‘Language of love’ unites pair, with a little help from Helps

Dustin Miller is celebrating Pride in a special way this year by marrying his boyfriend. He and his fiance, who lives in Berlin, planned their wedding to co-ordinate with the start of Victoria’s Pride Week, which starts today and runs until July 7.

Miller and fiance Dragisa have planned a small wedding that will be co-officiated by Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps at the Victoria Regent Hotel.

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Miller said he admires the mayor and has an “obsessive passion for Victoria.” He watches city council meetings online from home every Thursday evening.

“I wrote her a nice little love letter. She said that nobody’s ever asked her to do a wedding,” Miller said.

Helps isn’t able to legally marry the two, but will perform a celebration ceremony at the wedding.

The couple is expecting 26 guests, all friends and family of Miller, who is originally from Calgary.

Dragisa's family from Serbia doesn’t know about the wedding. They don’t even know that he’s gay. That’s because Serbia does not embrace marriage equality, and he is afraid to come out to his family, Miller said. (Dragisa asked that his last name not be used for that reason.)

Dragisa hopes to tell his family about the marriage after the wedding, and plans to move to Victoria once he has a visa, but the process could take up to a year.

“We can celebrate the love that Canada has afforded to us,” Miller said. “Not many people can celebrate the rights we have. We can be safe here.

The couple met at a bar in Berlin in February 2018. After their first date, Miller remembers thinking to himself that he might ask Dragisa for his hand in marriage. Miller said he was happily single at the time, but Dragisa's “blue eyes and enthusiasm” made him fall in love.

“We travelled together, visited and stayed in touch, and I decided this was worth pursuing.”

Miller proposed on Valentine’s Day this year during another trip to Berlin. The two have spent nearly a year and a half living on different continents, grappling with a nine-hour time difference and a language barrier.

“We made it work with the language of love,” Miller said. “I think it’s actually an advantage not to speak the same language. You have to communicate in other ways. There’s no faking it.”

Miller is looking forward to showing Dragisa how Victoria celebrates Pride Week. They planned to go to an official kick-off party on Saturday and watch the parade next Sunday.

After that, the couple is heading to Calgary Stampede and Banff for their honeymoon.

“I’m going to show him some of the real Canada,” Miller said.

Miller is following in his parents’ footsteps falling in love abroad. His father met his mother during a trip to Brazil, where Miller’s mother is from. They kept in touch for two years, despite not sharing a common language.

“She just came on a visit and ended up staying. Thirty years later, they’re still married and happy,” Miller said.

regan-elliott@timescolonist.com

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