1. AL AND JEANIE TOMAINI – THE STRANGEST COUPLE
Al (Aurelio) Tomaini was born in 1912 in New Jersey as one of seven children. By the age of twelve he towered over his father – a stout man who stood over six feet in height. Al had an overactive pituitary gland and he eventually stood over seven feet in height. To earn a career in sideshow, Al claimed a height of 8’4” and billed himself as ‘The Tallest Man in the World’. No one seemed to mind Al’s embellishment, due mostly to the fact that Al was an incredibly genuine and nice guy. He was shy, gentle and sweet inside and out – from the top of his towering head to the bottom of his size 27 shoes. During the Great Lakes Exposition in 1936, one special young lady took a particular interest in the gentle giant with the coy smile.
Her name was Jeanie (Berniece Evelyn Smith) and she was born on August 23rd in 1916 in Blufton, Indiana with twisted arms and without legs. She ‘stood’ just over two feet in height but, in personality, Jeanie was a giant in her own right. Jeanie had been performing in exhibitions since the age of three and was known for her acrobatic dexterity and the nimble way she ran about on her mildly deformed hands. Originally exhibited by her biological mother, Jeanie had been under the abusive care of an adoptive mother since 1931. The pretty but resilient 19 year old endured the psychological abuse with little hope of escape but, when the sincere flames of romance sparked between her and Al Tomaini, she found a gargantuan protector who would forever lift her out of harm’s way.
The unusual couple eloped during a fair in Cleveland, Ohio on September 8th of 1936 and were wed by a justice of the peace that same day. The pair honeymooned in Niagara Falls and continued touring together for many decades as the ‘World’s Strangest Married Couple’. In the off season they settled in Gibsonton, Florida. It was there that the two remarkable people built a home and a life together.
Gibsonton was known for its population of unusual people. Many circus folk retired or wintered there and many still do. Al and Jeanie purchased a piece of property there along the banks of the river and established a lodge and fishing camp known as ‘The Giant’s Camp’, marked by one of Al’s enormous cowboy boots nailed to the nearest road sign. In Gibsonton Al and Jeanine raised two adopted daughters.With their savings and camp earnings, the pair bought and donated an ambulance to their town. Al served as the world’s tallest fire chef and president of the Chamber of Commerce. Al even lent a hand in building the community hall. All the while, the pair were inseparable and deeply in love. Al was often spotted with his pretty half-girl wife Jeanie propped on his shoulder or carried at his side.
Fortified by that love, Al lived longer than most pituitary giants. He likely endured much physical pain but refused to show it. Eventually, however, his time came and he left his beloved Jeanie in 1962 at the age of 50.
Jeanie continued on without her giant husband. She never remarried and continued to run the camp until her own passing on August 10, 1999. She was buried on the anniversary of Al’s passing.
The Tomaini family still reside in Gibsonton. Their great-grandson, Alex Zander Marrow, carries on their circus sideshow legacy by performing amazing feats of physical endurance professionally as the Junior Torture King. He was formerly the youngest sword swallower in the world and his grandmother, the Tomaini’s adopted daughter Judy, built him his first bed of nails.
2. Anorexic woman and morbidly obese man to marry after meeting at eating disorder clinic
Lizzie Elsburg, 24, also has bulimia and was 6.5st when she met 30st junk-food addict Chris Glasgow, 28, who ate five takeaways each day.
The couple clicked at counselling sessions in August, began dating in January then got engaged in February.
Recovering Lizzie, now 9st, said: “I was able to see past his body issues because I have body issues too.”
During mealtimes at Pacific Shores Hospital, in Oxnard, California, Lizzie had to pile her plate with food.
But Chris, who has since lost 10st, was limited to muesli, salad and a small side plate of dinner.
Lizzie, of Lorton, Virginia, added: “It felt like we should swap.
"But we were determined to beat our disorders and that is what drew us together.”
Chris said: “I went to a clinic to lose weight and left with the love of my life.”
3. 'World's strongest dwarf' to wed 6ft 3in tall transgender woman
Anton Kraft has smashed records for weightlifting by being able to lift four times his own weight, but the determined 52-year-old has told how his greatest achieving was bagging his glamorous new love.
The bodybuilder, who is originally from Denmark but now lives in Florida, said he instantly fell for China Bell, despite the fact she was originally born a man.
He said: "We used to walk against the current, but the current has changed.
"Florida is one the states that have same-sex marriage - and both of us are basically the same sex.
"I enjoy dating a transgender woman because she was born a male and is doing the utmost to become as feminine as possible.
"I find that most women born as women do not spend as much time on their appearance.”
The couple has been dating for six months and China told how she found her new love irresistible.
She said: "I think Anton's weightlifting is so sexy because I think he's sexy - when you hold a world heavyweight title, that means a lot.
"I've never dated a 4ft 4in guy and I was just so curious. I'm glad I gave him a chance because he's an amazing person.
"I'm different and he's different, and where we're from, different is good.”
The sculpted figure that China finds so attractive, was earned by Anton through 10 years of hard work power-lifting.
He claims to have the highest bench record of all time for his weight class, but it seems he may have pushed his body too far. In his pursuit of ultimate power he says he has 'technically died' five times before being resuscitated - ranging from drowning to falling out of a window.
Doctors also fear he may have a heart attack if he keeps up his all-action lifestyle - but Anton isn't budging.
He said: "Some people say that what I do is weakness, or micro-man syndrome - that I want to do something that I am not built for, to prove something.
"But I believe there's only one winner - second is first loser. Second doesn't count.
"Overall, I am one of the five strongest guys in the world, regardless of height and weight.
"And I am the only guy in the world who has ever benched four-times his body weight.”
And when it comes to the future - Anton's ambitions are as big as his weightlifting abilities.
He said: "I want to break another world record, but it's up to my physique to decide that.
"I may also go down on one knee and ask for China's hand - because I think her name would look so good with my last name.
"Right now I feel like I'm the luckiest man on the planet - we are all happy and good and I have never felt better than I do now - and that would be thanks to China."
4. Couple who met as women to marry as men as they both undergo sex change surgery
The pair had been together for two years yet Kate had no idea lover Abbie Games had secretly battled an overwhelming desire to change sex since her childhood.
To Abbie’s delight, Kate put her heartache and confusion aside, vowing to stand by her as she went through the transformation into Finlay.
And it seemed their gay relationship was about to go straight.
But in a bizarre twist, as Finlay’s hormone treatment helped him grow facial hair and he prepared to have his breasts removed, Kate began to have serious doubts that she too was a man trapped in a woman’s body.
“I saw Finlay’s body change and started to hate my own. It dawned on me that I wished I was going through it too.”
So just days before Finlay’s breasts op, Kate opened up about her feelings.
“I told him I wanted to go through gender reassignment too. I could tell he was shocked but he obviously understood how I was feeling.
“With Finlay’s support, I changed my name to Drew and started my own journey.”
Now the one-time lesbian couple are engaged – and planning to marry as gay men.
Their remarkable story began in an Oxford bar in 2006. They instantly clicked over their shared love of clubbing and real ale.
They were best friends for four years before becoming a couple in 2010 and moving in together. They settled into what seemed a happy domestic life – but Finlay was in turmoil.
“Since the age of 10 I always knew I was different. I knew I was gay at 14,” he says. “I never felt comfortable in my own skin. I hated pink, Barbie dolls and refused to wear dresses.
“My mum knew something was wrong and even took me to a doctor when I was a teenager but was told it was just a phase.
"To try to cope with my feelings, I drank a lot through my teens and early 20s. I hoped alcohol would make me feel better about myself but it didn’t.”
As Abbie, Finlay was happy with Kate, but began to realise only gender reassignment surgery would make him truly content. So he bit the bullet and told her everything.
Finlay, 40, says: “Telling her was always going to be the hardest part of my transition. I was so nervous but she was incredibly supportive.”
Drew, 32, adds: “It was out of the blue. He sat me down and told me he was a man born in a woman’s body and wanted gender reassignment surgery.
"Nothing could have prepared me for the shock.
“But I loved him and realised I didn’t care what gender he was as long as he was happy.”
So Finlay started binding his breasts and wearing baggy shirts, low-slung jeans and basketball trainers. He also received counselling sessions from his doctor.
A year later in 2013 he started hormone treatment which caused his voice to deepen and facial hair to grow.
But the biggest step was having his B-cup breasts removed in November 2013, an operation he says changed his life.
“I knew I had to get rid of my breasts,” Finlay says. “They were literally making me gag every time I looked at them.
“Being able to go topless as a man was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I went to Glastonbury and it felt incredible to pull off my shirt and show off my manly chest.
“For the first time people weren’t referring to me as ‘Miss’ anymore they were calling me ‘Sir’ and it was a real milestone in my life.”
As Finlay relished his changing body, he didn’t realise his girlfriend was looking on in envy. Then she told him she wanted to become a man too.
“I could tell he was shocked,” says Drew. “But he obviously understood how I was feeling.
“Finlay had regularly talked about feeling like the odd one out as a child. It made me look back on my childhood and see I’d had a similar experience.
“I grew up with two brothers and was happiest when I was messing around with them, playing football and wrestling. But my mum told me I should be more ladylike, which I resented.
“My worst moment was when I had to wear a bra for the first time, I was mortified. All I wanted to do was hang around in baggy T-shirts and cut my hair short, but I wasn’t allowed.”
Recognising his own feelings in his partner, Drew says he had a “light bulb moment”.
And 18 months after Finlay’s revelation, it was his turn to stun his partner.
“It felt surreal, only months earlier it was Finlay telling me and now it was the other way round,” he says.
“I didn’t know how he was going to take it. But he was so understanding – I couldn’t have asked for more.”
Finlay says: “It was a real shock. But I was happy my journey had inspired him and helped him realise who he really was.”
With Finlay’s support, Drew began attending a gender identity clinic after a year of adjusting to life as a man at home. In January, he started to live as a man and the pair became a gay couple.
Finlay says: “It was as if we were going in circles. We started off as a gay couple then became a straight couple, now we were going back to the beginning.
"Looking back, I think this is why we clicked from the start. Without knowing it, we recognised we were both men in the wrong bodies.
"Now we’re helping each other put right what nature got wrong.”
Following their engagement last November, the couple plan to wed in 2017 when both their gender reassignments are complete.
Drew must live as a man for a year before starting hormone treatment, while Finlay is planning on having gender reassignment surgery over three ops, starting in 2016.
The couple plan to have a spiritual wedding in Glasgow with all their family and friends there. They hope that, by telling their story, they’ll inspire other people who might not have accepted their transgenderism.
Finlay says: “I have spent years wondering what’s wrong with me – without the proper information available I became confused and angry with myself. I can’t begin to imagine what other young trans-people go through.
“My family support has been amazing and Drew has been my rock, I don’t know how I could have done it without him.
“Now he is going through the transition I know I have to be there for him too. It will be different when he goes on hormone therapy – when my voice started to deepen Drew told me I sounded like Barry White! It’s going to be a huge change.”
Drew says: “I am excited for the next few stages of my life. I want to finally feel comfortable with my body and be truly happy.
"We met as confused women, unable to know if we would ever be happy with our bodies, but now we will marry confident and happy – as men.”
5. The world's tallest bride: 6ft 8in Brazilian teenager to marry her 5ft 4in boyfriend
Aspiring model Elisany da Cruz Silva - who is a staggering 6ft 8ins tall - has been dating 5ft 4ins Francinaldo da Silva Carvalho for more than three years.
Despite a massive 1ft 4ins between them, Francinaldo had no problem increasing the distance by dropping to one knee after a romantic stroll along the beach.
The lovestruck pair have shared a small home in the Brazilian town of Salinopolis for one year and are hoping to soon hear the pitter patter of tiny feet.
Elisany is so stuck on having a child that she is willing to adopt if she does not fall pregnant soon - despite being only 18.
The youngster is worried that she may not conceive because of a form of gigantism that was caused when a tumour grew on her pituitary gland.
Despite this the couple are still looking forward to a long and happy life together.
Remembering the romantic proposal, Elisany said: 'I told him many times, 'do not ask me to marry you because my answer will be no' - I think that's what he was thinking.
'I was so nervous when I saw him there. I don't even know how I coped.'
Construction worker Francinaldo added: 'I have always wanted to go out with a tall girl and she came and fitted into that perfectly.'
The couple are planning on a long engagement despite Elisany already having a dress for the big day.
'We think how will the preparations for the wedding be, the church, the best men and bridesmaids,' added Francinaldo.
'We have taken just one step towards the wedding - which was me asking her to marry me.
'We are giving it some time to get it all in order.'
The newly engaged couple have not always seen eye to eye and Francinaldo had to work hard to get the ring on Elisany's finger.
'When we met I had already turned 16,' she said.
'I was still a bit childish and so I was just playing around with him for a while and I got so annoyed with him - as if he was a rival that I hated.
'I just didn't like him and wanted to hit him every time we met.'
But little Francinaldo has a big heart and remembers their meeting a little differently.
He said: 'The first time I saw her I went to get some bread and I noticed her from a distance.
'I checked her out and she also checked me out straight away.
'Then I just thought, "I need to be with that girl". I always found her beautiful.'
And the hate eventually turned to love for Elisany when she became jealous of Francinaldo's prowess with the ladies.
'He was talking to another girl and I was jealous,' she said.
'He intrigued me - I wanted to know more about him.'
Despite the pair being completely in love, not everyone is as happy about the new engagement.
Elisany's mother, Ana Maria Ramos, said: 'I don't know how this could happen - this proposal.
'It was a surprise - no-one was expecting it.
'In spite of everything she is still a very young girl with a lot ahead of her.
'She is sometimes a bit difficult to him but I've never seen him treating her badly.
'He has been an excellent person.'
Elisany still draws stares while walking down the street where she has lived her entire life and is often referred to as the giant girl.
Francinaldo said: 'I keep telling her to get out more so that people don't feel so curious about her.
'When we go for a walk people keep staring saying 'look at that giant girl'.
'It really bothers me because people don't have the consciousness of thinking that she's also a human being.'
But despite drawing stares Francinaldo cannot wait to show off his new fiancie.
He added: ' am always boasting about being with her.
'Everyone thinks she is beautiful - my friends think she is beautiful.
'They always ask me to take her to meet them but she won't go because she's embarrassed.
'She is a person that is very different and I know I can make her happy.
'Our relationship is special because she understands me and I understand her.'
6. 'Is he blind?' The cruel bullies taunting an overweight woman whose boyfriend is 'thin, fit and muscular'
Gloria Shuri Nava, 25, from San Jose, is overweight. Her 22-year-old boyfriend of 18 months, Ali, who she met online, is 'fit and muscular'; and according to Miss Nave, many people can't comprehend why he would want to date her.
In a candid essay for Yahoo!, Miss Nava writes: 'When people say things out loud, their comments range from cruel ("Is he blind?" "He's only with you to get a green card") to awkward quips such as, "It's great he can see past your looks," or "He's so nice for being with you."
And the remarks even extend to her friends.
'Now and then, even people close to me made unkind remarks,' Miss Nava, a prominent beauty blogger on YouTube recalled. 'Once, when I confided to a friend, "I can't believe he likes me!" he answered, "Yeah, I know!"
But some of the worst comments come from her own fans. Miss Nava's YouTube channel, Glowpinkstah, where she reviews beauty products and shares details about her life, has more than 250,000 subscribers.
'While most are supportive, there are a fair number of bullies,' she says.
Some of the more hurt questions she has received include: '"She has a boyfriend? What is wrong with the world?" and "These two had sex?! Oh god, why?"'
But Miss Nava, who says she has been overweight her whole life, is trying to get past the comments and relish her relationship regardless of what society thinks.
The pair met online in 2009, after Ali, who currently lives in Glasgow Scotland and is moving to California this summer to get his PhD in clinical psychology, saw one of Miss Nava's videos.
They began instant messaging, and for two-and-a-half years, spent hours talking online, developing a close bond from thousands of miles away - and each knew exactly what the other looked like.
'I knew he was into big girls,' Miss Nava admits. 'His exes were chubby.
'Some think it's weird, but it's like having a thing for blondes: It's just a preference.'
Finally in December 2011, having still not meet in person, the couple admitted their romantic feelings for each other and five months later Ali flew to California to meet Miss Nava, and her family, for the first time.
'When Ali landed at San Francisco airport. . . I turned around and saw him walking toward me with a huge smile on his face,' she recalls.
'He gave me a hug, and kissed me on the lips. I thought to myself, He's my boyfriend, and he's here!'
Miss Nava, who has actually lost 40lbs since the couple first met a year ago, believes Ali is the 'best thing to have ever happened to me.'
'He's been good for my health,' she explained. 'I was at my heaviest when we met, and I've lost 40 pounds since. My goal is lose 80 pounds total, and he's very supportive.
'Before Ali, I never showed any skin whatsoever, but he makes me feel confident going out in a cute little dress that doesn't cover me head-to-toe. I can wear a sleeveless dress, shorts - things that typically people don't want to see me wearing -and not care.'
Thanks to her boyfriend's support, Miss Nava has launched The Beauty Adjustment, which focuses on the message that 'there is no one "normal" way to look or love.'
'Beauty and relationships come in all shapes and sides: brown, yellow, short, tall, thin, fat - and one partner doesn't have to mirror the other. Love is love. That's a lesson that Ali taught me, and now I want to teach it to the rest of the world,' she said.
7. In pictures: Toy boy aged 31 dating a 91-year-old great grandmother has fetish for pensioners
An extreme toy-boy dates women more than three times his age and is in a relationship with a 91-year-old great grandmother.
Baby-faced Kyle Jones, 31, from Augusta, Georgia, dates numerous pensioners at a time and even takes them home to meet his 50-year-old mother.
For the last five years he has been in a casual relationship with 91-year-old Marjorie McCool.
And despite the 60-year age gap, the pair have an active sex life and can’t keep their hands off each other.
Kyle, who lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, said: “Everyone’s brain is wired differently, some guys prefer blondes, some brunettes, some like other guys - I like old ladies.”
The call centre worker was just 18 when he first acted on the impulse and began a sexual relationship with a 50-year-old.
Now Kyle uses dating websites to find women as well as chatting them up in his daily life.
He said: “Most of the time the average age I go for is between 60 and 80.
“Whenever I’m trying to speak to an older woman, the first reaction I get is 'you’re way too young’.
"I find persistence is good so I tell them it’ll be fun.”
Although officially single, Kyle regularly sees up to five women at a time and takes them on dates - and even home to meet his mum.
In 2009 he met great grandma Marge in the bookstore where she was working and asked for her number.
Marge, who had been single for 37 years since splitting with the father of her six children, agreed to go on a date.
She said: "In the beginning I got jealous of his other women but he keeps coming back to me and tells me I’m the best.
“The physical side of our relationship is wonderful. I amaze myself, he amazes me. There’s nothing better.
"I wear sexy outfits to bed. I try to keep my bra on though because I don’t have much left.
“My family consists mostly of boys, and they don’t really care - what I do is my business.
“Their ages are 71, 63, 61, 52 and 50.
“When people see us out together they probably think that he’s my son, or maybe even a grandson. I have grandsons older."
And while many of the women he dates can’t believe such a young man would find them attractive, Kyle is adamant he does.
He said: “Often, the things women are so self-conscious about is what I’m into. I like the neck lines and wrinkles.
"Women worry about their boobs sagging but I think the natural hang looks great. I’m really not a fan of plastic surgery.
"I don’t like to say gray, I’m a fan of platinum hair. I prefer it natural."
However, due to his girlfriends’ advancing years, in reality most relationships face a bleak future.
He said: “Perhaps I would like to meet the right person and settle down, but I know they would die before me.”
And understandably Kyle's preference for the elderly has drawn criticism from those who see him as opportunistic.
He said: “The most common criticism I hear is ‘you’re after money’ or 'you’re after inheritance’.
“Or people think these women must be buying me things.
“But it’s not true at all - I do this because I like it and they like it too. I’ve dated women from various ends of the financial spectrum, but it’s never about what they have.”
Kyle's mum, Ceceila Jones Clark, 50, initially thought it was a phase her son was going through.
She said: “I think a lot of children have crushes on their teachers, so it didn’t strike me as strange.
"I really wasn’t sure if that was something that he was going to stay with or if it was just a cougar phase some young men go through.
“However, later when I saw the kind of women he was spending time with I knew it wasn’t a phase.”