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How Mary Lambert and Dr. Wyatt Hermansen Found Perfect Harmony Together

How Mary Lambert and Dr. Wyatt Hermansen Found Perfect Harmony Together

Mary Lambert and Wyatt Hermansen
Photography: Shervin Lainez

Celebrate a great queer love story this Valentine's day with the Grammy nominated musician and her fiance. 

If you want to know what being loved looks like, you need only observe Mary Lambert and her fiance, Dr. Wyatt Hermansen. There's a warmth and electricity that crackles between them at every glance that is undeniable, and those who watched them get engaged last November witnessed a true display of devotion.

Queer love has always been interlaced with everything Lambert's done, so is it any surprise that she'd get her happily ever after? Lambert is best known for bursting onto the scene with the hit song "Same Love," an LGBTQ+ anthem she wrote along with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, and on which she sang the queer hook "She Keeps Me Warm." It also led to Lambert joining the likes of Madonna onstage at the 2014 Grammys as Queen Latifah officiated over 33 weddings -- both opposite-sex and same-sex. And she's kept plenty busy since. Lambert released Shame Is an Ocean I Swim Across, her second collection of poetry, in 2018, and her second album, Grief Creature, in 2019. And she hosts a popular podcast with Hermansen called The Manic Episodes, which led directly to the moment when Hermansen popped the question during the duo's first joint live recording.

The proposal came as a surprise to Lambert. But it was a long time coming for Hermansen, who is nonbinary. "I've known forever that I was going to propose to Mary," they say. Lambert and Hermansen were performing at the University of Arkansas Center for Multicultural and Diversity Education. They'd been invited there by the center's director, who'd listened to the show -- on which they speak candidly on a variety of personal subjects ranging from mental health (both have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder), gender identity, self-love, fat activism, sobriety, and, of course, their love story.

Hermansen realized that the performance was the perfect opportunity for them to pop the question. "If I know anything about Mary, it's that -- and I mean this in only the best way -- she loves a spectacle."

The couple planned to close the show with two duets, but before the second one began, Hermansen took their moment. They recall Lambert's reaction when they deviated from the agenda. "I was like, 'Can you come over here?' and she got a look of absolute panic because I was going off script," they say, laughing.

Lambert says her first thought when Hermansen stood up was that they were battling stage fright. But then something else occurred to the singer. "I was like, am I getting an award? Am I getting an honorary degree?" she recalls. In a way, she was right. Hermansen dropped to one knee and, in front of a room full of onlookers, asked the question. Lambert, through tears, said yes. The proposal was, in her words, "the deepest act of choosing," in part because Hermansen made it so publicly. "You deserve to be cared for and loved, and you deserve to be loved radically. And that's what you do for me," Lambert tells Hermansen as the two recount how they felt after the proposal. "In this moment, I get to be the recipient of all of your delicious love."

Lambert says she knew she wanted Hermansen to experience that same feeling of being chosen. So during the couple's engagement party, she enacted what she calls her "counterproposal." It all started with Lambert announcing a toast. "So Mary gets the microphone [and begins giving a] toast talking about our love and how grateful she was to have everybody there," Hermansen recalls. "Then, sure enough -- I did not see this coming at all -- she got on one knee."

Like Lambert, Hermansen was struck by that same feeling of having been chosen. "No matter what the origin of that custom is, like somebody on their knees, they're making themselves vulnerable to you," they say.

While both proposals are truly the stuff of queer relationship legends, their love story began on, of all places, Tinder. The two were fresh off "gnarly" breakups, and each was intent on keeping things casual. They were also both being open about how they were seeing other people, which was fine -- until it wasn't. "I was talking about this person I went on a date with, and Mary kind of looked a little thoughtful and said, 'That's actually making me feel like I'm going to go into a rage,'" recalls Hermansen, who laughs at the memory along with Lambert. "[Mary said] 'I don't think I want to see other people anymore.' And I was like, 'I don't want to see other people either.'"

At that point, the couple knew two things for certain: They wanted to be together, and it was going to take hard work. So they did something unconventional for their "honeymoon period"-- they booked an appointment with a queer-friendly couples counselor. "It wasn't because we were having huge problems. It was because we have bipolar disorder. We had both had a lot of trauma in relationships. And we were like, we want to do this right," Hermansen reveals. They also wanted to be prepared to have a relationship in the public eye. "I wasn't used to being part of a dynamic like that," Hermansen adds.

The proactive tactic paid off, as the happy pair have begun planning their wedding. Well, Lambert has -- with an assist from Hermansen. "No one else will touch it. Nobody. No planner. Nobody else involved," she declares. Hermansen is very clear on the arrangement. "Mary has to have total control," they note.

"I'm gonna be a very sweet bridezilla," Lambert promises with a laugh.

Lambert hopes their love story will help inspire queer people to follow their hearts and find the kind of love they deserve. "I want people to know that they don't have to fold themselves into a million tiny pieces or make themselves digestible in order to be loved," she says. "You can be loved as complicated and as full and as confusing as you might be. There's nothing wrong with that."

This story is part of The Advocate's 2022 Love issue, which is out on newsstands February 22, 2022. To get your own copy directly, support queer media and subscribe -- or download yours for Amazon, Kindle, Nook, or Apple News.

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