The Courage to Live Truth & Love

Post by Darnita L Howard for the Love for Love series.


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The Courage to Live Truth and Love

This is the story of a girl. A story of a girl who fell in love with another girl. It was the first year of college for the both of them at an all women’s college and a United Methodist-based one at that. This is a story of love, heartbreak, more love, struggle, and love still in the midst of it all. This is my story. I fell in love with my best friend. We met in the dorm with a simple hello and other non-important dialogue. But that moment sparked a life more than I could ever have imagined.

After a couple of years in school, we both confessed that our affections for one another were beyond the friend level. We were to be as one. To the world, unaware of our affections, we were simply best friends. It was a time of fear; fear of ridicule, fear of being judged harshly by peers, administrators, family, and strangers. We had been a witness to others that had been tormented by ex-friends because of sexuality. We were considered good girls so how could we make such a crazy decision to be out? That’s what I thought at the time. Through the secrecy, our love continued to bloom. There were trips to each other’s hometown, talks of moving in together (which actually happened but with the inclusion of our other friends as roommates), discussion of how to move forward geographically and relationship wise. Even after graduation, we ran with the lie and I felt shame for it. To the world, we were “best friends” but to me she was something more.

I knew she was my soulmate. We were destined to be together. Even if we couldn’t legally marry, we considered other options. The crazy ideas even went as far as considering to have one of us live in the same house if the other got married to a guy. Oh the horrendous stupidity of that has me shaking my head. However, that’s how far we were willing to go to maintain our relationship in the closet. The biggest issue with that was that neither of us were truly happy living in such a way. Can you imagine all of the times we were asked about boyfriends or friends and parents wanting to fix us up with a guy? Neither of us were interested and I certainly wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, “I am gay! And Tamara is my girlfriend!” Being in the closet sucked. This banter continued for many years, but then something magical happened.

The universe conspired for us to slide easily out of the closet. A series of events happened which now makes this the best love story ever (well at least in my book it does). My love and I worked at our alma mater and were offered the chance to be advisors to the gay-straight alliance on campus. We had been supportive of the organization by attending events and simply offering support to the students. Though there were hints of curiosity surrounding the campus about our relationship, there wasn’t a declaration of the truth. Then we, the gay-straight alliance, attended a conference hosted by the Human Rights Campaign that was all about speaking our truth. I was able to lobby on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC (my hometown) on equality for all. In the heat of one session, I exclaimed how offended I was to not have rights. Yep, the cat had been let out the bag. Score! By the end of the conference, our students knew the truth of our sexuality and relationship. That was a relief. Someone aside from us knew. Someone else knew we were lesbians and a couple. “Freedom is almost here”, so I thought.

Without going into specifics, the reveal of our relationship to our mothers didn’t have such a positive outcome. There were arguments, periods of non-communication, anger, resentment, and pain. While strain was placed on the relationships with our parents, it was liberating for us. Weights had been lifted off our hearts and we were beginning to show others how much we loved each other. This came in the form of blogging. We began blogs about our lives in the LGBT community. We were finalists for a Freedom to Marry bloggers competition. We were even featured in an LGBT newspaper about the competition. It was all wonderful. We built connections. It was beautiful.

Fast forward to 2011 and my love and I have our first ceremony in Washington, DC, the place where we first confessed our truth to others. How about something being brought full circle. The ceremony was beautiful and we were surrounded by people that loved us and respected who we were. Sadly, neither of our mothers were there for different reasons stated on the surface, though we knew the truth. It was still difficult to accept that this was serious and not just flighty actions of little girls. Though this may not have been anything our parents envisioned for us, it was destined to happen. Slowly but surely, the lines of communication have opened and our relationships with our parents are improving with each baby step. Thank goodness.

Magnificently, the bond between my love and I has even strengthened. We have started a new story. This is now a story of two beautiful, brilliant, bold, and compassionate women who claim love and truth. These two women live in Washington where Referendum 74 was supported and voted in the last election. In December 2012, these two women committed to each other once again and were legally married and had a shotgun wedding. They were joined by new friends and laughter. This is my story. This is my love’s story. We are out and proud. People know who we are and who we are to one another. And we glow more and more because of it. Our souls reflect light and joy off of one another. We grow together. We support each other fully and we embrace challenges as one solid unit. That is love. It has always been love. Love has always been the foundation for everything that we do and how we live in the world. We give love. We receive love. We express love. We are love.

Darnita L Howard is a soul works artist, photographer & textile designer. Her art explores spirituality and the oneness that is all. Each piece represents interpretations of life forces, creation, beauty, and wonderment. A native of Washington, DC she currently resides with her wife in Washington state. You can learn more about Darnita’s art from her blog at DarnitaLHoward.com

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