Aspiration Love

Appearing with his partner for a YJ story presents Steven Thomas Saftig the opportunity to model the kind of relationship he wished he saw growing up.
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Appearing with his partner for a YJ story presents Steven Thomas Saftig the opportunity to model the kind of relationship he wished he saw growing up.

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Steven Saftig provides an adjustment to partner Jeremy Simon.

By Steven Thomas Saftig

A few months ago my boyfriend, San Francisco yoga teacher Jeremy Simon, told me that Yoga Journal had invited both of us to appear as asana models in an upcoming issue. As I stammered/blushed/starting fixing my hair, he went on to say that it was for a partner sequence to be included in the December "love" issue. At first my reaction was a sappy, “Awwww,” but then it morphed into a “Whoa.”

As a child, I was always on the lookout for images of gay people that made me feel like I was going to be OK—that I wasn’t going to end up alone or addicted to drugs. In that pre-"Modern Family” era, I didn’t have much by way of models: I saw mainly club-hoppers and AIDS victims. I longed to see a gay couple, I don’t know, cook dinner together.

In spite of (or, more likely, thanks to) several stumbles and tragically misguided outfits, I was able to develop into my own interpretation of a gay man, without the aid of external models or fictional characters. I’ve also been blessed to fall in love with someone who’s done the same. Together, we’ve created our own interpretation of a gay couple: We meditate every morning, ride bikes to brunch, and are learning to crochet. We read and discuss politics. Sometimes we go out for a beer on weekends and sometimes we make tea and go to bed ridiculously, deliciously early. And we often cook dinner together.

It’s not always easy and it’s not always smooth, but my belief in love has grown exponentially with each and every day we’ve shared together.

The magnitude of Yoga Journal’s invitation hit me as I walked into the studio for our photo shoot. The editors didn’t pick out two hot guys from the book of hot guy models and pair them together. Rather, they chose to use a real couple that physically connects via the practice of yoga on a regular basis, making the visual representation of Cyndi Lee’s beautiful partner sequence a raw, honest depiction of partnership. In doing so, they also gave Jeremy and I a very public opportunity to represent the type of relationship and lifestyle I longed to know was possible when I was younger. Not only were they “accepting” us and our relationship, through using us as the model for this story, they celebrated it.

I have to admit that my heart skips a beat when I imagine some yoga-minded youngster like I once was, coming across our story while browsing a copy of the latest YJ at a newsstand or someone's coffee table. I envision them pausing at our photo spread and for a few brief moments, everything that’s possible for them becoming vividly and brilliantly clear: Love. Love not confined by societal pressures or antiquated norms. Love that is boundary-less, celebratory, and tender. Love that transcends all of the words I could even try to use to describe it. Just Love.

Steven Thomas Saftig is a writer. His debut personal essay, "(What I Want To Be) When I Grow Up" garnered rave reviews, including a coveted gold star sticker from his fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Selby. He enjoys fresh herbs, breathing, and Stevie Nicks. He modeled with partner Jeremy Simon for "A Touch of Kindness" in the December 2012 issue of Yoga Journal