The ‘Crush’ That Turned Into Something Much More


“He was really helpful in walking me through it,” Mr. Johnson said. “That, for me, took our relationship, our friendship, to the next level.”

Both men graduated from Penn, and Mr. Owens went on to receive a master’s degree in communication management from the University of Southern California. He is now a freelance journalist, editor at large of Philadelphia magazine and the president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists. Mr. Johnson is a media specialist at Community College of Philadelphia and consults and teaches classes about cocktails.

Their first foray into the public together as men who might be more than friends was at a birthday party in January 2014. They shared a first kiss that night.

Just a couple of weeks later, on the eve of Valentine’s Day, they had a frank discussion about their status, which ultimately resulted in the two announcing on social media that they were a couple.

By the time Mr. Johnson graduated from Penn, in 2017, he had decided that his first relationship would be one that endured. “Definitely after graduation, I knew I would one day want to marry him, and propose,” he said.

The day for that proposal came on Christmas Eve in 2019, when the two were in Houston to celebrate the holiday with Mr. Owens’s family. A photo of Mr. Johnson down on one knee at the city’s Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park made the rounds on the couple’s social media.


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