Read the true love story of Katrina and Tamara and how they got in touch with their true selves and found true love, such a common occurrence. True love is precious, rare and miraculous. As Katrina also said, true love really will chip away at anything that needs to go – misconceptions, opposition from family, loneliness… everything. All one needs to do is open one’s heart, as well as mind…
Names: Katrina & Tamara
Been together since: 2013
Different states, same journey
Katrina: I’m from California. Although I did have gay friends around me, boy-girl relationships were what we were mostly exposed to so that’s the club I thought I belonged to. Like most people, I took that for granted and it didn’t even occur to me to question it.
Looking back though, I see that even then I actually kept having crushes on girls. I was drawn to them in ways that couldn’t be considered purely friendly. Being best friends just didn’t feel like it was quite enough… I never really understood or analyzed it and it remained a vague question mark that was never acknowledged.
This might sound strange but this is actually something that is pretty common: I basically grew up not being aware of the fact that I was a lesbian.
Tamara: I grew up in a suburb of Georgia. The Baptist church was very much a part of our lives as a family and I used to go to Bible school as a kid.
I was always quite athletic and used to play basketball. Even back then, I remember feeling things towards girls and even had some encounters with them which my mom thought was inappropriate. She actively discouraged that kind of behavior.
There were things about me that were slightly different than other girls too–my clothes or cars were perhaps more masculine–but these things were so subtle that I barely paid any attention to them.
Growing up and going to college, I dated nothing but men. It was a pretty conservative environment I was in.
Katrina: Things were a little different and more liberal in California. The culture was more accommodating of gay relationships.
My mom had been raised with Southern values as her parents were from the south, but they had a pretty liberal mind-set. My mother is black and she had dated my father, who is white. This was already going against tradition so the concept of non-traditional relationships was neither alien nor too shocking for my family. Still, I grew up dating guys.
This is not something I talk about much, but I had a man in my life for many years. He was, first and foremost, my best friend. He was a good man with great family values, and great looks to top it off.
When I look back now, I don’t think we should’ve been anything more than best friends but I couldn’t see that then and we just kept going where the road took us which was, as it turned out, all the way.
First, we got engaged. The engagement was full of challenges so it was quite surprising that we both actually made it to the altar, but somehow we did.
I still couldn’t define what it was that was coming between us, but I started to withdraw. The idea of him not being the right one for me just kept getting bigger and bigger, overwhelming me.
When I was at home, we would frequently end up fighting. The problems between us were becoming blatant at this point.
My need to escape my situation would manifest in different ways like me finding excuses to do other things or staying at work longer. I had also made a lot of new friends and always opted to spend time with them instead.
One day, he suggested that we should just end it. It was a good idea to stop things before they got really bad so I said, “Okay.” When I think back, he might have just been testing me and my response probably caught him off guard. I felt bad but there wasn’t much else to do, this wasn’t fair on either one of us. We had not only reached the end of the road but had even passed it, I knew it.
Everything officially came to an end soon after and I moved in with my grandmother. Our marriage had barely lasted a year.
The door to realization
Katrina: All of a sudden, I was in my mid-20s, single after many years in a committed relationship and had ample time and freedom in my hands. When one of the new friends I had made asked me if I wanted to go and explore the forest with her that weekend, I accepted and we went camping.
I’d developed feelings for a girl before when I was in high school, so I wasn’t shocked that I liked a girl in that kind of way. But kissing a girl that I liked in that kind of way was perhaps the most pivotal moment in my life.
It was like this thick layer of fog had lifted and I could finally see everything with perfect clarity. Everything now fell into place and made complete sense. So, I actually didn’t start dating women until I was in my mid-twenties, but I have never looked back since.
Meanwhile, I was yearning for something new in my life and really wanted to move away from California. I knew someone who lived in Atlanta which helped me make the decision to move there. And this path I took eventually led me to Tamara about 2 and a half years later.
Tamara: My journey with dating women started when I got out of college. I met a girl which unleashed a whole different side I had in me.
She was 19, just a few years younger, and I was 21. It was one of those wild experiences where everything in me knew it was wrong but I just couldn’t control it. I was outside myself doing things that I shouldn’t do, spending money that I didn’t have… While I was going out of my way just to impress her, she wouldn’t even step aside for me. I knew I had to put and end to it but I couldn’t. That crazy affair was full of trouble and drama so although that relationship ended, my path with women continued and I have dated women ever since.
There were different reasons for me liking women as opposed to men and vice versa. I liked women for the depth of the emotional connection but I was always more comfortable with men when it came to just hanging out. It wasn’t very feasible to try to make logical sense out of any of it so I just rolled with it.
Coming out to our families
Katrina: I have a cousin who’s gay. He came out when we were young and in doing so he unwittingly started a conversation within the family and ended up clearing out a lot of opposition, hurdles and obstacles around this subject.
It was a blessing for me as he had already opened that door and it was not that difficult for me to walk through it and come out to my own family when I was ready. I’m pretty fortunate.
My declaration was the most shocking for my mom as I’m her only child and we’re really close. As a result of this dynamic, she has a way of bearing the burden of responsibility for anything that might be going on in my life.
She’s also a Baptist and holds her religion very close to her heart. Thankfully, her mind is just as open as her heart and she genuinely tried really hard to understand everything. We had many conversations and discussed it from every angle.
At the end, she said, “You are an intelligent, mature, responsible adult. I’m just watching over you as mothers do,” but I knew her heart wasn’t in it.
But then she met Tamara.
She saw what a wonderful, loving woman Tamara is and this changed everything. Now, she just loves Tamara so much that everything else is irrelevant.
Tamara: Family is very important, especially if you love them, you just don’t want to cause anyone pain. My switching between dating men and women after I came out had a lot to do with my family.
I told my parents that I thought I was gay when I was 21. They didn’t take it well at all and we didn’t talk for quite a while. It was a terrible experience for all of us, really awful.
My mother is one of my best friends so to have her completely ripped out of my life within a matter of seconds was truly devastating. I wanted to have my mother back and it was for that reason that I went back to dating men. As long as I was dating a guy, she would remain in my life, we could be friends, and everything would be happy again.
That went on for many years where I wasn’t sure what I was. I was dating men on and off, but it just didn’t feel right.
It was a struggle trying to live like this. I kept thinking, ‘I shouldn’t be able to not tell mom my feelings about women and talk to her about whether I am gay or not.’
I opened up to her again and this led to one of our biggest confrontations to date. In the blow-up she ended up telling me that if I was gay, we shouldn’t be living under the same roof and that I should move out from our home. That hit me really badly and hurt my feelings a lot. I loved my mother dearly and it was a horrendous situation to be in.
There was this one guy that I had dated in high school. We had broken up because it felt like something was missing between us. Fast-forward in time, he slowly resurfaced, ended up back in my life and we started dating again.
He was trying harder, things were going better. Years had enhanced him further and he was still a very nice, very good-looking man, as he had always been. I figured if there was any one man that I would ever marry, it would be him. We ended up getting engaged.
My fiancee and I were living together, the issues I had with my family were now moot, the conflicts had fully subsided and everyone was happy.
Everyone, except me.
Every single day I was becoming more and more miserable.
This was not how I normally handled life. I had always been open with everything, yet I now kept making excuses to hang out with my friends, do other things, do anything else except to come home to him.
When it was time to send out the wedding invitations, I didn’t send them out on time because I simply didn’t want to get married.
Well, finally the invitations were sent.
It was 2013 and I was going to be getting married in 30 days.
My whole being knew that it was the wrong thing to do.
My whole being also knew the right thing to do.
I pulled myself together and took the bull by the horns. I sat my whole family in front of me—my mom, dad, brother, as well as my fiancé—and I told them that I was calling the wedding off because I was gay.
The only thing I really wished I would have done differently was to tell my fiancé in private first before I told my family. But other than that, I wouldn’t take a single thing back. It was a very significant experience and the turning point of my life. I have lived as a gay woman ever since.
What followed was a pretty rough phase for us as a family. My mother had to suffer through the embarrassment of telling her friends that I wasn’t getting married, which was quite hard for her. It added an extra strain on our relationship, which had rapidly disintegrated once again because I was gay. Those were terrible days for all of us. It took us a good few years to get over the worst of it and trying to achieve full harmony is still work in progress.
That was what was going on at home.
But at work, there was a little blessing that would make everything worth the fight: Katrina.
How we met and fell in love
Tamara: I had met Katrina shortly before all this happened. We were colleagues working in the same store. Initially, I was still engaged so it was just a conversation here and there.
This didn’t mean that she didn’t move me even then, because she did. I was very aware of the fact that I liked Katrina from the very beginning. But I was in a relationship so I was not crossing that boundary unless I was single.
Our shifts wouldn’t always coincide so we ended up seeing each other once or twice a week. But I have to admit, I did find out her schedule and changed my days to be there on the same days as her. And soon after that, my relationship ended.
Katrina: We had a store meeting one day and after the meeting she said, “Does anybody want to go get breakfast?” and I said, “I do.” That was the first time we got the chance to talk properly and the conversation was very deep, very candid. She told me all the reasons behind her wedding being called off and that’s when it clicked for me.
Tamara: At work, I wasn’t walking around telling people I called it off because I was gay. I used to tell people I knew it wasn’t going to work as he wasn’t the right person for me—which was the truth. The conversation with Katrina was very different and I was very candid about my reasons.
She also shared with me that she had been in a very similar situation. There were many people like us in the world, that thought gave me a lot of comfort.
Katrina: I could understand exactly where Tamara was coming from because of my Southern grandparents, so I really got what she was saying. It was so nice to connect with her like that.
We were texting each other after that breakfast. She was a good athlete and I was trying to get her to join my volleyball team. She had taken my number under the pretense that she would consider it.
I was texting her telling her how we were having a game on Monday night and asked if she wanted to come and watch, thinking that if she saw how much fun we had, she might want to join the team. She, on the other hand, was asking me which outfit to wear. I think that’s when it was clear to me that this might actually be more of a date—I was not being dense anymore.
We went out for drinks after volleyball and that’s when she finally told me outright that she liked me and asked me out.
Tamara: I always had a crush on her and was elated when she decided to go out with me. It felt amazing and I was overjoyed.
Katrina: It turned out that this was not the first time she had asked me on a date, but I’d been completely oblivious to it!
See, we had mutual friends since we work together so every time she would say something like, “We should hang out,” or suggested doing something together, I always thought she meant ‘us’ as a group so I’d say, “Sure, next time you guys go out, call me. I’d love to come along.” I hadn’t seen that she’d been trying all along.
We had our first real date the week after and shared our first kiss.
Prior to us getting together, Tamara had done the whole dating thing. With that out of her system, I think she was getting closer to her settling down phase. So my timing was good.
Personally, I’ve never been a big dater and have always been more of a relationship person. I did some dating in Atlanta just trying to find my way, but I was primarily focused getting my MBA so I didn’t really have a lot of time for commitment. When I met Tamara, so much of her was just what I was seeking that I didn’t have the slightest desire to explore anything else.
Tamara: I had ended my upcoming marriage because I was always lying. I was lying about who I was, what I wanted—the whole thing was just one big lie. With that chapter behind me, I was determined not to live a lie again.
I was very open and honest with Katrina from the get-go and we’ve kept that going ever since.
At the first appropriate opportunity, I told her how I felt about her and happily got that out of the way. Going forward, I didn’t want to ever confuse her so we never went through a phase where we were feeling like we didn’t know where we stood. There was no insecurity and neither us ever wondered what was going on with the other. We were very forthcoming, vocal and upfront about everything we felt.
We quickly slipped into a happy, committed relationship that just flowed.
Shortly after, we started talking about the ‘what if’s’.
“What if this works out? What if we get married? What if we get pregnant?”
In full contrast to the chapter I had left behind me, I was just being as transparent as possible. She moved in about 6 months later.
Katrina: We started talking about moving in together around three months into it. Six months later we said, “Let’s just do it.”
How to stop a fight—argue naked and empathize
Katrina: I had been reading a book called ‘Attached’ which explains what our attitudes are in a relationship. It breaks down personality types to categories such as ‘anxious’, ‘secure’ or ‘avoidant’. Sometimes two people get attracted to each other, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re meant for each other.
The book says that if you’re prone to being anxious in a relationship, you tend to date people who are avoidant who basically avoid serious relationships. That’s what you’re attracted to because you want to perpetuate your anxiety, since anxiety is the state that you are familiar with. People who are avoidant don’t like anxious people in the long term because they eventually feel smothered and their avoidant nature kicks in. It was quite an interesting book, according to which we seemed to be pretty well suited.
Tamara is the secure type and I’m anxious. How this translates into our relationship is that it doesn’t bother her when I want to check in to see when she’s coming home, reconfirm plans, see if she’s alive—it doesn’t cause an adverse reaction and make her want to see me less. Things flow rather smoothly.
Tamara: We know each other pretty well by now and hardly have disagreements, but in the beginning of our relationship, we had a joke that if we ever had an argument, we would always argue naked. So, whenever we started arguing, we would start stripping.
You can imagine how that would turn out, you’re not going to be upset for a long time. Also, a lot of times people say things they don’t mean in an argument. When you’re arguing naked, it’s very hard to do that. You lose focus on what you’re arguing about, look at each other and say, “Why are we even arguing? Let’s just get this resolved.”
It might sound foolish but you’d be surprised how it works as it presents such an interesting dynamic. So, if anyone is having a hard time, I recommend arguing naked.
Over the years we have gotten to know each other pretty well and we hardly ever argue but if we do, we don’t start stripping anymore. What we do instead though is definitely make sure that we touch each other while we are debating the issue.
Touch is a very powerful thing. It says, ‘We might be disagreeing at this moment but I’m going to touch you anyway because I love you. No matter what views we have, we’re still on the same side and we will stay here until this is resolved’. It doesn’t have to be an extreme touch—just a hand on the shoulder or a stroke of the hair, some sort of physical contact.
Touch starts wrapping up the argument because it transmits such a loving message and is a silent way to assure your partner that no one is going to go storming out.
Katrina: Another thing we did earlier before we knew each other this well was we both would very naturally apologize to each other for the part we might have contributed to in any disagreement.
Say I was supposed to be home at five for something important, but I didn’t show up until seven. We would always have a discussion about where in the chain the communication was muddled up. At the end of the argument, while I apologized for my lateness and time management and committed to being mindful so I would do better next time, Tamara, also having analyzed her part in it, would end up saying things like, “Well, maybe I could plan this differently next time. I know you have trouble getting home early, maybe I shouldn’t have arranged it for 5 o’clock. Maybe next time I should arrange it for later in the evening to make it easier for you.”
By doing that, we would both take responsibility for our role in the conflict and would approach the situation differently next time, if there even was one.
Everybody walked away feeling that their emotions were deeply understood, acknowledged and cared about. This came to us naturally but as a result, it built up a lot solid of trust that we always had each other’s backs, no matter what.
Empathy is something that is second nature to me. Anyone who knows me will tell you that in all my relationships, I’m the one that ends up being the most empathetic person because I can see through the other person’s eyes so easily. Unfortunately, the flip side of that is that I’m the one whose feelings always get hurt because people are not able to read me and empathize to the same degree of sensitivity.
That all changed when I met Tamara. Tamara is the most thoughtful person that I have ever met. I don’t think I have ever met anyone who can slip outside of her own mind, slide into the other person’s psyche and see their point of view as skillfully as she can. That was always my job. I was always the one to say, “Have you considered this perspective? Perhaps this is what they were feeling…”
Tamara will surprise me by shedding perspectives about something that even I wasn’t able to see. This natural tendency for her to sense other people’s emotions also allows her to avoid doing things that might hurt my feelings.
Tamara: She can be a little sensitive.
How she proposed
Tamara: I would say that we knew we were going to get married pretty much by our second date. Our approach was, unless something crazy happens, we’re going to go all the way with this.
Shortly after she moved in, we started talking about it a little more seriously and started looking at rings.
We are both girls. As a woman, a proposal is the moment that you’ve always dreamed of all your life. Of course, not every woman feels this way, but we definitely did. It is a very special moment that happens only once and we both wanted to be proposed to.
Instead of saying you get to be the girl and I get to be this other person, we decided that we would share it and do a double-proposal. The proposals were to happen when each of us felt that the moment was right. In this way, we both got to be girls, we both got our special moment.
We went and got the rings early on then waited for the moment in which we felt ready. However, things unfolded rather quickly after that.
Katrina: Suddenly, it was almost a race to see who was going to do it first. I think she secretly wanted to be the one to do it first although she tried to trick me and say things like, “Who knows when I’ll do it…” She ended up beating me to it and it was all my fault.
Tamara: We were going to take a trip. It was to a beautiful place near the water. I had my surprise all planned out and was going to propose to her there. Then this little one says, “Wouldn’t it be great if you proposed to me on that trip?” instantly ruining my surprise.
Katrina: Usually when something’s ruined, you have to push it back and make a new plan. Instead, she decided to pull it forward and do it before the trip. That’s how she ended up beating me by two days.
We worked really close to where we lived in Atlanta and we would walk each other home frequently through the picturesque parks and over a bridge. My proposal was to take place during one of our walks.
As we were casually strolling back home, she would suddenly see a balloon. A few steps down, she would see flowers, then candles. Slowly, she would start to realize that there is a pattern in place. The whole way back to the apartment would be sprinkled with beautiful surprises. When we got to the threshold of our home, I would proceed with the proposal.
That was the plan. I’d been putting it all together for about three weeks and had many secret collaborators assisting me. My plan got dangerously close to getting destroyed because she wanted to drive that day. I can’t remember what crazy excuse I came up with to make sure that the car wasn’t available, but I’m sure it was a stupid one. Nevertheless, it had worked.
With any potential disasters cleverly averted, my proposal was ready to be made in 2 days. But before I had the chance to surprise her with it, she went ahead and proposed to me first during our walk home from work, on that bridge, with the skyline of Atlanta watching. Not only did she unknowingly steal my timeframe, she also stole my idea.
I was so focused on my own proposal that hers was completely unexpected and came as a huge surprise. Makes me laugh when I think about how I just didn’t put two and two together.
We were walking home. As we got closer to the bridge, I saw that there was this boombox on it. Close by, there was someone taking photos of the bridge and the skyline. This was vaguely registering in the back of my head as, ‘Person with camera having leisurely evening taking photos of skyline as music plays on his boombox’.
We’re getting closer and the next thing I know, Tamara walks over to the boombox and starts changing the music.
I say, “Hey, you’re going to upset that guy.”
And she says, “I don’t want to hear this song.”
I’m just watching, really puzzled.
Next thing I know, our song, ‘All of Me’ by John Legend, is playing and she’s trying to dance with me on the bridge. Then she spins out, ends up on one knee and proposes to me.
I was just standing there, shocked!
I pull myself together.
I say, “Yes!”
When the guy with the camera came closer, I saw that it was her best friend. I hadn’t realized that it was him. It was all a big setup! And my best friend was there too taking photos from across the street. It was pretty amazing to share our special moment with both of our best friends. That was a beautiful touch—one that I stole and added to my proposal too.
My proposal also went ahead as planned two days later. Tamara is a huge Superman fan and we have a 3-foot Superman action figure in our house who is a part of our relationship. When Tamara walked in through the door, Superman was holding the ring. So he actually proposed to Tamara for me.
Tamara’s best friend was hiding in the corner of the house taking photos the whole time.
Our wedding and reception
Katrina: We got engaged in Atlanta and started our wedding planning there. I finished my MBA and got offered a job in San Jose, California. Tamara took a leap of faith and we moved to California together. It was in California that we officially got married.
In terms of the wedding reception, we wanted to get married on New Year’s Eve somewhere nice and warm. There are only so many places where that’s possible in the winter, so we chose Florida, its proximity to Atlanta being a big plus.
Getting married in a church was an option, as some churches allow this, but we are both Baptists and they are not too accommodating of same-sex marriages. Using a non-denominational church that we didn’t have a relationship with didn’t appeal to us so the whole thing just seemed arbitrary at that point. We ended up having a lovely little wedding ceremony at the W Hotel in Fort Lauderdale and our reception on the Sundream Yacht, which was docked outside of the Doubletree.
Tamara: We both got proposed to, we both got walked down the aisle in a white dress, we both had our bridesmaids. We both got to be girls.
Katrina’s family, unfortunately, couldn’t make it since coming from California to Florida during high season would have dented their budget considerably.
Katrina: My cousin, the one that had come out to as gay when we were younger, did manage to make it though and he was my best man.
Tamara: We have a really good relationship with my brother and he’s always been very supportive of us from the start. He was there and acted as our officiant, which meant a lot to us. I also had ten of my cousins from my father’s side there. My parents they didn’t even want to be invited…
Overcoming challenges with love
Katrina: That being said we have all come a really long way since the wedding. Things are still far from perfect, but her parents do welcome me now. No matter what, they are my in-laws, Tamara’s parents and she loves them. I will not treat them with anything less than love and respect just because they are not happy about our marriage. I still give them gifts during holidays and send them cards on special occasions.
And this is actually not very hard to do because on a personal level, they are truly amazing people. Her mother is this wonderful powerhouse of a woman and her presence is so empowering that she will make any woman want to roar. She is a she-ro type of female that would be an inspiration to anyone.
And her father. Although he strongly believes that marriages should be between a man and woman as outlined in his religion, he will put all of that aside as he won’t compromise his kindness because of his beliefs. He is one of the most giving people I have ever met, treats me with warmth and will give me a hug when he sees me.
Apart from this specific topic that we can’t agree on, they are really good people which puts faith in my heart that between all of us, love will chip away at anything that needs to go.
Tamara and I have always been partners and have stood firmly by each other since the day we met. She moved to be with me in California and she dealt with me when I was doing my MBA. When she wanted to go back to school to make a career change and got accepted into George Washington University, we decided to relocate so she can pursue her passion. I am now by her side cheering her along. We will stand united in this life and that’s going to reflect on everything we have to go through, good and bad.
Her parents are family and are very important to her. I am her partner and wife so whatever I have to do to help that relationship, with the exception of me not being in this one, I am willing to do.
Holidays are family occasions and Tamara wanted me by her side, she wouldn’t have it any other way. Her brother and I really love each other and most of our family occasions take place at his house where I am always welcome.
The more time we spent in each others’ company, the more her parents got to know me. I think it became clear that I wasn’t this bad person doing bad things to their daughter.
Their feeling is they do like me as a person, they just wish I wasn’t married to their daughter and that things were different in general. It’s nothing personal, not really. All things considered, they have been very kind to me. We’re all growing one step at a time.
I think we are a good example for people who don’t have the strength to come out. Some of my friends struggle with coming out to their parents or living their truth because they’re afraid of losing that relationship. But I always point to Tamara and say that her parents are still adamantly opposed to gay marriage but it does not mean that they cannot find a way to give love and receive love.
I think it’s more important to live your life in honesty than to live lying to yourself and lying to your loved ones, even if they don’t agree with your lifestyle to the degree that it will cause serious conflict. It’s terrible to not be able to tell your family the truth about something so huge.
Tamara: When it comes my parents, it’s always a heartbreaking topic. I love my parents. They do love me too. Neither of us want to lose each other. But I’m in this relationship and that is not going to change. Compromise has to happen somewhere. I do have to give them credit though, we’ve been together for almost 4 years and married for over a year, and I have to say that we are where we are now because of my parents’ understanding. Things are getting better.
Katrina: Parents love their children. If they truly believe that their values are right, and that you are on an erroneous path, they are going to try to show you that and persuade you in every way that they can. Parents influence their kids and try to steer them towards the right path—it’s what they’re meant to do.
At some point, if kids do things differently than their parents wish they would, then the struggle will begin. But at the end of the day, especially when all parties still love each other, something’s got to give.
One big happy family and happily ever after
Tamara: There will be additions to our family as we are hoping to start the process and get pregnant next year. Again, we are both girls and both want to have the female experience of pregnancy. I want us to be pregnant at the same time.
Katrina: I don’t!
Tamara: Looks like I might ultimately lose this particular debate, but I’m going to go down fighting.
The plan is that I’ll be the one to carry first and Katrina will carry next. We’re hoping to both have the same donor so our children will be genetically related too. Both of us have light green eyes so we will be looking for a donor with green eyes. Our dream is to look like one big family.
Katrina: We made an agreement a couple of years ago. Our birthdays are one year and two weeks apart so we decided we were going to make an appointment the week between our two birthdays and start the process. Hopefully it all lines up.
(Interview & write-up by Bianca)
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