• Karen Driscoll

First Date turned Gossip Girl turned Happily Ever After

First dates can be unpredictable. You’re either bracing yourself for the time of your life or preparing to reclaim your time. And when you spill all the tea you know about the person sitting in front of you, shit could go real left, real quick. Not for Tamika and Kelly.

Tamika and Kelly met at an LGBTQ law conference after party in West Hollywood. Kelly was treating a newly out friend to a “traditional gay evening” having hit the LA Sparks WNBA game right before the party. Tamika, on the other hand, was rocking the “I’m sorry I’m late, I didn’t want to come” vibe. Kelly was hoping to meet a lady lawyer and was excited when her friend, Shayla, introduced her to Tamika. Kelly noticed her smile right away. But, upon meeting, Tamika stayed seated and refused to stand up to talk to Kelly. Awkward! Tamika assumed Kelly was there with her girlfriend (aka newly out friend) and thought it incredibly rude of Kelly to flirt with another woman in front of her. Needless to say, it wasn’t the riveting conversation Kelly hoped for. To add insult to injury, Tamika left the party abruptly when her friends told her about a surprise Salt-N-Pepa concert.

While the initial meeting did not seem promising, Shayla was the plug. The next day, Shayla told Tamika about Kelly’s interest while also giving Kelly Tamika’s digits. Kelly texted Tamika and they agreed to meet for drinks that night. Into the second round of drinks, Tamika and Kelly realized they had another mutual friend, Jamie, and knew more about each other than one would want on a first date. Tamika confessed, “Oh you’re Jamie’s law clerk who’s gay and who called off her engagement”. And Kelly countered, “and you’re Jamie’s friend who failed the bar but is really smart”. Talk about a first date faux pas! While this turn in conversation would have caused most people, myself included, to throw a mean side-eye and slick tongue, Tamika and Kelly allowed this to work in their favor. Having already been privy to some of the most difficult moments in each other’s lives, Tamika and Kelly experienced a level of comfort and vulnerability that can take years to build.

So why did Tamika and Kelly choose each other? In Tamika’s words “I chose Kelly because I felt a sense of home with her. This is the person I want to tell things to, to get advice from. She’s very comfortable being by herself and I know that I have a partner who wants to be with me and not because she needs anything from me. I can’t imagine life without her.”

Kelly says, “I chose Tamika because I knew that I’d found someone special. She’s attractive, smart, and although our families are extremely different, we have the same set of values. I could picture being partners and having a family very early on. Tamika understands what’s going on below the surface with me even if I have a hard time articulating it”

Tamika and Kelly take joy in the fact that they’ve found a partner with which to go on adventures and tackle life’s next steps. Not only are they figuring out how to be adults together (the struggle is real!), they’re also navigating what it means to be in an interracial marriage. Both recognize that race will always be a challenge but they have a mutual respect for the way each handles the challenge. Tamika appreciates the time Kelly has taken to do work on her own - reading, having conversations, and pushing herself to examine her privilege as a white woman. Kelly appreciates how good Tamika is about having difficult conversations about race in a way that’s as comfortable as it can be for white people.

This is what makes their relationship unique. They credit this commitment to therapy. It’s helped them overcome challenges of race and fortify their strength as a couple. They are willing to work as hard on their marriage as they would anything else. They celebrate each other’s cultures and have paid homage to one another. On their wedding day, they jumped over a broom onto a glass to signify and celebrate their Black and Jewish traditions.

Tamika and Kelly’s story is both entertaining and inspiring. Even on their worst day, Tamika and Kelly say their relationship is still good because they love each other. The two have taken comfort in knowing that things don’t need to be right to be perfect.


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