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Fox 5’s Roby Chavez and partner Chris Roe to marry after navigating the wedding planning process

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Roby Chavez and his partner Chris Roe meet with their wedding planner and caterer at the Woodrow Wilson House in Washington on Aug. 6. They're getting married there this weekend. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

When Washingtonians Roby Chavez and Chris Roe decided to get married in December, there was no hesitation. Figuring out how to go about it, though, required months of thought and planning.

“This has been a bit of a struggle throughout the whole process,” said Chavez, 46, a reporter for Fox 5 news. “How much of the tradition do you jump on and how much of your own do you make up because as a gay community this is also new, so we don’t really know what a tradition is for us. So we’ve been kind of trying to figure out what other people might want to duplicate, what things are individual for us.”

Even basics like engagement rings, required thought. Roe, 45, didn’t get one before he proposed the night same-sex marriage was legalized in the District in December. He popped the question just before Chavez was due on the air covering the story for Fox.

“I’d been watching the news and the whole community, well, at least the whole gay community, was really amped,” Roe says. “I just felt the spirit and said this is what I’m gonna do. The ring came later.”

As a lark, the two got large, gaudy costume rings — Roe’s green, Chavez’s yellow — for a few weeks before picking out their wedding bands last weekend.

The two met at a Memorial Day party through mutual friends in 2005. Roe is from a family of farmers and teachers in Monticello, Wis., but had been in the San Francisco area for about 10 years. He eventually accepted a position working in education policy for the non-profit Business High Education Forum.

Chavez, born in Denver but raised mostly in Matthews, La., ended up in Washington “as a fluke” after stints in TV journalism in Atlanta, New York and Dallas.

They say it was love at first sight though they didn’t immediately start dating.

“I told him when I first met him, ‘You’re the one,'” Chavez says. “I don’t know, there was just something about him. They say you know. And it’s not really my style to do that. I’m not the kind of person who will confess my love automatically but I did. There was just a genuine sense of his being and I liked that. I just remember a nice hug he gave me and it was good.”

Roe says he felt the same.

“I thought it was unusual but I felt very similarly. I just tend to be more reserved and more shy than he is. I was freaked out a little but I also felt that connection as well.”

The couple was affectionate during a break in wedding planning at the Wilson House two weeks ago. Sitting at a makeshift table in the dining room so as not to sully the antique-filled home of the former president, Chavez and Roe sit close. They’re both trim and well dressed. They look at each other and giggle at the most innocuous questions.

“We started out thinking intimate and small but then we realized our lives aren’t that small,” Chavez says. “Just with our immediate family and friends, we got to about 200 people just in that. So it’s a little bigger.”

They’re planning an outdoor ceremony on the Wilson House grounds. Rev. Dwayne Johnson, pastor of Metropolitan Community Church of Washington where Chavez sometimes attends, will officiate. Their nieces and nephews will wave rainbow ribbons and a surprise entertainer will perform while two “best couples,” gay couples who have been friends of the two for years, will stand with them as they take their vows wearing matching Calvin Klein tuxes. A honeymoon trip to Greece will follow.

Rob Clemenz has known Chavez since they were in college together. He and his partner, Rick DuPlantier, are in the wedding party.

“When I first laid eyes on Chris, I knew he was perfect for Roby,” Clemenz says. “I know this really means the world for Roby so it’s very poignant and it’s just a special thing. I never ever dreamed that we would come this far and something like this would be in our lifetimes. I’m beyond happy standing there for their wedding. It’s just wonderful.”

Chavez says he didn’t call Roe immediately after meeting him because, despite the strong initial connection, dating wasn’t on his radar. He’d been career focused for many years but finally decided to take some time off for dating.

“I had three phone numbers,” Chavez says. “He was the second date. I never made it to the third.”

They live together at 12th and U streets, N.W., and make time for each other, despite disparate work schedules — Roe works days, Chavez nights. Roe waits up for Chavez every night until he gets home around midnight. Chavez promised Roe if he moved in with him — farther from his job than he’d been — he’d give him a lift to work each day, a promise he’s kept.

So what makes it work? Chavez calls it “the brake and the pedal.”

“I’m kind of all over the place and moving very quickly,” he says. “He’s very methodical and thoughtful. When I’m going too fast, he puts the brakes on and when he’s not going fast enough, I kind of push him along. We’ve just kind of learned how to connect.”

They also say the small-town values they grew up with are complementary. And they get a kick out of hearing a pop song from the ’80s and realizing they both know the lyrics.

There’s only the slightest acknowledgment of occasional friction during a 40-minute interview. They read together at night and on the way to work. Chavez mentions a couple relationship books they’ve used to help through occasional “issues in the relationship.”

“Ultimately we just talk,” he says. “We talk a lot. We have 30 minutes here or there or at night, we talk.”

Chavez says the marriage gives him a chance to turn the tables on his viewers. Getty Images photographers have followed them through the planning process.

“I knock on people’s doors all the time,” he says. “Tell me your happiness, tell me your sadness, tell me what’s going on in your life. I should be able to share with the same openness. Plus we don’t see a lot of people talking about gay marriage. I just thought I’m not gonna miss a chance to let them hear my story. It would be easier, actually, to just do it privately, but I feel I have a responsibility.”

The chance to play it big and include extended family, who have been supportive, they say, was strategic in a way.

“They’re the people who’ll have to vote the next time it comes up on the ballot,” Roe says.

Clemenz says it’s about more than the couple.

“This is so much more than a mere marriage,” he says. “It’s a symbolic leap of faith for the progress and the edification of D.C. and really for the nation. It’s thought provoking and it’s provocative. Roby’s stood up time and time again in his life. He’s a true leader.”

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Real Estate

Looking for vacation homes during Memorial Day weekend

A busy, strategic time in the housing market

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As summer arrives, more tourists begin thinking of buying in resort towns like Rehoboth Beach, Del. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Memorial Day weekend, a time to honor the sacrifices of the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces, also marks the unofficial start of summer. Beyond its significance as a day of remembrance, it has become a prime period for the real estate market. The long weekend provides a unique opportunity for home buyers and sellers, making it one of the busiest and most strategic times in the housing market.

Memorial Day weekend is often a time when people head to the beach, the country, or the mountains for relaxation and to join in the local festivities. This long weekend offers a break from routine, a chance to honor those who have served, and an opportunity to enjoy the beginning of warmer weather. 

For real estate agents, however, Memorial Day weekend can be a blend of work and leisure, especially in resort communities where the real estate market is particularly active during this time. 

The influx of visitors to these destinations often includes prospective buyers who are considering purchasing vacation homes or investment properties. As a result, real estate agents in these areas might find themselves balancing work commitments with personal downtime.

We are keenly aware that the long weekend brings a surge in potential clients. Agents joke among themselves about business being slow until they make plans to go out of town. Open houses and community home tours are often scheduled to coincide with the holiday, taking advantage of the increased foot traffic.

Due to constantly improving technology, real estate agents can effectively manage their time and resources even during busy holiday weekends. Virtual tours, online listings, and digital marketing campaigns enable agents to reach a broad audience without always being physically present. Technology also allows agents to stay connected with clients and respond to inquiries promptly, ensuring that the clients do not miss out on potential sales opportunities. 

Often, agents licensed in the DMV are expanding their territories by becoming licensed in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Writing offers while on vacation has become the norm. Social media accounts can highlight special listings and open house events, and agents can also post pictures and descriptions of amenities in the towns they are visiting, attracting interested buyers who are in the area for the weekend.

The vibrant atmosphere of vacation getaway towns during Memorial Day weekend also provides a unique opportunity for networking and relationship-building. Agents can meet potential clients in a casual setting, forging connections that might lead to new business opportunities. They can also form relationships with other agents and create partnerships to help current and future clients find leisure homes.

The appeal of owning a place by the water, for example, is often strongest during the summer months, when the weather is inviting and the potential for rental income is high. Real estate agents who serve beach towns such as Ocean City, Md., Virginia Beach, Va., or Rehoboth Beach, Del., often mix business with pleasure as they seek out new clients.

Alternatively, if the relaxed life in the country is more to your liking, places such as The Amish area of Lancaster County, Pa. may be for you. Charles Town, W.Va., and Ashland, Va. have a robust military history and may be what you’re looking to enjoy. If mountains and lakes are more your style, the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia, the Appalachians of West Virginia, or Deep Creek Lake, Md., may fit the bill, so let’s look at a few properties on the market today.

In Ocean City, you can find an oceanfront, one-bedroom condominium with beach and sunset views in a short-term rental building for $439,900. As you can imagine, it already has four weeks booked for the summer.

The historic district of Charles Town, W.Va., offers a 3,000-square-foot Victorian home built in 1890. It has five bedrooms, two bathrooms, 10’ high ceilings, original pocket doors, inlaid floors, and central air conditioning for $159,900. What’s the catch? It requires a complete renovation, but what a wonderful project it could be for weekend warriors.

Stretch your budget a bit more and you can own a 4,000-square-foot chalet with mountain views on both sides in Front Royal, Va. For less than $700,000, you will get four bedrooms and three baths, nearly two acres of land, and low-maintenance siding.

While many people flock to nearby vacation spots purely for relaxation, real estate agents often find themselves working diligently to learn about different areas and capitalize on the increased interest in local properties. By doing so, they can help clients find their dream homes, whether for retirement, short getaways, or investment potential.

Valerie M. Blake is a licensed associate broker in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with RLAH Real Estate / @properties. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via DCHomeQuest.com, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.

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Advice

After 16 years together, my wife suddenly wants children

‘I don’t want to be stuck in restrictive heteronormativity’

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Dear Michael,

A few months ago you answered a letter from a guy who wanted a baby but his boyfriend didn’t. I’m in the opposite situation. Carol and I have been together for 16 years (we’re married) and all of a sudden she wants to have a baby. This was never on the table until her dad died last year suddenly of a heart attack.  

Since then she’s been a different person. She tells me that she wants to focus on something “bigger” than just enjoying life and also wants some sort of sense that “life will go on.”

To me, being queer has always meant that we get to fully live life in the present, for us.  We don’t have to focus on having kids and all that entails: fertility stuff, sleep deprivation, diapers, babysitters, PTA obligations, college tuition, etc. Let straight people deal with those headaches while I enjoy myself. 

I don’t want to be stuck in restrictive heteronormativity, giving my time and energy to a kid who’s going to go from crying to whining to tantrums to rebellion to not talking to me. And then expect me to pay their bills after they’re 18.  

And why crowd the planet even more? In my opinion, having a baby on this planet is selfish sentimentality.

Carol and I always saw 100 percent eye-to-eye on this issue but now she’s gone over to the other side. I have shared all of the above to shake some sense into her but haven’t gotten anywhere. This was not our agreement at all.

I know you can’t change someone else, but doesn’t she owe our relationship a commitment to the life we already agreed on? I’ve suggested grief counseling but she says no.

Michael replies:

No one owes their partner a commitment to not change. It’s a guarantee that we all change over time. Relationships challenge us to stay with someone as we both evolve in big and sometimes unexpected ways over the years. There’s no way around this challenge if you want to stay happily married. 

It’s also true that you don’t have to keep living with someone who changes in ways you don’t want to accommodate. So, if Carol is certain that she wants to be a mom and if you are certain that you don’t, you can leave.

It makes sense that you’re sad and angry (putting it mildly) when your wife suddenly wants to completely upend your life. That said, you’re not going to improve your marriage by criticizing Carol or insulting her wish to parent. And if you pressure her to give up a deeply held wish, she will likely resent you.

Instead of these tactics, how about being curious regarding her desire to parent? What “bigger” meaning is she hoping to get from life? How does she think her father’s untimely death affected her, not just on this issue but possibly in other ways as well?

There’s great value in being curious about our partners’ differences rather than contemptuous or critical. That’s a path toward greater intimacy, in that we get to deeply understand the person we are spending our life with. While you may not stay with Carol, you still might want to have a close and caring relationship with the woman you’ve spent 16 years with. Understanding her better might also help you make some peace with her desire to parent.

I also want to encourage you to consider that there are many ways to be gay, lesbian, queer — to be just about anything. You could say it’s “heteronormative” to want to parent; but you could also view it as a common human (and non-human) desire that is unrelated to sexual orientation. Carol has different ideas for how she wants to live. This doesn’t mean that she is foolish.

I’m curious about why you have such an unrelentingly negative view about parenting and kids. Is it possible that you’ve had some tough experiences in your life that have shaped this view? 

I’m not pushing you to change your mind, but you might consider talking with some parents to get some sense of what parenting, and children, are actually like. 

You might open up your thinking, and your heart. You might decide you are willing to lean in Carol’s direction, or you might not. In any case, I’m hopeful that you would get a more balanced picture of what parenting and childhood can be. 

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at michaelradkowsky.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to [email protected].

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Real Estate

Yes, there are other coastal Delaware towns besides Rehoboth

Explore Bethany, Ocean View, Milton for more affordable options

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World War II watch towers dot the Delaware coastal landscape outside of Rehoboth. (Photo by Ethan Bean)

Often when we Washingtonians think of Delaware we think of Rehoboth Beach only. Well, believe it or not, there are actually other coastal towns besides Rehoboth — even some that are being taken over by gay buyers. Although you won’t find anything quite like Rehoboth, there are other options out there when looking for something perhaps a bit more affordable than Rehoboth within close proximity to all that Rehoboth has to offer.

The first option would be to look a bit farther inland. There are great condo options a bit inland from Rehoboth that will afford you some more space and are more economically priced. These options are usually a closer commute to those of us heading to the beach from D.C. Think of those condos you pass along Route 1 near the outlets – still having a Rehoboth address, but not the asking price of in-town Rehoboth. 

Let’s take a look at coastal towns that are outside of Rehoboth. Let me preface this by saying that I am a Delawarian. Born and raised in a real estate centric family with deep roots in Delaware. My grandfather always said, “Buy as close to the water as they won’t make more of it.” Obviously he was kind of wrong, because they make these hideous man-made retention pond, but of course he was speaking about the ocean and bay. No matter what coastal town I speak about in this article, they will be costly. It is just a fact. There are some options, however, that are priced a bit better than others.

Bethany Beach, for example. I know, it’s a bit sleepy and considered “family friendly,” however it is also priced better than Rehoboth. I am biased because that’s where I hang my hat and it’s a quick drive or Uber to Rehoboth for a night out or day at Poodle Beach. I also enjoy the fact that I have oodles of friends who have boats and have easy access to the bay for kayaking and afternoons out on the boats for happy hours. There’s nothing better than watching the sunset on the bay in a boat with a glass of rosé, something easily done with the access points from the Bethany Beach area.

Another coastal town that is on the opposite side of the state is Broadkill Beach. If you have ever visited the Outer Banks, this is the Outer Banks of Delaware. Broadkill Beach is technically in Milton, Del., and is a smaller beach community with essentially one road in and out providing a very exclusive feel for residents. The beaches are not like those of Rehoboth, Dewey, Bethany, or Fenwick. There is no boardwalk, no tourist attractions, little commercial development, etc. You literally go here for the beach, rest, and relaxation. Peace and quiet — the polar opposite from what Rehoboth provides.

Lastly, there are always quaint inland towns that offer respite from the beach but allow a quick drive to the sand. Some of my favorites are the town of Milton, which is a quick drive to Lewes beach. Milton provides a charming downtown area with shops, restaurants, coffeeshops, a lively arts district, and more. Truly a once upon a time sleepy town that in the past few years has woken up – it still retains its charm and character. Some of my favorite restaurants and shops are here. A quick drive takes you to the beaches of Lewes and also the town of Lewes, which is equally charming.

My next favorite coastal town – again – because I am biased – is Ocean View, which is a town outside of Bethany Beach. This town is more spread out, however it offers lots of restaurants, coffeeshops, Delaware State parks and this side of the Indian River Bridge, you gain easy access to the bay, which truly changes your way of life.

The next time you are at the beach, take time from kik’ing at Aqua or Poodle Beach and spend some time exploring the quaint town of Milton or drive along scenic Route 1 south to Bethany Beach to see what other coastal towns Delaware has to offer outside of Rehoboth that might be a more economical option in making your beach home a reality. I promise that a second home at the Delaware beaches is more within reach than you may think.

Justin Noble is a Realtor with Sotheby’s International Realty licensed in D.C., Maryland, and Delaware for your DMV and Delaware beach needs. Specializing in first-time homebuyers, development and new construction as well as estate sales, Justin provides white glove service at every price point. Reach him at 202-503-4243,  [email protected] or BurnsandNoble.com.

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