Where did your love story start?
We met at a bar in New York and immediately began spending time together. We discovered we had a lot in common, such as a love of the arts, so we started going to many different shows together. Over the years, we’ve also developed a love of great food and travel. Paul studied at the French Culinary Institute and worked in 4-star restaurants in New York and France, and Walter has a PhD from Yale and worked for a Germany publishing company in New York for 10 years, so we’ve traveled together a lot, especially in Europe.
When did you know each other was the one for you?
Pretty close to the beginning.
Was there a proposal?
When Oregon began issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples in March 2004, we decided to get married, mainly to make a statement about the importance of the decision, which then was quickly invalidated by the Oregon attorney general. After the legalization of same-sex marriage occurred both in Oregon and New York, we decided to marry legally on February 6, 2016.
What was the wedding like?
Since our families live in the New York area, we married in New York City at the private event space and test kitchen of famed New York chef David Bouley. It was a brief ceremony, followed by an amazing dinner with 30 of our closest family and friends.
When did Barney the cockatoo join the family?
Barney is our 31-year-old “son.” Paul had given Walter two wild goffins in 1986, but we felt strongly we wanted a hand-fed baby we could relate too, so Barney joined us in May 1998. Barney thinks he’s one of us, and we call him the CEO of White Bird—the Chief Executive Oiseau.
What would you say has been your key to success as a couple?
We have learned to communicate with each other and understand each other’s needs and desires. We have different skills, which complement each other. And of course, we love each other very much.
What advice do you give to those looking to begin their own ever after?
Every situation is unique. You can consciously seek someone out, or not. It simply happens—just keep an open mind.