Joseph Gregory and Chuck Rapp, partners for 22 years, have formed a happy life together by pursuing separate interests while sharing a deep respect for each other's abilities.

So what then are the keys to a healthy, long-term relationship?

"Honesty, communicating and we profess our love for each other everyday for the last 22 years. We balance each other," says Joseph, an entrepreneur and president of Hope Diamond Collection, an organization that honors the famous family heirloom.

The couple, who met in the late Eighties shortly after Joseph graduated from Belmont University, faced the usual obstacles of a gay couple during that challenging period. Though they acknowledge that Tennessee remains limited terms of GLBT rights, they also say that constant sources of inspiration have allowed to lead free and open lives.

Joseph admits that it is "hard being taken seriously in business and financial situations" at times, but that the majority of the people along their journey have been actively in their corner.

"Our true friends have been with us for many, many years," Joseph says. "Some of my family is accepting and supportive and some are more distant. Chuck's side is very small, but accepting for the most part. We have learned to be just who we are and to be known as individuals as well as a couple. Acceptance by everyone is not a necessity for us any longer."

Chuck, an admissions coordinator at Cumberland Heights drug treatment center, appreciates that their neighbors and friends have fully embraced the two men as individuals and as a couple.

"We feel very blessed in our lives. We've been very fortunate to have a long history together. I guess we really didn't have to hide," he says. "With the people in our neighborhood, there's never been any violence or prejudice towards us."

Though both men have a fair share of professional responsibilities, they balance their schedules to find time for a sense of adventure and fun.

"I've been to great places around the world that I wouldn't have gone on my own. It's nice to share that experience with someone else," Chuck says. "Joseph has encouraged me to explore and opened doors for me to try new things."

To offer their energies towards important community efforts, the couple have consistently been involved in organizations such as Nashville CARES and the Tennessee State Museum. Through their work they hope to reverse the trend of discrimination in a more conservative society.

"I don't feel it's the right of the government to legislate morality. Telling people what they have to do is not right," Chuck says.

"I encourage people to show their strengths, and if you have children, be an example," Joseph adds. "You need to stand up for issues and speak out in order to make a difference."

Photo courtesy of Red Bull

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Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville

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For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:

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