Family Equality’s CEO, Stacey Stevenson, sat down with stars of Bravo’s Family Karma, Amrit Kapai and Nicholas Kouchoukos, to learn about their wedding, the show, and their plans for expanding their family. Kapai and Kouchoukos will be recognized at Family Equality’s New York City gala, Night at the Pier, on May 15.
Stacey Stevenson: Visibility matters. And visibility in media matters. As our 2023 Night at the Pier Visibility Award honorees, we recognize the huge impact you are making through your willingness to share your lives fully and openly on television. Why is being out and visible important to you?
Nicholas Kouchoukos: Being out and visible is important to us because we fully appreciate that there is strength in numbers. Although aspects of our stories focus on how isolating certain experiences in our pasts were, our hope is that in sharing, future generations don’t feel alone and isolated simply because they identify as LGBTQ+. Our story gives people a genuine example of what love looks like – for better or for worse – between two married men who grew up in loving homes.
SS: Why did you decide to share so much and be so vulnerable on Family Karma?
Amrit Kapai: Early on, both Nicholas and I recognized that sharing our true and authentic selves was the best way for our story to be relatable. People can easily fish out when you’re being disingenuous. Once we started to be vulnerable, it was difficult to stop, in spite of how it is terrifying at times. It didn’t make sense to pull back once we realized that viewers were relating to our story on such a deep and personal level.
SS: Allowing cameras to capture your traditional Indian wedding – albeit with a bit of nontraditional flair only two men could add – helps queer couples be seen by society. When they see loving queer couples represented, it helps them see their humanity. What do you hope people will take away from your wedding episodes on Family Karma?
AK: After watching the episodes covering our wedding on Family Karma, we hope that people walk away seeing just that, our humanity. At the end of the day, we, meaning Nicholas, myself, my parents and his parents, are all perfectly flawed humans. We all brought decades of lived experiences, both positive and negative, to the table which shaped our views and reactions. Despite all the baggage which was laid bare on camera, we came together, talked through issues, and walked down the aisle as a stronger and more unified family. LOVE WINS!
SS: What is a favorite memory or moment from your wedding?
NK: Ah! There are so many! It’s hard to say, but walking into the room where our ceremony took place was truly a magical moment.
AK: Nicholas had worked so diligently with our outfit designer, Ishan Sanghvi at Rivesse, to create monochromatic green sherwanis – formal, long, traditional Indian jackets. At the same time, he worked with our decorator, Ragini Patel at Weddings in Style Inc. to coordinate our green sherwanis with live greenery which absolutely filled the room and cascaded down from the ceiling over the mandap – the altar for the ceremony. Seeing all the different shades of green was like walking into a dream.
SS: What does “family equality” mean to you?
NK: “Family equality” to us means having an equal opportunity as an LGBTQ+ couple to pursue the dream of creating a family with all the same joy, happiness, ups and downs, and most importantly legal protections afforded to non-LGBTQ+ couples. It means being able to enjoy all experiences of having children without fear of the government breaking apart our family unit by treating it differently than any other family.
SS: Living in Florida [Kapai and Kouchoukos are based in Miami] right now can feel heavy for many LGBTQ+ folks. How is the current political climate weighing on you as you embark on your journey to becoming parents?
AK: I’d have to say that public education in Florida weighs on each of us the most since Nicholas is a trained teacher and started his career with Chicago Public Schools. The idea that in the current climate we would never subject our children to a public education system that views them as second-class citizens is heartbreaking. We are both the products of public education, but Florida public schools today simply are not the place for our children nor is it a viable place for Nicholas to work.
SS: What are your hopes and dreams for expanding your family?
NK: Our hope and dream for our growing family is to nurture children who are kind, loving, and aware. We also hope they grow up in a state and country which values all people from all backgrounds equally and does not look at them as second-class citizens simply because they have two dads.
SS: We’ll honor you at our Night at the Pier gala in New York City. We’re thrilled to be able to honor you as our Visibility Award honorees. What do you hope others will take away from your story?AK:
We are so humbled that Family Equality is honoring us with the Visibility Award this year at Night at the Pier! Our hope is that attendees and viewers see yet another example of love in our multifaceted community. At different points in our lives, both Nicholas and I thought that getting married and having a family was out of the question. Today, we stand as a happily married couple starting our journey to becoming parents. We are living proof that love does win!
Stacey Stevenson (she/they), the first Black Chief Executive Officer for Family Equality, and their wife, Cheralyn Stevenson, are raising their twin nine-year-old boys, Duke and London in Washington D.C. They relocated their family there from their home state of Texas to find a more welcoming and safer place for a queer couple to raise Black boys. A trailblazing leader, Stacey was selected as one of Out Magazine’s Out100 list in the fall of 2022. Prior to joining Family Equality, Stacey worked in the corporate sector, where they have a long history of senior roles in the defense, technology, and finance industries. After a moment of what they call "COVID clarity," they decided to turn their business acumen, lived experience, and passion to work for LGBTQ+ families and those who wish to form them.