5 Most Popular Stories on BlackLesbianLoveLab.com in 2014

Top5ArticlesThis year we had 119 great stories posted to Blacklesbianlovelab.com and a total of nearly 40,000 views! I have enjoyed sharing them all these stories and interviewing black lesbian couples and singles about their love lives. Below are the top 5 most popular stories on our site for 2014. If you missed reading them the first time, you might want to click through and check them out below:

5 8 Love Habits You Should Never Live Without

This story got 516 views! It had great tips!

L WORD MISSISSIPPI: HATE THE SIN

The 14 Things I Learned About Love & Relationships in 2014

Love and relationships sometimes come with difficult lessons. Image: Essence.com

Love and relationships sometimes come with difficult lessons. Image: Essence.com

Written by Z. Amara Perri 

As we wave goodbye to 2014, I can’t help but be excited about ringing in 2015. This year was honestly an emotional roller coaster for me. I reluctantly left a relationship where we were both unhappy. We both saw the end coming for a long time but because we loved each other tried hard to hold on. I knew it was over when we had another fucked up Valentine’s Day. Two weeks later, I packed my stuff and moved. I can honestly say that I’m much happier now than I was on January 1, 2014. Leaving was a major learning experience for me! Here are some of the things I learned about love and relationships this year:

1. It’s okay to let go of a relationship that is just not working. There’s nothing wrong with moving on. Leaving was inconvenient in many ways and at first, I felt guilty for not trying harder. I felt like we let down our friends and family who wanted us to stay together. But had we not found the courage to move on, we would probably still be struggling through a frequently hostile and unhappy union. It’s okay to be happy alone than unhappy together.

2. Sometimes you CAN’T be friends with your ex. When the wounds of a break up are still fresh, trying to build a friendship can be painful. It can also prevent you from truly moving on.

3. Sometimes you CAN be friends with your ex. One of the most supportive friends I had as I went through a break up was an ex-girlfriend. We hadn’t dated in years and she was also going through a break up at the same time I was. We exchanged dating stories, cried on each other’s shoulders and listened patiently to stories of how much we missed the other woman.

4. Unless you love yourself first, you’re never going to be happy in a relationship. Unfortunately, I spent many years seeking love from others instead of working on loving myself. And when my girlfriends failed to meet my expectations, I would be so unhappy. I’m still learning, but I now get how important self-love is to loving another person period.

5. Casual sex will not heal your broken heart. And for me it was not even worth it.

6. It’s okay to date a lot. I learned a lot about myself by spending time getting to know a variety of women this year.

7. It’s okay to take a break from dating. My new sweetie was single for two years before we met. Time alone can truly clarify who you are and how you want to show up in a relationship.

Bathini & Portia’s South African Engagement Party Held at Church

Bathini and Portia's pastor pray for the happy couple. Photo courtesy of Zanele Muholi

Bathini and Portia’s pastor pray for the happy couple. Photo courtesy of Zanele Muholi

Bathini Dambuza and Portia Dludlu recently celebrated their engagement in South Africa. I found the story on Zanele Muholi’s blog. The photographer documents the South African LGBT community. Three things made this beautiful couple’s engagement party stand out for me:

  1. The couple was dressed to the nines. They both treated their engagement announcement as something extra special and that is reflected in their very sharp outfits. Portia was dressed in an off-white, floor-length dress and Bathini wore a very nice black suit! There was no doubt that this was a special occasion that deserved celebration. Marriage is a big deal and the rituals surrounding it should reflect that! Love should always be celebrated!
  2. The party took place in church! Granted it is an LGBT church, but it is a church nonetheless. Far too many LGBTQ people feel they have to choose between God and love. For many people faith is an integral part of a successful union and having that extra level of support from their church brothers and sisters is critical. Instead of hiding their long-term partners like so many LGBT people do who attend non-affirming churches, Bathini and Portia’s love was embraced. The two were blessed and the preacher spoke about what a successful relationship looks like.
  3. They were surrounded by other happy, married, lesbian couples. I personally believe that some of what made my relationships so difficult was not having other, happy lesbian couples to turn to for support, encouragement and advice. The adage that it takes a village does not only apply to childrearing, it applies to life period. We cannot make it through this life alone. It’s so important to build loving and trustworthy relationships with other couples too. We should always support love whenever possible.

Congratulations Bathini and Portia, may you continue to choose love every day!   Click here to read the full story of their engagement.   Enjoy their photos in the slideshow below!

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A Recap of My First Holiday Dinner With My New Bae and My Family

Written by Z. Amara Perri 

Image courtesy of Atlanta Black Star.

Image courtesy of Atlanta Black Star.

She was not the first woman I ever brought home to meet my family. But after three months of dating, I’m thinking my new bae will probably be the last. So I thought this was the perfect time to bring her to my family’s Christmas dinner. I am one of those people who live in what some would call a “glass closet.” That means I don’t go around making grand pronouncements about whom I’m dating, especially to my very conservative, religious, Jamaican family. However, if they don’t know that I’m gay, then they are probably in deep denial.

There are certain people in my family I’ve actually sat down and had the “I’m gay” conversation with, like my mother. Others I have a pleasant but not intimate relationship with so my personal life or even their personal lives don’t come up in conversation. I present as femme so people never think to ask me any questions about my sexuality. My bae on the other hand, who wears her hair short and has swag for days, will always get the side eye. She doesn’t like to be labeled as anything, but can’t really hide her tomboi side even if she tried.

Even before the family dinner, I wondered how to approach the idea of how she should dress for the first meeting. I thought about encouraging her to look a little more femme, but decided to leave it up to her. She ended up wearing a baby blue sweater and some tight jeans, which I thought she looked adorable in. She has such a great ass, which I thought looked great in those jeans and would help her look more feminine. Then she put on her man shoes. Sigh. And to make things worse, I ended up not having time to stop by my apartment and select the white sweater I had in mind. So I ended up wearing a pink sweater and she a blue sweater. If that wasn’t a subtle message, then I don’t know what was. She freaked out about the coordinating colors of our sweaters and I just laughed my ass off. I thought it was so funny that I didn’t even mention that she could just change into a different color sweater. I simply hurried us out the door as we were running late as it was.

Bae’s mom called just before we left the house, and bae told her mom she was nervous about meeting my family. For days I had been telling her that my family would love her, but it took these precious words from her own mother to calm her a bit: “How could they not love you? You are the chosen one.”

Is it Too Soon to Get Her a Gift & Other Christmas Conundrums

Figuring out Christmas gifts can be especially stressful when in a new relationship. Image courtesy of thegriot.com

Figuring out Christmas gifts can be especially stressful when in a new relationship. Image courtesy of thegriot.com

For some gay people Christmas is not the most wonderful time of the year. For those us coming out for the first time or bringing our partners to meet our very conservative families for the first time, the holidays are the very definition of torture. Seriously. I really don’t think the holidays were created to celebrate Jesus, Kwanzaa or the Winter Solstice. I think they were created just to make everyone in your family exceedingly uncomfortable and to sell stuff.

These two ideas have been on my mind this holiday season. My sweetie and I have a similar approach to Christmas and holidays of all kinds. We are really low maintenance and don’t really need a holiday to get each other gifts. We had a very brief conversation about Christmas gifts, it went like this:

Me: Do you want to exchange Christmas gifts?

She: No.

Me: Okay. I got you a gift. It’s not a Christmas gift so I won’t give it to you on Christmas. You don’t have to get me one in return.

She: Okay.

In previous relationships, the gift conversation has always been a bit of a stressor for me. For some people the way you show love is by buying a big, flashy gift on certain occasions. My sweetie and I are just not really into gifts. We don’t expect them from other people and tend to buy gifts when the mood strikes, not when the calendar dictates. It helps that it doesn’t take much to please us—we mostly get excited about attention and affection. And that’s pretty much all we need from each other.

The first gift I ever got from her was on our first date, which just so happen to be on my birthday. It was a collection of really nice hair products—very thoughtful and needed for a natural girl like myself. Three months later, we continue to pay attention to each other and surprise each other with nice little gifts. When she mentioned that her favorite flowers were orchids, I surprised her with a plant. When I complained about my skin breaking out, she surprised me with some nice skin care products. When she mentioned that she loved candy canes, I surprised her with a box. When I mentioned needing a new air filter in my car, she offered to take care of it for me. These little things all add up to why I adore her so much.

Ferguson Activists Alexis & Brittany Tie the Knot

Brittany and Alexis exchange a kiss.

Brittany and Alexis exchange a kiss.

Alexis (@musicoverpeople) and Brittany (@bdoulaoblongata) are the very definition of revolutionary love. The two young, black, lesbians met and fell in love 130 days ago while protesting the injustice of Mike Brown’s death at the hands of police in Ferguson, Mo. The activists took to Twitter and Vine to announce their engagement and to share moments from their wedding.

The two, Brittany in a red dress and Alexis in a red turtleneck, married Tuesday, December 16 at St. Louis city hall with the support of friends and a local city counselor.

Congratulations to the activist lovebirds who are dedicated to annihilating all forms of oppression.

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Black Lesbians Give Thanks for the Freedom to Love

The holidays are a great time to reflect and count our blessings. It’s easy to focus on all the crap that life throws at us, but sometimes if we stop and think we can often find plenty to be grateful for. One of the things I’m most grateful for is simply, love. These black, lesbian couples below were featured on the Freedom to Marry website, agree. Check out their sweet musings on gratitude:

Sade & Nic McNizzi 

Sade and Nic McNizz live in New York.

Sade and Nic McNizz live in New York.

“This year we are giving thanks for each other and our amazing family and friends,” Nic said, reflecting on her wedding to the love of her life, Sade. “We are also grateful for the freedom to marry and the recognition of our marriage by the U.S. military. We are thankful that our military service no longer requires that we sacrifice our identity. We are honored to serve and to have our marriage treated with the same validity as other military families.”

Monique & Jeannie Jones 

Monique and Jeanie Jones and their family live in Minnesota.

Monique and Jeanie Jones and their family live in Minnesota.

Earlier this year, Monique and Jeannie married in their home state of Minnesota, and they shared their beautiful, moving wedding video with us. Watch the video here. “This year my family is thankful for the fact that we were able to get married and have our marriage be recognized in our home state – a state that allowed us to protect our children and thrive without prejudice,” Jeannie, who lives in Farmington with her family, said. “We pray that we will soon live in a coutry where every couple can share that.”

Judy & Collista Shae Mahone  

 

Judy and Collista Shae Mahone and children live in Arkansas.

Judy and Collista Shae Mahone and children live in Arkansas.

In May, in the days following the historic ruling from Arkansas Circuit Judge Chris Piazza, Collista and Judy were one of the more than 500 same-sex couples who at last were able to legally marry in their home state of Arkansas. “I am so thankful for Judy,” Collista, who lives in Fayetville, said this year. “I am thankful that we married in May, and I’m looking forward to our wedding in April 2015!”

Gallery: Shawnte and Tavia Celebrate Their Love at Home

Shawnte and Tavia celebrated their love in their Maryland home. Photos by Ashlee Nikole Photography

Shawnte and Tavia celebrated their love in their Maryland home. Photos by Ashlee Nikole Photography

Shawnte and Tavia recently enjoyed a fall wedding with friends and family in their District Heights, Maryland home. They said the most exciting thing about that day was having an opportunity to share our love with our friends and family. They share more about falling in love and their wedding below:

Black Lesbian Love Lab (BL3): How did you meet?

Shawnte and Tavia: We have a mutual friend in L.A., but we connected on Facebook.

BL3: What attracted you to each other?

Shawnte: I liked that Tavia is beautiful, very firm and set boundaries.

Tavia: I liked that Shawnte has a great sense of humor and is very intelligent.

BL3: How long have you been together?

Shawnte and Tavia: 1 year and 3 months.

BL3: Would you say this was a whirlwind romance then?

Shawnte: Mmmmm we just “got” each other. Felt like we knew each other forever. We decided after committing to a relationship that this was it for us.

BL3: Why did you decide to get married?

Shawnte and Tavia: We couldn’t imagine life without one another. Our bond is unbreakable.

BL3: Tell us a bit about your wedding day. What made it special?

Shawnte and Tavia: Our theme was jazz in the fall and we got married outside with the beautiful fall foliage. All of our friends and family were there to help us celebrate and that made our day extremely special.

BL3: What wedding traditions did you keep and which ones did you get rid of and why?

Shawnte and Tavia: Well, we did not see each other before the wedding and we did not throw the bouquet because it was made out of steel 🙂

BL3: Those blue shoes are the truth!

Shawnte: That was our “something blue.” I changed my shoes two days before the wedding. Had them shipped next day.

BL3: Where was the wedding and reception held?

Shawnte and Tavia: We got married in our beautiful backyard and because of the rain, the reception was in our home.

BL3: How did it feel to exchange vows? Did you write your own vows?

Shawnte: I was nervous, longwinded and very emotional.

Tavia: She was very calm and quick. We wrote our own vows.

BL3: When was your actual wedding date and why did you choose that date?

Shawnte and Tavia: Oct 11, 2014. It’s between our birthdays.

Enjoy more photos from their special day in the slideshow below.

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Click here to see even more photos from their special day. The couple was also highlighted in Autostraddle’s list of “21 Queer and Trans Couples of Color that Make our Hearts Flutter.”

What I Won’t Do for Like

One of my favorite songs is “What You Won’t Do for Love” by Bobby Caldwell. I’ve always found the lyrics inspiring and at the same time horrifying. On one hand, who wouldn’t be inspired by the lyrics of the song?

What you won’t do

Do for love

You tried everything

But you don’t give up

In my world

Only you make me do for love what I would not do

On the other hand, clearly the relationship isn’t working out for the woman Bobby is singing about yet she keeps trying. I’m a romantic at heart. I believe in love. If I didn’t, this blog wouldn’t exist. I tried really hard to make things work in my past relationships when it was clear that sheer willpower alone isn’t enough to make love work. Especially when it is one sided. And honestly sometimes the other person tried and I was too self-centered to see that. In the end, I let go of those relationships because it was ultimately more damaging to remain in unhealthy relationships than to simply let go.

I’m now at a point in my life where I’m trying to be a lot more discerning about the women I let into my space and the kind of woman I am in relationships. When I’m dating someone, I love to be as supportive, understanding and giving as possible. Some people may call that having borderline save-a-ho complex. But I sometimes need to draw the line between being TOO giving and just letting that person find their own way. Especially in the beginning when you are still trying to figure out if the person is worthy of your heart.

Today I’ve decided to draw the line. While there are definitely some things I will do for love there are other things I simply will not do for someone whom I merely like. This distinction is important because I believe not every person you date deserves unfettered access to your time, attention or resources. Today I realized that one of the things I definitely will not do for like OR love is compromise my dreams.