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« Hillary Clinton: Yes, She Did! | Main | Dylan Rosser Adds Thomas Synnamon to the Roster »

Tom Ford & Richard Buckley Cover Out's Love Issue

Tom Ford was a shy 25-year-old when he met magazine editor Richard Buckley. It took him the length of an elevator ride to decide he wanted to marry him.

Tom Ford & Richard Buckley Cover Out's Love IssueTom Ford takes to the cover of Out’s February issue, enjoying an intimate kiss with his longtime partner, Richard Buckley. The portrait kicks off an issue dedicated to love, in which a series of striking photographs and stories celebrate gay couples and families, including artist Julie Mehretu and Jessica Rankin, Grizzly Bear musician Ed Droste and Chad McPhail, photographer Catherine Opie and her family of five, and supermodel Tasha Tilberg and Laura Wilson.

In an accompanying first-person story, Ford recalls riding on an elevator with Buckley in 1986, 10 days after first spotting him at a fashion show. “I decided in that elevator ride that I was going to marry him. He ticked every box, and—boom—by the time we got to the floor, I was like, sold. He seemed so together. He was so handsome, he was so connected, he was so grown-up, so he was very intimidating. And he really chased me—not that he had to chase that hard.”

In the same piece Ford also recalls how AIDS overshadowed their burgeoning relationship. “One of the very first people to be diagnosed with what was then called gay cancer, in 1981, was a friend of mine. It completely flipped me out, and from then on, I was extremely safe. It probably saved my life, but it damaged the way I think about sex forever. You just associated sex with death—or at least, I did. If I made a list, I would say that half of our friends from the early ’80s are no longer with us.”

[ KEEP READING: Tom Ford & Richard Buckley Cover Out's Love Issue ]

Ford also criticizes the tendency of people to view gay relationships as less committed than heterosexual ones. “Often I’m at dinner parties with very close friends, straight, and they realize that Richard and I have been together 24 years, and the response is often, ‘Wow, you guys have been together 24 years! That’s so amazing. I don’t think of gay men being together that long.’ And I’m, like, ‘Why? What are you talking about?’ Some of the longest relationships I know of are same-sex couples. A lot of my straight friends have married and divorced and married and divorced in the time Richard and I have been together. I think that preconception, from even very liberal, educated friends, that being gay is possibly more sex-based than emotionally based is surprising and shocking in today’s world.”

Ford’s partner, Richard Buckley, recalls Ford’s intense support and love when he was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1989. “There were people who Tom cut out of our lives because of the way they responded,” he says. “My best friend and one of my mentors had died, both from AIDS, and there were a lot of people who just assumed I had AIDS, and there were some people who wouldn’t come and visit me because they were sure they would catch it. I couldn’t imagine being without Tom now. I couldn’t imagine what I’d be like if something happened to him. There’s only one Tom for me. He is still that man who I met 24 years ago.”

Tom Ford & Richard Buckley Cover Out's Love IssueIn his editor’s letter, Aaron Hicklin describes Out’s “Love Issue” as a response to noticing that there were not enough examples of gay relationships and families in the media. He writes, “The fact is that every straight person grows up surrounded by examples of functioning relationships; few gay people do. Although it’s changing (thank you Modern Family), we still don’t have enough love stories in our culture. The absence is misleading. As we put this issue together there were moments when I felt profoundly grateful to be gay, for it seemed that in the struggle for legitimacy we have truly learned to value our relationships and families as the miracles they are.”

Read the full cover story at OUT.COM.

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