Activists Aisha and Danielle reflect on their first year living, loving, and laboring as wife and wife.
Aisha and Danielle: Our First Year of Marriage
It was one year ago Aisha and Danielle Moodie-Mills said “I do” in the glamorous wedding ceremony they always dreamed of, and the best part was, thanks to new landmark laws in their hometown Washington, D.C., they union was legally recognized. They were one of the first same sex couples to apply for a marriage license in the city. If this happy couple looks familiar, they should. Last October ESSENCE.com shared their beautiful wedding story on the site and they became the first same-sex couple to ever be featured on Bridal Bliss. Our readers were so supportive. Their story received over 5,000 likes and hundreds of supportive comments. ESSENCE.com later received a GLAAD Media Award for the coverage and Danielle and Aisha instantly became public role models in the national fight for marriage equality. Already rising stars in their community when it comes to same sex law reform, when Danielle and Aisha realized their love story touched the hearts of so many hearts, they felt compelled to take their mission to a new level and continue to be leaders and trailblazers. Aisha, an advisor for The Center for American Progress, has been recognized by The Advocate as being one of the Top Forty Under 40 LGBT leaders, and Danielle, a lobbyist, is well known for her work on Capitol Hill. We checked back in with these phenomenal ladies to wish them a happy anniversary and to find out what year one of their marriage was like. They’ve founded new blog ThreeLOL and are 100 percent devoted to living, loving, and laboring out loud. Here’s what they had to say about "LOLing" through life together.
Living Out Loud
DANIELLE: "This past year of our marriage has been really exciting. Everyone always asks us the question, has anything changed since you’ve been married? Aisha and I have been together now for seven and half years and I can tell you that living and being married allows you the commitment level to live more open and authentically with each other and as a couple. Before we got married, I still had a little fear sometimes of us holding hands in public because of the sneers and the comments. You don’t want to hear that, you don’t want to constantly live your life on guard. But, being married now, give me like this sense of armor that protects the two of us. We matter. We can be visible. That’s what our marriage certificate actually hangs in the entryway of our apartment. We framed it and it’s in a silver plaque engraved with all our friends’ congratulatory messages and it always reminds us of how many people showed up for us, and believe in us as a couple. They support us. It allows us to walk through the world a bit more open and authentic with each other then we were able to do before." AISHA: “What you don’t really realize until you get married is that there’s something about building a foundation for the rest of your life and for your family that is really remarkable when you’re doing it, but you just can’t really understand what all that’s about if you’re not doing it. Having been in a relationship, people knew we’d been a couple for six years, and kind of knew who we were, but it was just different. There was always something different and less serious than there is now being a married couple. Everything that we do, whether it be at work, in our personal lives, or in our relationships with family and friends, everyone kind of feels that we’re building this foundation for something huge. Which is life. Our family. Our legacy. It’s a boisterous thing. I didn’t realize it before when I’d talk to married couples. It leaves me feeling more vibrant. Our relationship glows more and it reflects the people around us."
Loving Out Loud
DANIELLE: "I use the word wife in pretty much every sentence that I say. I’m like, “Oh my wife and I just went to the grocery store.” Or I'll say, “My wife and I were talking on the phone.” It just feels so natural and so fantastic to be able to say it. The purpose of living openly is to allow other people to feel like they can do the same. When ESSENCE.com put our pictures on the site, we were like, this isn’t just pictures of another pretty wedding. Everybody’s wedding is pretty. For us it was more than just pretty pictures. It was the fact that for the first time ever on the site we were going to show the diversity of black love. That matters. Images matters. People talking and standing up matters. Living your life in a way that’s unapologetic matters, and it gives people the courage to do the same. By continuing to put a diverse face on same sex marriage and same sex love, and normalizing it, because it is normal. Then we continue to help push the boundaries a little bit." AISHA: "As newlyweds, you get married and you think about what your values are as a couple and what values you’re really building for your life and your family all around. We feel called. We feel like we have an obligation to allow ourselves to be out loud and in the world because people connect with that, and they’ve thanked us for doing it. We can’t just hide in our house, because that wouldn’t be us fulfilling what our purpose in this moment is."
Laboring Out Loud
DANIELLE: “People recognize us, and inbox us on Facebook and ask us for advice. Sometimes they’ll ask us for the political rundown where they live and they’ll ask us what we did first and what our marriage process was. We always give people feedback and direct them in the right direction. People also ask how long we’ve been together, how we keep the love going, and what our secret is. We’ve become de facto relationships coaches out of nowhere. My parents have been together for like 20 years or something, and my mom even asked us about our partnership, and how we make it work. We launched a think tank with the center for American Progress, called Fighting Injustice to Reach Equality (FIRE).” AISHA: “FIRE is really an extension. Our policy work that we do there looks at LGBT issues relative to people of color who are gay or transgendered. It’s an extension of everything that we’ve been fighting for in terms of equality in general and public policy, and making sure that we are not only being inclusive, but everybody gets a fair chance to love who they want to love and participate in our society in a way they deserve to, and in America we all should be able to. Our policy work is our way of laboring in our passions.” To follow along with Aisha and Danielle's journey visit their new blog ThreeLOL.