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In the burgeoning digital age, it is not uncommon for couples to meet online, and this is exactly how El and Elliott first connected. Elliott submitted a personals ad looking for friendship and dates, and El excitedly answered the call. During their first in-person hangout in January 2019, El suggested that they spend time in their pajamas drinking tea and watching their mutual favorite show Bob’s Burgers. Afterward, the two were practically inseparable!

Their second hang out was spent at the local kumquat festival in El’s hometown, and yes, it is as cute as it sounds. During the festival, Elliott got to meet El’s brother, who happily invited Elliott to his stepdaughter’s 11th birthday party, despite having only met Elliott for the first time that day. Later that evening, Elliott had the choice to go home or attend the party with El. In that moment, Elliott had a thought: wherever El goes, I want to follow. It was not long after the kumquat festival that Elliott slowly began to realize his platonic fondness for El was the start of a romantic crush. Unbeknownst to Elliott, El had started off the relationship with a crush on Elliott! Over bowls of delicious pho at the local Thai temple, Elliott confessed his feelings for El, which sparked the love of a lifetime!

Although every moment feels memorable when El and Elliott are together, there are some peak highlights. In an eager attempt to woo El, Elliott, who had never baked before in his life, made El’s favorite type of pie, stuck candles in a pie slice, and told El that each candle represented the birthdays that El had spent alone during college, but now that Elliott was here, El would never have to be alone on his birthday from now on. On Valentine’s Day in 2020, El took Elliott to the city aquarium and purchased an extra experience where the two got to go behind the scenes and meet the resident penguins!

In addition to their local fun, the love birds have also spent quite a bit of time traveling out-of-state: an arts therapy conference in New York City; a Tobe Nwigwe concert in Atlanta; a memorial service for El’s beloved professor in Rhode Island; an exclusive tattoo session in Brooklyn; and so much more!

After two full years of love, softness, and healing, El proposed to Elliott via a stunning wood-burned box with handcrafted resin mahjong tiles that spelled out “Will you marry me” on Lunar New Year 2021. Being Chinese American, Elliott had a strong nostalgic connection to the game of mahjong, and in the time of coronavirus, the Lunar New Year felt extra special and sacred. As a multimedia artist, El wood-burned significant Chinese characters that represented him and Elliott, along with an image of two ducklings, which symbolizes everlasting love in Chinese culture. In addition to the beautiful imagery on the box, El painstakingly created a number of mahjong tiles from resin and a set of tiles that helped pop the question.

In March 2020, El and Elliott nervously but excitedly started their transmasculine journey. They started off with calling each other by their chosen names in private, then using their names at coffee shops, before confidently coming out as El and Elliott in social and professional settings. About a year later, El and Elliott took their first shots of testosterone on the same day. In September 2021, El underwent gender affirming top surgery, and in the weeks after, Elliott took gentle care of El during his recovery. In mid-2022, El and Elliott went through the process of legally changing their names, and the two of them could not be happier in watching the other grow and transform into their most authentic selves!

El and Elliott got married on February 20, 2022, and it was absolutely magnificent and beautiful to be openly queer and trans on the wedding day. The venue host, photographers, DJs, and guests were affirming of the joyous couple—never failing to use their correct pronouns and names. Rainbows and trans pride colors were woven into nearly aspect of the wedding: the flowers, the table centerpieces, the decorations, the horse carriage. Yes, El and Elliott rode up to the wedding ceremony in a horse- drawn carriage decorated with gay and trans pride flowers and ribbons! The entire wedding was truly a euphoric celebration of queer trans love.

When friends and family ask about married life, El and Elliott like to say that every day feels like a honeymoon. After four years of being together, the two still have not tired of one another. If anything, their relationship has grown stronger as the days, months, and years pass. The pair have gone through their generous share of ups and downs, but it feels like each moment together makes them fall more and more deeply in love with one another.

Currently, El is attending graduate school in art therapy and counseling, while Elliott remains on the look out for a fulfilling long-term career. The love birds are enjoying their sacred space filled with queer trans love, creating art, reading books, playing games, engaging in thoughtful conversations, and spending time with each other and their loved ones. In the future, El and Elliott anticipate writing a joint memoir that explores their individual and shared experiences with race and ethnicity, gender, sexualities, and more.

See what else El and Elliott are up to here:

El’s website: eltapiakwan.com
Elliott’s website: etapiakwan.wixsite.com/home

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