Joshua John Allen Blair, 37, had been in Houston a little more than a year, and Carl Edward Jones Jr., 39, even less, when they met at Austin’s Otterfest. They had many mutual friends but had never seen or met each other until July 12, 2019, when a simultaneous “Damn, who is that?” flashed across each man’s mind.
Originally from Jeannette, Pennsylvania and a University of Michigan graduate, Carl is an Aerospace Engineer/ISS Flight Controller at NASA and US Navy Reserve Master Air Attack Planner Chief/Strike Operations Officer. Josh is a native of Pryor, Oklahoma, an Oklahoma State University graduate, and a Product Support Operations Representative for Caterpillar Inc.
Quickly, the two caught each other’s attention, met, and before long came to know and care for each other. But it wasn’t until Josh was returning from a week-long work trip to North Carolina that he knew for sure it was really love. “I remember flying back and it hitting me: I had someone who I cared for and cared for me. But just that feeling of caring for someone wasn’t enough for me. I remember racing back from the airport and starting the planning process for how I would propose.”
Little did Josh know, though, that Carl had proposing on his mind, too. “But Josh did his first, and very cleverly,” Carl said. “Josh proposed to me and it was basically a big lie. Josh told me he had to go to work and do some things and was going to swing by a friend’s house to check their house.”
The latter part was true. That June 2020 weekend, Josh was planning a surprise birthday party for Carl. “However, he used that as a cover for the actual reason for the party, which was an engagement party where he was going to propose,” Carl said. “Of course, I was shocked and confused at first about what was happening. But once I got to the part where he was standing outside in a bed of roses, and roses sprinkled in the pool, our friends there and about 40 of our friends and family on Zoom, suddenly, it all made sense.”
The couple were legally wed on August 4, 2020. They chose to get legally married at that point because Carl was leaving for a year-long Navy deployment to the Middle East and wanted Josh to be recognized as a military spouse with full benefits in case something happened to him. So they went downtown to the courthouse to tie the knot, and only told a few people.
In October 2022 they had their wedding with friends and family at the Barcelo Resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico, with a family friend of Carl’s, Rev. Donna Jones, officiating. Donna also identifies as lesbian. As Carl pointed out, “It was important for us to have someone who could represent our community and could tie love into the ceremony without discrimination or incendiary religious beliefs.”
There is an old saying that suggests that rain on your wedding day is good luck. A wet knot is hard to untie, after all. According to the forecast, though, there was no rain in sight for the day of the wedding. But just as the couple headed to the ceremony, it began to pour. Fortunately, Carl learned that the guests had taken shelter and things were being covered.
Then, as the pair lined up for their entrances, the rain subsided. The couple walked down the aisle to cheers and noticed everyone pointing and taking photos. “A rainbow had formed behind us perfectly and stretched over the altar and both of us. If rain is good luck, then having a rainbow show up in the backdrop of your altar, has to be the ultimate gay symbol that love will always conquer everything,” Carl said.
When it came to the ceremony itself, the couple said they wanted to have something that would make an impression true to who they are. “We added having flower boys to add some excitement. They handed out shots of tequila, beer, and roses to Ginuwine’s “Pony” at the beginning of the ceremony,” Carl said. “We wanted a ceremony that was uniquely ours and devoid of what a traditional ceremony repetitive looks like.”
Executing their wedding was no easy feat, Josh remembers. “We were going through a worldwide pandemic and Carl was deployed to the Middle East for a year and trying to ensure our guests had all the appropriate information and could arrive safely to the resort in Mexico,” Josh said.
Today, the two couldn’t be happier. Carl said Josh supports his dreams and goals, pushing him to be better in every possible way. “I would not be where I am in my life without his encouragement. There is no one else I would rather have standing beside me.”
And Josh says Carl has a way of pushing him out of his comfort zone and into a life of adventure. “He can turn anything into a scavenger hunt. Once, when he was gone for an extended period, he hid a card in a special place that he knew I would be looking or going to each day. The fact that he took the time and thought about each day to plan a little something special meant the world to me.”