Spotlight Series sponsored by Quinny, a European stroller brand available in the United States.
TNF: Tell me about your family.
CHRISTINE: Nichole and I have been together 7 1/2 years. We have 3 kids- a 10-year-old named Briana and 2 1/2-year-old twins named Grayson and Camden. Briana was 3 when Nichole and I started dating, which was the perfect age because she doesn’t have any memories without me in them. As far as she is concerned, I have always been her other mommy.
TNF: How did you meet your wife?
CHRISTINE: Nichole and I met in this hole-in-the-wall lesbian bar in Greensboro, North Carolina. It was one of the few places where gay women could go and feel safe and welcome and just have a fun night with no worries of stares or problems. Nichole and I had so many of the same friends, but had never met and we were instantly drawn to each other. We basically never separated from the night we met. It was instantaneous. I had just finished graduate school and was interviewing all over the country trying to find a job. We had a tough time when I got a job in Michigan and we had to separate. We planned on doing the long-distance dating thing for a year to make sure it was meant to be, but we only made it 3 months before Nichole and Bri sold all of their stuff and moved to Michigan with me. We were miserable apart. I was a hall director at the University of Michigan and was lucky enough to be at such a supportive school where my family could move in with me. One of the requirements was getting a domestic partnership from the city and Nichole and I soon found out that domestic partnerships and pet licenses were sold at the same window. Seriously! You would walk up to the window and the lady asked “pet license or domestic partnership?” We tried to find the humor in it.
We had a wedding ceremony the following year, though it wasn’t legal, but it was beautiful. We moved to Maryland 2 years later for Nichole’s job and got pregnant with twins. I was freaking out, but Nichole was elated! Maryland was a state that extended the rights to same-sex couples that were married in other states, so we got legally married in DC so that Nichole’s name would be on the twins’ birth certificate. She is listed as the father, but she is on there! The twins and I had some complications during my c-section, so we felt extremely lucky that the hospital staff were so accepting of our relationship. Nichole was completely respected as my wife and the girls’ other parent and we knew how lucky we were.
Once the twins were born, we realized that we wanted to live closer to family, so we moved back to my home town of Virginia Beach. Our marriage was no longer recognized when we moved to Virginia because of Virginia’s “Super DOMA” status, but it was worth it to be closer to family and have some help with the girls. Last month our marriage because “legal” again on all levels.
TNF: Do you feel different from other families?
CHRISTINE: We do not feel different that any other family we know. We are a married couple with 3 kids. We have all of the same struggles and celebrations that every other family has. We work, pay bills, eat dinner as a family, belong to the PTA, take our kids to the park…all of the “normal” stuff. Our oldest is so proud of her family and never shies away from the kids who might tell her it’s weird. She is the first to stick up for any other kid being picked on. We are so lucky that she is such a special young lady- in the gifted program at school and such a sweet little soul! This isn’t to say we don’t have struggles with the family dynamic we have and forced to have conversations at the dinner table with our daughter about how to handle certain situations that other families may not have to have. The way we look at it though is that every family has struggles to overcome and this is just ours and thus far we have come out pretty great within it all.
TNF: Where do you live?
CHRISTINE: Virginia Beach is a wonderful city to raise a family. There is so much to do and see! Now that our marriage is legal on a federal and state level, we are especially happy about where we live. Even when we do get the occasional stare or even glare (usually my wife for her “overt” look) we have learned to look past it as their issue not ours. We know a lot of families are not as lucky as we are. We don’t feel like it’s tough, but we always try to have a positive attitude. If someone has a problem with our family, that’s on them because we couldn’t be happier.
TNF: What has having a family meant to you?
CHRISTINE: It is such a beautiful thing to have a family and be happy about where you are in your life. I didn’t come out until later in life- I was almost 30. I was married to a man for 7 years, and while he was a good guy, I was suffering inside for years not being true to myself. I was getting a masters’ degree in counseling and telling my clients to live their truth, meanwhile I was lying to myself about who I was. Coming out to my husband was the hardest thing I have ever done. I felt like I was breaking up my marriage for the most selfish reasons, but what I realized later was that it wasn’t fair to him to stay married to him under false pretenses. He deserved to be married to someone who loved him 100% and he has that now.
When I fell in love with Nichole, it was the first time that I loved someone 100% authentically, with every part of myself. She is everything I hoped for in my most secret of thoughts when I was trying to be someone I wasn’t for so many years. Nichole was lucky to have come out a lot earlier at 19 and with a very accepting family with just a few occasional bumps within that family. She has lost a strong relationship with a brother over her “choices.” What she has explained to me is that for her to expect her brother to accept who she is, she needs to first lead by example and accept how he feels first and let it come naturally through time. Unfortunately, Nichole has dealt with some very hurtful words from those she loves at different points and even from those in my family but she is the most forgiving person you will ever meet in your entire life and has some of the strongest friendships I’ve ever seen as her backbone throughout her journey. We are very lucky to have found each other and to have this beautiful family together.
Thank you for sharing your beautiful family with us!