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black lesbian couple celena and arnissa
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Arnissa & Celena: The Definition of ‘Ride or Die’ Love

black lesbian couple arnissa and celena

A true throwback photo of Arnissa and Celena who have been together since 1990.


If you didn’t know Arnissa Paige and Celena Dixon well, then Arnissa’s message on her Facebook page to her partner on June 15, 2016 simply heartwarming and routine:

“Happy 27th anniversary to my awesome partner, my soulmate, my best friend, my now and forever number 1 love of my life–Celena Dixon! God has truly blessed my life with the gift of you.

Our amazing friendship has blossomed into an unbreakable, loving, committed, faithful, respect-filled and amazing relationship that has withstood the tests of time.

… I know we’ll be together forever and I am truly looking forward to growing old with you, the love of my life.”


The lovebirds met in high school because they both played basketball. They became friends after bumping into each other at a football game. Arnissa was dating someone at the time, so their relationship was strictly platonic.


They eventually became much more than friends. Celena shares, “We were committed off the top. I bought us commitment rings in 1990 when we first got together.”


Standing The Tests of Time

black lesbian couple celena and arnissa

Arnissa and Celena were together 11 years when Celena’s health challenges began.


About 11 to 12 years into their relationship, Arnissa and Celena’s love was repeatedly tested.

In 2000 Celena went into the hospital to have a routine hysterectomy. About 10 minutes before surgery, she had a cerebral hemorrhage or what you would call a stroke. She woke up in the ICU.


Within hours, paralysis settled in on her entire left side. Her vision blurred and her face twisted. The doctors advised that she be put in hospice in a vegetative state.


It seemed like the logical thing to do. At that time Arnissa, who had been her partner, soulmate and best friend of 11 years, told them, “You must not know the God we serve!”


Celena recalled, “She refused to give up on me.”


“I did in-house rehabilitation for three or four weeks and ended up walking out of that hospital,” Celena said. “I had to learn to count, spell, write, etc. I couldn’t even remember how to tie my shoes. I continued rehab for a year before going back to work.”


More Health Challenges

black lesbian couple celena and arnissa

Celena and Arnissa find time to enjoy each other despite challenges.


Celena ended up having the hysterectomy in 2001 and was also was diagnosed with Lupus and idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (which prevents her blood from clotting)–both are incurable autoimmune diseases.

Then in 2003 she was diagnosed with prednisone-induced Avascular Necrosis (AVN), which means “bone death” and diminished blood flow in the femur resulting in the breakdown of cartilage in the hip bone and bone-on-bone grinding.


“Just thinking about that level of pain makes me shiver,” Celena said. Because of the AVN, she had to have both of her hips replaced in 2004.

When asked how she was able to deal with so much as one person, Celena did not hesitate or stutter.

“Arnissa’s UNCONDITIONAL love for me got us through and continues to get us through my rough times,” she said. “I love how caring and compassionate we are with each other. We are  best friends.”


She Is The Answer to My Prayers

black lesbian couple celena and arnissa

Celena and Arnissa’s faith and friendship has remained strong over the years.


For Arnissa, even when things got tough, leaving was never an option. “I have been in love with Celena from the moment our friendship began, which intensified greatly when our relationship blossomed. Our open, honest and transparent  friendship laid the foundation first,” Arnissa shared.


“Because of the unconditional love I have for her, there was never a question in my mind that I had to stand by her, support her, take care of her and love her in the midst of her health storm.


I truly believe that God put us together as soul mates who are predestined for each other. She was the ‘someone’ I prayed for and God answered my prayers!”


“I stayed by her side because it was never a thought to leave or turn my back on true love.”~Arnissa


The Next Chapter

Arnissa notes that while Celena “continues to live with the daily health challenges of Lupus and ITP, I was put here to love her unconditionally as she unconditionally loves me!”


And for Celena she is grateful. Her face shows no sign of twisting from the stroke. She has no limp from the hip replacements. The paralysis on her left side is in the past.


“My mind is sharper than it ever was. I feel I am a ‘chosen’ one of sorts. I mean, I don’t think the average person could endure ALL this stuff yet still maintain a positive, loving outlook on life. I’m blessed to be here.”

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Article written by:

Zamara Perri

Zamara Perri is the founder and editor of the Black Lesbian Love Lab blog. She loves black love and loves mangoes, cats, reading, cooking and writing about some of the challenges and joys of black lesbian relationships.

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