Living ‘Out Loud and Proud’ in Berlin

Paula Sapion Miranda and Deidre Lillian Olsen were both skeptical about finding love, but that began to change one blustery afternoon in April 2021 after they met for a picnic during Covid lockdown in Berlin.

“Hey, I’m here,” Ms. Sapion Miranda texted Ms. Olsen, who was nowhere in sight at a späti, or convenience store, of which there are many in Berlin.

It turned out Ms. Olsen had given her the wrong address and quickly redirected her to a different späti nearby.

Upon arrival 10 minutes later, Ms. Sapion Miranda, who took the mix-up in stride, made a strong first impression. “She was super, super cute with pretty, dark curly hair and massive green eyes,” Ms. Olsen said.

A few days earlier, Ms. Sapion Miranda had reached out to Ms. Olsen on Her, a dating app for queer women.

The meeting had an air of familiarity, “like you already know that person,” said Ms. Sapion Miranda, 26.

After they picked up snacks and beers — nonalcoholic for Ms. Olsen — they walked over to Tempelhofer Feld, a former military airport.

“It was freezing cold and super windy,” said Ms. Olsen, 31, adding that she felt a bit “agoraphobic” from the lockdown. The picnic only lasted about an hour.

The two then walked through the hip Neukölln neighborhood, to which Ms. Olsen had just moved that week, and next wandered around the Turkish section of a graveyard filled with colorful flowers.

“The amazing thing about Berlin is the random historical things,” said Ms. Olsen, a freelance writer and independent filmmaker who grew up outside Vancouver and graduated from the University of British Columbia. She had relocated to Berlin a year earlier with her best friend for “a fresh start.”

She is now pursuing a master’s degree in North American studies at Freie Universität Berlin, from which Ms. Sapion Miranda received a doctor of veterinary medicine.

Ms. Sapion Miranda, who was born in Germany and grew up in Toluca, Mexico, is pursuing a Ph.D. in veterinary science focusing on parasitology in reptiles at the Justus Liebig University Giessen in Germany. She is also a veterinary research assistant mainly in parasitology at Exomed, a laboratory specializing in exotic animals, in Marburg, Germany.

“I was depressed at the time,” Ms. Olsen said, adding that she felt she was “never going to find love. I wanted intimacy, connection.”

Her date put her at ease. “We talked truly about everything,” said Ms. Sapion Miranda, who hugged Ms. Olsen goodbye before boarding the U-Bahn to go home.

[Click here to binge read this week’s featured couples.]

A couple of days later, Ms. Sapion Miranda visited Ms. Olsen with two housewarming gifts: a clipping from a monstera plant and a bottle of nonalcoholic Prosecco.

“I was sold,” Ms. Olsen said. “Just on the sweetness, and the attention to detail.”

That evening, as they watched a movie, they had their first kiss and then saw each other every few days. Soon Ms. Olsen happily displayed a Polaroid of them on her desk from a trip to Grunewald forest.

In May, while Ms. Sapion Miranda was away on a three-week veterinary internship at a slaughterhouse in Schöppingen, Germany, she sent Ms. Olsen a colorful bouquet of wildflowers, with a quote from a Pablo Neruda poem, “Every Day You Play.”

“I want to do with you what spring does to the cherry trees,” it read in Spanish.

“My heart soared,” Ms. Olsen said, and they met in Hamburg for a weekend on Ms. Sapion Miranda’s way home.

They traveled to Italy and the Netherlands before October, when Ms. Olsen began graduate school, and Ms. Sapion Miranda buckled down for eight exams in six months.

To unwind, they played video games, usually Super Mario Party. (Ms. Olsen said she usually won.) Ms. Sapion Miranda enjoyed cooking at Ms. Olsen’s apartment. Her specialty: ramen and tacos.

That winter Ms. Olsen, missing her family, flew to Vancouver, and three weeks later, after exams, Ms. Sapion Miranda joined her. But plans to explore British Columbia changed. Ms. Olsen’s father was diagnosed with colon cancer, and they stood by. (He is now in remission.)

“I was happy to be there for Deidre,” Ms. Sapion Miranda said.

In April 2022, the two, quite broke as students, found matching cubic zirconia engagement rings for 75 euros, or around $80, each at Pandora in Alexanderplatz. That evening, Ms. Olsen could not resist a goofy proposal: She spun Ms. Sapion Miranda around while she was cooking and got down on one knee.

In May 2022, Ms. Olsen moved into Ms. Sapion Miranda’s plant-filled apartment.

“Living together was perfect,” Ms. Olsen said. “It was easy.”

On Jan. 13, Anne-Mette Arvad Hansen, a registrar at the wedding office at Copenhagen’s City Hall, performed the ceremony. The brides wore matching white pantsuits from Shein and Air Jordan 1 sneakers.

“Now we’re legally a family,” Ms. Olsen said, “living out loud and proud.”

“It was a big excitement when I called her my wife,” Ms. Sapion Miranda added. “It gives me joy every time I say it.”