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Today, I’m talking with Kristina, a queer, black, sexual assault survivor who’s been married to a straight, white man for 17 years. We had a great conversation about growing up in a Christian, black, heterosexual family, how her possibly-gay pastor’s death from AIDs led to her understanding her own sexuality, living in a mixed-race, mixed-orientation marriage, understanding her nonbinary child when they came out to her, and many other great topics!
Note: I had some microphone issues and so fade out a few times during our conversation. Hopefully, it’s not too distracting.
Find Kristina on Twitter.
Be sure to check out her books:
i wandered, lost: poems
Civil Rights Then and Now: A Timeline of the Fight for Equality in America
* Affiliate links. If there is any income received from these links, it will go back into funding the podcast.
Kristina was also a guest on the Get Drunk Get Woke Podcast, where she discussed “cancel culture”.
2021-05-10: Kristina Daniele
Mike: [00:00:00] Welcome to the human tapestry podcast, the podcast where we explore the rich tapestry of humanity through conversations about gender, sexuality, relationships, and sexual practices.
Today, I’m talking with Kristina, a queer black sexual assault survivor. Who’s been married to a straight white man for 17 years. We had a great conversation about growing up in a black Christian heterosexual family. How her possibly gay pastors death from aids led to her understanding her own sexuality.
Living in a mixed race, mixed orientation, marriage, understanding her non binary child when they came out to her. In many other great topics. Couple of quick notes. I did have some microphone issues. And so I do fade out a few times during the conversation. Hopefully that’s not too distracting. And also Kay mentioned her upcoming book. I wandered lost poems. We talked back in September. The book actually came out in October, so you can get your copy today. I’ve included a link in the show notes. If you do want to go ahead and order one. Now let’s get to the conversation.
Okay, thank you for, uh, coming on this.
Kristina: [00:01:06] You’re welcome. Thank you for doing this.
Mike: [00:01:08] Um, yeah, so, um, you, you, you, when you emailed me, you said you’re, you’re queer and you’re in a mixed oriented, mixed orientation marriage of your husband’s straight, and you have a nonbinary child.
So, um, Yeah. Why don’t you just we’ll start just about your queer identity, just,
Kristina: [00:01:33] okay. Um, it’s weird because I don’t have like a revelation story or a coming out story. Um, I just was always attracted to intelligent people. Um, and gender or sex rather, never played a role in it. Um, it was just connection if I felt like it’s very, I don’t know, I’m very attracted to smart people.
Like, I guess that’s a really, and it’s, it’s strange because, um, it started out just, you know, heterosexual because. That’s what I, I was raised in a heterosexual family. Um, my mom was Christian. Um, I grew up, Episcopalian and then Presbyterian, um, in the black church where a heterosexual is the only sexuality.
Um, at the time there was nothing else. Um, and I was really, really good friends with the youth director and choir youth choir director at my church. And his name was Mark and Mark, people always asked questions about Mark sexuality, because he was never seen with a woman. He still lives at home with his mom.
And he was like in his maybe mid. Or early thirties, he lived at home with his parents and he was a momma’s boy as people called him. Um, but we were really close because I just felt comfortable not having to have these discussions, if that makes sense. And I was probably like right in my teens. So probably around 14, 15, I kind of start, no, that was probably earlier, maybe 13.
I started to kind of understand that what I was feeling towards various people in my life, friends, um, wasn’t normal compared to what my sisters had been feeling. And I grew up in a home. Um, I have two sisters, so there was three of us and, um, I didn’t really have, like, you know, people say that, uh, teenage girls are boy crazy and they go, I didn’t really have that.
I had like, Oh, I have these crushes on people, but I had crushes on boys and I had crushes on girls. Um, then Mark died. Um, and I found out he died. From complications from AIDS. And that was a huge problem in my church. He wasn’t like he had, he had devoted his whole life to church and, um, they wouldn’t even let him have the funeral.
His family couldn’t have the funeral there. And it just really shook me and kind of set me on this path of just really trying to understand faith and the concept of God and how that related to who we were as individuals. And at that time I had thought that I was going to be a minister. I thought I was going to go to church and I mean, go to school.
And I was going to study theology and I was going to be a minister. And I had this kind of like revelation that something was wrong with the idea of that. God is a loving God yet he doesn’t approve of certain. People. And there was just this weird thing, because I knew that I wasn’t what we were being told God accepted.
And it wasn’t, I don’t think I had the language for it then. I don’t even think I knew honestly what gay meant at the time, because it was one of those things that people whispered, right. It was like, Oh, gay, she’s gay. So I didn’t really, I didn’t really put language to it, but what I knew was attraction.
Didn’t start with someone’s genitalia. It didn’t start our end with that. Like I just, it didn’t make sense to me, you know? Um, And then I went to summer camp and this is, this is the, this is kind of why I actually ended up writing into you because I heard your other podcasts where one of your other guests was talking about summer camp.
And I was like, Oh my goodness, it’s this where it happens. Um, so I went to summer camp and I remember meeting, um, this girl who was smart and bold and everything that I really like. I knew I was smart, but I wasn’t necessarily bold. I was like, kind of like the young, I was the youngest of three children and I was very, I was considered the smart, sweet one, but there was a lot going on inside of me that nobody would really.
Deal with, and that summer, um, I met her and I, I was head over heels, like just, Oh my goodness, what is this? You know, like I was feeling for her, the things that my friends were feeling for boys. And, um, it was weird, but again, no labels, no language for it. It just was, it was. Um, and then that summer I was sexually assaulted by a camp counselor.
Um, and I. Started to kind of understand. I don’t even know how to explain it. There was something about power dynamics that kind of hit me that made me realize that labels and the boxes that people were trying to put me in were really about controlling who I was. Um, for example, and this is probably a little heavy, but I’ll just explain it.
Um, so I was sexually assaulted, assaulted by a camp counselor and, um, I was in the infirmary. I was sick. I had strep throat or some crap. I was in the infirmary when it happened. And I remember telling the. I told maybe my sister, one of my sisters, and then have to tell other people. And I was accused of lying and creating a fantasy because I had kind of like, I liked this other counselor and we used to flirt with him all the time apparently.
And that meant that I was fast. And therefore I invited this kind of behavior and misunderstood what was going on. Um, and for while I closed myself off to, to, to men, to boys, because I was so afraid that, um, this was what, what it was like, right. Like it was violent. It was, um, About control and power and very uncomfortable.
And so the young woman we’ll just call her T the young woman. Um, she, we became really, really close. We just became very close. She was kind of my confident and, um, I was able to tell her the things that I’d been holding in about what I was feeling. And she confided in me that she was also attracted to girls and.
Also made me feel very, I’ll say this. She’s the reason that I, I understood that rape and sexual assault is definitely not about sex. It’s about power and control and her friendship and whatever developed between us, which was a little more than friendship, but not quite a relationship. Um, really helped me figure out that.
I was a person who just liked people and who could like another person, regardless of their gender, their race or whatever. Um, and then that relationship didn’t end well. Um, I always say that she, my realization of pain and relationships and how powerful love could be came to me when the first girl I fell in love with cheated on me with the first boy I fell in love with.
Um, yeah, so it was like this weird dynamic, um, But even then, like after that relationship, knowing that I was still attracted to women, to girls and knowing that I was attracted to boys, I never told anyone it never came out. It was just something that was, um, and maybe it was a form of masking and a form of just trying to fit in that.
I talked very openly about my relationship with boys, but not openly about my relationship with girls. Um, I also knew that my mom wouldn’t approve my mom. Um, I grew up in a very toxic home environment. Um, my mom was. A narcissist and, or is a narcissist. And, um, I learned like within the last five or six years that she had also been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Um, so it explains so much, there were a lot of mood swings and just, you know, I just, I just didn’t know what was going on. And so I walked on eggshells and tried not to do anything that I thought that would piss her off, but you know, the whole time I was not feeling complete because I felt like I had to go down this one path and this one road alone, and that was this heterosexual path.
Um, and in doing so I became very promiscuous. Um, I. Explored tons of things, um, to try. And I don’t know if it was trying to understand. No, I do know it was more like,
it was probably my self, a way of self-harming in a lot of ways. I’m not feeling very whole yes. Um, and giving parts of myself to people for the littlest in return, the smallest amount in return. Um, and that was miserable and I was miserable. Uh, and then I went to college and, um, had a boyfriend. Who treated me horribly.
And at the same time, I was very, like, I noticed that all the girls that I was close to and becoming friends with were all like lesbians or bisexuals. And I think it was because it felt like home, you know, it felt like I could be myself with them and not have to worry. Um, but then there was that, does bisexuality really exist?
Can you be bisexual? Um, am I trying to just have my cake and eat it too? You know, all the things that people throw out at you, are you just confused? It’s because you were sexually assaulted it’s because you’ve never had a man treat you. Right. You know, it was all of that, but strangely enough, um, I’ve learned that.
It was okay to be who I wanted and to like, to be who I was and not have to fit into boxes, but it took me a while. Probably didn’t feel fully comfortable about it until I was 2021. Um, and that’s, I met my husband, the person who was the man who would become my husband. I met him in college, my freshman year in college, and we were really good friends and he was always very supportive of who I was as a person, um, and never judged.
And we went through a lot together and eventually it developed into more. And it’s strange because I always say that not only am I clear and an atheist, which if my household is not cool, but I also like men at the opposite ends of the spectrum. So I like really, really dark skinned men and white men.
All right. I’m just, I don’t know. And that’s another thing I went through this, like, am I just trying to make life difficult for myself? If I’m, am I trying to just be different? Like you ask yourself so many questions because people ask them of you or assume them. Assume that this is why you are who you are.
Um, so to make a long story short, it was a journey, but there was no like coming out story. It was just like, I’m going to have experiences. And I got to like some of them and I’m not going to like some of them, and this is who I am. And, um, I don’t identify as heterosexual because I’m not, um, But I also wouldn’t say I used to say bisexual for a long time, but I think it takes the focus off of what I genuinely am attracted to.
Um, it’s not sex it’s people. Um, and I guess do people say, is it pan pansexual is the term now? Oh yeah.
Mike: [00:16:39] There’s pansexual where gender doesn’t matter. And there’s also CEPI. I don’t know if this fits or not. Sapiosexual is a, like, you’re, you’re more attracted to the mind or the person you have to know the person before you can have any other, any physical attractions.
Kristina: [00:16:54] Well, that’s not it. I get physically attracted to people, but it would definitely be, it doesn’t matter if the person has breast or not. Or like, if I see someone and I’m like, Oh, they’re attractive. And then that that’s it like it’s, it’s not nothing else really matters. And you know, and then I get to know them and in my youth and before marriage, sometimes I didn’t even want to get to know them.
I just like to look at them. Um, and, um, I’m open about it. Like I talk about it now. I talk about it a lot. I don’t think I’ve ever, I’ve never had that discussion with my mom, but I’ve also been, non-contact no contact with my mother for a very long time. Um, my oldest sister, before my oldest sister passed away, we had a long conversation about it.
She knew my other sister. We didn’t talk about it so much because she’s kind of. Out of the three of us, she’s very puritanical in her thinking. Um, but as we’ve gotten older, she’s come to kind of understand, like we still don’t discuss it, but she understands and she knows if that’s yeah,
Mike: [00:18:07] yeah. The don’t ask, don’t tell kind of
Kristina: [00:18:11] sometimes like, she’ll ask me certain things, but it’s more like, I’m just like, she has children and, you know, she wants to be supportive of her children.
And so it’s like, she wants to know, but she doesn’t want to know. Right. You
Mike: [00:18:29] know, about the things that those people do, but not that you’re one of those people.
Kristina: [00:18:34] Right, right. Yeah. Right. And our relationship hasn’t suffered because of it, mainly because I, you know, I understand that our background and how we grew up is a huge thing.
And, um, But, like I said, she, she supportive and accepting. We just don’t need to have those conversations, but I also look at it like, you know, you don’t sit down and you don’t say to a heterosexual person, um, what’s it like to be in a relationship? Like we don’t have those kinds of conversations with heterosexual people, but we ha those questions are often asked of those who don’t identify as heterosexual.
And I think that’s interesting because I don’t see the need to talk about it. I don’t see the need to discuss what I do in my personal life, in that manner. You know, they seem way more interested in it than I am. So, um, yeah, that, that, that’s my journey story and that’s, that’s pretty cool.
Mike: [00:19:42] Yeah. That’s amazing.
Um, yeah. And it’s so funny because it sounds like you’re just, you’re one of those humans that just has, you don’t have a box and that is fine. You don’t have a label that says, this is who you are. But like I said, labels are good. I’ve always seen labels as a nice shortcut for a conversation. Yes. And matter of fact, um, someone I just talked to the other day was like, you know, it’s PR people use it as prescriptive language when it’s really it’s descriptive because like, if you have in, you know, um, In the bisexual community, bi/pan community.
If you took either of those words and asked 20 people what they mean, you’ll get about 25 different answers because, you know, it’s, it’s just, it’s, we’re human and how we interact with the world around us and the people around us. It just depends.
Kristina: [00:20:45] So yeah, much like race and my gender were not a monolith.
Right. And, um, so as much as I say that, I don’t like labels. Let me clarify. I use them because like you said, I think it’s, it’s a shortcut, right? Like I can, if I say to someone I’m bisexual, they get a general idea. Right. Um, if I say to them are like, they have no clue what that means. So I do use language.
I do use labels to help people. Understand the makeup, but I don’t use the labels to define who I am. Does it sense? So basically, basically what exactly what you said, so, you know, same.
So, um, but yeah, like that again, I’m, I’m not straight my husband’s street. My husband’s very straight.
Mike: [00:21:53] And are you both cis-gender
Kristina: [00:21:57] yes. Yes we are.
Mike: [00:22:01] I was just saying, cause it looks like I’m looking at the blended nature of your family. Um, your black, your husband’s white you’re queer, your husband’s straight you’re both cis.
Your child is non-binary. I did. I just think that’s really amazing.
Kristina: [00:22:21] So yeah, like the, the, okay, so, um, we’ll just call them girl. That’s their nickname. We call them girl. Um, my, so girl was assigned female at birth and, um, I thought, Oh, I have a daughter. Um, about a year ago, two years ago, they came out to me as lesbian.
initially. And, um, it was an interesting conversation. Like we were sitting around making a father’s day card. They said I’m a little, I like girls. I said, soda, why pass the glue? Like that was literally the conversation like, um, They looked at me, I looked at them. I said, okay, are you happy? They said, yes. I said, okay.
And at the time, uh, Greg was 12. Yeah. So two years ago, 12. Um, and then about maybe a month later they were like, actually I’m queer because I don’t identify as a girl. And I said, Oh. And they said, I also don’t identify as a boy. And I went and so transgender language and understanding transgender, uh, the label was very confusing for me.
And it has always been, and I’ve always been very open about being confused about it, because I think like when people say, um, I think for me, it was about. The closest thing I could think of was race. So when people said, you know, I don’t feel like a black person, I would go, what does a black person feel like?
So when people said to me, I don’t feel like a girl or I don’t feel like a boy. I was like, well, what does that feel like? What? I don’t know what that means, because I don’t know what it feels like to be a girl because although I’m sister cis-gendered right. That’s it. See, I struggle. Um, I’ve never fit the predefined, the stereotypical definition of a girl.
It just wasn’t, it was never me, you know? Um, I don’t like to use the term tomboy, but that’s what everyone called me growing up. Um, I don’t like. The so-called girly things. Um, but I never thought of myself as less of a girl because I, or not a girl, because I didn’t, I just thought of myself as a person who I’m a girl who doesn’t like these things.
So initially for me, I was trying to understand that, um, because it just seemed well. Okay. Why do you have to label yourself? But then, um, lots of conversations and learning and patience. Um, and the girl being very patient with me and sending me information and having conversations and telling me how they feel.
I started to understand that how they feel is exactly how I felt about my sexuality and it made a lot of sense. And I was like, Oh, um, and don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that I have to understand. I don’t, I don’t have to understand. I just have to respect and acknowledge. Um, I don’t think it’s, it’s not for me to understand because it really doesn’t concern me.
Um, I just need to respect
affinity and I do fully. So, um, my husband was probably more understanding and more accepting than I was, which is odd.
I just …
Mike: [00:26:32] Well, your husband just understood and accepted you from the start. It sounds like. So he’s been through the process of knowing someone who doesn’t identify in a, where I guess you, you really didn’t know someone who did, you were the one.
Kristina: [00:26:51] Right. And, and I think
as much as I’ve moved away from how I was brought up, there is still some level of expectation that you have for your child, right? Like what you expect your child to be like, and to do. Okay. And as much as we’ve always parented from a place of love where, you know, this is, this, my home, their family, this is their safe space, regardless of what happens in the world, this is the place that they need to come and feel like they can be their true selves.
Um, and so I’ve always known that that’s what I wanted, but, you know, knowing what you want and putting it into practice is not always easy. And so there was, you know, because I was so vocal about not understanding, I almost felt like, are you doing this just to rebel again, me, you know, it’s the one thing I don’t understand, like, and I never said that to them, but that, you know, I couldn’t help it, um, humid.
And we think these things, and I think people get caught up in thinking that inclusion and acceptance is about. Changing your thinking and, and being all in, but it’s not. It’s about recognizing that we have these expectations and that those expectations are our own and no one else owes you anything.
Right? My, my, my child’s goal in life is not to live up to my expectations. That’s not like that’s ridiculous. And so, um, I’m learning every day I learned more and every day I’ve learned to put my expectations to the side and let them be their true selves, because I don’t want them to ever leave home feeling like I w like how I felt as a kid.
I remember feeling like I didn’t fit in. Like I didn’t belong. Like I was a disappointment and just, um, I was doing something wrong. That’s the worst. I think, feeling that. You think you’re wrong, something is wrong with you. You’re doing something wrong. Your existence is wrong. The things that you know, and believe and feel wrong, those are, that’s a hard place to be a very dangerous place to be too.
So I definitely want to ensure that that’s not the case.
I mean, I talk a lot. Tell me to shut up.
Mike: [00:29:35] I mean, it sounds like you’re being a parent,
Kristina: [00:29:39] like
Mike: [00:29:39] something that, yeah, and I guess that’s, that’s how we as human species grow and evolve because every generation kind of pushes against the boundaries that they tries to set on them. But yeah. No, it’s, it’s really cool. Um,
Kristina: [00:30:09] No problem.
Mike: [00:30:13] Um, so yeah, he gets really cool that you, you know, you ha, like you said, you don’t have to understand it. You just have to respect it. And I think it’s interesting. They were about the same age. It sounds like you were, when you were starting to question. Right.
Kristina: [00:30:30] Right. And
they are so much like me that when we began these conversations, I would just like blink, like, Oh my, could this it’s like staring in the mirror because even the way they presented the information to me was so matter of fact, like, I’m not asking you for permission. And quite frankly, I don’t really care.
If you get it or not, this is who I am. These are my boundaries. These are what I’m, this, these are my preferred pronouns and get with the program or don’t talk to me and really, how can you not respect that? Like, it’s just, and I, I always say that they are the qualities that anger me as a parent are the ones that I respect in adults, you know, just being, um, aware of who they are and standing up for themselves and creating boundaries.
Like, I totally respect that in adults, but as a parent, I’m like, don’t talk to me that way, you know, but, um, Again, it’s not about me. And so we do have, I mean, we have lots of conversations. Um, I did the, they went to therapy. I went to therapy. Um, a lot of it was mainly to not to understand, but to have a place where we could talk about our feelings, that weren’t, that wasn’t like to each other, you know, um, as my friend often says, cause Shalom in the home is how we should be.
Um, let’s, let’s talk about these things outside of the home so that we can figure out how to discuss them within the home. Um, and I’m not very good with the language and the terminology. And so that’s something that I really wanted to work with and just, um, understand fully because conceptually, it makes sense to me, but you know, I grew up a Presbyterian.
Like that’s a church. That’s a tough church.
Mike: [00:32:57] Yeah. That’s interesting. Cause um, we’ve got a Presbyterian church here locally. That is one of the most accepting churches. It’s different. I know there are different branches of Presbyterian and I know from what I’ve seen, black Presbyterian is its own unique.
Even the other two.
Kristina: [00:33:18] Yeah. Yeah. And, um, you know, I grew up with an older, my, my I’m adopted my, my sisters and I are adopted, we grew up with older parents. So my mom was, my mom was born in 1935 33. Okay. So I mean, I was 13 in the eighties, early nineties, like these were not conversations that people were having.
Regularly. Um, and definitely not conversations people were having with acceptance. Um, I mean, we had just come out of the, you know, AIDS being a gay disease. Remember that? I mean, it was, it was very, it was very different. That’s a GRID. Say that again,
Mike: [00:34:11] GRID was, it was, it was originally called before they kept what AIDS.
Kristina: [00:34:15] Yes. So, you know, I grew up in the middle of, I grew up in the Bronx, um, and, uh, black and Latino neighborhood. Um, and the eighties and nineties were like the middle and the end of the epidemic. Um, the AIDS epidemic, the safe sex, crazy. Like there was so much going on socially, um, that this conversation. Was not, no one was ready for that conversation.
You know? Um, I mean, my mother, I grew up with my mom’s saying whispering the words like, Oh no, she never said pregnant. It was, she was she’s in a way, she’s in a way, you know, or, um, when I brought my husband home, he’s like, it was whispered, you know,
my family would sit around and vent.
You know, we didn’t talk about that. I remember one time
my parents got divorced, um, when I was young and I remember like, my mom started dating later on when I was, I want to say I was in high school, like late in high school. I remember my father going out on a date and me saying, Oh, look at you, you look sexy. And my mother turning around to me and saying, we don’t use that language in this house.
Like sexy. That’s not a good word. And I was like, Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, even my introduction to like the female reproductive system was strange. Like my mom was a nurse and she came home. And she said, I swear, I must’ve been
12, 11 or 12. And she said, I know you’re having sex. Don’t get pregnant. I’m not raising any babies.
Mike: [00:36:36] That was the talk. Huh.
Kristina: [00:36:38] And I was like sex.
Like I was playing Vultron in Legos a little while sex thing you’re talking about. Yeah. Like that. She gave me a vibrator for my 16th birthday. Well,
Mike: [00:36:58] that’s something.
Kristina: [00:37:00] Yeah, that was strange. Right. I mean like, yeah. My childhood was very odd.
Mike: [00:37:10] That was your, that wasn’t your mom. That was your.
Kristina: [00:37:13] That was my adoptive mom.
Mom, I don’t know my biological. Yeah. I don’t know my biological parents we’ve I was adopted, I was like three. I was young. I don’t remember them at all. Um, so yeah, she, yeah, it was strange childhood that led to a strange journey. Um, and I don’t know, I hope I’m doing it right. I’m hope. I hope that I’m making things easier for your good, because, um, I do want to spare them some of the heartache and trouble I went through, you know, um, I tell them all the time, learn from my lessons, be open, you know, being honest.
Um, and don’t feel like you have to contort yourself into whatever shape someone thinks you’re supposed to be. You know, it’s just. It’s not healthy and that’s even within a relationship. I mean, not just to your family and friends, but the person you choose to be with too, you know, um, if you can’t be your true self, then it’s not the person for you.
Um, so yeah, that’s where I am crazy journey. Oh, that’s
Mike: [00:38:35] pretty amazing though.
Sorry, I’m looking over all, all of this. Oh, no problem. Um, so as far as that blending of, um, Cause I know, um, I said I’m in a mixed oriented marriage, so I know that’s, that’s sometimes tricky to navigate, especially when you’re starting and a mixed race marriage. I’m sure. Also has its challenges. Um, yeah.
Kristina: [00:39:21] Um, Hmm. I think so. We have, uh, I’ve known him for 24 years now. My math is really bad. Um, we were friends for like 24 years. Okay. So that we were friends first. Um, we had a lot of conversations and we went through a lot of. Things together as friends. Right. Um, he knew, he knew the person I was dating before him.
I knew though the girls he was messing with before me, um, we had experienced so much together as friends that when we took that next step, it kind of just felt right and normal. It didn’t. But so for me, the hardest part was realizing that I was in love with this white man that was harder for me than anything else.
Um, and it was part because I had been, um, I was raised in a very black centered home. Um, We joke around and say that my home was blackity black. It was like, um, my mom was a former Black Panther. Um, I grew up with black power, like, you know, this, that was my home. Um, but I went to predominantly white schools, my whole life.
Um, and so there, and, and I think when you’re a black person in a predominantly white institution, you two things happen. You either kind of cocoon yourself and your blackness too, in a way where you overcompensate right. To, to prove to the people outside that you are still black, right? You haven’t like whitewashed yourself or you.
Separate yourself from blackness in some way. Um,
once again, I was kind of the middle where I knew I was black. You couldn’t tell me that black was bad. Black was always good. Um, and I liked white guys and I liked black guys, but I knew I was, I just knew I was going to marry a black person. If I was going to get married, I didn’t even want to get married.
That was like the huge thing. Like the joke was that I was going to join the Peace Corps and travel around the world, building houses for people like that was always the joke because I was, I mean, I was applying for colleges in other countries. It wasn’t so it was hard for me. Um, when I got to the, when I had the realization that, Oh my goodness, this is, I think this is like, he’s who I want to be with forever.
Um, I was less worried about gender and sex and more worried about race and what that meant. Um, and mainly because it’s really hard to,
you know, a lot of people think that if you date outside your race, because you don’t like who you are and that wasn’t it at all. Like everyone who knew me knew that Kristina K was blackly black. She loves being black. This is not a problem. So what is it? Um, and I had to do some kind of. Just soul searching to ensure that my reasons were not anti black.
Like was I getting into a relationship? Because I didn’t like the color of my skin because I wanted children who look the lighter that all these things that I’m sure white people don’t really have to think about. I had all of these conversations and on the flip side, my husband is from an Italian family, a hundred percent Italian with a mother and father who wanted their children to marry Italians.
Um, so yeah, it was. But he never, okay. So he never treated me like I was his black girlfriend and I think that was the thing. He never treated me. Like I was his black girlfriend. He never treated me. Like I was his bisexual girlfriend. It was, I was his partner. I was his girlfriend period. And so he did the thing that I think for me was the most important, which was, he protected me.
He stood up for me. He became kind of like my line of defense against all the other stupid that could possibly permeate our relationship. Um, and he did so even with his family. And then as I became closer to his father and my mother, my mother, and father-in-law, they did it. Uh, my father-in-law was very protective of me.
Um, like unbelievably protective of me, um, to the point where if, if I would say like, so-and-so made me uncomfortable, we’d worry about whether or not my father-in-law was gonna like, go fight someone, you know? It was that, um, yeah, it just, and so the race started to be something that I didn’t really wrecking.
I didn’t, I don’t want to sat there and recognize it because clear you will, you, we live in the United States, you recognize it. And I don’t want to say that I didn’t see color because that’s not the case, but it was recognizing all of the different layers of. What it means to be in a relationship regardless.
Right. All relationships are built on the same foundation, trust, respect, loyalty, all of that. And so I think if that is there, but also the willingness to understand and respect where the other person is coming from, you can kind of navigate anything. Um, we dated for six years before we got married, we went to college together.
Um, he took classes about African American experiences. He read books by African-American authors. He really, I don’t want to say he immersed himself in the culture, but he really took it upon himself to understand what my experience was because it’s not the experience that shown in school. It’s not the lived experience.
Right. Um, And here we go, the natural introduction of my book. So I wrote a book, um, civil rights then, and now, and in the book I talk about in the introduction about how growing up as a black person in the United States, there was never a time where I could avoid whiteness. Um, there’s you just can’t you’re, you know, like white it’s mainstream, whether you go to an all black school or not, the books are written by, you know, white writers.
Um, even the Canon of litter of literature is all white men. There’s no, there’s really no. Way to avoid it, but white people in America can, uh, can go their entire lives without ever interacting with a black person and without ever interacting with the black experience. And so I think it’s important that he recognized that and he took the time to ensure that he was immersed in that experience.
Um, and I tell people, you know, we homeschool and I tell people my, even our home is a black centered home. Everything we co we do in this house in terms of education is about showing the black experience, because it’s not the experience that by default, my child is going to get when they leave the house.
Right. Um, so. I say all that to say that I think it really is just, uh, a willingness to accept the, the wholeness of another person, right. To accept who they are in their entirety. Um, yeah.
Mike: [00:48:56] So it sounds like you been accomplish,
Kristina: [00:48:59] right? I don’t. And, and, and that’s yeah. Yeah. Like he is. Yeah, definitely like, and case in point.
And I’ll give you an example because I think this is like, people don’t recognize how this happens, but right after Trump was elected on Facebook, um, one of his cousins was spouting off some stupid stupidity and we were, I, I got involved in a confrontation, um,
With his cousin and his parents have been, his parents have passed away, so they weren’t even around at the time. Um, but he jumped in the conversation and he said, that’s my wife. And you don’t get to talk to her like that. And unfriended them, block them, like had a whole, like it just because that’s the kind of like, you have to risk losing something in order to really show up for the people who were at risk.
Right. If, if, and if you’re not, then are you really there for them? And it’s soft. I don’t, of course I don’t want him to be a strange from his family, but at the same time where his family and. He has he, as the, who I consider my protector has to protect. Right. And, and a lot of times I think that, um, that can often be neglected and missed in these very complicated relationships almost too, you know, it’s, it’s kind of, I want to keep the peace.
So I’m going to risk. Um, I don’t want to risk anything. I’m trying to keep the peace, but keeping the peace is risking everyone’s safety and they’re, they’re saying right. Um, if you’re not clearly defining boundaries and clearly defining what you stand for than anyone. Can trample all over you. So that’s been pretty much the backbone of our relationship.
It’s um, and it’s something that we’ve worked at and we fail sometimes and we pick it up and try again. Um, we just celebrated our 17th anniversary, um, and it was not easy, you know, I I’ll never pretend that it’s easy. I tell people all the time, marriage and parenthood, parenthood are not for the weak at heart.
Like it is tough. It’s tough. Um, and it’s something that you have to choose daily. Like, it’s not like you get married and you say, okay, I’m married. I’m all, it’s over now. Every morning I wake up and I choose to be married and I choose, and that means choosing to work through the messy stuff, you know? Um, even when it feels like you can’t.
So I hope that answers your question.
Mike: [00:52:35] Yeah. No, and it’s so funny. Cause like, like I hear, cause I mean, I think you and I have had a conversation before about this, heard with other people about like being the difference between like being an ally and being an ex and showing up for people. And it’s so funny cause you’re talking about the things that like he looked at and how you can, how you can, like, as a white person, you can just spend your entire life.
And I like, remember my black friend, I was in junior high, you know, and, and it’s it’s and, and. It’s so funny because once you, and I don’t know if that’s what he went through or not, but like, I it’s, I mean, it sounds like you it’s just sounds like he was genuinely, like, I want to understand this person that I’m spending my life and dug in and probably I’ve had a similar experience, not with like learning it for a person, but just learning things that I’m like, how did I not know this?
I, um, um, to show them the Watchman is when I learned that Tulsa was a thing. Um, and then I’ve learned more as I went along just. What the heck, how did I not know this? And I started reading and then I, I learned about the, you know, the red summer and all the things that have happened in the history and the, you know, how, from the days of slavery, till now, like the red lining happened and it all just ties right into and it’s like, no one ever.
And it is, you can just kind of spend your life just, you can be blissfully ignorant and be, well, maybe up until this year, it’s easy to just stay blissfully ignorant.
Kristina: [00:54:17] But I think people are still managing to do it, you know? And we were just talking about this. Um, my Andrew and I were just, uh, my husband’s name is Andrew.
We were talking about this yesterday. My, um, so my mom was born in 1933. The emancipation proclamation was 1865. Okay. Her. Parents and her grandparents, well, mainly her grandparents were alive during reconstruction. Okay. They were sharecroppers, which is what they, you know, people give the emancipation proclamation ended slavery, but he didn’t end slavery in Texas until 1868.
So that’s two years after three years after it was written. Right. And then as black people were being frayed from slavery, they became sharecroppers. A lot of them, that’s how close to home. This hit for us. Like this wasn’t 500 years ago. You know what I mean? Like it wasn’t, it’s not that long ago. So when, when we talk about like the trauma and the pain and the, the, um, anger and the sadness and all of that, that stems from that period in our history, it’s not as simple as saying get over it.
It wasn’t that long ago. You know, and okay, so we went from the institution of slavery to the institution of systemic racism. That’s not that different, you know? So I think, um, yeah, I think when it comes to all it, like people are saying like all of these new terms, these are not new terms. They’re new to you terms because the people who have been living it have been living it their whole lives, you know?
Um, so I think that’s probably one of the things that infuriates me the most about what’s happening now is that there seems to be a lack of willingness to learn. And I don’t know anyone who expects. Another person to know everything, but I think wanting people to just say, you know what, let me learn about this is fair.
You know, we should be learning about each other’s experiences.
Mike: [00:57:11] Absolutely. Yeah. Cause there’s, there’s ignorance because you just don’t know. And then there’s willful. I don’t want to know ignorance nowadays. It’s becoming harder and harder to, to just be unaware and you almost have to choose to ignore it.
And I don’t know. And I guess thinking back, like, like with the queer experience, the gay rights movement, you know, the Castro, all the big Mino, Harvey milk, all of that, it was within. The lifetime of a lot of people it’s within our social memory still where the, you know, the civil war and the emancipation proclamation and the reconstruction out of that is all that people that are alive.
If the very, very few people that are still alive are in the record books and most are, you know, so it’s, I guess it’s just we’re so maybe we’re so far removed from it. I don’t know, but, um, I don’t know. It’s, I mean, the conversation is finally moving, which is nice. And
Kristina: [00:58:20] I think recently this, um, I think a world, uh, war world, but world war two vet celebrated his a hundred and 11th birthday.
And when you think about that, he was born in 1909.
Like, that’s not that he was, that’s not that long. So he was born in 1909 and the emancipation proclamation was written in 1865. A person born in 1865 would only be what? 40? No, I told you my math is bad.
Mike: [00:59:09] You know, I’m showing my age. I still have a hard time remembering we’re in the 21st century sometimes. So, you know,
Kristina: [00:59:16] right. Yeah. Listen, people say to me, okay, Oh, I’ve gone to my 20 to me, my high school reunion was 20 years ago. Like it wasn’t, I graduated high school in 1995, but it was only 20 years ago. I don’t know what people are talking about.
I had in high school 20 years ago. What are you saying? You know, but yeah, I think, um, You know, we may have a short memory, but our DNA has a long memory. And so there’s a lot of genetic trauma that’s just being passed. And I, I think, you know, when we talk about ending the cycle ending the violence cycle, it’s more than just the physical trauma.
There’s so much internal trauma, just from these negative ideas that we’ve internalized and accepted as a norm. Um, you know, we accept that heterosexual is normal. We accept that, you know, uh, same race, relationships are normal. We accept all of this stuff and it’s just not, you know, there is no normal, you can’t have normal for such a diverse group of people.
We’re a very diverse human species. I mean, even genetically speaking people of the same race don’t necessarily all have the same genetic markers. It’s so, you know, there’s just so much, and I don’t know, it’s exhausting because I want to like shake people and be like, what are y’all talking about? But you know, this is why I stay home.
Um, but yeah, like I just, how do you find it? Can I ask you a question? I’m sorry. Um, how do you find your relationship and navigating the queer side? You know, being queer and, and your partner being straight, how do you find that?
Mike: [01:01:23] Um, it took some doing
Kristina: [01:01:26] okay.
Mike: [01:01:28] When we started together, it was one of the first things I told her.
And that I was just that I was by. Cause thankfully I knew by then and, um, yeah, over time, uh, it was really funny. Cause at the beginning she was trying to pull me into, Oh, let’s look at this cute guy and I would be embarrassed and stuff. And it wasn’t until actually it took a few years of being with her, navigating my own because I really had only known for a few years, by the time we met.
And then she helped me through the process of coming out publicly and, and now we’re just like a lot of fun. I just sent her, her and my daughter, uh, a text of a video of Jason Mamoa when he broke down on the side of the road and was shirtless.
Kristina: [01:02:24] So it’s so funny because I like the idea of him. Does that make sense? Like, I think, I think he’s gorgeous, but I wish he were either fully white or dark skin
Mike: [01:02:40] black. Well there, yeah, yeah. Is also an amazing human, like somebody has done for him.
Kristina: [01:02:49] He really is.
Mike: [01:02:50] And his own and just people in general. And I, I do have a type two, but I still have, and there were some people that are like, you just can stay there and stay quiet and let me look, the people that I’m like, okay, you are amazing.
Are. The people that are like good humans.
Kristina: [01:03:13] Exactly. Um, you know, and Andrew and I do share the, what do you think of that one? Okay. Um, we have our list. I don’t know everyone should have everyone. I think every couple has their list. Right. Of like the top five. Like if you left me for these people, I totally understand we have our list.
And some of the people on my list have the same as his, um, yeah. You know, do you ever get the common with the questions where people are like, Oh, so if your, if you’re bisexual and your wife is straight, are you into, you know, group Sachs and all that stuff? Like people assume these things like that’s
Mike: [01:03:56] true.
And we have, um, I am not monogamous. Okay. My wife is. Um, and we’ve worked out the details and how we have it set up for us. And it’s very like very open communication and obviously, right. COVID, it’s, we’re both at the house together and just staring at men together or were they straight, but she can yeah.
Weird things about gender roles in this country. If a man looks at another man and says he’s attractive, that’s just, you’re just obviously gay and not a real man. Women are allowed us women are allowed to do that
Kristina: [01:04:36] because that’s the fantasy. Yeah. It’s all patriarchal. And now it’s,
Mike: [01:04:43] and we’ve grown together.
Like we’ve actually both taught each other. A lot of, I came from a very conservative, my parents were not we’re very much like live your life, do what you want. Um, but I went into a very conservative Christian. For a long time. And so coming out of that, I still had to kind of overcome the, just the norms of is quote normal.
Um, and which is why it took me so long to even come out to myself. So it was cool to, so she’s helped me because I was very conservative. She was very progressive and we’ve kind of moved towards each other on some things I probably I’ve, uh, I’ve moved much more towards the progressive end than she’s come towards the conservative end, but she’s understood things from that perspective.
That’s like, Oh, okay. That makes sense now. Um, and, uh, so it’s really cool. Uh, like gender stuff was something I didn’t understand. Women’s, uh, women’s health issues. Women’s rights women, you know, so she’s helped me to see, Oh, this is what it’s like. From a woman’s perspective and we’ve both learned and, you know, together change our definition of even what a woman is.
A woman is not defined by body parts. It’s defined by, um, you know, an identity and who you are. And, and so it’s been really kind of cool cause, um, she’s been, she’s been big into, um, like the pro-choice movement. She’s always said if there’s one thing that would send her to jail, it would be that. So, yeah.
So she’s talked a lot about that perspective and stuff. And of course I came into it very, um, very against that point of view and from the perspective of, um, you know, the Mo you know, that it’s murder and things like that, that people believe in, it took a long time to, to, to break through that. But it was through that process of me.
Coming to an understanding of it and being better with it. She’s has a little bit better understanding. Doesn’t agree with it. But, um, and I don’t really agree with it much anymore, but at least they, okay, so this is the paradigm you’re in. This is why you think it’s so horrible. And then, so it’s, it’s been, it’s been fun.
It’s been, it’s been challenging. It’s been, um, we’ve been together. Wow. Um, 10 years. Cool. Well, it’ll be this November. We’ll be 10 years from when we met and then we started dating the following year and then we’ve been married for seven years.
Kristina: [01:07:39] Okay. Nice, nice. You know, it’s interesting because, um, I try to explain to people that.
Who you are in a relationship with really has nothing to do with who you’re attracted to, you know, like it just,
Mike: [01:08:04] yeah, you’re not straight because you’re in a relationship with the opposite sex.
Kristina: [01:08:10] Right. Like, and because I’m in a, what appears to be a heterosexual relationship does not make it a heterosexual relationship.
Mike: [01:08:21] I, we had that conversation, whether she puts in the queer community and I’m always like, you’re like, yes, you’re straight, but you’re, you’re queer you at a queer you’re with your relationship is not straight.
Kristina: [01:08:38] Yeah. You know, I, that’s a good. That’s actually interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever had that conversation with Andrew.
I’m going to have to talk to him because I wonder how he, I have to add he’s working now because if he wasn’t, I’d be like, Hey, um, but I wonder what does, if he views our really how he views our relationship? Like, does he view it as a heterosexual relationship? Does he view it as a queer relationship?
That’s actually interesting. You know, it’s tough because I’ve never, I don’t think I’ve never, I don’t think I’ve ever ref. Oh, no, I did. I think I did refer to myself as bisexual for a little while, but I have to admit, I don’t think it
Mike: [01:09:21] fits makes sense. Yeah. I go back
Kristina: [01:09:24] and forth on that one.
Mike: [01:09:25] I had to struggle with the pansexual versus bisexual identity and I settled on no, I think where I am is, is by, because for me, I do find mass certain masculine traits.
Attractive certain feminine traits attractive. And you know, so it’s, it’s, it’s a little different for me of my there’s different attractions to different genders where I know a lot of pan people or people that have, you know, don’t, don’t, don’t fit that identity will are like, I don’t care.
Kristina: [01:09:57] Yeah. But you just kind of made me aware of something.
Cause I like what’s considered masculine men. That’s okay. But not necessarily. What’s considered masculine women. That’s part of that stuff. See, now I have to go and think about this. Oh, geez.
Mike: [01:10:20] Like ruined, just destroy your identity. No,
Kristina: [01:10:23] but you know, I’ve read somewhere that, um, people within your lifetime, you’re five different people by the time you’re 40.
Um, I’m 43. So I think I’m working on my sixth person. Um, and I th and that’s fine. I think as, uh, as you understand more and more and learn more and more about yourself, your identity changes over time. So yes, it’s your fault, but it’s not really your fault.
Um, I think that’s also why I don’t like labels for the most part. I think it’s too confining. It kind of makes you feel like you can’t explore things outside of those labels, you know? Um, Yeah. I don’t know. It could just be my own personal issues with like, having to define myself for and to other people.
I don’t know. I’m a mess.
Mike: [01:11:23] It sounds like you’re happy you’re doing it right. You’re identifying who you are, who you are. Not who, other people.
Kristina: [01:11:30] Yeah, I try. I hope so. So do you find that, um, do you find that now that I feel like I’m wrong for asking these questions? So, you know, tell me if it’s too, if I’m overstepping, but do you find that it’s easier for you to exist as your full self?
Um, now that your. Now that you are you’re out and vocal about who you are, or do you find that life is a bit more difficult for you? Actually, it
Mike: [01:12:03] was very freeing for me and I totally understand how people will not, it may not be safe to come out or things like that. But for me, it was the way I came out was I was, I reached a point where I’m like, okay, I’m not going to hide it if anyone asks.
Um, but then like I was at the point where I was like, Oh, does this person know? Do I say something to them now, whatever. And I’m like, okay. I just can’t continue living this way. And well, before that, I actually, I went to I’m part of a, I was part of an online group of, uh, buying gay, married men who are out to their wives that like, that was a requirement.
Um, and I went to the first gathering with that. And, um, I remember I went to my first gay gay bar. And just hung out with the man. And I came home and I like had some pictures and she saw them and was like, Hey, you look really happy. I was like, I kind of felt like I was be, I could be myself without having to worry about how someone was going to perceive it.
And I, that helped me. And then it still took, it was still a process, but eventually I was like, I keep hiding. So I decided there were people that had to know before I, you know, I didn’t want them to find out, not from me. So I like took my daughter and her then boyfriend now, fiance out to, uh, um, out for ice cream and came out to her.
Um, then I came out to my parents and then I made a YouTube video because I was just like, I can’t keep coming out to people. I just want it out there. And. And it’s nice because now I’m just, this is who I am. I don’t care. Uh, you know, when I’m on a meeting and zoom the normal angle, cause I switched computers I’m on the other side, but like I’ve got a, I’ve got the new pride flag behind one side, I’ve got Deadpool carrying the BI flag on the other side and I just don’t care anymore.
And it’s, it’s very freeing and good to, to be there. And I didn’t, you know, like you had the experience of kind of, you grew up into it and I know coming out of, uh, coming out of a home that didn’t accept it. It was I’m sure it was hard, but I was in my forties. Oh yeah. Myself. Right. To, to integrate that.
And like once it was just like, okay, I have now actually who I have been my entire life and now I’m actually living my true self and it’s been nice. Nice.
Kristina: [01:14:40] Well, that’s good. I think, um, I want, uh, probably the, what I want most for my child is for them to have the freedom, to explore and fully understand and learn who they are, um, on their own terms.
And, um, of all the things that I would say stuck out most to me about my childhood was that I didn’t have that freedom, um, to really explore, but I did it anyway. And it’s probably why my, my mom and I bumped heads so often and really didn’t get along because I did kind of pushed at every boundary. I explored as much as I could, you know, given the parameters that I was in, um, And she did not like it, but I try here to just allow, I don’t even want to, I don’t like the word allow because it’s really not for me to allow, but to create the space where my child can do that.
So kudos to you. That’s awesome that, um, you know, you, you are living your truth. It’s amazing. I think it’s cool. That means that’s a, that’s a great example for you, for your daughter. Like great, unbelievable example. So good for you. Wow. Powerful.
Mike: [01:16:25] Thank you. You’re doing for your child is like not a lot of parents can do that, you know, and just, just say you can be yourself, even if that self is not who I thought you were.
Yeah, it’s, it’s, uh, it’s hard and it’s, I mean, it’s admirable to do that, so thank
Kristina: [01:16:45] you. Thank you. So I know that this was amazing, amazing conversation. I can’t wait to hear it in full,
um, any questions?
Mike: [01:17:02] Gosh, that was a lot. Um, did you have anything, I know you talked a little bit about your book. Was there anything else?
Kristina: [01:17:11] Well, I have my poetry book coming out October 1st. Um, it’s called, I wondered I wandered lost. Um, it’s just a book of poems. There are about 13 poems. It’s uh, About 36 pages.
It’ll be available on Amazon. I can’t wait. It’s my first, uh, not it’s my first non non-fiction book. Does that make sense? So it is my fiction book, right? It’s my first book. It’s my first book. That’s not announced fiction book. Um, that’s going to be available on Amazon and I can’t wait. Um, so yeah, and then my podcast, but we’ll talk about, I’ll let you talk about that later when I figure out when it’s going to be live and stuff.
Mike: [01:18:02] right. All right. Thank you so much.
Kristina: [01:18:04] Kay. No problem. Thank you so much. And good job. Good. Keep up the site. I can’t wait. I’m going to send some people your way who might want to discuss
Mike: [01:18:14] that would be great. I appreciate it.
Kristina: [01:18:17] Alright, bye.
Mike: [01:18:24] Thanks for joining us today, if you haven’t yet be sure to subscribe, so you don’t miss all the great conversations I’m having. You can listen or subscribe on the human-tapestry.com website on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, the iHeart Radio app, or your favorite podcast place. Be sure to leave us a review and maybe share the podcast with a friend or a couple of hundred.
The Human Tapestry podcast is all about starting a conversation. So get in touch with me. You can contact me at the website human-tapestry.com, on Twitter at @HumanTapestry, or on Tumblr at humantapestrypodcast. We’ll talk again next time.