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By Henry V. Thiel
Russell Lee Allen and Jason Christopher Klawinski met the old-fashioned way, through mutual friends, before taking their blossoming romance online.
“It took a while for us to get together,” Allen recalls.
Both had busy schedules and were dealing with the aftermath of Tropical Storm Allison in 2001. When they finally connected, the date went great, but they were so nervous they ended up drinking too much—leaving them with terrible hangovers.
“I knew I had found ‘the one’ in Jason during our first big trip overseas,” says Allen, a president and senior project manager with Chase Bank.
Halfway through the trip, they were growing homesick and generally becoming selfish with their individual agendas. In that moment, they were humbled by the fact that they could learn from their mistakes and overcome anything together, Allen says.
For Klawinski, the realization that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Allen was more gradual. “I knew Russell was something special when my family said they would keep him over me should anything happen to our relationship,” says Klawinski, a senior human resources analyst with Apache Corp.
While they’re often mistaken for brothers (which they find hilarious), Allen and Klawin-ski say they’re actually complete opposites. “I’m not exactly the easiest person to deal with or live with,” Klawinski says. “Even after all these years, I am still a demanding diva.
“Russell has accepted me for who I am—faults and all—and not once has he tried to change me,” he adds. “Even after our first real argument—two drunken queens screaming about bacon in the streets of Montrose (a completely pointless and meaningless argument to this day)—we survived, and we’ve had many more ‘moments’ that have tested our relationship. But the one constant has been that Russell has been by my side, and that’s how I realized we would grow old together—with the assistance of modern technology, of course.”
After the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell, the couple knew their future included marriage. “The question was when and where, and how to prevent Jason from becoming a ‘Groomzilla,’” Allen says.
Seven years into their relationship, they’d picked up commitment rings while shopping at
Harrods in London after Russell mentioned he wanted to look at men’s jewelry in Harrods’ Cartier boutique. “I was not sure what exactly he was looking for,” Klawinski says, “so I started looking at their rings and hinted to Russell that I was ready to collect on the deal we’d made.
“Russell turned to me and said, ‘Pick your ring, as long as we have matching ones,’” he adds.
“Seriously?” Klawinski asked.
“Yes, just don’t pick the one that breaks the bank,” Allen replied, knowing that his request would go in one ear and out the other.
“Deal!” Klawinski screamed, as he mentally high-fived Allen.
They were married on October 10, 2015, at Brennan’s of Houston, one of their favorite restaurants, by officiant Jeffery Holmes of We Do…I Do’s.
They selected Brennan’s because they lived nearby when they got together and have been regular patrons for years. Also, they knew Brennan’s could host the entire wedding, from the ceremony in their history-rich courtyard to the reception in the timeless Garden Room. They said the event coordinator at Brennan’s, Nicole Wilker, was a godsend who alleviated their worries and stress.
“All we had to do was show up,” Klawinski says. “She is incredible.”
They surprised people by not having an over-the-top wedding—which some may have expected from Klawinski. Instead, it was a simple, intimate affair—classic, with a hint of modern—attended only by their families and closest friends.
“We never thought we would be able to marry this soon in our lives with all the social upheaval surrounding same-sex marriage. [But] we decided it was our wedding, and our day,” Klawinski says. “As Russell reminded me, whether we had 50, 100, or 1,000 people at the wedding, the two of us started this journey together, and it will always be the two of us until the end.”
To avoid drama, they chose a non-religious ceremony where they wrote and recited their own vows. Allen and Klawsinski say they felt fortunate to have their families present, given that many Americans still aren’t supportive of same-sex marriage.
During their European honeymoon in March 2016, the couple caught an Adele concert in Belfast, checked Barcelona off Klawinski’s bucket list, and attended the Cruft Dog Show in Birmingham, England, with friends from California.
Allen and Klawinski reside in Cypress with their pack of happy Corgis.
This article appears in the August 2017 issue of OutSmart Magazine.