The continuing story of my amazing relationship with fellow Titan man Dirk Caber. I suggest starting at the bottom (oldest posts) and working your way up.

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“A Modest Proposal” (or, “How Dirk and I Got Engaged Even Though We Were Already Married”)

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It was anticlimactic, really. We were in San Francisco, having fun at Folsom and celebrating three years since we’d first met. As often happens at these things, we’d committed ourselves to too many events and by Saturday afternoon were feeling a bit burnt out. We even started getting irritated with each other, squabbling about which events we should go to and which we would have to skip. Things were going downhill quickly, so we decided to give ourselves a time out; we retreated to our friends’ house in Duboce Triangle where we were staying, and took a nap.

When I woke up, I felt really relaxed. Taking a break had been the right thing to do. As we lay there in each others’ arms, an unplanned thought crossed my mind. This place was important (we’d met in San Francisco), this time was important (it was our third anniversary)… and truth be told, I’m a pretty sentimental guy. Now would be as good a time as any. We’d been talking in hypotheticals for the past two years — “If I were to ever ask you to marry me, would you?” (the answer always being yes) — so without thinking about it too much, I blurted it out (in retrospect, it felt very similar to the way I blurted out my invitation for him to join me in Houston almost three years earlier, which kicked off our relationship):

“Uh, we’ve been talking about it long enough, so I might as well ask. Will you marry me?”

“Well, yuh! We pretty much already are, ya know.”

And just like that, we were engaged. I have to confess that, for me, it actually didn’t seem like a big deal. It was such a natural progression that it felt like a tiny step instead of a huge, daunting, terrifying one. Dirk was right: we were pretty much already married. We were just adding another layer — civil marriage — to our already fruitful union.

Lounging

The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that I’d been downplaying the importance of civil marriage, especially in a modern context. We’d been referring to each other as “hubby” for a couple of years already, in agreement with our belief in the concept of “traditional” marriage that I laid out in my Huffington Post article. Maybe that’s why our engagement didn’t seem like such a big deal to me at the time. As far as we were concerned, we were already married. We’d merged our lives, and I’d already become a member of Dirk’s family, as Dirk had become a member of mine. By getting legally married, sure, we’ll be afforded the rights that are extended to all married couples. But the outpouring of congratulations and support we’ve received since announcing our engagement has convinced me that our society values civil marriage as much as the traditional arrangement, and I believe it’s fitting to honor these new traditions alongside the old.

Dirk and I got engaged to be legally married on September 20, 2014. We knew we were a long way from setting a wedding date, but there was one order of business we could address immediately: engagement rings. (Yay, shopping!) Dirk had long ago floated an idea for our wedding rings, one that I love. Each ring would be an ouroboros, an ancient symbol of a snake eating its own tail, representing infinity. Dirk’s idea has a bit of a twist, literally and figuratively: instead of a single snake eating its own tail, both of our rings would be comprised of two intertwined snakes eating each others’ tails. We’ve already talked to our friends at Tribal Son about creating these custom rings, but in the meantime we wanted something in the same vein for our engagement bands. So we found rings with two snakes on them, heading towards each other… soon to be intertwined.

Ring Close-Up for Blog

Dirk and I bought the rings at the end of September, but we didn’t exchange them right away. We wanted to find some meaningful place or time to do it. And then on October 6 the Supreme Court declined to rule on any federal gay marriage cases, making gay marriage the de facto law of the land in 30 states (that number now stands at 35). That evening, we were engaged in our nightly ritual of watching The Rachel Maddow Show. During her coverage of the Supreme Court decision, Dirk and I were discussing what a momentous day it was. And to celebrate — again, rather impulsively — we exchanged rings right there on our living room sofa.

We didn’t tell many people right away; we wanted to wait until we got a chance to tell our families. So we played a little game… we’d start wearing our rings and see who noticed. Interestingly, and I’m not sure what to make of this, but most of the people who noticed were women. A few of our gay friends noticed too, but most people, if they did notice, didn’t say anything. I think a lot of people assumed we were already married… and in many ways, we were. (I also have to apologize to a few of my fans on the Facebook page. From time to time, someone would point out the rings in a picture I’d posted, and ask something like “Does that mean what I think it means?” I’d always deflect the questions with responses like “not necessarily” or “If it was something that important, don’t you think I’d mention it on Facebook?” Sorry, guys!)

The first opportunity we got to tell our families was on Christmas, and their reactions were pretty great. I’ll tell you all about them shortly in a follow-up blog post. For now, though, I’ll just say that they’re as happy as we are… and that my mom’s response included a lot of repetition.

More soon …

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Three years ago today…

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Three years ago today — September 22, 2011 — I met a man who would change my life for the better, forever.

I’m talking, of course, about Dirk.

Back then, there was a lot of change in my life. I’d only filmed two scenes with Titan (Surveillance and Incubus, neither of which had been released yet), and had just signed an exclusivity agreement with the studio. I’d also started to date a guy in Boston who was generally supportive of my decision to work in adult films (I was upfront about it from the day I met him), although he had his doubts and wasn’t sure how it would play out. I was clear about my desire for an emotionally committed but sexually open relationship, though, and he agreed to stick around until my movies started coming out to see how things would go.

I was filled with questions about my new job: At 38 years old, had I made the right decision? What will my friends and family think now that I’m about to go public with my decision? And most importantly, would working in porn ruin my chances of building a relationship with the guy I’d been seeing… or with any guy, for that matter?

At the studio’s request, I flew to San Francisco to work for Titan at the Folsom Street Fair. My friend David — but everyone calls him “Cubbie” — picked me up at the airport. I’d been talking to him a lot over the past several weeks about my questions and concerns; he’s a true friend and I love him dearly. On the ride into town, Cubbie seemed excited. “There’s someone I’d like you to meet,” he said. “He’s been working in the industry for about a year, and I think he’d be able to help you with a lot of your questions. He’s a wonderful guy.” I admit that I kind of rolled my eyes, thinking he was trying to set me up on a date or something. Then Cubbie showed me a picture of this mystery man. I recognized him instantly; it was Dirk. I’d actually never met him, but was a big fan of his Titan films, especially Sting.

Sting PicDirk (on the table) along with Hunter Marx and Shay Michaels, from TitanMen’s Sting

Cubbie and I met up with Dirk at a club called Beatbox later that night. I was starstruck, but Dirk’s deep and soothing voice put me at ease. What I especially remember from that night was his touch; when we first met he put his hand on the small of my back, and for some reason all of the nervousness fled from my body. We danced a little and talked a lot, and although we occasionally made separate rounds of the club, we always seemed to find each other again.

We agreed to meet the next day at the BigMuscle Meet and Greet party, a really fun event that’s run by the owners of BigMuscle.com who are longtime friends of mine. Rather than immerse ourselves in the crowd, though, Dirk and I found a quiet spot on the balcony and talked for hours. The conversation was fascinating and fun; it turns out we had a lot in common.

Dirk, like me, was working at the Titan booth at the street fair, so we hung out together all day Sunday too, laughing and signing autographs. I was even caught on camera caressing Dirk’s ass at the end of the Name That Butt video. What can I say… it’s a beautiful butt.

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On Monday I met Dirk, Cubbie, Dirk’s friend Dolan Wolf, and a couple other friends for lunch at a Castro institution called Squat & Gobble to recap the events of the weekend and talk about how much fun we’d had. Eventually the conversation turned to my new relationship back in Boston. I was convinced that I could balance the adult film work with my life back home, and be emotionally faithful to the guy I’d been dating — and share it with him, if he wanted — but how could I convince him of that? Right in the middle of this engaging discussion, the email arrived. The guy in Boston had decided not to take the “wait and see” approach after all. He’d broken up with me, by email, while I was on the other side of the fucking country.

I was crushed. I tried to hold myself together, but that lasted maybe 5 seconds before I burst into tears right in the middle of the restaurant. I couldn’t stay. I ran all the way back to Cubbie’s house, flung myself on the bed, buried my head in the pillow, and started wailing. My friends came to sit with me, one or two at a time. And, amazingly, Dirk held me tight as I wailed and screamed and shuttered. And, in a way, since that day, since that day he’s never let go.

Once my tears had dried, Dirk and I started talking. About porn, about fidelity, about sex, about relationships, about work and play and death and love and life. And we’ve never stopped, not really… not for three whole years.

A lot has happened since that fateful day in September of 2011 when I first felt his hand on the small of my back. In October of that year he surprised me by flying to Houston to watch me play in the national LGBT flag football tournament. We spent Halloween together in Chicago, where he lived, and laughed the night away as he worked an event for Manhunt. (We’ve since worked at several events for them, and they’ve always been great to us.) That Thanksgiving we met each others’ families. That Christmas we watched Dirk’s giddy nieces and nephews rip open their presents underneath his sister’s enormous Christmas tree. In March we filmed our first Titan scene together (we’ve since filmed three more). On Christmas day in 2012, after more than a year of biweekly trips back and forth from Chicago to Boston to see each other, he announced his intentions to move to Boston. And on Memorial Day 2013, we packed up a giant U-Haul filled with his furniture and musical instruments and books and sex toys and drove 800 miles eastward, to begin our new lives together.

The lives of Dirk Caber and Jesse Jackman have been intertwined for three years now, and I love him more than I ever thought I could have loved anyone at all. And, astoundingly, he’s equally in love with me. It’s almost like we’d been waiting for each other. We’re building a truly amazing, rewarding, open, trusting, loving relationship while continuing to work with Titan (and, in his case, several other studios) and also exploring our own boundaries, always growing and changing together. It’s been nothing short of incredible, and it’s only getting better.

So, on this third anniversary of the the most amazing love I’ve ever known, I just want to say thank you to the sweetest, sexiest, most amazing man I’ve ever known. Dirk Caber… I love you. You’ve been holding me tight for three years, through good times and bad… but mostly good. And you know what? I’ll never let go of you, either.

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Jesse Dirk Montage

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Every rose has its porn

This blog post was a tough one to write. All too often, what we see or post online suffers from the “Facebook Effect”: we only share the good things in our lives, and at the same time we get the false impression that everyone else’s world is nothing short of perfect. I confess, I’ve fallen into that trap as well. You’ve probably noticed that most of what I post is happy, upbeat, optimistic. I believe there’s value in doing that: not only does it send positive energy out into the world, but it also forces me to focus on at least one positive thing every day, even if my day is shit.

There is, of course, a darker side… one that I don’t usually show.

A few weeks ago, I sat down with Manhattan Digest to talk about life, liberty, and the pursuit of good porn. (You can read the entire interview here.) One of the questions that came up concerned the hurdles that Dirk and I face in our rather unique relationship. I answered as follows:

We have our share of trials, successes, and failures, just like all couples do. I’d say that the biggest challenge so far has been adjusting to living together. I’ve never lived with a partner before, and Dirk only did so very briefly when he lived in New York, so it’s a big change for both of us.

But that, my friends, is only the tiniest fraction of the story.

It’s been said that there are three issues that can and do cause major strife in any relationship: money, sex, and trust (or, in any of those three cases, lack thereof). I like to think that Dirk and I have got the sex part covered, and when you take our One Rule — “never bring home anything you don’t want to share” — into account, the same goes for trust. I also know that whatever each of us does, we do for the benefit of the relationship… not just ourselves. So the only thing left is money. And money is a big problem.

I’ll be brutally honest with you: Dirk and I are going through a very difficult time. It’s not that we’re on the verge of being homeless or anything; I’m financially solvent and have been all my life, and have enough banked to keep us both afloat (though not indefinitely). Dirk, on the other hand, is struggling mightily. He actually did quite well for himself in New York for over 10 years as an orchestra librarian and freelance musician, but then the recession hit and he found himself out of work. That was almost four years ago. Since then, he’s been scraping by on whatever consulting work he can find, mostly editing other people’s music and (rarely) picking up the odd performance gig either as a tuba player or low bass singer. The porn work has been a decent stop-gap measure, but as I’ve said many times, porn is not a career. It’s not guaranteed work, and besides, eventually our bodies will fail us and that resource will be no more.

The effect this has had on my husband has been nothing short of devastating. I have never seen Dirk happier or more focused than when he is listening to music, performing it, talking about it with others, or — especially — creating new works of his own. The last few years have almost completely deprived him of the one thing he loves most. It’s almost like he’s devoid of nourishment. His creative output is a fraction of what it once was. When I listen to some of the pieces he composed back in his twenties and thirties, I often laugh out loud at their creative playfulness or cry at their sublime beauty. That was in the past, though. He’s barely composed anything since I’ve known him, and I’ve seen him perform just three times in almost three years. He’s started to lose faith in himself, his abilities, and his incredible gift for music… and it’s left him with an increasingly dark and empty void where an amazing soul once dared to flourish and shine.

Moreover, the toll that all this has taken on our relationship has been grave. Dirk and I place great importance upon egalitarianism: we believe that, as partners and companions, each of us should contribute equally to building the life we now share. This financial imbalance has thrown a big, fat, ugly spanner into those works. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve actually managed to do quite well for myself: I own my house (a beautiful early 19th century colonial in a quiet Boston suburb), have worked in IT at the same supportive, progressive company for over 20 years, and have even built up a modest but significant savings. Dirk, on the other hand, has been living hand-to-mouth for the better part of four years as he struggles to pay off the substantial debt he amassed during the recession just so he could put food on his table and a roof over his head. (He marked a major milestone last month in paying off his credit card debt, but he still has a long way to go before he can finally declare himself entirely debt-free.) As such, I have been paying the vast majority of expenses for both of us, killing any hope we might have had for financial equality. And on top of that, the imbalance has put tremendous strain on his innate and, at times, stubbornly strong sense of pride. As if the erosion of his artistic passion wasn’t enough, the thought that he might be a burden to me has further scorched that place in his heart which was once so bright. And, empathic as I am, it has started to blacken my heart as well. I’ve been no saint about it, either: Dirk and I have gotten into some really awful arguments, fanned by my fears for our future and, when things seem especially bleak, my irrational doubts about his commitment to “making this work.”

One bright spot is that, throughout all this, the porn studios have been absolutely wonderful to us. Dirk has been working tirelessly — he once filmed four scenes in five days! — to pull himself up by his black leather bootstraps. As he wrote in a recent blog post, “I’ve been dealing with coming to the end of a long dark tunnel in my life, finally pushing through to the end of the debt I started to accrue when the economy tanked.” Thankfully, all of the studios have stuck by Dirk and provided him with much-needed work during his greatest time of need. Without the help of studios like TitanMen, COLT, MEN.com, Kink.com, and all of the other companies that have continued to work with Dirk despite his heavy heart and daunting financial woes, I fear that he (and, by extension, we) would be in an even darker place than he is now. Our good friends at Titan in particular have really gone out out of their way to give Dirk as many opportunities as practically possible, and for that we are eternally, enduringly grateful.

I’ve done what little I can as well. Shouldering more than my share of the financial burden, while perhaps necessary in the short term, is something that neither of us wants, so I’ve been trying to help in other ways. As you may know, in addition to getting paid for actual performances, porn actors have the opportunity to join what are called “affiliate programs”: for every website membership or physical DVD that we sell through our blogs or social media using special link codes, we claim a share of the profits (usually in 50-60% range). To that end, over the last few weeks I’ve set up affiliate accounts for Dirk with every studio he’s ever worked with. Now whenever anyone buys a website membership or DVD through his blog, he gets to claim a commission. (This is why I’ve been working so diligently on completing his videography, by the way.)

You may also have noticed that I’ve been posting a lot about his musical endeavors lately. It’s been an absolute joy for me to be able to share some of his beautiful compositions with you, even if they were created during a happier time in his life. I’m immensely proud of my husband for what he has created, and it’s my hope that your responses to his music, which have been overwhelmingly positive (nay… downright glowing), will help buoy him and encourage him to continue creating such magnificent art. While he hasn’t written much lately, I’m so dearly wishing that, someday soon, the impressive spirit that I know lies deep with him — wounded, perhaps, but still there — will triumphantly surface once again. And who knows… maybe someone will happen across this post and recommend him to an ensemble or even commission one of his gorgeous creations. (If you haven’t heard Dirk’s music, you can listen to it here and here. I’m also hoping to find a way to make his music available for purchase, but there are certain logistical hurdles that need to be addressed first.)

So why am I writing all this? First of all, I find writing cathartic. It lends a certain concreteness to these abstract concepts of friction and loss, and once those problems are visible to me, either on paper on on a computer screen, I can begin to address them systematically. (It’s the engineer in me.) Also, for whatever reason you guys have expressed an interest in learning about the inner workings of our somewhat unconventional relationship. With that in mind, I think it’s only fair that you see a balanced glimpse of out reality… not just the “Facebook Effect” good stuff.

Where do Dirk and I go from here? I’m honestly not sure. Dirk is making progress, however slowly; due to the somewhat steady stream of income he’s received through the porn work, he’s working hard to pay off his creditors. But, as I mentioned, porn can only carry him so far. He’s been struggling to break into Boston’s classical music scene, but his new home is somewhat notorious for looking after its own and being wary of “outsiders.” He’s not quite ready to give up on his dream of spinning his love of music into a sustainable career — after all, he accomplished that in New York for eleven years before he was forced to give it up — but that road tilts far more uphill now than it ever has before.

That said, I don’t believe that money — despite the tremendous strain it’s putting on our relationship — is going to break us. What I believe will get us through this is, ironically, one of the other make-or-break issues in any relationship: trust. And what goes hand-in-hand with trust, of course, is faith. I’m not going to sit here and lob platitudes at you like “faith is all we need” or whatever. All I can tell you is that I have faith in Dirk and in myself, and I believe that we’ll each do whatever we can to overcome this economic turmoil and accompanying discord, no matter how bleak the outlook may seem. Mine is not a loud faith, nor is there an associated ounce of bluster or bravado. It is, rather, a quiet but strong belief. I don’t know what’s going to happen next, but I do know this: this can, this can’t not, get better… because every night, as they say, has its dawn.
 


 

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A Musical Valentine

Here’s something very special for Valentine’s Day. When Dirk lived in New York several years ago, he shared a modest one-bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side with a roommate, a dog, and a very large Steinway grand piano. Early one morning (at 5 am, I think; good thing the apartment was soundproofed!) he sat down at that piano to record this nocturne. I think it’s beautiful beyond description.

He wrote it for his mother.

Just another one of the countless reasons why I love him.
 

 


 
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Grow not in each other’s shadow

As you may know, I’m working on a new Huffington Post article that addresses the question of why Dirk and I call each other “husband” even though we’re not legally married. I’m a little nervous about it because what I have to say might be a little controversial, even among the LGBT community. I’ve had some very interesting discussions with different people about the subject, so at the very least I’m hoping to get more people talking… even if we don’t all agree. (UPDATE: The article has been published; you can read it here.)

Anyway, as I was researching the article I came across this amazing quote by Khalil Gibran (yes, I’m turning into my father and quoting from The Prophet… LOL), and I wanted to post it because it so perfectly sums up the relationship that Dirk and I share. It’s a beautiful passage… and let me tell you, living a relationship like this an absolutely incredible, life-altering experience. I am truly blessed.

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

 
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