Valentine’s Day is coming, and we here at Hotspots Central celebrate those who have been so fortunate to find true love. Recently I sat down with six prominent Central Florida LGBT and allied couples and asked them about the first time they celebrated Cupid’s day together, and what they plan to do this year. The responses are sure to make you smile.

Don Granatstein and Susan Unger

Orlando

How did you spend your very first Valentine’s Day as a couple?

Don: Our first Valentine’s Day together was in Toronto, February 1986.  We had a fancy dinner [and I gave her] roses and chocolates.

Do you have anything special planned for Valentine’s Day this year?

We’ll have dinner at the Rainbow Café, and lots of loving.

Alexis Mateo and Jeffrey Kelly Abess

Tampa

How did you spend your very first Valentine’s Day as a couple?

Alexis: For our very first Valentine’s Day together, we spent our day alone together. We were both so busy then, him modeling and me touring with Drag Race, that it was amazing to just be by ourselves, talk, have dinner and and just hold each other’s hands for a moment. For two people like us, always in the public eye, we treasure every moment alone with each other.

Do you have anything special planned for Valentine’s Day this year?

This year we will take a mini-vacation to Las Vegas for Valentine’s Day and we are excited to go on this adventure together.

Jorge Estevez and Enrique Betancourt

Orlando

How did you spend your very first Valentine’s Day as a couple?

Jorge: Our first Valentine’s Day was seven months after we started dating. We lived on Miami Beach and I was determined to do it big. Enrique said to me, “I just want to go to a simple dinner.” Did that mean no gifts? I was crushed. In the end, it was perfect. We went to a local Chicago-style restaurant in an industrial part of town. We ate a great meal, watched people sing amazing songs, and ended the evening with a port wine. I am not going to lie, I was a little sad about the no gifts thing. [laughs]

Do you have anything special planned for Valentine’s Day this year?

This year is our first year as husband and husband, so I think it is crucial that we continue our tradition. (Maybe with gifts this year.) I would like to plan a quiet dinner at home, a great bottle of wine and a hall pass on dessert so I can eat anything I want.

Mark Bias and Carrie West

Tampa

How did you spend your very first Valentine’s Day as a couple?

Mark: This year we celebrate 40 years together! For our first Valentine’s Day 40 years ago, Carrie bought me roses…then you can guess what happened next.

Do you have anything special planned for Valentine’s Day this year?

We’re going to be very happy working on renovations to our new home together.

David and Robert Baker-Hargrove

Orlando

How did you spend your very first Valentine’s Day as a couple?

David: It was back in 1995. A few weeks before Valentine’s Day we had our big celebration: we went on a cruise together and it was so amazing being on vacation with him!

Do you have anything special planned for Valentine’s Day this year?

Our daughter’s birthday is Valentine’s Day (she will be three this year). Now the day is all about her.

Terry DeCarlo and William Huelsman

Orlando

How did you spend your very first Valentine’s Day as a couple?

Terry: It was such a long time ago, I think we went over to Fred and Wilma’s where she cooked dinosaur eggs and Pterodactyl burgers before we got in our car and used our feet to paddle us home.

Do you have anything special planned for Valentine’s Day this year?

This year we will be on an RSVP Gay Cruise just a few days before Valentine’s Day, so we will be celebrating with a very special dinner on the cruise.

How are you spending Valentine’s Day? Tell us on our Facebook page: facebook.com/hotspotscentralflorida.

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Mike Halterman
Mike Halterman has been the editor of Hotspots Central since its launch in July 2016. He joined the Hotspots Media Group family as editor of Hotspots' South Florida magazine in June 2013. A former "40 Under 40" honoree in The Advocate magazine, Mike lives in the Tampa Bay area.