There is nothing more amazing than seeing two people in love. Especially when it is two Black men who found each other at the prime of their lives.
Case and point: Samuel Offer and Jamie Washington, who are celebrating eleven years in love and life together at the rightful ages of 57. What makes their journey a story to celebrate is that both of them never believed that they would be able to find love because of the ways life had left them bruised and broken on their journey to self discovery.
After sitting down and talking with the wonderful couple, I was able to learn a great deal about how they met and how they got to a place where it was easy for them to love one another after years of heartache.
“We met at church,” Samuel laughed. “Jamie was serving as the lead reverend and we worked together in ministry before or relationship blossomed.”
“We had a friendship,” Samuel continued. “I saw him a confidant. Someone I could not only trust, but someone who was genuinely interested in my personal journey to healing”.
For Jamie, the hardest part about coming to terms with his falling in love with Samuel was unlearning all the toxic things he had been taught about what it meant to be a Black man who loved other men. Jamie expressed candidly that the journey to love for him was something that was somewhat complicated.
“In my younger days, I struggled with understanding what self love looked like,” Jamie said, while Samuel cosigned in the background. “Not being able to love yourself fully makes it that much more complicated to love someone else.”
“Growing up, I had very few role models as to what a positive relationship between two men looked like” Jamie continued. “Not having this positive representation in life meant several things, specifically: how much space does heteronormativity take up in my relationship, where do I learn things and how do I know if those things are serving me in my purpose?”
“I just wasn’t conscious of what good love looked like,” Jamie shared, noting that for him, the hardest thing to do was to understand what it meant to share power in his relationship with another Black man and what it truly meant to be vulnerable with someone after spending 46 years pretending to be someone and something that you are not.
“I had to learn to love him differently” Samuel noted. “I had to recognize that if we were going to work, I had to learn how to love him on a deeper level”.
“I had to know him. I had to do the work to know me. I had to make the space to understand what ‘us’ really meant”.
For both of them, being Black queer elders who are in love means being dedicated to the work of loving each other unconditionally, even on their most difficult days.
“I am dedicated to understanding Jamie. Not my interpretations of what or who I think Jamie is,” Samuel remarked.
Both Samuel and Jamie expressed that they are committed to relearning each other daily and are working together to create a genuine love and understanding for one another's love languages. They both expressed that while it is important to stay committed to positive interactions, they have both committed to unlearning their insecurities they picked up in their 57 years of living.
Their advice to younger queer/trans people of color who find complications dating in the community?
“Challenge everything you’ve been taught about relationships. Everything you have been taught about love and what love is suppose to look like,” Jamie says. “Remember that love doesn’t look the same for us and that it doesn’t need to.
"As we get older, we change. Our needs change and that is what influences how we love one another. As long as you continue to do your work to be the best person you can possibly be, I can promise that the love you deserve will find you.”
Let the church say, amen.
With over ten years of experience in education, social justice and grassroots movements, Dr. Higgins is focused on public speaking and working with the media on issues centered on people of color, LGBTQ storytelling and marginalized communities. His work has been included on Blavity, TheRoot, Efniks, WearYourVoice, Pride.com, IntoMore.com, SOULE and Talkspace. Follow Dr. Jon Paul on Instagram @doctorjonpaul, on Twitter @DoctorJonPaul, and visit their website doctorjonpaul.com.
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