments!
DL: What has been the response from friends, family, and the community in regards to your episode of “Say I Do”?
S: Personally, I have received messages from quite a few of my friends and family just apologizing for their misunderstanding of our love. I come from a somewhat religious family, so to hear words of love and support from people that I never would have expected, it truly brought me to tears!
R: The messages from the community, whether local or international, have been so inspiring. We have so many men and women sharing their stories with us, explaining to us how we’ve inspired some of them to come out to their families, or are finally recognizing that they can be strong, proud gay men and lesbian women. Our episode, I think, has been an eye-opener for the LGBTQIA+ community as well as the straight community.
DL: Why was it important for you to show your relationship and your marriage on television?
S & R: At the time of filming, we had been together for 7 years! And we are both still pretty young, so that alone is a huge feat! A huge misconception of the gay community is that gay relationships do not last long, and it was great for us to prove people wrong! After the release of the show, we understand now how important it was to show. There are not many stories like ours shown on TV. Sure, there are other reality dating shows that are so entertaining to watch and often showcase LGBTQIA+ members, but to see a developed love story, and to also be able to showcase the hard reality of not being self-accepting, it opens a whole new conversation for many people!
DL: Would you say that you’ve had a difficult road getting to this point in your relationship?
S & R: Difficult, yes. Worth every moment, 1,000,000% Learning to navigate a relationship is challenging for any couple. We’ve had ups and downs, including being homeless and sleeping in our car for a few months. Through it all, we have stuck by each other’s side! From that moment, we decided that we wanted more for our relationship and future, and we promised each other that would work as hard as we needed to get to a place where we would have more financial freedom to explore and adventure the world together.
DL: The topics of internalized homophobia and family acceptance were very prevalent in your episode, how has that shifted since your wedding day?
R: Since our wedding day, so much has changed. We learned to embrace the community better, starting by getting to know a lot of the people from our open mic night. They were able to introduce us to a whole new chosen family that has really made such a huge impact on our lives. The internalized homophobia truly has disappeared, and we’re learning each and every day to accept ourselves to the fullest. As far as family acceptance goes, The person who had the focus in our episode was obviously my mother. I think her watching the show back has really opened her eyes and heart to our love, and has given a different outlook to her about the gay community. She has stated many times on social media how she couldn’t be prouder of us, and that she loves having Skyler as a part of her family.
DL: What are some things you hope the LGBTQ+ community can take from your relationship and your journey?
S: I think what we hope the LGBTQ+ community can learn from our episode is that although the world isn’t always as accepting of our love as we want them to be, we are beautiful. We are strong. And we are real. Our love is real, and shouldn’t be underestimated. Not only do we (LGBTQ+ community) have to overcome the hard truth of coming out to those we love, but then trying to live in relationships open and proud, it’s very hard, and we are all so strong for jumping those hurdles, just to be able to love who your heart tells you to love. NEVER BE ASHAMED. And if there is any self doubt you have, be done with that. “Be soooo done with that!”
DL: What does the future have in store for you?
S & R: Once Covid has cleared up, hopefully sooner rather than later, we would really love to use the platform that we’ve been given to travel and meet new, diverse groups of people, and hopefully try to implement these “self-acceptance Open Mic Nights” nationwide. That was the moment that we both really understood that we have a much larger chosen family than we ever knew, And we think it’s so empowering and that it can really make a difference in a lot of people’s lives. After that, the next step is definitely a family. We are both huge family men! We try to be the best guncles we can be, and it inspires us more and more to take that next step for ourselves and add to the list of cousins! Whether it be adoption, surrogacy, or fostering – we want to have a family of our own!
If you haven’t seen Skyler and Randy’s story, check it out on Say I Do, streaming now on Netflix.