A pair of Boston-based black couples delayed their Valentine’s Day plans to speak at an event celebrating and explaining what it means to be black and in love through the stories of their relationships over a plate of soul food. The event, titled “Black Love,” came the day after Black Love Day—a holiday celebrating this very dynamic.
The event also offered Valentine’s cards and soul food to its guests.
Naya Joseph, CSOM ’19, and Symone Varnado, GLBTQ+ Leadership Council co-chair and MCAS ’19, moderated the panel and encouraged the audience to ask questions throughout the two-hour event.
Constance Smith and Renee White, a queer couple, spoke to their specific experiences as being both black and queer, and the reactions they fielded from their families and friends as a result of their coming out.
Smith said that her Catholic upbringing in Hispanic and black cultures on both sides of her family led to difficulties in being accepted by her family.
“I feel like we let people know in a respectful manner,” she said. “But we just got cut off on both ends, more family than anything. Not having that support was like we were deer caught in headlights.”
She explained that their shared hardship in coming out required a greater support from one another—a support that both found and strengthened.
White agreed, noting that a difficult challenge was growing to accept herself and her relationship, which she called more important than validation from others.
A recurring theme throughout the night was the stories of how each panelist found the support they needed in their partners to grow and pursue their passions. Terrel Renrick recounted his experiences with his wife, Courtney Renrick, BC ’16, and how her support has allowed himself to grow.
“She’s always pushing the envelope for me,” Terrel said. “She doesn’t let me settle or anything, because so many times it seems like I got to the end of myself … she’s always kept me growing.”
White expressed a similar sentiment, in that she needed to allow Smith to pursue her work as a freelance model in New York City, which brings regular commutes and long times spent away from one another.
“Yes, I’m going to help my girlfriend in any way possible,” White said. “Do you you want to do. Continue to live your dream. I’m always going to be here.”
Other topics asked about ranged from love languages to their astronomical signs—one question of how the couples had first met sprouted a lighthearted disagreement between White and Smith. Smith said that they had first met at a club, but when she tried to introduce herself to White, White was not paying attention to her.
“So, what’s your story, babe?” Smith said to White after her story, to a roar of laughter from the audience.
White told a different tale in which she had met Smith at the Carnival in New York City—from then on, they began to see each other.
In closing, when asked about an important quality she finds in her relationship, Courtney noted the significance in the fact that both of their families were African American and the specific experiences that both have shared and continue to share—Terrel mentioned the card game Spades specifically.
“That’s made it so that even we share the same interests,” Courtney said. “It allows us to vibe on so many levels.”
Featured Image by Jess Rivilis / For The Heights