These Grooms Bonded Over Faith and Football

These Grooms Bonded Over Faith and Football

One Monday in 2014, Christopher Justin Hanson sat down for a job interview at the headquarters of Covington & Burling, a law firm in Washington. As the interviewer, who was stationed in front of windows overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue, thumbed through Mr. Hanson’s résumé, he noticed that Mr. Hanson didn’t have any experience in Washington. Mr. Hanson lived in Wisconsin at the time. Why, the interviewer asked, did Mr. Hanson want to start practicing in Washington?

“Well,” said Mr. Hanson, “I read in The New York Times that it’s the No. 1 place to live, if you’re a gay man, to meet people. That’s why I’m applying here.”

It was a candid, nonchalant answer. Mr. Hanson remembered the hiring partner being “a little flabbergasted” by it — though, he added, “they definitely appreciated my frankness.”

He got the job. Four years later, the location change paid off handsomely.

When William Blake Hoffman, an architect and designer at Architecture, Incorporated in Reston, Va., matched with Mr. Hanson on Tinder in September 2018, he didn’t have grand visions of romance. Mr. Hoffman had moved to Washington a couple of years earlier, for what he intended to be only a few years. He didn’t plan to plant roots. So he suggested to Mr. Hanson that they meet for a drink at a beer garden located right on Mr. Hoffman’s way home from work. It was a Wednesday night.

“I literally thought it was going to be a two-drink ‘hi, nice to meet you,’ like so many other dates,” Mr. Hoffman said.

Mr. Hoffman was talking on his cellphone when Mr. Hanson arrived. He kept talking on the phone after Mr. Hanson sat down. Five minutes went by. Then 10. Mr. Hoffman was still on the phone. Mr. Hanson waited.

In other circumstances, this cellular prelude might have been interpreted as a slight. But as Mr. Hanson listened to Mr. Hoffman’s call, he was able to decipher some useful, promising details: Mr. Hoffman was on the phone with his parents (which Mr. Hanson interpreted as a sign that Mr. Hoffman made family a priority) and, judging by their discussion of a Clemson University football game, he was a collegiate football devotee (so was Mr. Hanson).

After almost 15 minutes, Mr. Hoffman hung up. As the two began talking, they were surprised to discover another similarity: They’re both Presbyterian. Neither had included that information in their Tinder profiles.

“You don’t meet a lot of people in D.C. — especially young people — that speak openly about their faith,” Mr. Hanson said. “So that was just incredibly shocking for both of us to find that commonality.”

They talked until around midnight. Mr. Hanson invited Mr. Hoffman to Sunday service at the Georgetown Presbyterian Church a couple of weeks later.

So began a string of months spent bonding over faith and football. Mr. Hoffman brought Mr. Hanson up to speed on his alma mater’s team, the Clemson Tigers. Mr. Hanson did the same, getting Mr. Hoffman acquainted with the Yale and Harvard football teams. (Mr. Hanson, a graduate of both universities, can be seen briefly during ESPN2’s broadcast of the 2018 Harvard-Yale football game, dancing enthusiastically next to a seated, mildly embarrassed Mr. Hoffman.)

Mr. Hoffman’s plans to leave Washington evaporated. He and Mr. Hanson became members of Georgetown Presbyterian. By the end of 2019, they were engaged.

On Dec. 12, 2020, Mr. Hanson, 38, and Mr. Hoffman, 33, were married by the Rev. Dr. Camille Cook at the Georgetown Presbyterian.

The day was momentous for both the newlyweds and the church: Mr. Hanson and Mr. Hoffman’s wedding was the church’s first for a same-sex couple since its founding in 1780. It was only after they began making preparations for the wedding that Mr. Hanson and Mr. Hoffman were informed of that.

“The pastor brought it up and said, “Hey, FYI, this has never happened here,” Mr. Hoffman said.

He and Mr. Hanson were surprised, they said, because there are other out members of the church, and because same-sex marriage has been legal in Washington for more than a decade.

They were nonchalant about the pioneering nature of their wedding. “That 100 percent was not important to us,” Mr. Hoffman said. “But it was a fascinating little tidbit to learn.”

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Posted by Krin Rodriquez

Passionate for technology and social media, ex Silicon Valley insider.