Happy Friday! Can you believe it’s already the middle of January? This week’s Feature Friday has such a fun engagement story (hint: it was broadcast on a national TV show) and we think you’ll find them as cute as we did. Take a look below to see what we mean…
Where are you from? Jackson is from Clintwood, Virginia and Dakota is from Winston Salem, NC.
Where do you live? We live in Huntersville, NC, a small town outside of Charlotte, NC.
Instagram handle: jackandkoda
Age: Jackson is 29 and Dakota is 26
On a very memorable trip: Our favorite vacation was to Miami in 2017. We drove from Huntersville, NC down there! It was one heck of a car-ride…next time we will definitely fly. This was the first time Dakota spent an extended amount of time with Jackson’s mom, too and they hit it off. Truly any beach trip is Dakota’s favorite as he loves hot and humid weather by the water and of course…tanning. We had Cuban food of some sort every night and it was amazing. There were so many memorable things we did that week.
On their coming out experiences: Dakota was 16 when he came out to everyone. His mom said she always knew and he was so worried his father would disown him. To his surprise, it made their relationship stronger. He sat them both down one day after school and told them. Lots of crying, haha. Thankfully, he was able to come out to his grandma, who he was very close with, and hear her acceptance and support before she passed shortly later. He was the only gay kid at school (at the time) and was bullied pretty badly for it. If it wasn’t for his family’s acceptance, the process would’ve been much worse.
Jackson was 21 when he came out to close family and friends. Being from a small town it took a while for him to actually admit to himself that he was gay. He remembers growing up always thinking about how he was holding his arms, how he walked, and how he expressed himself so to not look or sound too feminine. He grew up in a conservative Southern Baptist family and the church would often do youth trips. Some of those trips included walking through a simulation of hell, and almost each time these simulations included a gay individual begging for forgiveness and being tortured. This led to years of internal turmoil and depressive thoughts for him. No one was actually surprised by him coming out and was actually waiting for him to do so. It wasn’t until he announced his relationship with Dakota on Facebook that everyone knew. Some family members chose not to have contact with him anymore and many childhood friends fell out of touch. Being older Jackson had actually made a new life and new friends and everything turned out just fine.
On what they learned from coming out: Dakota learned that it’s much easier to love yourself than it is to try to hate or fight who you’re meant to be.
Jackson learned that being your true self is the only way to be truly happy. He never realized that many of his anxieties and insecurities came from not being true and open.
On backlash since coming out: [We haven’t faced any backlash] not really for either of us, other than the typical gay slurs that go around. If anything, it allowed us to make more friends and grow.
On getting engaged on Watch What Happens Live: Jackson messaged Andy Cohen on Instagram and expressed Dakota’s admiration for Andy and that he wanted to propose on his talk show! Surprisingly, Andy replied and got Jackson in touch with the show staff. Jackson hid the tickets to WWHL until the day of the show and surprised Dakota by telling him to get ready and handing him his ticket. Jackson wrote the proposal while Dakota was in the shower. After the show, Andy had us stay behind and took pictures with us and chatted for a few minutes. He was very nice and genuine.
On how they met: We met at a Halloween party that we were both invited to. Jackson recently had moved to the area to start his Nurse Practitioner career and did not know many people. Before the party, Jackson liked one of Dakota’s old photos on Facebook (creeping J), Dakota sent a message, and the rest is history after we met there.
On where their at in the wedding planning: We are very early in the process…just started talking to a wedding planner. Dakota’s sister in law is going to marry us, which means a lot to us. We want to have a small, intimate wedding in a country setting! We’ve made our guest list, but that’s about it. Our date is Spring 2020!
On what makes a successful relationship: Communication and trust most definitely. If you can’t talk and believe what your significant other is saying, then what do you have? You also cannot listen to the negative/spiteful people who don’t want you to succeed and prosper as a couple.
On dealing with arguments: We actually don’t argue that much…never have. We have been together for a little over 3 years and have probably been in 2 arguments, both within the first year. Jackson doesn’t engage and gets quiet. Dakota wants to talk it out right away and can be short tempered. We have learned how to compromise and disagree in a healthy way, when to bring up certain topics, and how to read each other’s moods. We always apologize if needed as that is very important to do with those you love.
On their plans for the future: [We’d like to be] living in our home we bought back in October, as it’s everything we’ve wanted, start exploring the adoption process/options, and traveling more outside of the U.S. Individually, Jackson would like to narrow down his medical practice to aesthetics for a more flexible schedule with a specialty that requires less stress mentally. Dakota would like to continue growing his real estate business and involve Jackson more in his real estate investments.