Amidst the growing troubles in today’s world, it has become exceedingly important to show love, and to fully support it. Love takes many forms, but some relationships have endured especially difficult and challenging circumstances.
All of the beautiful couples on this list are here to remind you that love knows no boundaries: for better or worse, for richer or poorer, and in sickness and in health. Love conquers all.
Neil Patrick Harris & David Burtka
Neil Patrick Harris is a both a household name and a cult icon. From How I Met Your Mother to Doctor Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, he’s stolen hearts all across the nation. But the hearts that he cares about the most are husband David Burtka’s, and their kids.
But while fans have fallen for NPH, it turns out that he fell for Burtka first. In an interview he did with Out, NPH admitted, “I was in love with [David] before he was comfortable saying it.” But when they first met, Burtka was already in a relationship. NPH couldn’t take his eyes off him, but didn’t want to be a homewrecker. So he waited for fates to align.
When the two finally did start dating, it was also NPH who first said “I love you.” But despite being the first to say those three magic words, it was Burtka who proposed. “David first proposed to me five years ago,” Harris told the magazine, “On the actual street corner where we met.”
Ellen DeGeneres & Portia de Rossi
Ellen Degeneres is absolutely adorable on her own, but seeing her happy and fulfilled with her wife Portia de Rossi ups the cuteness quotient even more. The two got to talking at the 2004 VH1 Music Awards, and Portia immediately knew Ellen was the one she wanted to be with. “That had never happened to me in my life,” she told The Advocate back in 2005. “Where I saw somebody and [experienced] all of those things you hear about in songs and read about in poetry. My knees were weak.”
The couple were married in 2008 just after California ruled the ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional, and they’ve been making us swoon ever since.
Josh Duhamel & Fergie
Before Josh Duhamel and Fergie ever met face-to-face, he dreamt of her. Repeatedly. According to Us Weekly, he opened up about his adoration of the Black Eyed Peas singer, admitting he had a huge crush.
When they finally met on the set of his TV show Las Vegas, Duhamel’s dream played out in real life. Now, they’re married and have a handsome little boy named Axl who laughs at his dad freaking out about Santa Claus, because the fantasy has become an truly authentic reality.
Kate Middleton & Prince William
Kate Middleton and Prince William’s relationship, engagement, and marriage made headlines worldwide. But it wasn’t because this was just another royal power couple. It was because these two challenged the history and practices of their country – and won.
The reason that this marriage was of such huge importance, was that it breached class system protocol: Middleton was not of the same social stature or rank as Prince William. In another time, this union would have been strictly forbidden. But despite concern over whether she had the right to become part of this royal world, the two pushed forward and love won out. It was especially touching because Middleton reminded many of Princess Diana, William’s late mother, who was frequently called “The People’s Princess,” and also married into royalty.
Jim Parsons & Todd Spiewak
Actor Jim Parsons is beloved by millions for his role as Sheldon in TV’s number one hit comedy The Big Bang Theory, but he is truly adored by his partner of 14 years, Todd Spiewak.
But it’s not only fans who find this couple adorably inspiring. They received official recognition as an outstanding modern couple, when the two were presented with an Inspiration Award at the annual 2013 GLSEN “Respect” awards. During Parsons’ acceptance speech, he said, “I’ve never considered myself an activist. I’ve never considered my relationship with Todd to be an act of activism. Rather simply, it’s an act of love…coffee in the morning, going to work, washing the clothes, taking the dogs [out].”
George Takei & Brad Altman
As an LGBT advocate, George Takei has no problem making himself heard. He was very vocal during the most recent US presidential election about civil liberties, and was one of the main voices consulted by news outlets when the Supreme Court ruled to make same sex marriage a right.
Of course, fans will never forget his role on Star Trek. But perhaps even more importantly, he’s remembered as part of a duo. He met his now-husband Brad Altman in a gay running club in Los Angeles by asking Altman to help him train for his first marathon ever. Why? “He was the best runner out there,” Takei said. “And also great-looking.” According to Oprah: Where Are They Now?, their relationship was an 18-year secret, until 2005, when Takei officially came out.
Khloe & Lamar
Although celebrity power couple Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom were quickly married and are now divorced — with a rocky relationship in between — there was one moment in their history together that shows the incredible power of love.
When Odom was rushed to the hospital after overdosing on drugs inside a Nevada brothel, Kardashian remained by his side. Their relationship had already hit the skids, but the reality star still stood by her husband in his worst hour, and under heartbreaking circumstances. At that moment, it wasn’t about romantic love, it was about the bond between two people in a dire situation.
Samira Wiley & Lauren Morelli
The incredibly popular Netflix series Orange Is The New Black pushes boundaries all on its own. The show, which dramatizes life for women in prison, is also centered around lesbian relationships, both on and off-screen, including the real life relationship between cast member Samira Wiley and her partner, Lauren Morelli, a writer and producer on the show, which just recently resulted in marriage. While OITNB may bank on heart-wrenching drama, Wiley and Morelli are the very picture of wedded bliss.
However, this was a marriage that OITNB writer Morelli never anticipated. Before joining the show, she was married to a man named Steve Basilone. It was only when Morelli started writing for lesbian characters that she realized her marriage wasn’t working because she was a lesbian. She learned to be comfortable in her sexuality and now shares an incredible love story with Wiley.
David Bowie & Iman
Music icon David Bowie is no longer with us, but his and Iman’s relationship will never be forgotten. It was love at first sight, lasting for 24 years. Before Bowie died of cancer at the age of 69 in 2016, Iman did an interview with Oprah wherein she divulged what made the couple so great together. “We both understand the difference between the person and the persona,” she said. “When we are home, we are both just Iman and David. We’re not anybody else.”
But as people are keen to notice, theirs was an interracial marriage. But Bowie had advocated for equality before the two ever met. During a 1983 interview with MTV, the music icon challenged his interviewer by asking why black people and their music weren’t better represented. While visiting Arsenio Hall in 1993, Bowie said of his and Iman’s atypical pairing, “You don’t see that many mixed couples in America…it’s still this separatist type of thing over here. I don’t know what it’d be for like for us if we weren’t [famous].”
When Iman spoke of her husband years later, she mentioned how her father taught her to only love gentlemen. “My father…gave me a positive connection with men, because he is a gentleman. And that is what attracted me to David. He is a gentle soul,” she said.
Aziz Ansari’s parents
This story isn’t about comedian Aziz Ansari, but rather his parents — who you might recognize from Netflix’s Master of None — and who were locked into an arranged marriage 35 years ago. Depending on what culture you come from, you may be quick to judge arranged marriages as uncaring or even wrong. In some cases, you might be right. In others, like that of Ansari’s parents, you’d be dead wrong.
When Aziz’s father decided years ago that it was time for him to marry, he and his family went about it very formally. According to Aziz, they approached several neighboring families, and his father’s method for choosing his would-be wife was more like “Goldilocks,” than true love.
Aziz writes in his own personal essay for TIME, “The first girl, [Dad] said, was “a little too tall,” and the second girl was “a little too short.” Then he met my mom. He quickly deduced that she was the appropriate height (finally!), and they talked for about 30 minutes. They decided it would work. A week later, they were married.” And their happy union continues!
Love is love
These couples are well-known public figures who enable us to feel more comfortable with who we are. Like there’s someone out there holding the flag for us.
But there are millions more beautiful couples — that aren’t famous — that love deeply, and with pride. And they do it every day. No matter the color, or kind, love is love, and no one can take that away from you.