Friday Feminist Fuck Yeah: queer family models

In this video, Shawnta Smith and Jas Cruz, who are are ex-wives or best friends depending on which one of them is doing the telling, talk about the home they’ve built together and what it means to them and their community. It’s wonderful. They have separate beds but their bookcase is merged. I mean, that’s just poetry.

The video is part of I’m From Driftwood, a project that brings together stories from LGBTQ folks around the world. This month, they’re spotlighting stories from the black LGBTQ community. Check ‘em out.

Transcript after the jump.

I’m Shawnta Smith, I’m from Brooklyn, New York. I’m Jas Cruise, I’m from Bronx, New York. (Shawnta) So, we live together. We’ve been together for ten years. On and off living together. We are not a couple though. We were together for five years, when we first met, and then we broke up. When people ask us who we are, I say, “Jas is my best friend and then Jas says.” (Jasmine) She’s my ex-wife.” (Shawnta) Always. (Jasmine) I will never say anything else. (Shawnta) And I’ll always call her my best friend. (Jas) That’s cool. (Shawnta) laughs (Jasmine) People are like “What?! You all were together?” You know, I’m trying to be real clear. You know, “Yeah, she’s my ex-wife. That’s what she is to me.” Now friends say they really don’t understand how fabulous our relationship and our friendship is and we get to teach our friends that you can reorganize a relationship and still keep a connection, you know? (Shawnta) Which is what happens when they come to our house, cause they see that we share a room – even though we have two separate beds and they see that our bookcase is merged, and they see that we have a system and we are orderly – we share family – but were still able to have separate lovers and separate lives. It adds to the community, it adds to my family life, it adds to our friends and their family lives. (Jasmine) For years, it’s like our foundation is our home. Heterosexual families, like the typical dream, the mom the dad, two kids, and the white picket fence. That sounds all lovely but really, what people want – that happiness, that loyalty, that dedication with each another. And we got that. (Shawnta) And so with the house, we really put a lot of effort into creating a different kind of a space. And a new space. And just a space that fits us, perfectly. (Jasmine) We’re real clear how, inner circle needs to feel safe and warm. Cause outside in the world it’s so hard for both of us, for different reasons. You know, I noticed, she’s an educator, Masters and degrees upon degrees – folks are really disrespectful to her and has nothing to do with her sexuality, it has more to do with her color. But for me, people look at me and they’re just like “You’re trying to be a man.” I never said that. You know? And it’s just like, the way society wants to put these things on me that are very difficult – like I have to have my home to keep me safe and I was in foster care so I didn’t have that growing up but I made it. As soon as I was seventeen, and started making my own money, I was real clear what I wanted my home to look like. By the time – before I turned twenty I had that and I’ve been having it ever since.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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