The Happy Marriage of Two Houston Gay Dads
Two fathers from League City find lasting love the second time around. Here's their story.
“We got married right next to a Saturn V rocket, the very same kind that sent astronauts to the moon,” says NASA Aerospace Engineer Robert Hanley about his Johnson Space Center wedding to Jeffrey Kohlenberg, financial services director of a local school district. Standing together on June 24, 2016, beside this powerful 363-foot-tall rocket—one of only three in existence—represented a giant leap for these low-key dads who had met casually a decade earlier on Gay.com, never imagining at the time that their relationship would go any further.
“For the next couple of years, we continued to notice each other online,” says Hanley. “Finally, Jeff suggested we actually go on a real date.” The two met up at a Chili’s and had a great time. They quickly became an item but waited nearly six years to merge households. “Robert had custody of his boys and was very busy raising them, being involved in Boy Scouts and then Eagle Scouts,” says Kohlenberg. “And my kids lived on the other side of Houston.” Once their sons were old enough, they shacked up. “It all felt very My Three Sons,” adds Hanley.
Although each had previously been married to women, they received plenty of support from friends and loved ones upon uniting as a couple. “For the most part, my family handled it very well, although it took a little time for the kids to adjust,” says Hanley. “My kids love Jeff, and his kids love me—they all get along really well.” All five young men are now studying in college.
The day after their wedding, the pair marched in the Houston Gay Pride Parade, along with several of their guests. “We wore Mister and Mister T-shirts,” says Robert.