How I met my partner: Swapping nightclubs for nappies in a love story for the ages

Doneraile has been the perfect area for David and PJ to bring up their daughter Eden, they explain, as they plan to renew their vows
How I met my partner: Swapping nightclubs for nappies in a love story for the ages

David Babington and PJ Foley with their little girl Eden. The couple opened up about how they found love in this week's How I Met My Partner

WHEN David Babington met his future husband in a Cork city nightclub he never anticipated they would one day be parents to a beautiful little girl.

“It was a very different world back then,” the Cork man recalled. Now based in Doneraile, with his husband and partner of 22 years PJ Foley, adult life is a far cry from what he envisioned as a teenage boy.

“The gay scene was very small back then,” the social media influencer explained.

“Being part of a gay couple wasn’t as freeing as it is today. It was a very different Ireland. As gay men, it was in us to hide. You couldn’t show the kind of affection you do today. 

"Instead, people had to be reserved and watch themselves due to the levels of homophobia. The verbal abuse was difficult. You experienced this mostly from large groups of men. Funnily enough, it only ever came from someone in a crowd.”

Nonetheless, David - who is known as Material Boy to his Instagram fans - never allowed adversity get in the way of love.

“We met each other in the Half Moon nightclub 22 years ago. We saw each other from across the room. Before we knew it we were kissing. It was that instant. I believe in fate but I also believe in Dutch courage,” he joked. 

“You needed it back then because there were no dating apps or anything like that. If you met someone it was in a bar or a nightclub.”

The father described how he didn’t even own a mobile phone after first meeting PJ.

“PJ was working in Jury’s Hotel at the time so I called them and asked to speak with him. I can’t remember exactly what I said. All I can remember is feeling really nervous before making that phone call. We arranged to see each other that Saturday.”

The couple was happy to take the relationship slowly.

“I can’t imagine what being on the dating scene would be like today. You have to sell yourself before even seeing the person now. You couldn’t stalk people on the internet or find out anything in advance when I was young. There was no texting each other from one end of the week to the other in those days. I don’t think I even knew how to text back then. For our first date, we met with friends at the Bodega which took the pressure off a bit. He was very confident and self-assured and came across older than his years. We are both very ambitious which was something that drew me in too.”

David spoke of their engagement.

“There was no big gesture of getting down on knee. We had flown to Las Vegas from Beverley Hills. It’s the gayest cliché ever to say we exchanged engagement rings while getting ready for a Cher concert in the suit but that’s exactly how it happened.”

The pair is looking forward to renewing vows this May.

“One of my longest friends, Christina, is a Buddhist and she ended up marrying us. 10 years later we have come full circle and in June we hope to renew our vows. It will be even more special now because we’ll have Eden (their daughter) there. We are both taking her dress shopping for the occasion. It’s something we’re really looking forward to.

“For three and a half years she has ruled the house and I am no longer king of the castle. I never could have seen this for PJ and I, but it has been wonderful. In Eden’s pre-school the kids have pictures of their family trees up and it’s so nice to see our picture featured with all the other families.”

David and PJ have now settled in Doneraile and co-own a salon called The Ugly Duckling.

“Years ago I would have been afraid to so much as contemplate being a father but people in Doneraile have been nothing but open and welcoming. We have never experienced any inappropriate questions or homophobia in the area. It’s made me realise how much we have moved forward as a country. Nobody is born sexist, racist or homophobic. It all comes down to what you are taught.”

He spoke about the joy Eden has brought them during their three and a half years as parents. “Our hope for Eden is that she grows up happy and independent. As an openly gay couple it hasn’t been an easy journey for us but we are an open book and have never been ashamed of the word gay. If we could give anyone advice it’s that anything is possible. I had hoped we would one day have a daughter but I’m not sure I ever believed it. Eden has brought so much joy and love to us as a couple.”

  • To check out David’s Instagram page visit material_boy on Instagram

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