BL3: You guys got engaged in May. How did it go?
Beth: We went on a last-minute weekend getaway to Philadelphia over Memorial Day weekend. We walked through the famous Love Park and there was a line of people waiting to take pictures under the statue. I asked if she wanted to go take a cheesy picture, but she said she was too shy for all those people to watch. We left the park and went to the “gayborhood” area of the city for dinner and drinks.
BL3: I see that you guys eventually took a picture in the Love Park. How did that happen?
Beth: On our walk back to the hotel, we stopped at the park again and went near the statue, hovering and looking probably like some awkward 14-year-olds, hesitating to ask someone to take our picture. This classic, long-haired, dashiki-wearing hippy came over and said, “Do you want a picture under the statue?” We said thank you and waited for our turn. He asked if we were lovers and that made me laugh as I answered, “If that’s what you call it.” We posed for our pictures and went to sit by the fountain in the park. I got all pensive and started talking about how crazy it was that we were there, together, in Philly for the weekend from our home together in Brooklyn, and where life had taken us.
BL3: Was there an actual proposal?
Beth: I was struggling to make my point and she said, “I think I know what you mean … maybe I can help you.” She then began playing our song on her phone and set it in my lap, took out a piece of paper, and started reading. I could tell she was so nervous and I was caught by such surprise that I was barely listening to what she was actually saying. I just kept thinking, “What is happening? What is she doing?” When she finished and pulled a ring out of her pocket and asked me to marry her, I just said, “yes” and “oh my god” over and over. I went to kiss her and she gave me her forehead instead of her lips. Lol. I told her, “No! You just proposed to me, you kiss me!” I think we were both hilariously awkward, but I love the story. I got her a ring a couple of weeks later; I wanted her to have that same physical symbol, even though she is not at all the kind of woman who needs that sort of stuff.
BL3: How do your parents feel about you being gay?
Myeshia: I ended up coming out to [my parents] when I got in a more committed relationship. I will give them the credit they deserve and say that they are supportive in some ways. But interestingly, not supportive in other ways. On the one hand, they ask about my partner, they say we are great for each other, my mom says “love ya’ll,” but we never feel 100% accepted. They are not coming to my wedding and told me as soon as I told them we were engaged, literally … like as soon as I told my mother. It was really disheartening. I am sure my brother, who is married to a man, will try to make it, but other than that, my immediately family won’t be there.
Beth: My family is extremely supportive. One of my two older brothers is gay as well, and my parents have pretty much always been great about it (with the exception of the first few months after I came out when I was 17). They think of/treat Myeshia as their daughter in law and seem to be very proud of us as a couple. They are upfront with everyone about our relationship and I couldn’t ask for more love and support from them for her and I. All of the extended family that I have any contact with (it’s a large family) has been supportive and welcoming to Myeshia as well.
BL3: How important is it to you that queer relationships are validated?
Myeshia: As I mentioned, my parents do not always validate my relationship. For example, they call us “friends” and did not give my partner a stocking for Christmas (when the brother of my cousin’s wife got one). The wedding is the icing on the cake. The worse part is that [my parents] live in a world where they expect everything to remain the same with me and them after refusing to be there at one of the most important days of my life. I know that I have to protect my mental health and wellbeing and that of my future family’s; therefore, if people are not going to validate our relationship, even if it is family, I am going to have to avoid anything that is detrimental or non-validating. I’ve done everything right; I was 29 years old with a PhD and I moved to NYC for a professorship straight out of my program, but just because I’m marrying a woman, my parents are risking our relationship.
Beth: Marriage is very important to me. It has always just been part of the plan for me, before I came out to myself and after. Even before same-sex marriage started being legalized, I knew I wanted to have a ceremony anyway, even if it was just for myself, my partner, and my family and friends. It is also very important to me that same-sex relationships are validated. It’s funny to me when people say, “lifestyle” talking about out relationship. I think, “What lifestyle? You mean how an average evening consists of us sitting on the couch and watching Netflix, bullshitting and talking nonsense to each other?” So yeah, I think same-sex relationships should be validated equally.
BL3: Have you ever gotten any flack for being in an interracial relationship?
Myeshia: I have had an acquaintance from undergrad tell me that she thought I am not attracted to Black people. Of course, she didn’t ASK. I was living in Wisconsin; Wisconsin is 80% White, the odds of me finding a White partner were pretty high. Furthermore, I dated two Black women before her. It has nothing to do with a lack of attraction, but everything to do with who I fell in love with. I feel as though people assume that I am disconnected from my Blackness because I am with her. The reality is, we have deep discussions about race/ethnicity and what it is like to be Black in America and the messages we will have to send our future Black children, because even if they are biracial, the world will see them as Black. We talk about hair; we talk about politics; we talk about history; we talk about family dynamics; we have heated discussions about privilege and assumption.
Beth: I really have not had any issues with anyone about dating a black woman. It seems to me that if people are going to focus on something and be angry about our relationship, it’s going to be about our gender and not our race. Even that doesn’t really happen. I’ve pretty much only experienced acceptance of our relationship. If anyone does have a problem with it, they haven’t mentioned it to me and have done a good job hiding it.