If Jerick Hoffer had gotten married 10 years ago instead of Jan. 9, the ceremony would have been drag queen fabulous. “I still had a yen for causing a spectacle then,” said Mx. Hoffer, who goes by the stage name Jinkx Monsoon and uses they/them pronouns. “Nowadays, I’m much more low-key.”
Mx. Hoffer, 33, who is a winner of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” married Michael Abbott, 25, in their Portland, Ore., living room with just three housemates as guests. Their friend, the comedian Deven Green, officiated from California. The virtual ceremony, so different from the elaborate Victorian affair Mx. Hoffer once envisioned, allowed them to be more in the moment: “It was good for me, because we were able to really focus on each other,” Mx. Hoffer said.
Mx. Hoffer met Mr. Abbott (left) in March 2019 at Kiki, a club in Manchester, England, where Mr. Abbott was a bartender. “I was on tour, and I had plans to go out with another drag queen friend of mine, but she ghosted me,” Mx. Hoffer said. “So I went out alone.” Mr. Abbott, a singer/songwriter, had never heard of Jinkx Monsoon or seen “Drag Race.” But he felt an instant connection.
After work, he went to hang out in Mx. Hoffer’s hotel room, where the two stayed up all night talking. “Then we spent the entire next day flipping through TV channels, getting to know each other more,” Mx. Hoffer said. A ukulele Mx. Hoffer brought on tour provided musical accompaniment: “Michael picked it up and started playing me songs, whatever was on TV. I was so impressed with his ability to play by ear.”
By the time they checked out, his four-string rendition of the theme to “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” had captured their heart. Days later, the pair were holding hands down the streets of England, singing at the top of their lungs. But with only two weeks before Mx. Hoffer’s U.K. tour was over, neither was sure a relationship was possible. Then, on their last night together, came a reckoning.
“It was 3 a.m. and we were pretty wasted outside a bar called Glamorous Birmingham, and it was pouring rain, and water was streaming down our faces,” Mr. Abbott said. “We had talked at great length about how difficult it could be, starting something serious while living in different countries. But we decided right then to throw caution to the wind.” A long-distance love built on frequent flier miles and constant check-ins bloomed. The pandemic tried to halt it.
“Everything was great until the travel ban,” Mx. Hoffer said. From March until October 2020, the couple were stuck on separate continents. “We skyped, we FaceTimed, we texted incessantly,” Mr. Abbott said, until he was able to get clearance for a 90-day trip to the United States around Halloween. They had already talked about getting married.
“We had kind of a pre-engagement at the beginning of October where we were like, if we can figure it out, let’s get married,” Mx. Hoffer said. On Christmas Eve, the figuring got serious. “We said, OK, you have to fly home in about a month, and we don’t know what’s going to happen with the pandemic and when we’re going to be able to be together again, so let’s lay down some brickwork for our future.”
In handwritten vows on Jan. 6, each touched on the concept of commitment without ownership. “We both in different ways said, ‘We’re not one wriggling manifestation, we’re two individuals who will remain two individuals who choose to live their lives together,’” Mx. Hoffer said.
Mr. Abbott had to return to England on Jan. 20 to honor the terms of his travel. For now, the couple is unsure when they will be able to reunite in Portland, Ore. where they plan to live. “But that’s how we’ve been our whole relationship,” Mr. Abbott said. “It’s been, ‘The odds might be against us, but let’s do it anyway.’”
For Mx. Hoffer, the separation is just another beatable challenge. “We’ve already survived eight months apart,” they said. “If we’re forced to do it again, we know we can make it.”
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