From the Amazon and the US, Ella and Gess fell in love via Tinder, despite neither of them speaking the other’s native language.
Building a relationship despite a language barrier.
Gess and I met in 2020, at the start of the pandemic. Tinder was offering “Tinder Global” at the time, and we both signed up out of boredom. We matched immediately, and Gess sent me a message. That was the spark for four months of talking and planning to meet each other. Neither of us wanted a long-distance relationship, so I spent four months learning to speak Portuguese. Gess did not speak English, but we used a translator app to help us learn each other’s languages, speaking one day in Portuguese and one in English.
Meeting after dating online.
I officially met her in person in Rio de Janeiro in January of 2021. It was my first time visiting Brazil, and I still wasn’t very good at Portuguese. However, I promised myself I wouldn’t speak English while I was there.
Gess and I were very close from the beginning. We had planned this huge itinerary of things to do and stuck to it. I got to explore Brazilian culture and we spent two weeks deciding whether it might be worth it to keep being in a long-distance relationship afterward.
Our meeting was against the odds in every sense. It’s wild that Tinder even matched us in the first place. She was around 6,000 miles away from me at the time. We’re both Scorpios, so we were both very intensely in love and decided to meet regardless of our circumstances. We both loved Rio de Janeiro and when I left, we decided we’d move there in three more months. It was quick, but it was right for us.
Surviving cancer as a newly married couple.
I also got thyroid cancer last year. I had been sick for a long time, and a big portion of our relationship was me being sick and trying to find healthcare. Brazil’s healthcare system was tough to navigate and traumatic during the pandemic, as there was no space for anyone. It wasn’t until a thyroid ultrasound a year after my first symptoms that it was caught.
I had to fly back to the US for surgery, and Gess came with me. She visited the US for the first time, but most of the trip was us trying to prepare for medical challenges. I had surgery and then radiation, which eventually put me into remission.
I have been for over eight months, but adjusting has been hard. With medical issues, immigration, and trying to learn about each other’s cultures, we’ve had a lot of challenges to overcome.
Ella’s favorite thing about Gess.
Her openness to learning, kindness, and pure soul. She has always been gentle and kind to me, and she loves me unconditionally. No matter what challenges we face, she makes me feel like we can face them as a team. We love the same activities, like traveling and eating at restaurants, so we explore the world together.
Gess understands me like no one ever has and has taught me that secure love is possible.
Gess’s favorite thing about Ella.
Her spirit of adventure, how many skills she has, and her passion for making change. She’s a writer on mental health topics and always teaches me so much about mental health and trauma. She always considers me, dedicates herself to us, makes me feel safe, and brings me out of my comfort zone so I can explore and see myself in a new light.
She has made me feel more comfortable as a lesbian and non-binary person.
Photography by Madison Joyce Photography