Makeisha and Brigette: Why We Eloped

Written by Makeisha Copeland-Johnson

Brigette lifts her new wife in her arms.

Brigette lifts her new wife in her arms.

We actually met online (through Plenty of Fish), and we’ve been together just shy of two years. (That’s not long I know but when something is right, time doesn’t have a say in the matter). Our personalities really complement each other’s. Brigette’s more carefree and relaxed, where I’m more particular and organized. We got married one month after she asked me.

We decided to take a train to Chicago (about 4 hours from where we live in Michigan), and eloped not only because it’s such a beautiful city, but also because same-sex marriage is legal there. Getting that piece of paper that most hetero couples take for granted was so important to me. We got married Saturday, May 17, 2014. We chose that day because we didn’t want to wait any longer to start our lives together.

We live in Michigan (with my 4-year-old son, Tye, who we raise together) but got married at city hall in Chicago just the two of us. Even though we decided to elope, we wanted to keep some traditions intact. I wore a white dress (not a typical wedding dress but white nonetheless). We also got wedding rings to exchange at the ceremony. Since no one but our mothers even knew we were engaged, we hired a local photographer to capture us on the most important day in our relationship. (We did send out announcements to all of our family and friends).

We wanted a simple ceremony just the two of us so our focus would be 100 percent on one another. Although we didn’t write our own vows, every word the judge had us repeat I meant with my whole heart. It was so surreal knowing that after saying those few simple words, we would no longer be two individuals but now one team. It was absolutely perfect! We didn’t have a reception afterward, so we hopped on a plane and went to Las Vegas to continue celebrating!

Click on the gallery below to scroll through photos of our wedding day!

When I Traded in My Girlfriend for a Wife

Kate Davis (right) is proud to call the woman she married, four years ago, her wife.

Kate Davis (right) is proud to call the woman she married, four years ago, her wife.

Can lesbians have wives? Can lesbians be wives? Isn’t the term “wife” smack of ownership, oppression and heteronormativity? Considering how non-traditional lesbian unions are, the term wife may give some people pause. Six months after marrying her longterm partner in a church ceremony, Kate Davis was still struggling with this word. In a piece for Tue Night, she explains the struggle:

“Wife is such a loaded word for lesbians. When I married my girlfriend, it took at least six months before I could call her wife. I’d skate around the issue; she was my partner, my spouse, my lover. All of those words seemed more appropriate than wife. Wife comes with ownership — baggage neither of us could carry.

… The word “wife” reeks of subjugation and roles we couldn’t play. We are partners in almost every sense of the word. We are eldest daughters; no one is going to tell us what to do, think or be. The concept was contrary to who are.”

And so Davis and her wife decided that for them, the word “wife” did not have to be tied to old ideas.

Click here to read Davis’ entire piece.

 

 

She was Dumping Someone When They Met, Soon After They Started a Magazine and a Life Together

Tracey and Renisha co-founded two magazines.

Tracey and Renisha co-founded two magazines.

I met Renisha and Tracey last month at the Say I DO LGBT marriage expo in Washington, D.C. This couple founded Same Sex Life Magazine and Barcode Magazine. I was impressed by their business and personal partnership and thought I would check in with them to find out how they manage to make it all work:

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

Tracey: I met Renisha in the neighborhood I grew up in. She was on the phone. I was eavesdropping and learned she was dumping somebody. I put my number on a paper and threw it in her truck. Lol. I just hoped she would call me back.

BL3: How long have you been together? 

Tracey: Renisha says, six years, I say, five. We’re still in debate on that one. Six months into dating, we still hadn’t had sex so that first year is up for grabs.

Renisha: We’ve been together for six years! Tracey was still playing in the streets and she doesn’t want to count those months, so I’ll give her that.

BL3: What intrigued you about each other? 

Tracey: Her body, attitude and her hustler’s ambition attracted me to her. After that it was the way we had fun together. I like challenges and she definitely challenges me … daily.

Renisha: Tracey is very intelligent, and I love the fact [that] she can handle a bullheaded person like myself.

BL3: Did you always know you liked girls?

Tracey: I’ve liked girls since I knew what sex was. I knew I wanted women. Don’t ask me how but at age 11, I knew I was gay. It was just in me.

Renisha: For me, I knew at an early age as well. It took me a while to share with family and friends. I had relationships with girls but wouldn’t allow them to share it with anyone. I didn’t know what to expect from my family even though they never gave me any sign they wouldn’t approve. My family was heavy into church and I was raised hearing that “you’re going to hell.” I tried living the way I thought was right, but I stopped hiding once I met someone I wanted to share the rest of my life with, someone that made me feel comfortable in my own skin, that I knew I was safe with, that my heart was safe with.

BL3: How do you feel about being “out”? How important is that to your relationship?

Tracey: Being out doesn’t impact my relationship. I’m happy with who I am. I don’t care if people don’t like me. I’m not into pleasing [them]. I have a wife to worry about pleasing.

Renisha: Out is freedom but it doesn’t impact our relationship at all. We are here for each other.

BL3: When did you get married? What made it memorable?
Renisha: We got legally married March 24, 2012 at a courthouse in Vermont.We haven’t had our big wedding day yet. Hopefully we will be planning soon for all our family and friends to share that moment with us. What made getting married memorable for us was us! We love each other, we are great friends and no one can change that.

BL3: But, you live in Michigan where gay marriage is not legal. How does that impact your lives together?

Renisha: People need to understand that Michigan is the state we live in, it does not make us or our relationship. It’s like being self employed, you have to invest in your future. You have to be very disciplined from paying taxes to saving for retirement. It’s the same with our marriage, if we want to make us work, we simply make it work. We are here for each other. We both have benefits within ourselves. It’s legal enough for us, our love made it legal in Michigan.

Army Brats Meet in Middle School, Fall in Love Seven Years Later

Vanessa & Jasmine 2

I came across Vanessa and Jasmine’s story on the American Military Partner Association. The two, who met in middle school and met up again seven years later,  were married on January 17, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Both are Army brats who have lived in many different places. Vanessa is a patient care coordinator at a local dermatology in Fayetteville, N.C., and Jasmine is an Army Staff Sergeant, Geospatial Engineer (12Y).

READ MORE ABOUT THEIR STORY HERE. 

 

 

“We are not a Novelty Anymore,” Says Fashion Guru

Audrey Smaltz and Gail Marquis

We first met Audrey Smaltz, an olympic champion and and Gail Marquis, a former model and fashion editor, in 2011 when they appeared in the documentary film, “The Devotion Project.” After 12 years together, the couple got married on November 11, 2011. “The day was perfect!” Audrey said when talking about their wedding day in the film. “When you finally got out of the car and walked across Central Park West, Oh my God, you were so gorgeous in that yellow jacket!”

Today, in celebration of the first anniversary of the Supreme Court striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), MSNBC shared an interview with the couple. Audrey said that she has noticed a general shift in attitude after DOMA was struck down. “We’re not a novelty anymore,” she said. Gail agreed, “Someone that you know is gay and you like them and it’s alright! Big deal!” READ THE FULL INTERVIEW ON MSNBC.

From Friends to Life Partners Without Missing a Beat

Story by Alicia Underlee Nelson

Yvonne and Nina make their home in Durham, N.C.

Yvonne and Nina make their home in Durham, N.C.

Yvonne and Nina Ricci, who have been together for 15 years, tell their story in the June issue of 10 Thousand Couples eMagazine. Their first meeting could have been awkward, since Yvonne was technically on a date when they ran into each other at a house party in Durham, North Carolina in October of 1999. Yvonne and her “date” (who was actually a friend that Yvonne was with as part of a dating game contest) sat and chatted with Nina throughout the evening. “We connected as friends,” says Nina. “From that point, we eventually became good friends, from good friends to lovers and from lovers to life partners.” Fifteen years later, Nina says, “We are each other’s best friend, so we really enjoy being together and talking about everything from our favorite realty television shows to politics to religion.” An evening at home for the Riccis might involve a fiercely competitive game night, time decompressing with a book or computer games for Nina, one of Yvonne’s favorite sci-fi or action movies or a walk with Chica, their blue pitbull. Click here to read more at 10,000 Couples eMagazine.

 

Playing House

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One of the things I’d like to do on this blog is not only share my personal experiences of trying to find and keep a loving, healthy, black, woman-centered relationship, but also share and dissect some of the ideas that have made a profound impact on my life. One of the concepts that I think about often is the idea of the nuclear family. All my life, mass media has told me that the ingredients for building a happy, healthy family involved a woman, a man, a church, a mortgage, a minivan and children. Oh and this perfect family model was generally white. This model was certainly prevalent in my neck of the woods in suburban Maryland. On my mother’s side of the family, everybody had done what they were supposed to do: get married and produced the requisite heirs to their middle-class fortunes (i.e. 401ks). On my dad’s side, people didn’t get married. They shacked up for like 20 years while the man had multiple children with multiple women. Some would call the primary relationships common-law marriages. I just called it my norm.

U-hauls or How Lesbians Created a Cottage Industry

Until the marriage equality movement started sweeping the nation, queers like us couldn’t legally marry. Some had ceremonial commitments or civil unions. Desperate to create some semblance of familial commitment, others of us partook in the lesbian u-haul syndrome. We all joke about it but many of us have experienced it in one way or another. The scenario goes a little something like this: two lesbians meet, have an instant connection, immediately get booed up, start spending every free moment together and within months, if not days, they have moved in together. I talked to a friend about this the other day and in her last relationship, her girl just moved in on the sneak tip. They didn’t talk about it or plan it. The girl lived with her mother and when they spent time together at my friend’s house, it just didn’t make sense to go home and then come right over again the next day. Continue reading

Love and Marriage Goes Together Like

One of the reasons I started this blog was to place a spotlight on women of color in love. I’ve always been inspired by love. I believe that when two people are able to accept and love each other, it is a reason for celebration. Their love is one more way of creating light in a world where so many things are wrong. Equally Wed‘s documentation of this couple’s beautiful wedding day certainly put a smile on my face. Five years after first meeting on MySpace, the couple tied the knot in Long Island, N.Y. Congratulations to Gracie and Rosanna! See more pics and read their story at EquallyWed.com.

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Do you have a wedding story to share? Tell us all about it. Contact us below.