A Tauranga woman’s surprise proposal proved a real show stopper on stage at singer Mitch James’ concert in Hamilton last weekend.
Kat Clark devised the plan with Mitch himself after talking to the award-winning singer-songwriter via Instagram and revealing her intention to propose to girlfriend Hannah Mae at the gig.
“Hannah is a massive Mitch James fan, so I got her tickets to his show for her birthday,” says Kat. “After chatting to Mitch we made a plan where he would invite us on stage.
“After a song, he said out to the crowd ‘I think we have a surprise’ and he looked straight at me and said ‘let's go, get up here.’
“Hannah didn't know he was looking at her and telling her to get up on stage. She had no idea what was happening, but soon there I was down on one knee in front of thousands, with a ring I got months earlier.”
The moment they became engaged was given a fitting soundtrack, with Mitch playing one their favourite songs, Got Today, in the background while Kay popped the question.
“Mitch came over on stage to congratulate us and spoke to Hannah - she was so thrilled to meet him,” she says.
“The crowd made it epic. They were so accepting and loving. When the show stopped for a break we went out to get a drink and we were swarmed by hundreds of people!”
Kat, 32, who is a support and engagement manager at Waikato University in Tauranga, has come a long way from the shy schoolgirl who used to isolate herself in her bedroom and self-harm because she was terrified to tell people that she was gay.
“At my religious school we would be told it is wrong, and that gay people go to hell,” she says. “I felt so awful that I attempted to take my own life. I am thankful I survived because with support, I came out to my parents who totally accepted me.”
From that experience, Kat has become what she calls a “Rainbow Warrior”, advocating for LGBQTI+ in the community.
“Love is love,” she says, “and everyone deserves love. I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through those feelings of fear, confusion and depression that I had growing up.”
Kat started the first Tauranga Pryde meetings in the city, and continues to provide ongoing support at the University of Waikato. Her TEDx talk “Your words have the power to end suffering of LGBTQ youth” is widely available on YouTube, and she has also won two Youth Week awards and is a Local Hero New Zealander of the Year.
Kat’s friends and family were delighted by the proposal. Her Kiwi parents, who adopted Kat from a Russian orphanage when she was just three years old, have continuously supported her on her journey.
“Everyone felt it was a special and meaningful proposal,” she says. “I remember texting dad that I had met someone and he replied ‘cool, what’s his name?
“I replied ‘it’s a her’, and he replied ‘cool, what’s her name?’. Just like that - with acceptance and love.”
Kat and Hannah, a senior florist, will now get stuck into the serious business of wedding planning - and there will be one special guest on the invite list.
“We will be inviting Mitch James to our wedding, that’s for sure,” says Kat. “He's the most humble guy, and so fun to see live. What an awesome dude. Big thanks to him and his team for allowing me the opportunity.”
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