Chen works for an insurance company in town but is also a Drag King and Community Organizer. In addition, he enjoys dabbling in potion making and gardening.
Hannah is an artist that specializes in wearable art, working mostly with clay, beads, and fiber. They also do some gig work when not selling their work at markets.
We have been together for about six years. But, like many queer relationships, we were a slow progression, so it’s hard to say exactly when we first started dating officially.
We actually met for the first time when we were about 16 through a mutual best friend (shoutout to Mary Feely). We really started hanging out around 2013. That slowly progressed to being really close in 2015 and then dating in 2016.
Tell us about the planning process for the proposal.
Chen proposed in December 2020 but had been looking for rings for two years prior. Hannah always said they wanted to get married when they turned 30, and Chen took the hint. One day Hannah showed Chen Automic Gold, a queer indigenous-owned jewelry shop based in NYC, and he knew that they would be the ones to make the ring. Chen envisioned the proposal many times and could not picture what the perfect ring looked like. Eventually, he realized that proposing with the stones and asking Hannah to help design the engagement ring was the move.
Hannah was incredibly surprised that Chen had kept the engagement entirely a secret. But, of course, he had a lot of help from their friends in keeping the secret. Without them, it never would have been able to be accomplished. He even sneaked off to buy some flowers without Hannah noticing, hiding them in his jacket. As he says, he’s a “sneaky little bitch”.
Any stories from the lead-up to the proposal, stressful or funny?
Covid was a huge stressor for the proposal. Chen had planned for there to be a photographer and other friends and family at the proposal, but because of Covid, it ended up just being us. In some ways, it was better that way because it’s a memory just between us.
Chen did go to Hannah’s parents to “get their blessing.” Chen is beloved by Hannah’s parents but he was still incredibly nervous. Of course, they said yes.
What led you to the destination of the proposal? Have you been there before?
We live in Chattanooga, about 2 hours from Atlanta and Hannah was under the impression they were traveling south just to go shopping and see some sights. Obviously, that was not the case.
Chen had been telling Hannah for years about a holiday light display he used to go to every year as a child. We had been talking about going finally after a couple of years of not making the trip, and Chen was simultaneously trying to figure out the best way to propose. Then, one night it hit him that the light display would be the perfect place to propose.
What does your engagement mean to you both? Has anything changed?
Not a whole lot has changed in our relationship dynamic. We have really been acting like an old married couple for many years. But, as individuals, it has made us better and stronger.
For Chen, having someone commit to riding out the ups and downs of life with is huge. It has felt incredibly validating as well because of the past traumas Chen has been through.
Hannah loves him fully for who he is and all his quirks. The same goes for Hannah. They have felt empowered to be themself because they know Chen loves them for who they are regardless of what anybody else thinks.
How is wedding planning going? What do you hope for your wedding to be?
Wedding planning has been going extremely well. We are pretty laid back, so any bumps in the road have been smooth. We hope our wedding will be a fun and exciting experience for all our guests, especially our queer friends and family! It’s a radical celebration of queer love for us all!
Photography by Our Ampersand Photo