Just as Sal Bonaccorso was finally falling asleep on his favorite lounge chair by his friends’ pool, a loud and obnoxious couple sat down next to him. After trying to ignore them at first, he finally decided to join in on the conversation—and promptly met his future husband, Leighton Brooks.
Originally from Freeport, Brooks is a 24-year-old dental assistant. He thought Bonaccorso had a great sense of humor, and an amazing body. “He is obviously committed to a strict fitness regimen,” he remembers thinking when they met. Bonaccorso, 41, is an IT director who grew up in the Clear Lake area. He found Brooks to be very mature and caring—the exact opposite of his previous relationship that ended because of cheating and an assault. “To say that marriage was a nightmare would be an understatement,” says Bonaccorso.
Very early on in their relationship, Bonaccorso and Brooks discovered that they share similar values when it came to intimacy, money, and love, so it was easy for them to decide that they would not get involved with the risky behavior that they saw their friends experiencing.
“I certainly didn’t want a repeat of my last relationship,” says Bonaccorso, “and I wasn’t sure if I was ready for something serious. I am grateful that Leighton was persistent, and that we could talk to each other as adults.” Together, they were able to put Bonaccorso’s fears and insecurities to rest.
“My only regret is that I wish I had found Leighton sooner,” Bonaccorso admits. They also discovered that they have different communication styles, so they are still learning how to be respectful of each other with their words and actions. “I learned fast that relationships are a lot of hard work if you want to be successful and happy. Oh, and we don’t keep secrets from each other,” adds Brooks. “We are honest about how we feel, and do not hold things in. If something is bothering us, we say it when the time is right.”
Bonaccorso, ever the romantic, took Brooks to Italy—one of the most romantic places on earth. While they treasure the wonderful memories they created together sightseeing and indulging in the local cuisine, the memory they most cherish was created on a crowded beach near Bonaccorso’s family home in Pozzallo, Sicily. On the spur of the moment, Bonaccorso picked up a seashell and wrote in the sand “Sal + Leighton 4 Ever” in big letters.
“We were amazed and deeply touched that passers-by, total strangers, stopped and insisted on taking a photo with us in front of the sign,” says Brooks. “It was such a kind and welcoming affirmation of our relationship.”
“Due to our age difference, everyone thinks I am the “daddy” in this relationship,” chuckles Bonaccorso. “The reality is that Leighton is more mature than others his age, so it makes relating to him easier. He actually goes to bed before I do, around 8 p.m., and he is an old soul. And I credit my lifestyle as the reason I look younger than my age. I have lived a very jovial and fruitful life, but with great responsibility and accountability to myself and my family. No plastic surgery, no smoking, no drugs, ever,” stresses Bonaccorso, “and definitely no Botox.”
“I knew I wanted to be with him for the rest of my life very early on,” says Brooks. “The whole ‘getting married’ idea was a bit overwhelming, but I knew that one day I wanted to call him my husband. I just didn’t know when or how to get there. Thankfully, Sal had everything planned out.”
Just three months into their relationship, Bonaccorso thought to himself that their relationship was what a relationship should be. He knew that all of his friends and family accepted them as a couple and also accepted Brooks into their social circles. So Bonaccorso took a leap of faith and proposed to Brooks.
“Leighton had told me that he wanted to propose to me when the time came, but I beat him to the punch with a simple question: “Will you spend the rest of your life with me?”
Brooks said yes.
“I was so surprised,” he remembers, “because I wanted to be the one to ask him to marry me. But it was truly special, in our own little way. It wasn’t the whole get-down-on-one-knee proposal. He just asked me one day, and I said yes.”
On January 12, 2018, they tied the knot at the Galveston County Courthouse in League City. It was a simple ceremony because they wanted to be married quickly. They will have a big blowout ceremony when they renew their vows in a few years.
After getting hitched, they decided to celebrate at Twin Peaks. “We had the best time with the girls!” adds Bonaccorso. “They were so excited to see us, and kept coming to our table, sitting and laughing with us and asking all kinds of questions. We were also amused that the other guys in the bar were obviously perplexed as to what we were doing to get all the chicks in the bar to flock to us—so they could do it too!”
The couple celebrated their wedding with a honeymoon in Los Angeles, where they have many friends. “Our honeymoon was great fun, too,” says Bonaccorso. “It felt like home to us. We had such a great time that we have moved to Los Angeles.
The newlyweds call Beverly Hills home.
This article appears in the July 2019 edition of OutSmart magazine.