In 2011 Eddie Rosenbaum had just returned to his hometown of Cleveland from a year in Rio de Janeiro when he and Dr. Donelle Cummings, who soon went to Brazil herself, met on a dating website for men.
“His profile was in Portuguese, and I was thinking, who in Cleveland speaks Portuguese?” Said Mr. Rosenbaum.
When they met for coffee, their date was almost entirely in that language, and they also found that both of them were very interested in Latin American culture.
“We got on really well,” said Dr. Cummings.
“He was so handsome and so amazing and I was so excited,” said Mr. Rosenbaum. “But at the same time I knew that I would be leaving for the Peace Corps in two weeks. After that we wrote a lot, but lost contact. “
Mr. Rosenbaum, now 35, spent approximately three years in Cameroon where he worked on water and sanitation and his final year on LGBTQ issues, a place where persecution is common. Dr. Cummings, now 37, was studying medicine at Case Western Reserve University when the two first met, as part of his medical training in Brazil.
“I got on with my life,” said Dr. Cummings. He’d followed the rotation in Brazil because he’d studied Spanish and then Portuguese in college at the University of Michigan and had developed a keen interest in Latin America. But when the course in Brazil ended, he’d returned to Cleveland, then went to Boston to settle, and ended up back in Cleveland.
Today he is a therapeutic gastroenterologist on the staff of the Metropolitan Hospital in New York. (He uses both his Spanish and Portuguese language skills there.)
Three and a half years later, in February 2015, after Mr. Rosenbaum had finished serving in the Peace Corps and was back home in Cleveland before his next assignment, he sent a message to Dr. Cummings. You have come together again.
“We’re just really in love with each other,” said Dr. Cummings.
“It was such a spark,” said Mr. Rosenbaum. “We had a couple of dates, our relationship started, we were head over heels.”
But again there was a threat of distance. Mr. Rosenbaum was due to travel to Vanuatu, the South Pacific island nation, for another Peace Corps operation.
He packed his bags and the couple had one last dinner together. Then a tropical cyclone hit the island, leaving what has been dubbed one of the worst natural disasters the archipelago has ever suffered.
Mr. Rosenbaum’s mission has been postponed. He shared Dr. Cummings announced that she was both bad for Vanuatu and good for the relationship between the two men.
“I’m staying here,” he said. “I commit to Cleveland. I am committed to you. “
When the two met, Dr. Cummings is always surprised by Mr. Rosenbaum’s talents for surfing, karaoke and rapping.
“He’s a phenomenal dancer,” said Dr. Cummings. “I can’t keep up with him.”
“We are a yin and a yang in many ways,” said Mr. Rosenbaum. “We balance ourselves”
Eventually, Mr. Rosenbaum took another job with the Peace Corps in the San Francisco Bay Area while Dr. Cummings received a fellowship in Brooklyn, NY through the SUNY Downstate program in Brooklyn.
Again separated by a continent – but at least not by a continent and an ocean – the two made the most of travel credit cards to see each other regularly.
“It’s been tough,” said Mr. Rosenbaum, who is now the assistant director of outreach programs at NYU College of Dentistry. In 2017, he moved to New York and began his master’s degree in public service at NYU
The couple married on June 26 at Rockefeller Center. They had been selected in a competition that gave five couples the opportunity to get married at the Rockefeller Center’s 620 Loft and Garden as part of the Pride weekend celebrations. In front of 10 guests officiated a longtime friend, Miriam Alvarado, who became a Universal Life Minister for the event. The two men wore matching tuxedos.
“We went through a lot and faced challenges,” said Mr. Rosenbaum. “The bottom line is that this love is there. It is the heart that holds us together. “