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Marathon Love: Kim and Brenda Haven’t Fought Once in Their 30-Year Relationship

Brenda and Kim embrace Brenda's daughter Kayla.

Brenda and Kim embrace their granddaughter, Kayla.

BL3: How did your daughter adjust to your relationship?

Brenda: My daughter was four when we met and started dating. Before we moved in together Kim would come over since she lived so far away and she would stay the night.

Kim: Have you ever slept with a kid between you? We gave her the bed and we would sleep on the sofa bed in the living room. On Saturday mornings she wanted to get up and watch cartoons in bed with mom. One morning she bounced into the room and sat on my stomach. I said, “Good morning.” She looked at me and asked, “Are you my new daddy? I said, “Oh God no.” She sat back and said, “What are you?” I said, “What do you want me to be?” She said, “I want you to be my Kimmy!” And now her and her kids call me Kimmy. She’s been around us pretty much all her life. As far as explaining it to her, we always explained to her at a level that she can understand.

BL3: Do you think your marriage is different from other couples?

Kim: We had our civil union in 2011 in Illinois. Prior to that we had a covenant ceremony in 1990. Our marriage just became fully legal in June of this year. We had two ceremonies. At our covenant ceremony in 1990, we stood in front of a minister at our favorite bar. Our friends and family were there. It was a big, catered affair and pretty awesome for 1990. In 2011 some of our friends got together, took care of the food and that was pretty awesome. That was the wedding. In that case it was just a matter of signing some papers. It rained both times. The skies opened up and all the water on the planet fell.

Brenda: Our first ceremony was special because we had all of our best friends there. Some of them were also part of the civil union ceremony. We had a really tight knit group of friends and were all together that day, which was really special. Our civil union from a couple years ago was also special because we had some of those old friends plus new friends there for us. Our friends took care of everything—the food, the decorating—things like that helps you know who your real friends are.

Kim: Having our friends stand up for us at our covenant ceremony was a really awesome feeling. I’m glad Brenda showed up. I really didn’t have any doubt that she wouldn’t but you never know. Just kidding. That day was pretty awesome because it was the 90s and we couldn’t do anything else legally, so we made our commitment to ourselves and to our world. Truth be told if it never ever became legal we would still consider ourselves married. We didn’t get married to feel complete. The commitment was made long before the thought of marriage ever came into the picture. My lifelong dream was to be with someone who loves me for me.

Brenda: All this talk about marriage being sacred between man and woman, we didn’t understand. We have been together almost 30 years, we are committed to each other. We had settled the important part before we even signed the papers. We didn’t need the papers, but there are benefits of marriage, which make things easier in terms of legal and medical issues. So while being legally married doesn’t take anything away from what we had, it doesn’t really add a lot.

BL3: So tell us about your outfits for the civil ceremony?

Kim: We looked damn good in our tuxes. You know that whole butch-femme thing? We aren’t it. I found some tuxes. Brenda wasn’t happy with it at first. It looked good on me. She didn’t believe me. It had stripes. And then she put it on.

Brenda and Kim first committed to each other in a covenant ceremony in 1990.

Brenda and Kim first committed to each other in a covenant ceremony in 1990.

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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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