Why Black Lesbian Queens Stay in Bad Relationships

dark skinned natural women big hair

We have so many reasons for staying but like to pretend we don’t know. Photo courtesy of David Famuyide

Written by Zamara Perri

When a black woman falls in love with another woman, especially for the first time, it can be completely magical. She makes our heart skip a beat, our palms sweaty, puts butterflies in our stomach and makes our panties wet. We can’t stop thinking about her, wanting her and dreaming about your future together.

Maybe she is the one. Maybe she’s not. Lesbians are famous for falling in love quickly and trying to build something out of nothing. And we black lesbian queens are no different.

But for real though, just because you fall in love with someone doesn’t mean you have to build a life together.

Sometimes we say yes to relationships, circumstances and situations without truly weighing the costs.

At first we think we can handle/settle for a less-than-ideal situation, but as time goes by, we realize that we’re not happy.

What Are You Getting Out of the Relationship?

Sometimes we hope and pray that things (or maybe she) will change, but the truth is that the only person you can change is yourself.

I truly believe that before getting into or getting out of a relationship, all black lesbians should ask themselves, what they are getting out of the relationship.

I’m so serious. All romantic relationships have a pay off. My partner taught me a really important lesson early in our relationship. Although she is a truly kind, spirit-driven woman who loves people, before she gets involved in anything, she always asks herself, “What am I getting out of this?”

The question is important, she reasons, because if you’re not getting what you want, then what motivation do you truly have in continuing to pursue this thing? This question can relate to any relationship, business opportunity, volunteer of social activity. I know it sounds crazy and selfish, but hear me out.

My partner taught me that even if the only thing you get from a situation is a good feeling, it has to be something valuable to you.

Everything has a cost and a pay off so know your worth.

 

The Real Reasons We Stay

So with that in mind, let’s be honest. Some people claim that they get into relationships because they just love this other person and can’t live without them.

That might be true, but if we are truly honest most people are in relationships for a combination of the following reasons:

  • She makes you feel good
  • She’s really good in bed
  • Y’all are pretty together
  • You like the attention she gives you
  • She’s your companion/best friend
  • A built in cuddle buddy
  • Someone to split the bills with
  • She makes you feel good
  • Someone to raise children with
  • A status symbol/ being in relationship makes you desirable in the eyes of your community
  • She brings out the best in you
  • You like taking care of her because (you feel powerful, strong, important etc., etc.)

You Get What You Accept

It may seem obvious that when you’re in a bad relationship, you should just leave. But it’s just not that easy. Even though we don’t think we consciously sign up for being treated like crap, far too many of us put up with lovers who:

  • Lie, cheat and manipulate
  • Are financially irresponsible
  • Are unreliable
  • Never apologize
  • Talks to us out of the side of her neck
  • Blames, instead of taking responsibility for her bad behavior
  • Makes us cry

Is that what we truly want? If it’s not and we’re still hanging around, then there is an even deeper reason why we’re choosing to remain in that relationship.

We stay because there is something about that shitty relationship that fills a basic need.

And queen, only you know what that need is. Could it be because you think that you’ll never find someone to “love” you again? Are you afraid of being alone? Are you afraid of losing her income? Do you have a lease together and it’s too much of a hassle to untangle it all? Are you comfortable with being unhappy? Do you believe that this is all you deserve? Or do you truly believe that she is the one and that she will change?

Saying yes to any of those questions means you’re staying because you think you need that person’s love, company, money, property, etc.

If these things are what you’re getting from your relationship, then it won’t matter to you if your partner is showing you in many different ways that you are not valuable to her and that you are not a priority because you won’t leave. No judgment here. I’ve been there and done it myself.

I remember being in a relationship where we argued and fought all the time. Most of our arguments stemmed from her being extremely insensitive, which led to me being even more insecure. Even after letting the relationship go, I found myself crying over her. When I got real with myself and dug deep down inside, I discovered that I still wanted the relationship because I was lonely and liked her attention.

I was embarrassed. Here I was this strong, independent black woman who needed this woman’s negative attention to validate me. But it was the ugly truth. Knowing that truth made me understand why this dysfunctional relationship was important to me.

How to Get What You Want

Ladies, it’s really simple, if you are not getting what you want from your relationship, there really is no reason to stay. Celebrating your 20th anniversary is hardly an accomplishment if you spent 19 of those years being disrespected and abused.

Many of us think that because we love someone that we need to stick around and deal with their crap to prove how much we love them. Actually real love is the opposite. If you truly love someone, you demand that they do better and you demand that they treat you better. Treating you well is the price she must pay to be in your life.

 

The relationship you have is the relationship you settle for.

 

If you are not getting something really valuable out of a relationship and you don’t want to leave, then you need to re-negotiate. Have the conversation. Express yourself. Use your words. Stand up for yourself because you, my dear, are worth it.

Queen, your partner doesn’t have all the power. A strong woman doesn’t complain or threaten to leave; a strong woman takes action.

The time you spend stressing over her bullshit is the time you could spend working on other goals, being your own best friend, buying your own property, supporting and taking care of yourself. And when you’re ready, you will demand better or move on. It was hard, but I did it and I know you can too.

How I Healed After My Long-term Lesbian Relationship Ended

Model looks forward to the future.
Model looks forward to the future.

Letting go and starting over is never all that easy. Model: Tene’A.

Written by Vanessa B.

After falling in love with my best friend from high school, we spent the next 17 and a half years together. We did not live happily ever after. We broke up after I returned from serving in the Army and losing the relationship made me “cray-cray” crazy.

After the breakup, we were going back and forth in our conversations but we were definitely broken up because she started seeing someone three months after our breakup. It was a horrible emotional experience for me. A lot of things from our entire relationship boiled to the surface. The anger, sadness, and disappointment had already become recurring themes.

 

The Near Death Experience

One day, after arguing with Debra over the phone while driving at a high speed on the highway and almost slamming into the back of a Mack truck, I just stopped arguing with her.

After that day I decided I would always be kind when I spoke to her. I survived Iraq and yet while arguing on the cell phone I almost killed myself on the highway.

 

Mending My Broken Heart

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Forgiveness is healing. Model: Jessica Chibueze

I needed to quiet my mind and mend my broken heart. I started to pray, and meditate and, most importantly, I decided I wanted to heal. There was no going around the pain; I knew I had to go through it. I accepted that my long-term relationship was permanently over and I stopped all communication with her.

I had never been a real member of a church before, but I started my healing journey by sitting in the back of a church and crying my eyes out.

Also, I set some very simple goals: I wanted to heal, forgive, and get my butt up out of the bed and out of the house. The biggest help was being out of state and away for home. I decided not to return to my hometown. It was bittersweet, but to this day, it was the best decision I ever made.

What really helped me to forgive was that I looked ahead five years into the future and I knew I didn’t want to still be hurt or angry or harboring any “unforgiveness.” I also knew I needed to forgive myself and stop beating myself up.

I recognized early on in the breakup that anger and heartache were not there to be helpful to me. All the negative emotions I felt were exhausting and preventing me from moving forward. So I apologized to Debra for everything I had done.

I asked her for her forgiveness but I didn’t want or need her to acknowledge it. Just deciding to sincerely and genuinely forgive her and to forgive myself, helped me heal.

It feels a little odd to say this but I truly think I benefitted from her choice to jump into a relationship with someone new, because there was nothing I could do about it. So, it didn’t take me long to forgive because I saw the benefit in it, not for her, but for me.

I asked myself, what do you want? What are you going to do, now? It wasn’t an overnight process, at all. It took a lot of time, but it was a long-lasting type of healing for me.

Many years have passed now what happened in that relationship hasn’t impacted my ability to trust. I had to learn a lesson in order to realize that in relationship there has to be upfront, honest communication. Also, I need to ask questions and not just dive in to anything. I think that lesson also comes with maturity.

 

A Different Kind of Happily Ever After

I want to let all the black lesbians out there know there is no expiration date on the grief and mourning you may feel when your love relationship ends. However, breakups are the best time to do a YOU inventory. Meaning, who are you? What do you want? And what’s next for you? Debra was my first love, but by the time our relationship ended I was wiling to be in love with me. I needed to heal me. I needed to help me. I needed to save myself. And I did. And you can too.

It has been over 10 years since our breakup. I saw her once in person several years ago. Otherwise, it’s been an occasional picture on social media. We talked a few times over the years. It felt somewhat awkward because our lives have gone in completely different directions. She’s still in our hometown and living her life there. I have completed some higher learning goals, and I travel and I’ve lived in a few different places.

I’m very happy in my life. I have genuinely achieved closure in all my past relationships. Not only did I forgive but I also forgot.

I have no regrets. This is my life and there’s no dress rehearsal, it’s the real thing. I believe our past makes us who we are. Every life experience and encounter is three things: (1) A blessing, (2) a lesson, and (3) an opportunity.

I am currently single, but I date and I have a wonderful group of family and friends. I’ve also started to embrace the idea of a poly-amorous relationship because I don’t think you can be everything to one person, but maybe you can be a few good things to a few people. I stay open and receptive to new people coming into my life all the time.

 


 

Vanessa B.Veronica B is an entrepreneur, and a former psychotherapist. She resides in Las Vegas, where she likes to volunteer, hike, travel and write. She is an active member of the Vegas LGBTQ community. She’s currently working on projects involving social psychology, issues of religion, and empowerment for women and girls of color.

Why My Girlfriend And I Broke Up After 17 Years Together

Young black lesbians in love.

Written by Vanessa B.

Debra and I were best friends in high school. We were typical teenagers, hanging out and finding trouble to get into. We were both still into boys at that time. Neither of us had had any experiences with girls beyond playing house or doctor.

Shortly after graduation I attended Debra’s sister’s wedding and over the course of the evening, an attraction to her just came over me. I hadn’t felt anything like that toward her prior to that day. Needless to say, I was scared and confused. Ironically, she was my best friend, so who was I going to talk to about this attraction I was experiencing?

At first, I avoided her for about a week and a half, then invited her over to talk. She confessed that she had felt something the day of the wedding, also. It was all so surreal, and bizarre. I guess my curiosity won out and I kissed her, and she kissed me back. And that was the beginning of a 17-and-a-half year roller coaster of emotions and experiences.

We were together from our late teens until our mid-30s. For the first 11 years of our relationship, we were in the closet.

We loved each other very much. We had many up and downs and joys and pains. We were both free spirits and dreamers. This often meant talking about our hopes and dreams but unfortunately not seeing them to fruition.

 

We Had Different Dreams

We talked about getting married, buying a home, having a child, and traveling but we really never did anything together to make it a reality. Our personalities were such that she liked to put all her eggs in one basket and wasn’t comfortable with change and I was the total opposite. For instance, I was also a free spirit and a dreamer but I had a plan B that included college, travel, etc. She was/is a very sociable person, and a DJ with close family ties. Also, once she finished high school she was done with school forever.

So, unfortunately, we could never get on the same page about building a life together. We both lived, separately with our parents, for the first 10 years of our relationships. I eventually moved out of my Mom’s house and into my own apartment, and she moved into a house that her sister bought.

 

I Betrayed Her

Black woman in army unifform.

Vanessa B in her Army days.

After five years of being together I acted out, and betrayed our relationship by dating guys in order to continue the heterosexual farce. I was confused, and at the time, and I still cared about what my family and society thought. Nonetheless, what I did hurt her but we managed to get through it, or so I thought.

I was the one who left the relationship (at first, and in a way). Let me explain. I joined the Army. At that point, we had been together 15 years. I was at a loss and at a dead end in my love relationship and in my relationship with my family.

On sheer impulse, I walked into the Army recruiter’s office and signed up for a three-year stint. We both agreed that the change was what we needed in order to find ourselves. She was hurt by the drastic change and as a result there was quite a bit of passive-aggression, on her part. The military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell,” nonsense was still intact and she resented that. Also, I was no longer around or I was unable to speak to her every day. So eventually, she broke up with me, via letter, while I was in boot camp.

We somehow managed to get back together, however, I didn’t receive any care packages from her the entire time I was in the army, including the year I spent deployed to Iraq. Also, she sent me a total of about five letters over an almost three-year period. Needless to say our relationship was rocky.

 

Growing Apart

When I returned home I felt that after all that had occurred while I was away, we needed to really sit down and have a deep and meaningful conversation. However, she wasn’t comfortable with talking about what had transpired between us while we were apart.

She wanted to just put it all behind us and move on. The problem was that in those three years, our relationship got tested in the most fundamental of ways. With regards to things like change, communication, trust, responsibility, and maturity, we had moved in different directions and reacted in different ways.

When she suggested that I move into a bedroom (not an apartment) with her, in her sister’s house, and pay rent to her sister, it became clear I had changed but not much else had. We had both grown older but only one of us had grown up. So within a month of me returning from Iraq, we broke up.

Read part 2 to learn how I healed from the break up.


 

Vanessa B.Veronica B. is an entrepreneur, and a former psychotherapist. She resides in Las Vegas, where she likes to volunteer, hike, travel and write. She is an active member of the Vegas LGBTQ community. She’s currently working on projects involving social psychology, issues of religion, and empowerment for women and girls of color.

She’s The One: Here are 9 Adorable Ways to Ask Her to Be Yours

A kiss on the hand is an adorable way to show you care.

Let her know she’s special to you. Photo courtesy of Grlpage.

Written by Giselle Bella

She’s the one. You know it. You want to ask her to be yours on Valentine’s Day but you are not sure how. I will try to help with that. Whether you just met her three weeks ago or have been married for 13 years, you surely will find these ideas helpful.

Wait! Don’t just call and ask her to be your valentine. Valentine’s Day is all about romance so make it cute, make it memorable, make it romantic but do not go overboard. Save that for later.

Send her a lovely text message that is interactive. Ask her if she will be your Valentine by responding with “yes” or “no.” You make it interactive by putting a smiley face next to YES and a frowning face next to NO. Ask her to reply with the face she chooses. You can even do it with photos of yourself. You can even send her a voice-recorded message to ask her or a video message.

If by now you have her e-mail address, e-cards are still something to remember, especially now that hardly anyone uses them outside of memes.

Ask her while you’re at dinner.

Write her a love note, as you would in grade school. Ask her to be your Valentine and to check the box she wants. The best part is you wait until you are within a group of friends and ask your friends to pass down the note to her.

Lunch box treats. So if you are a couple who live together, this may be adorable. Pack her lunch and in her lunch bag or box put a note, card or letter with the question. To make her response more exciting, ask her to provide her response in the lunch she will pack you the next day. Adroit!

Surprise her in bed. Whether you share the same bed or not, you can get away with this. That is, if you have access to her bed. Leave her a message/note under the covers asking her to be your Valentine. You want her to see it as soon as she pulls the covers back. You may leave a note with a flower or one of her favorite treats. OR if you leave before her in the morning, leave her the note on the pillow next to her.

Send her flowers. Send her flowers at her place of work or at home and in the card, ask her to be your Valentine.

Ask your friends to support you. If you are somewhere social with friends, give them each a paper to hand her. Write, “Will You Be My Valentine?” with each word on pieces of paper and give four to your friends. Have everyone give her a piece of paper at different times then you give her the last piece. Melt her heart. You can do the same thing via text. Have four friends text her in order as to ask the question and you send the final message with the question mark!

If you are super romantic and especially if you’ve been together for some time, then take her to a place that is known and sacred to just you two and ask her.

Remember that even if you are already a couple, do things to keep love going, keep what attracted you to each going.

My wish for you is, that you grateful and graciously embrace the Valentine you’ve been given. Whether she is a mother or sister, a friend or lover, may your Valentine love you without conditions and may you reciprocate that.

My love to you,

Giselle Gia

 


Giselle “Gia” Bella is a 30-something woman living in Baltimore. As The Love Goddess for Black Lesbian Love Lab, she happily shares her ideas for finding and keeping your lady love. She wrote the Autumn Falls web series for Topp Bottom and published several books, including Gietic: Erotic Poems/Kinky Love Stories and Gietic II: Love and Loss

20 Winning Relationship Tips Black Lesbian Couples Can Learn From The Super Bowl

Melissa Henry is a football player with the London Warriors AFC.
Melissa Henry is from london and plays American football.

Relationships just like football is a full contact sport, so proper equipment is key. Model: Melissa Henry plays for the London Warriors AFC Women.

Written by Zamara Perri

Every January or February millions of Americans gather around their TVS to watch the Super Bowl. This year is extra special because it’s the golden anniversary of the game. Super Bowl 50 is a big freaking deal. And if you’re a black lesbian who expects your relationship to last past 50 days, 50 weeks or 50 months, here are some great relationship tips to steal from the big game:

  1. Pick the best teammate. If you want to win you can’t just pick some random person because you’re bored or lonely. That’s not how winning the Super Bowl works and that’s not how having a long lasting relationship works. You have to pick someone who can be your MVP, your ride or die, your Cam Newton to your Jonathan Stewart.
  2. Team work makes the dream work. Members of the same football team don’t just wear the same uniforms, they play the part. Their goal is to score the most and crush the defense. In a relationship, if you can’t work together, then you can’t win the game much less make it to the super bowl.
  3. Take a time out. Sometimes a time out is the best way to save your relationship. Instead of having a heated argument or saying something that you’ll regret later, take a break.
  4. Play hard. The same amount of people who say they are interested in being great football players is probably equal to the same amount who say they want to be in great relationships. But honestly, the divorce rate is more than 50 percent and less than a tenth of 1 percent of the American public ever play in the big game. Why is that? You don’t get to be Super Bowl by being average. No body would be interested in watching the mediocre bowl. If you’re not committed to doing the hard work of a relationship, then you should probably just stick to being a spectator.
  5. Respect the sport ahem I mean your relationship. Americans love football almost as much as they love, love. You can’t really tell any real football fan about their team. Treat your relationship the same way you treat your love for your team, with reverence. No one should ever get away with disrespecting your lady when you respect your relationship.
  6. Keep score. If the goal is to win the game (or for the relationship to last), you should be consciously making an effort to put a smile on your lady’s face each day. Every smile you put on her face can add days, weeks, months and eventually years to your relationship.
  7. Know how to intercept trouble, hard times and temptations. A great team works together to deal with stress, financial challenges, flirty women, aggressive studs, unsupportive family, etc.
  8. Everyone needs a great coach (or therapist). The coach is sometimes able to see things from a different perspective, so don’t be afraid to seek counseling!
  9. It’s crucial to have people who are cheering for you whether that be fans or cheerleaders. Nuff said.
  10. Reward each other for doing a good job. The winners of the super bowl may get a nice trophy, money and other prizes and why shouldn’t you? Happy black lesbian relationships should be celebrated too! Surprise each other with little gifts, especially now that we’re in Valentine’s Day season. Give her a foot rub, a card or splurge on a vacation.
  11. Some people may think certain gender roles (or positions) are more important than the others, but guess what, that’s not true! The quarterback can’t win the game by himself, so stop all that noise pitting studs against femmes in the role super bowl! All that most lesbians are looking for is a woman who can hold her down.
  12. Know the playbook. Every relationship has its own playbook and in it are the rules that all the team members agree to play by. Know the rules and don’t act brand new, when your boo calls a particular emergency play.
  13. Celebrate each touch down and dance like crazy in the end zone. That means any milestones like anniversaries should be celebrated in a big way because it is a big deal.
  14. Fumbles will happen, but that doesn’t mean the game is over. Shit happens. That’s life. Sometimes you mess up or she messes up. It doesn’t mean that the relationship is over. No relationship is perfect. The sooner you accept that, the faster your relationship will recover from a setback.
  15. It’s never too later to win. One of the most exhilarating and infuriating thing about football is that you can win and lose by a mere few seconds. If you’re both playing to win, you can always find a way to make that nail-biting touch down or field goal.
  16. Don’t be like a football fan. Even when it is clear that your team sucks and have an racially offensive name (aka the Redskins), sometimes it’s best to just give up. Most teams have back up players for a reason, and a smart coach doesn’t keep a player who is not physically able in the game because that’s torture. Some lesbians don’t always know when to let go of a relationship. I say do it before there are life-impacting injuries.
  17. Know when to hand off the ball, throw it or run with it. Not all relationship issues need to be handled the same way. Studs, sometimes you have hand the ball off to your wife so she can handle business. Over time a great player learns the game well enough to know, which move is likely to result in a win, tie or a loss.
  18. The best defense is a great offense. Great players actually execute plays, they don’t just spend all their time in defense mode. The same thing happens in great relationships, the team members make a plan and execute it. If you want your relationship to be infidelity proof, you don’t spent time fending off advances from other women with a smile and by being friendly, you shore up your relationship and shut the other woman down for her shady behavior.
  19. Proper gear is crucial. Helmets, shoulder pads, ribcage protectors, cleats etc. are crucial. Relationships are no joke. All couples should engage in honest conversations because that builds trust, which is a key equipment for protecting your relationship.
  20. It’s a game, so have fun! Relationships should be fun. It may have a serious element to it, but at the end of the day, relationships are supposed to enhance your life! Remember how you got butterflies in your stomach the first time you discovered football? You can have the same feelings with your partner if you follow these 20 tips.

P.s. I really don’t know anything about football, but had a lot of fun creating this list.

Dear Lesbian Love & Advice: My Partner’s “Wife” Doesn’t Even Want Her

Lesbian catches girlfriend cheating so she grabs a gun.

Is emotional cheating the same as physical cheating? Photo by Q. Oliver.

Dear Lesbian Love and Advice: Can I get some advice? My stud says she loves me, but she says she thinks someone else may be her soul mate. She has referred to this other woman as her “wife.” However, this other woman won’t even talk to her! I feel like she’s only with me for now, but if the other woman were to suddenly show up and declare her love for stud, my stud would leave me in a New York minute. I’m torn, heartbroken and weary of it all.

 

Elysa’s Advice: You have to stop referring to her as “yours.” She is not, nor has she ever been yours. Settling for someone’s leftover emotions is ridiculous. If you knew all of this but decided to stay anyway, it is not “your” stud’s fault that you are torn, heartbroken and weary. Find someone who is really yours.

 

Gibson’s Advice: Hold up! Time out! You’re not looking out for red flags! That’s one right there. You can get over hurt, but you can neva get back wasted time! Go hunny! It’s only February. Why keep going into the new year with something wrong when you can make it right? From the words of the song in Frozen, “Let it go! Let it go!”

 

Raquel’s Advice: Look at your instincts, look at what your body is telling you. You are torn, heartbroken and weary. You KNOW that she is into someone else, so the ball is in your court. What are you going to do about it? Stay and further invest in this relationship, where she might leave? Or put God first and love yourself, and maybe realize that this relationship will never be fully be what you want it to be? Protect your heart. You have a decision to make.

 

Venessa’s Advice: I’m really not sure where the confusion is. If she isn’t joking, why be with someone that doesn’t value you enough? Why would you be with someone that thinks of you that way? Settling for what you can get is a little ridiculous. Why would people rather be in a relationship where they’re second guessing themselves? Learn to love yourself single then you’ll find someone worth your time.


Dear Lesbian Love and Advice  shares the most interesting questions and advice from Facebook.com/LesbianLoveAdvice. The questions and responses have been reprinted with permission.

This Love Is Revolutionary: Reflecting on the Power of Black Queer Love

Janaya Khan and Patrisse Cullors

Black queer love is militant. Models: Activist Janaya Khan and her partner, Patrisse Cullors.

Written by Ashleigh Shackelford

Today, and everyday, I am thinking about what it means to engage in transformative, Black queer love.

Engaging in black queer love means not only surviving your own trauma, but holding the paralleled trauma of your partner and navigating the ways in which that trauma collides. In existing, navigating, and surviving as queer Black folks within a white supremacist patriarchy, it feels impossible to heal our own selves, yet alone offer healing to each other. In seeing each other, holding each other, and loving each other, we must engage in community practice and dialogue around what transformative love looks like beyond survival.

Revolutionary Black love is often praised within our organizing and activist spaces, yet rarely engaged in practice enough to garner understanding of how our mental health, political growth, and prospering are cultivated within our intimate partnerships.

Thriving often feels very distant from what we are readily able to gain access to. We find love in the small spaces we’ve carved and curated for ourselves, yet that love seems like the bare minimum at times. Queer Black love (whether it be platonic, romantic, intimate, etc.) is inherently a survival resource, but many of us are waiting for what’s next. Survival can often look like barely making it day to day, expecting the least amount of violence to be inflicted upon us, and engaging in intimacy with our partner in between said violence. We are often holding on to survival by a thread, and left wanting more.

I wait for the day my partner and I can find well-paying organizing jobs, less debt, stable housing, stable transportation, and less structural violence. I get through my days with my partner by hoping for the day we can thrive together rather than “just making it.” It feels like I’m suffocating all the time, so I dream about what it would feel like to breathe tomorrow.

What does revolutionary love look like when you’re both struggling to survive, struggling to heal, and struggling to live? What happens when looking at your partner is like looking in the mirror? To be with someone who hurts and carries trauma like you, and hides pain under smiles like you is the most powerful and heartbreaking thing in the world. Understanding that white supremacy has harmed us to the point that engaging with a partner’s paralleled pain feels more challenging than lying in bed with your oppressor, drains you of buoyancy. How can we stay afloat when unearthing our pain in partnership feels like drowning?

To embark upon this love is always more than just surviving. In wanting and needing transformative, revolutionary Black love, I want and need to thrive in real time. Thriving can seem like we’re asking for too much when finding someone who echoes your suffering also seems impossible. But in realizing this, I’ve challenged myself to think beyond ideas of impossibility that white supremacist capitalism has limited us to. We were never meant to survive. So being here, right now, is revolutionary. Finding someone to love who is struggling the same way you’re struggling is revolutionary. And this revolutionary act of loving is not just survival. It’s thriving, and that’s powerful.

How We Create Transformative Love

Pushing yourself and someone you love to grow and transform means you’re both shaping new worlds of emotional and mental justice. We are creators of the most important thing for human sustainability: transformative, accountable love. We hold each other responsible for the pain we inflict and the pain we project. We hold each other close despite the violent barriers in the way of our love, affection, and intimacy. We transform our understanding, our desires, and our abilities to show up for each other just by communicating what we’ve been taught to keep hidden. We engage, we analyze, we unlearn, we digest, we grow. We continue to evolve together, individually and collectively. Thriving sometimes feels far away because our proximity to liberation shifts every time our pain suffocates us. But even at our worst mental health state or most emotionally charged argument, we have access to some form of thriving.

Today, I laughed with my partner after a week of drifting apart towards our own individual trauma. Our laughter is thriving. It’s not enough to solely sustain health of our relationship, but those moments matter for our own survival and for the survival of our love. As hard as it is, we must challenge ourselves to value the thriving we have access to. It will vary and fluctuate. It can be limited. It may be sparingly or seldom. But those moments and tools exist somewhere. Sometimes thriving like spending your last $5 on convenience store snacks. Sometimes thriving exists in taking naps together, even if it’s only for 30 minutes in between your 9-to-5 jobs and an organizing meetings. Other times, our thriving looks like staying in our safe spaces where there’s no one to violate us. In these spaces, we can cherish each other, our time together, and our moments of flourish.

This Love Work Is Hard

In the words of Shan Davis, “This love work is hard.” It is a commitment to show up for each other. Sometimes we aren’t able to show up all the time. Sometimes we can only show up for our partners and not ourselves. Sometimes we can only be okay for our partner and ourselves when we take space from each other. It is a process of continuous transformative growth that sustains our ability to challenge systems of oppression and violence around us through the very strenuous, challenging act of revolutionary love.

It is through this act of transformative and revolutionary love, that we can unite together fully in our Blackness and queerness, and thrive.


 

Ashleigh Shackelford is a radical queer Black fat femme based in Richmond, VA. Ashleigh is a cultural producer, body positivity advocate, pop culture enthusiast, and a run-on sentence repeat offender. They are a community organizer at Black Action Now and the director of Free Figure Revolution. Find more posts at: BlackFatFemme.com. This article was also published on ForHarriet.com.

Dear Lesbian Love & Advice: I Need to Come Before My Woman’s Kids

black woman thinking

Every woman has a set of dating deal breakers. Know yours before getting involved with a woman and her children. Photo courtesy of Naked by Bria.

Dear Lesbian Love and Advice: I have tried several times to date mothers and it just hasn’t worked out for me. I have no kids so it’s hard for me because I’m used to not having to think about someone who depends on an adult. Being childless, I am selfish, at least that is what I am told. But why be angry with me because that is what I’m used to? I don’t like being last in my partner’s life.

I feel that if you invite someone to become a part of your life as your partner, be prepared to put that person and that relationship FIRST. Stop making that person wait on you while you’re busy doing 130 other things, including kids. I understand mothers have responsibilities to their kids and they must be taken care of. But I also feel it’s wrong to invite someone into your life and put them LAST. What was the point?

If you put me last, I will act out against you and your child. In my opinion, don’t bother getting in a relationship if you are really expecting that person to accept being last on your priority list because it makes no sense.

Dee’s Advice: I am a 49-year-old stud with no kids. Kids always come first. She just has to be more organized with her time. Why don’t you help her with some of her chores so she has less to do? I didn’t hear you say that you did that! I have dated a few women with kids and it was fun! I kept Friday nights as adult night and the other six days you do what needs to be done and have family time! It’s a lot of fun for me. I miss it sometimes.

The kids are all grown up and on their own now and it feels good to know that they love me and still keep in touch with me. And their memories are incredible. They remember everything I have done for them. So there is good in a family life. But as for you, don’t be in that family life. From what I am reading you are selfish and you can’t be that way when there are kids involved!

Johari’s Advice: I swear this had to be written by my ex!! I had no idea that there could be someone else in this world just as incredibly selfish and clueless! Our relationship is over and guess what? I AM STILL A MOTHER!

Monique’s Advice: I feel for you! My girlfriend has two teenagers. And if it wasn’t for the fact that I already invested 10 years with her, I would never do this again.

Regina’s Advice: I think it’s about time management. Some don’t know how. Some think spending time with their partner is taking away time from their kids. I don’t get that way of thinking. You have to make just as much time with your partner if you want the relationship to actually work.

Tomiko’s Advice: I’ve been dating my girlfriend for three years. I don’t have any kids; she has three. I never expect/expected to be put before her kids. Hell, I think about making sure they’re good before myself. I would never put my girl in that position. She wouldn’t go for it anyway.

I knew what I was getting into when we got together. I can’t love or want to be with her and not love and want to be with her kids. Those are my kids now. Their father is active and a big part of their lives, which in no way has an effect on my relationship with her. By all means do what you want.

But mothers deserve to be in loving relationships too without having to choose between her mate and kids.

 


Dear Lesbian Love and Advice  shares the most interesting questions and advice from Facebook.com/LesbianLoveAdvice. The questions and responses have been reprinted with permission.

Your New Year’s Resolution: Break Up With Your Girlfriend

TheLoveGoddess

Written by Giselle Bella

You’ve gotten to the end of the relationship and you know it. You’ve invested your time, your energy, your love and yourself into this relationship but it has not satisfied your desire. It does not fulfill your purpose. It does not meet your vision. You’ve loved each other as best as you could. You’ve disliked each other for a while but tolerated each other for the sake of the relationship. It is time to move on. It is time to call it quits without the drama of shame and hurt.

Not every relationship lasts and that's okay.

Not every relationship lasts and that’s okay.

How do you do that without further breaking her heart and compromising your boundaries?

Easy, you break up.

You don’t separate, you don’t take time off, you leave. You leave your partner and the relationship you had. You let it all go. You don’t complicate things by running into the arms of another woman, you don’t cause drama by leaving in the middle the night or without a clue.

Here are nine tips to calling quits and leaving the relationship without unresolved issues.

  1. Before you make this final decision, be sure that this is what you want.
  2. Know that you and/or her will feel sadness.
  3. Tell her how you feel and what you want. Refrain from telling her about herself and what she has or has not done. Remember, this is something you want, so explain your decision. Do it without pointing a finger (or two).
  4. Choose your words wisely. Don’t sugar coat anything but don’t be brutal. The fact that you are breaking up is bad enough for her.
  5. Communicate clearly to her that the relationship is over. This is the end. This is complete. Do not talk to her in a way that leaves room for a possible reunion. That means, let her know you are not seeking to be separated but to break up. Don’t tell her you need time and you will see from there. That is a no-no when breaking up. You’ve given this much thought and you are content with ending the relationship. End it there.
  6. Make it direct and short. You don’t need to reminisce about your past, review your current issues and assuage what the outcome will be. Tell her your decision and remain with it.
  7. Be prepared that this may not be what she wants. She may attempt everything to get you to give it another shot. The way you show up and the energy you bring will steer where she may go with it. When you notice she is trying to get you to stay, stop arguing with her, pointing out her behavior and blaming her.
  8. Know that it is not your position to comfort her and validate her feelings. Allow her to deal with her loss without you. You deal with your loss without her. If you console each other, you will only cause confusion.
  9. Set your boundaries and respect them.

Breaking up is never quite easy, but once you’ve given it thought and have come to that end of the road, you must see it through. Just remember that you once loved this person enough to build on a life together. Therefore, treat her as if you once loved her and let her go respectfully. I know you may say, that this does not apply to you because she wouldn’t give you the same courtesy, but keep in mind that cosmic karma is real.

Before things get worse, break things off when you know it is what’s best. Let go of all relationships that do not serve you and begin to love yourself. See what happens from there.


Giselle “Gia” Bella is a 30-something woman living in Baltimore. As The Love Goddess for Black Lesbian Love Lab, she happily shares her ideas for finding and keeping your lady love. She has published several books, including Gietic: Erotic Poems/Kinky Love Stories and Gietic II: Love and Loss

What Every Black Femme Fears When Dating a Black Butch

Written by Zamara Perri

Loving a woman who presents as a butch can be so difficult. Photo by yngcreoleking. Model: brklynbreed

Loving a woman who presents as a butch can be so difficult. Photo by yngcreoleking. Model: brklynbreed

There was a reason why it took me years to get around to dating a butch. I told myself that I just wasn’t ready to be out. That is partially true. The real reason? I just wasn’t ready to live in a world where my butch partner would be threatened every time we walked down the street hand in hand. This is something I never had to worry about with my femme partners.

There are privileges that I get from being a femme and being with a femme. For example, my car has broken down on the side of the road several times and I have never had to wave anyone down. I’ve simply had men change my tires and all I had to do was bat my eyelashes and smile and be friendly. A butch woman cannot depend on the kindness of heterosexual, male strangers.

Plus, two femmes together is a sexual fantasy for most straight men and they often imagine that they can join in.

 

#BlackButchLivesMatter

The #BlackLivesMatter movement has shed a much needed light on how brutal and unsafe life in America is for black men, black trans women and of course black cis women. However, I believe black butches face equal, if not a higher risk of dangerous encounters than black cis men. They need a hashtag too!

Just by living in their truth black butch women (black studs, black doms, black tomobois, black masculine of center women or whatever label you want to use) risk being victimized by some insecure heterosexist male asshole who sees her as a threat to his own masculinity.

One of the most dangerous thing to do in in front of a heterosexist man is to be an openly stud-femme couple. Men like these tie their manhood to subjugating women and collecting women’s affection like trophies. Because black lesbians are not interested in doing either, our relationships challenge their notion that they are God’s gift to women.

 

The Justice System Can’t Save Us

And to add insult to injury, you can’t even rely on police or the justice system to prosecute wrongdoers or protect us from harm.

I constantly worry about the safety of my 5’2”-145-pound partner who is a tomboi type. She wears hoodies and sweatpants regularly and is the sweetest person. But the insecure heterosexist, homophobic men who see her coming don’t know that and don’t need to know that.

Over and over again, my heart breaks as I watch men either disregard her or get super aggressive with her. I worry if she get’s home later than usual and she doesn’t check in en route. Because she’s a martial artist with a black belt, I don’t worry as much, but I still worry.

 

Our Experience With a Racist Homopobe

Femme women who have butch partners must understand how to support her woman. Photo by yngcreoleking. Model: brklynbreed

Femme women who have butch partners must understand how to support her woman. Photo by yngcreoleking. Model: brklynbreed

The double whammy is the white racist who is enraged by our pride, confidence and very comfortable existence in spaces that they think belongs only to them.

Just a week ago we were driving around the neighborhood where my partner started a new job. We were seated in our car, which was parked on a public street looking up some info on our iPad. This random white guy in a truck pulls up next to us and demands to know if we were soliciting. I still don’t know if he was asking us if we were prostitutes or selling Tupperware. She was sitting in the driver’s seat and responded no, that she was working. He then angrily demanded what she was doing there.

In that guy’s eyes he couldn’t imagine what legitimate reason we could possibly have for being in HIS neighborhood. In short, he was a George Zimmerman type—one of those dudes who takes it upon himself to police people who are not committing any criminal acts except the unspoken one of not belonging there.

Part of this was because we were black and I truly believe the other reason was because of how my partner presented. She was a black woman with short hair and wearing a sweatshirt so she was automatically suspicious. Even after she rolled down the window a crack, and he could tell by her voice and demeanor that she was a woman, she was still a threat.

 

Femmes, Don’t Do What I Did

She ignored him, because she was used to it, but my blood was boiling and I flipped him the bird. I’m one of those women who gets mighty protective of my partner. I really don’t care who you are and how much bigger than me or how intimidating you are, I feel like if you’re coming after my woman then you are coming after me. Is that smart? No.

But, just like black parents have had to talk to their sons about how to move through the world as black boys, so should black lesbian couples, especially couples that include at least one butch-presenting woman.

 

How to Handle Aggressive, Homophobic Men

Here are my tips on how you can handle aggressive, homophobic men who think us living our truth is a personal insult to them:

  1. Be alert when out and about. Take stock of your surroundings. While you might want to engage in some PDA with your honey, timing is everything.
  2. Go back in the closet even for a short while. If you’re not in a well-lit area with tons of witnesses, it may be better to choose your battles and get to a safe location.
  3. The cops are not your friends so don’t rely on them to do the right thing and protect you even though your tax dollars pay their bills. Stand at a safe distance and record as much on your phone as possible. And report the cop if he shows any signs of disrespect.
  4. Ignore, ignore, ignore. If a jerk tries to engage with your or your partner in a sexual or aggressive manner, don’t antagonize him by telling him his dick is too small for you, just quickly move on to your next location.
  5. Get to know your neighbors. Nosy neighbors can be a godsend when they notice you haven’t been around, when losers try to assassinate your character or when the police needs to be called.
  6. If you don’t live together, check in with your parnter once you get to your destination or your home.