For a couple who met in a choir, Oliver Cacananta has a perfect description of the partnership between himself and Danny Wan. “We harmonize,” said Mr. Cacananta (left).
The two married on July 17 in an online service officiated by Homyrah Alocozy, a deputy marriage commissioner for Alameda County in California. Mr. Wan’s mother, Jane Wan, and Mr. Cacananta’s parents, Prudencio and Lilia Cacananta were the only ones present while several dozenfriends and family tuned in online.
The small gathering was far from the large summer event the couple had planned where their vows would be part of a benefit concert for the Gay Asian Pacific Alliance Men’s Chorus, the group that brought them together and which they both cherish.
That plan met many obstacles. In November 2019, Mr. Wan began his job as the executive director at the Port of Oakland, a regional economic engine that includes the Oakland seaport, Oakland’s international airport and the entertainment district Jack London Square. When the coronavirus pandemic hit in mid-March, the arrival of cruise ships with ill people aboard upped the pressure of an already demanding job.
Then, in April, Mr. Wan lost his father to cancer. The couple decided to focus on the challenges at hand and allow Mr. Wan time to grieve his father’s passing.
Mr. Wan was born in Taiwan and grew up in Alberta, Canada. He attended the University of California, Berkeley where he graduated with a degree in rhetoric and a teaching credential. He then received a law degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. From 2000 to 2005, he served as Oakland’s first openly gay City Council member.
The couple met in 2015 when Mr. Cacananta contacted the Gay Asian Pacific Alliance Men’s Chorus. Founded in 1989 as a social and support group, the choir sings an Asia-Pacific Island centric repertoire. Mr. Wan, now 56, had been singing with the ensemble for years and was the group’s membership contact.
In his inquiry about the choir, Mr. Cacananta admitted to a lack of musical training. “We’re all recreational singers, here for the friendships and harmonies,” Mr. Wan wrote back, warmly adding a smiley emoji.
But their connection was put on pause. Mr. Cacananta, 45, was then traveling to the Philippines to present a paper on the Ilocano language; he had helped found the Ilocano version of Wikipedia in 2004. Mr. Cacananta was born in the Philippines and later moved with his family to Livermore, Calif. He received a biology degree from the California State University, East Bay and an M.B.A. from the University of Phoenix. He is now director of regulatory affairs at Ossium Health, a biotechnology company.
On his return from the Philippines a first date sprang into a relationship.
“Immediately Danny felt familiar,” Mr. Cacananta said. “I didn’t have to explain why I spent so much time and money supporting my parents. He supported his. We understood each other on many levels.”
“We are both gay Asian men from working-class immigrant families who started with nothing in this country,” Mr. Wan said. “How lucky we are to have found each other.”