Ryan Otto Cassata had no intention of falling in love when he met Dr. Stephen Vincent Lee Meeneghan on Aug. 10, 2021 on the gay dating app Scruff.
Neither did Dr. Meeneghan, a naturopathic doctor. He thought Mr. Cassata, 29, was too young for him, but decided it couldn’t hurt to talk. So he messaged him, and the next day, the two began texting.
“What he shared with me surprised and intrigued me enough to want to meet him in person,” Dr. Meeneghan, 43, said, adding, “Here was this trans man that wasn’t heterosexual like most trans men I know. He was a true bisexual like me. He identified as polyamorous, too.”
Their first date was eight days later at Tiger Sugar in Los Angeles’s Koreatown. Mr. Cassata was smitten at first sight. “I was like, this guy is so out of my league,” he said.
Dr. Meeneghan had arrived around 20 minutes late, leaving Mr. Cassata to wonder if he had been stood up. “When I got there, I spotted him before he spotted me,” Dr. Meeneghan said. “He was shorter and cuter than I had anticipated.”
The two chatted for hours. When the tea shop closed, they continued their conversation outside a nearby Starbucks, and when it closed, they went for a walk around the Koreatown neighborhood. Mr. Cassata, who lost hearing in his left ear at 13, “Showed me the tattoo on the back of his left ear that said, “Deaf” so that I wouldn’t make the mistake of walking on that side of him,” Dr. Meeneghan said.
“We had our first kiss at Fifth and Kenmore — it was electrifying,” Mr. Cassata said. “I had him stand on a high curb while I stood in the street in an attempt to offset the 15 inches and 13 years between us,” Dr. Meeneghan said.
They texted briefly the next day. “Then sometimes we would go a few days without texting or hearing from each other,” Mr. Cassata said. “After a few weeks, that became torturous for me.”
After dating for a month, they began to text every day, except when Dr. Meeneghan’s girlfriend, his primary partner, was in town.
“I was starting to fall in love with him,” Mr. Cassata said. “I knew because I was writing so many super, super mushy songs. I told him I was catching real feelings and needed to step away if he wasn’t interested in me like that.”
But Dr. Meeneghan was interested. “My connection with Ryan was so much deeper and more profound” than with his long-distance girlfriend, Dr. Meeneghan said.
Mr. Cassata, a singer and songwriter with the label Kill Rock Stars, wrote the song “Your Mind (You’re Mine)” for Dr. Meeneghan in late October 2021, and the next day, Dr. Meeneghan hand-delivered a scroll to Mr. Cassata’s house asking him to be his boyfriend. Dr. Meeneghan broke up with his girlfriend just a few weeks later.
In February 2022, Dr. Meeneghan asked Mr. Cassata to go on a Valentine’s Day weekend getaway to Solana Beach, Calif., and said he had a surprise for him. They arrived at a tattoo shop. “He went first and told me that his tattoo was a surprise,” Mr. Cassata said. “Marry Me,” it read. Once Mr. Cassata saw it, “before he could even verbally ask, I said, yes,” Mr. Cassata said. Dr. Meeneghan then presented Mr. Cassata with a Cartier Love ring.
“We spent the whole next day at the clothing-optional Black’s Beach, naked except for that ring,” Dr. Meeneghan said.
The two moved in together into a log cabin home on March 19, 2022 in Los Angeles, where they now live.
Mr. Cassata, who is from Bay Shore, N.Y., has a master’s degree in social transformation from the Pacific School of Religion. He has been a transgender activist since he was 13. “This year, I have spoken and performed at the U.S. Capitol and Harvard University,” Mr. Cassata said. He also visited the White House to sing for and speak to Admiral Rachel Levine, “the highest-ranking trans person in government, about trans health care legislation,” Mr. Cassata said.
Dr. Meeneghan, who grew up outside of Seattle, is an acupuncturist and a naturopathic doctor at Modrn Med of Sherman Oaks, Calif., and is the president of the California Naturopathic Doctors Association. He has a bachelor’s degree in comparative religion and a bachelor’s of science degree in life sciences, both from the Evergreen State College, and a master’s degree in the science of traditional East Asian medicine and a doctorate in naturopathic medicine, both from National University of Natural Medicine.
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The two were married Aug. 18 by Nan Cameron, a friend of Mr. Cassata previously ordained by the Universal Life Church, at Calamigos Ranch in Malibu, Calif., before 150 guests. They wore ivory suits made by Indochino for the ceremony and changed into black tuxedos by Sharpe Suiting for the reception.
At the reception, Mr. Cassata danced with his father to “Butterfly Kisses,” by Bob Carlisle, “which was our song when I was a little kid before I transitioned,” Mr. Cassata said. For the reception, Mr. Cassata wrote and performed, “The Promise,” an original song and Dr. Meeneghan sang the Peter Gabriel version of “The Book of Love,” by the Magnetic Fields.
Some guests learned a line dance after the rehearsal dinner for a flash mob-style performance at the reception to Queen’s “I Was Born to Love You,” which Dr. Meeneghan had alluded to in his vows. “To quote the patron saint of queer love, Freddie Mercury, ‘I was born to love you, every single day of my life,’” he said.
An earlier version of this article misattributed a quote referring to Queen’s “I Was Born to Love You.” It was Dr. Stephen Meeneghan who said, “To quote the patron saint of queer love, Freddie Mercury, ‘I was born to love you, every single day of my life,’” not Ryan Cassata.
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