...when love comes right on time
For many womxn, coming to terms with their sexuality or even identifying their same sex attraction to other womxn doesn’t come until later in life. Especially those of us who grew up not seeing or even being exposed to same sex couples. Or, whose background and familial dynamics are deeply rooted in an old school Christian beliefs and culture that leaves no space for, or understanding of, queerness. And with that stalled realization comes a lot of uncomfortable conversations with those close to you, and a lot of unlearning of the life you have been living since birth, or at least the life you have been living since you could understand what attraction to another person meant.
When Asia and Ashley met four years ago on a girl’s trip, both identified as heterosexual and both were married. And having married their respective ex-spouses at a very young age, neither had experienced or even fully considered a life where loving another womxn was an option. Well, until, post-divorce and after much consideration, Ashley slide in Asia’s dms letting her know she was both into womxn and interested in her. Now, a year later, Ashley, Asia and their daughter Taylor, have started a new life together, one where they love one another freely and without fear.
Watch parts of LBH’s conversation of love with Ashley and Asia above or read it in full below where they talk with LBH about coming out as bisexual life, exploring their sexuality together and building a life with one another.
How did you all meet and how long have you all been together?
Ashley: We officially met about four years ago at a bachelorette trip, [and] at that time we were both married, so we were just there for a girl’s trip. And then about two years later, we linked back up [and] our marital statuses had changed at that point and I jumped into Asia's DMs. Started out just being friends, because at that time I didn't even know if Asia even liked girls. And then here we are--April 8th will be our one-year anniversary.
Did you guys feel like it was love at first sight or better yet, second sight?
Ashley: Well, not really. I thought Asia was attractive in general, but I think because we both were kind of in that wife role, nobody saw each other in that manner. But then of course, once our statuses changed things started to progress from there.
Asia: I think for me, when she jumped in my DM, I didn't know what to think because it's a girl. I never talked to a girl, was never interested in a girl, but it was something about her that made me want to take the chance. I don't know what it was. I was like, well, give me time to think about it, and then I started looking at her pictures and then I was like, okay, she's cute, let's just see where it goes. And now we are here.
Did your attraction to womxn begin two years ago? Or are these feelings you all have had for a while but just never acknowledged?
Ashley: I think for me it was something that I kind of noticed back in my teenage years. But, something [that is] similar between Asia and I, [is that] we both got with our ex-husbands at a very young age. I started dating my ex-husband at about 18, 19 years old, [and] I think Asia was probably around that same age. So, I never really got a chance to experience anything outside of that, or even dive into that world.
Asia: For me, no, it was her, it was all her. I never had an inkling [about liking another womxn]. I have a twin sister and she's gay, so she’s always been the one that everybody knew was gay. But when I came out, it was just because of her (Ashley). It was something about her that made me, I guess, like girls, a girl.
"I didn't know I was next to somebody that was going to change my life in a couple of years. So, to finally be with her and to know her love, I couldn't imagine being without her."
I understand this is both of you guys’ first lesbian relationship. Do you all now identify as gay? And how has the experience of coming out later in life been for both of you?
Asia: I don't think we identify as gay; I think we're bisexual. I think we like what we like. But as far as coming out for me [to] my family, we do have gay people in my family. So for me, they were more welcoming. They just wanted to know who she was [and] what made her so special to make me want to like a girl. They were just looking for me to be happy at that point, whatever that meant for me.
Ashley: I took on the brunt of the coming out experience. My experience wasn't as easy as Asia's, [and] I am still going through trials and struggles with it. Both my mother and father's sides of the family are very religious [and] very conservative. Your Southern Baptist [and] your AME, we do not have gay people in our family, if it was, it's secretive, nobody knows. So for me to come out, it has been difficult and it's something that I still deal with to this day. Luckily, I have a few family members that support me, and then of course, with Asia and my daughter by my side it's been helpful. But it hasn't been easy at all.
At what moment did you all decide that you wanted to date another womxn regardless of outside opinions?
Asia: I think for me, it took me a minute to even DM her back, and then I was like, okay, I'm being rude, let me DM her back. [And then within the] hour I [had] DM her back and I was like, sure, let's see where it goes. I have a more “I don't give a fuck mentality.” I lost my mom going on two years now, so for me, I just want to be happy and whatever that means to find happiness. For me, she makes me happy, so it doesn't matter what anybody really I had to say.
Ashley: I'm probably the opposite, I care a lot, I do. And it was tough because I knew the battle that I was going to face in the future, especially when it comes to my family. My family is really family oriented, so that fear really was there. But then I realized that I have to live for myself, I have to be happy for myself. And then having a partner like Asia, seeing her being so fearless helped me, and it continues to help me every day.
Ashley, do you feel like your family being so religious stopped you from coming out as bisexual earlier?
Ashley: Absolutely. I've always been what people call a “people pleaser” and followed the rules. I've never strayed away from what society traditionally classified as a life. Where you meet your mates [in a] traditional heterosexual [way], you go to college, you get a degree, you get married, you have a child, you have the house and the white picket fence--that was, my life. So, I think a lot of the idea came from how I was brought up and just not seeing the alternative.
What do you all feel like the differences are navigating through life as a lesbian couple compared to when you all were in heterosexual relationships?
Asia: It's totally different and not even in a bad way. I would say, I just have to learn that she is a womxn. Guys [are] more independent, they don't need all that attention. And, womxn, we are needy. She doesn't like that term, but I think it's okay to be needy. I feel like in a relationship, it's okay to let your partner know that you need them. So if you say that I'm needy, that's fine because I need you. So, for me, I noticed that she just needs a little bit more attention than I would probably give a guy. Other than that, I think because she is a womxn that she knows how to love me, like I know how to love her. I know what she needs, because I know what I [would] want, and I think that's what makes it a little bit easier than probably a heterosexual relationship.
Ashley: I think she nailed it. [But,] I [do]think the other difficult part is also [the] roles that you play. With heterosexual relationships, those roles have been created by society. Those boxes have been put there. You kind of follow those guidelines and you make tweaks it here and there, but it's there. So, I think with us, [we] are trying to find our strengths and that's what we roll on.
Have you felt any judgment from your surrounding communities (heterosexual and queer) for being two feminine presenting womxn in a relationship?
Asia: For me, not as much as Ashley. My friends have been supportive. They're just more shocked more than anything. But they're very accepting and love. My family is very open. They love her, love her daughter, [and] they accept her--which is great.
Ashley: Yeah, and as far as, you know, being a fem on fem, I don't think we've seen any judgment in regards to that. I think the only thing that we deal with a lot when we go out is the guys not taking our courtship serious. Sometimes it can get quite disrespectful. Usually we like to go out with groups or even with some of our guy friends just so we don't have to deal with that.
"We take every day, day by day, but every day waking up to her is like a ray of sunshine. It's something that I can't live without, I really can't."
How did you all come to the decision to move in together after less than a year of dating? Was it an easy one?
Asia: It wasn't the easiest decision, but it was an easy decision. I can speak for both of us when I say that we are both very independent, so that was a hurdle. I was finally on my own. I [had] never lived on my own before, so, I was just getting used to being Asia and figuring out who Asia was. But once my lease was about to be up, she asked me if I could make her house a home. And when she would talk about looking for a place, it was always “our place." She always tried to make it seem like it was for us and that she wanted me there. I felt like if it didn't work, it didn't work, but I wanted to try. So it wasn't a hardest decision, but it wasn't the easiest--it was taking a chance.
What about your daughter Taylor, how did you all introduce this new relationship to her?
Ashley: I took the approach myself. Me and Taylor have what we call these honest moments. Where I encourage her to be as honest as possible, [and where] I'm going to be as honest as possible. And when I approached her, of course she knew about her dad and I divorcing. Her dad and I, we [have] built a great connection as far as co-parenting. And that was our biggest thing, to make sure that Taylor doesn't lack anything. Whether it's love or just our presence in general. So when I had that one-on-one conversation with her, it was eye opening and it was a real conversation. I took the approach of: what I've learned over the years is that you have to be happy and you have to make some tough choices, and sometimes those choices go against the grain of what society says. I told her that with me, I love no matter what gender, [and] because of that, I have fell in love with Ms. Asia. She been a trooper, she loves Asia. They're like, two little best friends. It was really important for me to make sure that she felt comfortable, that she didn't have any questions, and that she understood that no matter what she [was] still my number one.
Asia, how did you transition into coming into this family dynamic that was already established?
Asia: It wasn't the hardest thing because of course quarantine came and we started spending a lot more time together. I just try to incorporate her into a lot of things, [and] help her with schoolwork. I also have a niece, so, she was with us and I was able to bond with both of them. We would play games together. (Taylor) is big on Tik Tok, and I'm not, but I learned [for her]. I've tried to find ways to get into what she's into.
Do you guys have any fears for Taylor growing up with two moms?
Ashley: Absolutely, that was one of my biggest fears. But I think with Taylor, one thing that I have taught her is that even as a person of color and womxn, there's always going to be judgment. There's always going to be ridicule, [and] you may face discrimination. So, this is just something else that may come down the road. And this is mom's choice so it shouldn't necessarily affect you, and if it does, she's always open to come talk to us and we'll try to figure it out.
What type of new family dynamics have you all created for the three of you?
Ashley: We always talk about having good energy in the house. This is a fun house, we call it the Oasis, so, when Taylor comes home or when we come home, we want to come home to something that is a breath of fresh air. We have tried to create here with us a fun dynamic. Just finding things that we can all agree on as a family, things like, UNO or just watching TV. RuPaul’s Drag Race is something that we've all gotten into as a family.
What's your favorite thing about your partner?
Ashley: I always call Asia my vibe. You know, she just gets me. We can just sit and do absolutely nothing or not even talk, but still feel like there's a connection. What's surprising is we haven't even argued yet. I mean, we've had like debates about certain things, but it hasn't gotten to the point of even an argument. I think we both just kind of get each other, it's easy.
Do you think the dynamics of your relationship will shift when the quarantine ends and you all are no longer spending so much time together?
Asia: I feel like if anything, it would probably give me a chance to miss her because we're at home all the time together. Maybe when she goes in the office, I’ll be like “where you been all day? I missed you” or something like that. She is literally my best friend; we are always together. So the idea of her going into the office is sad, but then maybe it'll give me a chance to miss her and be happy to see her.
"I think because she is a womxn that she knows how to love me, like I know how to love her. I know what she needs, because I know what I [would] want."
And last question, how does it feel to be loved by her?
Asia: To be loved by her is refreshing. It's something that I didn't know I was looking for. I knew when I decided to separate (from my husband) that I was going to be single for a while. I just wanted to be Asia without anyone connected to me. But when I met her, she checked everything that I didn't know I was looking for. I had told my friend that anybody I get with would have to be literally amazing, life-changing, a unicorn, a godsend. Those were the exact words I said to her. I said, I'll probably be single because I know that person doesn't exist. Then I met her and something about her was just pulling me towards her. I didn't even know it. Even being with her in Vegas, New Orleans and Atlanta, I didn't know I was standing next to my heartbeat. I didn't know I was next to somebody that was going to change my life in a couple of years. So, to finally be with her and to know her love, I couldn't imagine being without her.
Ashley: I mean, ditto, you know, with Asia it is so different. I call her my vibe because the energy that she brings to anywhere, whether we're at home or out in public. It's something that cheers me up internally. I've never met an individual that disregards pride, and will humble themselves at a drop of a hat when it comes to love. Loving her, like she said, it's like a breath of fresh air. It's something that I never knew existed. It's something that is new, it's exotic, it's just different. I feel like I can give her my heart, and it won't be damaged. It's amazing. We take every day, day by day, but every day waking up to her is like a ray of sunshine. It's something that I can't live without, I really can't.
Interview by: Kee Simone, LBH Editor-in-Chief (@thebaddiegalore)