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In his original Coverboy profile last May, Franklin Caintic said he had ”lube, massage oil and dental floss” in his nightstand drawer.
”It’s actually more Luke — he flosses his teeth more than I do,” Caintic says, referring to his husband, Luke Easley. But never underestimate the value of dental floss. ”We actually have a friend who’s a dentist, and she said, ‘I voted just because you mentioned dental floss,”’ he laughs.
The sweet, soft-spoken Caintic ultimately owes his standing as Metro Weekly‘s 2010 Coverboy of the Year to his large family and social networks. He encouraged his many siblings and friends, both those here in D.C. and in the Philippines where he grew up, to campaign for him on Facebook.
”I had Luke post it to his Facebook page every four days. And then all my sisters and their kids, and my friends back home, they all reposted the link for Metro Weekly,” he laughs. ”It’s horrible.”
Caintic calls his Coverboy experience ”exciting,” even affirming.
”Being a foreigner — I’m not sure if I can call myself a foreigner now — but my not being white is hard,” he says. He sometimes feels tension or prejudice, especially in the gay community. ”And that’s why I was surprised when I was in the top 10. And now, I’m in the top three. Wow!”
The 31-year-old Caintic moved to the U.S. when he was 18, after his parents and his older siblings had emigrated from the Philippines one by one.
”As soon as I finished high school, I came here. One week later, I was crying and I said, ‘Mom, I want to go back home. I don’t want to be here.”’ He says it was a combination of culture shock and the dawning realization that he’s gay.
Soon enough, he adjusted to life in the states. In many ways, he’s now living the gay American dream. But it took his parents a lot longer to accept his homosexuality. His father still struggles with it, and he had to come out to his mother multiple times.
”She kept saying, ‘No. We need to see first that you date a girl and if it doesn’t work, then we’ll accept it.’ But I did date a girl back home when I was young, just to try it.” It wasn’t the right path for Caintic.
Caintic met Easley, a former bartender at JR.’s and DJ around town, a decade ago on the dance floor at Nation. But Caintic wasn’t supposed to be there.
Living at his parents’ house near College Park, he explains, ”I was only allowed to go out once a month, [even though] I was already 18. Any Saturday I wanted to go out I had to sneak out, jump out of the window and climb back in,” he says. His friends would be waiting down the street in a getaway car. Surprisingly, Caintic never got caught.
The chance encounter with Easley didn’t lead to anything right away. ”When we met he had a boyfriend,” says Caintic. ”We didn’t start dating until a year and a half after that.”
Easley, who was a Metro Weekly Coverboy in 2001 just as the two started dating, proposed later that year to Caintic on Christmas Eve at D.C.’s Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. ”After the Mass, he got down on his knees and asked me if I wanted to marry him. I was like, ‘Yes!”’
The two didn’t get officially married until earlier this year, on the first day D.C. granted marriage licenses for same-sex couples. They were couple No. 77.
Later that night, they received a lavish dinner at their home in the U Street area, cooked by his mother and sisters. ”My mom told me that she was so happy,” he says. Even Caintic’s father came.
”He said ‘Happy Anniversary,”’ he laughs. ”I don’t think he can ever say the word marriage, because for him marriage is between a man and a woman.”
Caintic isn’t the only gay in the family. ”I think gay is in my blood,” he says. “I have three cousins who are gay, and then my eldest sister is a lesbian.” In fact, she and her partner live with their parents.
In addition to regular gatherings at their house, Caintic sees his parents several times a week at the Larry’s Cookies franchise they run downtown. He often spends his lunch break from his job at the Department of Agriculture’s credit union there. And he works for his parents on Saturday afternoons, when most of his family pops in too. ”I have 15 or so nieces and nephews,” he says. ”I used to like kids when I had two nieces. But now that I have 15, I’m like, oh my God!”
Eventually, he and Easley will have kids. But for now, they’re content with their 2-and-a-half-year-old shih tzu Sophie. ”She’s so spoiled it’s crazy. She really is like a baby to us.”
Our thanks to all those nightspots, restaurants, businesses and performing arts venues who graciously provided prizes to this year’s Coverboy winners. Certain restrictions apply to some prizes. Prizes are non-transferable.
The 2010 Coverboy of the Year was photographed on location at Donovan House – A Thompson Hotel in Washington, D.C. Visit donovanhousedc.com.