Emmett and Andrea Morales-Yoon are famous in Texas for their activism and support of the LGBTQ community at large. Both have a long list of credentials that demonstrate their deep commitment to the community and to the state. They love their advocacy work “under the dome” at the Texas Capitol, and it was there that their romantic love for each other blossomed. On January 21, 2023, they were married in San Antonio.
“During the 2017 Legislative Session (known as “the Bathroom Bill session”), Andrea worked for the Human Rights Campaign as the Houston organizer, and I was onboarding to become TENT’s new executive director. Through long days and difficult nights at the State Capitol, we got to know each other—first exchanging snapchats, and then exchanging phone numbers. We began dating before the [2017 Legislative Session ended in May] before entering a brutal special session.” says Emmett.
For LGBTQ Texans, the end of a legislative session is always a tense time of waiting to see what new horrors are in store for their lives when the ultra-conservative governor and state legislature finish their business. It is the warriors like Emmett and Andrea who push back on the worst of those intentions—which have recently gotten even worse. That makes the work they do harder and even more important, so fortunately they have each other to lean on as they spend endless days trying to convince state leaders that their love and their existence is important.
“When I used to do campaign work more on the ground, Emmett used to surprise me with flowers and drive me home on days where I was too exhausted to even drive,” Andrea recalls.
“Andrea truly is the reason I’m still standing here today,” Emmett says. “She helped to make sure I was able to have top surgery, but she also knew when something wasn’t right—twice. She was there to rush me to the ER, stayed by my side, all while also ensuring that the 2021 Legislative Session wasn’t going to turn into an all-out war on trans Texans.”
Emmett is the executive director of the Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT), and Andrea pulls double duty as executive director for Gender Infinity as well as senior policy and field advisor for TENT. She is a proud UH alum, and Emmett jokes that he has joined Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg on the roster of proud college dropouts.
Though Emmett and Andrea share a life primarily in Houston, they came from circumstances that could not have been more different. Andrea grew up on the west side of San Antonio before moving to Houston to attend college. Aside from a short period of time, she has called Houston home since 2012. Emmett was born in Seoul, South Korea, and came to the US by foreign adoption. He grew up in the Midwest and moved to San Antonio around 2015.
Eventually, as their relationship progressed, Emmett made the decision to move to Houston and join Andrea in 2018. They currently reside in the Med Center area, and have lived in various places within that neighborhood.
“We love to explore the different neighborhoods in Houston. Sharpstown is my favorite place to visit because of the broad array of Asian restaurants, shopping, and grocery options,” says Emmett.
“I love to go to the East End, especially the Houston Farmers Market, because it reminds me of home,” Andrea adds. “We have both found some incredible small-business owners that we’ve enjoyed building a relationship with.”
Emmett proposed to Andrea in the Texas Capitol, taking Andrea by complete surprise. He did so with the help of family and friends, including State Representative Jessica González. She helped coordinate with Emmett to make it happen, since the Capitol building had been closed due to COVID restrictions.
Andrea recalls the marriage proposal fondly. “Emmett talked about our past and where he hoped our future would go, together.”
Representative González also officiated their January wedding ceremony. “We had a big, beautiful wedding at the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio,” says Andrea. “[But] our official marriage on paper happened in Houston via the incredible judge Shannon Baldwin. We did this due to our concern, after the Dobbs decision, for how a rollback in rights could then move to affect marriage for trans and queer folks.”
The San Antonio ceremony included many traditions and special moments that demonstrated who the couple was, and who was most important to them.
“We included Korean wedding ducks to tie in Emmett’s Korean culture, as well as him and our kid Alex wearing traditional Korean hanbok for our ceremony. Being in San Antonio, we of course had to have mariachis,” Andrea notes. “We had a full women’s quartet during our cocktail hour. A special touch we included was having a drag performance by our local favorites, Los Mentirosos. While faith is especially important to Emmett, we made the active decision to not include our religious beliefs since our family and friends have such a wide range of beliefs. We also had a table where our guest book was located that showcased our loved ones that are no longer with us.”
They also selected many LGBTQ vendors for their special day in addition to the Los Mentirosos performers, including photographer Christy Anna, makeup artist Viva La Glam, and Frostin’ ATX for their wedding cake.
The couple has not been able to take their honeymoon yet because in true Emmett and Andrea fashion, they are still fighting on behalf of LGBTQ Texans at the State Capitol—perhaps an appropriate way for them to spend their first few months as a married couple. They are also currently in the process of expanding their family and preparing for a little one to arrive, hopefully in the near future.
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