Comic and TV personality Ross Mathews says a past long-term relationship in the public eye made him want to be discreet during his yearlong courtship with Long Island educator Wellinthon Garcia, to whom he became engaged last month.
"We hadn't really let the world know about us. We've been kind of private," the "RuPaul's Drag Race" judge, 41, told "Entertainment Tonight" last week. He added, "We have been so happy for over a year now, as we've been getting to know each other and falling in love. It was scary letting the world know. But now, everyone's just been so amazingly kind and happy for us."
Calling it "a very pandemic love story," Mathews said he and a friend were spending the 2019 New Year's holiday in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. One morning, "We went to go get breakfast burritos and brought them to the pool," where he saw Garcia, 39, director of curriculum and instruction for the Elmont Union Free School District. Mathews introduced himself, and eventually Garcia would visit him in cities where Mathews was appearing on his Name Drop Tour of anecdotal evenings.
"And then suddenly, I was in L.A., he was in New York and we couldn't travel" because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mathews said. Like many couples in new relationships during this time of self-isolation, the two began dating remotely via computer screen.
"We would just catch up," Mathews recalled. "And it seems it would be impersonal, but it really forced us to have deep conversations and really get to know each other."
"Absolutely, we really got to know each other," said Garcia. "We had a series of questions that we would write down just so we could get to know each other. … It was beautiful."
Mathews proposed remotely. "I had, like, 50 friends from literally around the world. His family, my family on Zoom waiting for him … He's like, 'What are my co-workers doing here? What's my mom and dad doing here? What's my sister doing here?' "
"I just didn't understand at all what was happening," Garcia said. "It literally took me couple of seconds to kind of figure it out … It finally hit me when he started quoting a pillow that I actually got for him for Christmas, which said, 'It all started with a rooftop pool and a burrito.' That's our expression and I said, 'Oh my god! This is the moment!' "
Garcia joined the Elmont school district in 2013 as a teacher at the Covert Avenue School (pre-K to 6th grade), and eventually became assistant principal there. He later became assistant principal at the district's Alden Terrace School in North Valley Stream, and earned his doctor of education degree in Educational and Policy Leadership at Hempstead’s Hofstra School of Education.