It’s no secret that more and more LGBTQ couples are meeting online. With app developers creating new matchmaking options, and the omnipresence of smartphones, the ability to find a date is in everyone’s pocket.
For one Houston couple, the Grindr app was just a way to try something new. But things soon turned serious for Wanderson Rezende and Eric Bradley, who have been married since 2014. Their journey to happiness is the stuff of rom-com movies.
Rezende, a native Brazilian, spent several years working in vaccine development and tropical-disease research before his job transferred him to Houston. Since he didn’t know many people, he started using social media to meet new friends. “I was exploring people. Before meeting Bradley, I was just a guy living my life. It was kind of boring, and I was working a lot,” says Rezende, a doctoral candidate in virology at Baylor College of Medicine.
Luckily, Bradley, a real-estate agent and the owner of In The Loop Properties, decided to entertain the idea of talking to Rezende. But it didn’t come without some trepidation. “Normally, if I find someone on a social app, I wouldn’t meet them before I talked to them for three months. I would make sure they were sane, legitimate, and honest before I would even go out for a bite with them,” Bradley says. “I would vet people meticulously on social apps. If people aren’t serious enough, I’ll wear them down and eventually they’ll go away. But the one time I made an exception was for Wanderson.”
“After that we just didn’t stop seeing each other. It was an organic process. I wanted to know more about this person.”
After talking for a week via the Grindr app, Bradley found out that Rezende loves lasagna. That’s when he got the bright idea to take Rezende to an Italian restaurant for their first date. After that, the couple’s relationship only grew deeper.
“I picked him up at his apartment in Midtown and took him to Collina’s Italian Cafe. The conversation went so well—we were vibing nicely, and we had ice cream for dessert. Then we strolled around before I took him back to his apartment,” Bradley says, noting that Rezende gave him a kiss at the end of the night. “I normally wouldn’t kiss someone on a first date, but he snuck one in.”
That kiss would be the first of many. “A few days later, we decided to meet each other at Bar Boheme in Montrose, and after that we just didn’t stop seeing each other. It was an organic process. I wanted to know more about this person,” Rezende adds.
They continued to learn how similar they are, including their love of theater, art, and traveling the world. They also shared that they would one day want to get married, and that Rezende wanted to be the one to propose.
So Rezende arranged a trip to New York City and organized a tour at the New Museum. Unbeknownst to Bradley, he also conspired with a few museum employees to concoct a plan for the big moment.
“I wanted to see if they had an open exhibit or room where I could do something fun, and they wanted to think of something,” Rezende adds. They decided to print the proposal on a small placard mounted next to one of the art pieces.
“I wrote a blurb, and they created the placard and [placed it just before we arrived] for a tour. Then they took us to the room where “the proposal piece” resided,” Rezende explains.
Bradley chimes in, “We got up to the top floor of the museum, and there was a balcony looking over the SoHo area. I didn’t see anything there, but our guide said ‘Let’s start up here, and be sure to not miss that piece over there.’ He gestured over to a wall and a hallway. I didn’t see anything, so I was peeking around the wall. I missed the placard on the wall, but Wanderson was staring at it and it drew my attention, so I read it.”
The placard read: “Will you marry me? A proposal.”
Bradley recalls, “I saw that, and it took a few seconds, and then it registered. I turned to look at Wanderson, and he was down on one knee officially proposing. The emotions were overwhelming, and I said Yes!”
It was another year before the couple got married at a courthouse in New York City, surrounded by a small gathering of friends. They’ve been enjoying married life ever since.
As for the future, Rezende offers a glimpse of the couple’s plans as they have grown closer over the decades.
He says, “I want to move out of Houston eventually. I want to take Eric on adventures. I want to explore life with him. I want to grow old and disgusting with him. I want to get to the point where our faces are so saggy that I have to hold his cheekbones back to feed him soup.”
Now, that’s true love.
This article appears in the February 2021 edition of OutSmart magazine.