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

Brenda and Kim prefer not to assign themselves any gender role. They are simply two women loving each other who prefer to wear comfortable clothes.

Brenda and Kim prefer not to assign themselves any gender role. They are simply two women loving each other who prefer to wear comfortable clothes. So naturally they wore suits for their civil union.

BL3: How do you label or describe yourself? Are you both studs/butches?

Kim: If you have to put a label on it, I’d have to say I’m not wearing a dress real soon, and one of the last times I saw Brenda in a dress was at our covenant ceremony in 1990.

Brenda: I wear the hell out of suit.

Kim: I hate make up and Brenda doesn’t wear it. I’ve definitely seen people subscribe to gender roles, but we are not those people. Never have been and never will be. I remember years ago talking to a straight friend. The biggest thing she struggled with was, whose the man? I was like there is no man. I think the question she was asking was who initiated sex and I was like whoever wants it more. A lot of couples do the butch-femme thing. It’s cool if that’s what you’re into. My experience is that its pretty damn high maintenance and I don’t want that.

Brenda: I’ve always gone for what’s been comfortable for me and comfort to me is a suit as opposed to a dress. If that’s called “butch,” then that’s what I am. I’ve never been one to imitate a heterosexual relationship because I don’t want anyone to consider me the “male” in the relationship because I’m not.

Kim: We both take out the garbage. There are some things we are better at. You find your strength and you play to those.

BL3: How do your families feel about your relationship?

Brenda: My family has always been very supportive of everything I’ve done. As far as lifestyle, there was never an issue. They went from seeing me bring guys home to girls. My parents are both deceased, now but they accepted Kim totally. My sister talks to her more than I do. There never has been any issue with my family at all. Same thing with her family toward me. My parents raised six of us. They trusted enough in us that we could figure out what we wanted to do with our lives.

Kim: Both my mother and my aunt were bisexual. I came out when I was 19. I was raised by my grandparents. It was never a conversation we had. Years later, I found out my grandmother knew and liked Brenda. Brenda has been to more family functions than you can shake a stick at. My mother is now deceased and she was always concerned that I wouldn’t find someone who could put up with my level of affection. She loved Brenda ridiculously. My aunt and Brenda were like twins in another lifetime. She has one brother who is kinda religious but still treats me with respect. Her other siblings really expect me to be one of the family. I fully realize that we are both very blessed because for so many people coming out is a traumatic and horrible experience, but it doesn’t have to be that way. I realized I was part of the family when her nieces and nephew started calling me “auntie” and they weren’t talking to her but to me.

BL3: Do you belong to a faith group? Are they affirming?

Kim: We are part of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Joliet. It’s a welcoming congregation and it’s a very unique religious entity. They don’t have a credo or a doctrine like a lot of other organizations. Our congregation is very diverse. We have recovering Catholics, agnostic, pagans, etc. It just works. The message can come from anywhere. It can be Bible-based and it can be from real life experience.

Brenda: I was raised in the Baptist church and was never quite satisfied with the whole Baptist doctrine and the idea of a vengeful God that punished us. When we saw the Unitarian church, I was curious. They were a welcoming congregation. I was looking for a way to explore my spirituality but was not looking for a new religion. I needed someplace I can go and see people like me and see people not like me and learn about other people’s religious backgrounds without looking for another religion.

BL3: What’s the secret to a long-term commitment like yours?

Brenda: The most important thing that we both agreed on since the start is don’t stress the little things. Be honest with each other and always keep open the lines of communication. I think that’s all there is. There is no secret. Something is always going to come up in relationships, so if can get past little things and deal with the big things, you can make it.

Kim: Also authenticity is important. If you’re in a relationship and pretending to be somebody you’re not, it’s gonna come out in the wash. You have to be real with each other and just love each other because life is too short. And of course mutual respect. I always think, “I don’t want to be treated this way so I’m not going treat you this way.” Embrace life, be authentic and if you love, love don’t play at it do it! If you have grandkids have fun with them.

Brenda: We also try not to live up to anybody’s else’s expectations for our relationship. We just live up to our own expectations of each other.

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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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