In part 1 of Vann and Chunate’s love story, they shared how they met, fell in love and got married. In part 2, they shared how they managed to save their marriage and adjust to a bombshell—Vann was trans.
Chunate: There was no sex. But we were happy that day. But there was also some depression, anger. He turned from this sweet person who used to come see me to love on me and hug on me and when we got home, to this angry person. He was always on the grind trying to get money and didn’t have time for us. I stayed home with the children. My day consisted of cooking and cleaning. We would eat, put the children to bed and then he would go to bed. We were disconnected really badly. At some point we weren’t talking. He was working six days a week from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. There was no time for me and no time for the children. We even stopped sleeping in the same room. He started sleeping on the couch.
BL3: But here you are 10 years later. How did you manage to stay together?
Chunate: We had to get couples therapy because it was getting really bad. There was anger and a lot of emotional stuff going on. I told him a couple times I’m going to leave.
Vann: I wasn’t violent to her physically but I was emotionally violent. When we look back at our relationship, I was withholding of affection. The inability to tend to her in that way was deep.
Chunate: He wasn’t in love with me. I asked him if he was in love with me and he said, no. I asked him if he had been in love with his [ex] and he said, yes. I don’t think I could wrap my mind around that. I started wondering what was wrong with me. We were officially married. We loved each other. We did this big thing. I was in love with him. I remember feeling like oh my building got rocked.
Vann: I know there was a difference between loving someone and being in love with someone. I hurt her and now looking back I can see it. I thought, “I love you. That’s why we’re married.” Now I get the difference. Now I’m in love with her and I love her. I got it. Back then she didn’t feel worthy.
Chunate: He didn’t make me feel worthy either.
BL3: Wow, sounds like you two were going through a lot.
Chunate: There was a lot of unspoken stuff he thought he was saying. I wasn’t talking. He wasn’t talking. I was catatonic. At one point I wasn’t talking but eating myself to death. I gained so much weight. I didn’t want to leave the house. It got really, really bad and we really had to bring the counseling in. If we hadn’t, we wouldn’t be here today. We would be broken up and it would have been a bitter break up and some violence going on my end.
Vann: How did we get married in that state? … This was my family but I was not taking care of my wife emotionally.
Chunate: We finally had sex 1.5 years after we got married. Around February we had sex.
BL3: And how did that go?
Vann: She was my first female encounter. I was real green. She’s coming from a space of needing to be loved up and I’m from a place of grinding and not needing emotion. I knew I loved her but like they say, What’s love got to do with it? I then learned about the five love languages and that started us being more aware of each other. We can now recognized when we get out of touch with each other.
When it came to intimacy, it was different for each of us. I didn’t want toys, books, nothing.We both had trauma. I couldn’t connect in that department and she did a lot of work with me around that.
Chunate: We’re still working.
BL3: And in the middle of all this, how did you topic of Vann being trans come up?
Vann: I asked her when did she realize I wasn’t a full-blown lesbian?
Chunate: Outside of sex, I knew when we first moved together. We didn’t do the girly stuff—there was no interest there. The stuff I was interested in, he had no interest in. It was just different. He always acted like a man. He was a man. I had a man in my house. I didn’t full on know but knew something was different. This was not a wife. This is somebody else. I married somebody else.
You started becoming something else when we were [in our first place]. Before we even got married, before we got together even when we started dating there was a level of girlfriendness there. We would talk and Vann would paint his nails every once in a while and talk about clothing but it was different. Then when we moved in with each other, stuff started changing and he started moving toward heterosexual. I started feeling like, “Okay, where is my wife?” He wasn’t chauvinistic. It’s just his personality changed.
Vann: I started feeling like I got a family and I have to provide for them and I have to protect. I felt possessive especially around the children’s fathers. I just felt that she’s mine. I’m hers and these are my kids. I felt like the world was against us. The climate at that time was negative about lesbians. We had been battered and beaten around “this is a sin and God don’t like that, ya’ll gonna mess these kids up.”