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Hairpin Turns, Oncoming Traffic, and a Proposal

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When Maxwell Storey Dubler and Carl Theophilus Cade caught each other’s eye at a Los Angeles bar, both were looking for lasting love but neither expected to find it with each other. On paper, at least, they looked like opposites.

It was March 2016 and Mr. Dubler was then a professional downhill skateboarder and photographer. Mr. Cade was deep into his career as a real estate developer.

The two talked for quite a while before Mr. Dubler offered Mr. Cade a ride home. But as the men prepared to leave the bar, the D.J. started spinning “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” by Sylvester. Having been raised in the Bay Area by lesbian mothers who had named a beloved family dog after the singer, Mr. Cade insisted on one last dance.

Mr. Dubler, now 37, heartily agreed and surprised Mr. Cade, 45, by espousing his knowledge of Sylvester, an icon of the gay community who died of AIDS in 1988.

The next day over brunch at the Kitchen, a restaurant in the Silver Lake neighborhood, each surprised the other as they discovered that despite their age gap and professional differences, they had plenty in common.

Both men grew up in supportive families and participated in spiritual communities. At 16, Mr. Cade was on the national youth council of the Unitarian Universalist Association. From 1995 to 1996, he served as the moderator of the youth caucus of the general assembly of the U.U.A. His involvement in the national organization lasted 10 years.

Mr. Dubler grew up in the Quaker Church and was active in the youth organization of his local chapter. He worked as a camp counselor at Quaker youth camps.

Each had also graduated from a college traditionally attended only by women. They both were interested in urban design, though Mr. Dubler’s involvement at that time was primarily on the steep streets his skating crew frequented.

Ms. Cade, a photographer and activist whose work documented the early days of the women’s liberation and gay rights movements, was at the forefront of the lesbian parenting movement in the late 1970s.

“I had a surplus of love even though sometimes I didn’t know which house I’d left my thermos at,” Mr. Cade said of his unconventional upbringing.

After graduating from Vassar College with a bachelor’s degree in political science and urban studies, he earned an M.B.A. from Harvard. He is now a vice president for construction at Hudson Pacific Properties in San Francisco.

Mr. Dubler, a fraternal twin, was raised in Barrington, R.I. He graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts before moving to Los Angeles to become a professional skateboarder. After receiving a sponsorship from Madrid Skateboards, among other companies, he raced in competitions across North America and Europe.

At the time of their meeting, Mr. Dubler had become serious about finding a boyfriend with whom he could forge a future. He had been active on dating apps, but nothing panned out. Mr. Cade seemed like a perfect fit. After every date, Mr. Dubler suggested two more. Mr. Cade had never been pursued so intently.

Within months, both were committed to each other. In 2020, after relocating to San Francisco for Mr. Cade’s new job, Mr. Dubler began commuting to the University of California, Los Angeles from which he earned a master’s degree in urban and regional planning in 2022. He retired from skateboarding in 2020 and now works as a policy researcher in San Francisco for California YIMBY, an organization that advocates for broader housing affordability.

Mr. Cade proposed marriage in September 2021 while the two were on vacation in Spain, following a harrowing adventure in which he drove a chase car behind Mr. Dubler, who was on a skateboard, speeding down an incline.

Although he planned to propose at the bottom of the hill, Mr. Cade was so shook up by the hairpin turns and oncoming traffic Mr. Dubler was navigating, that he forgot his entire proposal plan. A few days later, his adrenaline subsided, he proposed at the Crystal Palace in Madrid.

On Dec. 16, at the Presidio Chapel in San Francisco, the couple were married by the Rev. Dr. John Buehrens, a past president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, before 164 guests.

“Even in our differences we complement each other perfectly,” Mr. Dubler said. “Carl is outgoing and a rule follower. I’m an introvert who, as a skater, sometimes ignored the rules when I perceived they were misinformed.”

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