By Rex Wockner
The famous gay couple Bob Paris and Rod Jackson have broken up.
In a statement faxed [to this news service] by Paris on July 18, the bodybuilder/model couple said: "Rumors have been circulating in the gay community regarding the status of our relationship, and while neither of us is comfortable discussing the very private aspects of our lives, we want to address those rumors directly to prevent any misunderstanding.
"For the public record, we have been broken up for the last year and were separated for a year before that. The past two years have been an extraordinarily difficult time for both of us as we have faced the dissolution of our marriage. The details and reasons for our separation are complicated, painful and personal, as they are when any marriage fails. And while our marriage was lived in the public eye for many years, its demise is not a subject either of us can expand upon in the media. We have tried to handle the breakup in a mature, quiet fashion, and are trying now to find new ways to still be in each other's lives.
"We tried our best to make our marriage work," the always- publicity-sensitive couple continued. "We loved each other deeply and had ten years together. Seven of those years were spent as activists for gay civil rights and we were fortunate to have been able to do some very difficult, rewarding and exhausting work together. Like so many couples, we found ourselves in very different places, and our partnership could no longer be the source of joy and shelter it was for so long. Living and working so much in the public eye, our marriage took on a life of its own, and our full schedule of gay rights activism often came at the expense of sustaining our personal relationship.
"We share the disappointment of those of you who looked up to our marriage as a role model -- no one feels that disappointment more keenly than we do," Jackson and Paris said. "But as individuals we need to move on and look forward, as any other couple, gay or straight, would at this point in their lives. We both remain completely committed to the cause of making the world a better, safer place for gay, lesbian and bisexual youth. We both remain deeply committed to the concept of equal marriage rights, and we both still believe in the magic of love."
In a telephone conversation, Paris -- a former Mr. America and Mr. Universe -- said the couple prepared the statement because, "I think readers of the gay press are interested."
Paris and Jackson got married in 1989, after Paris came out publicly in the July 1989 issue of the muscle magazine Ironman. Thereafter, they spent several years as sort of free-lance gay role-models -- showing gay and straight America that two All- American guys could fall in love and live happily every after.
They made scores of speaking and television appearances, and released a coffee-table book of photos of themselves.