In The Meantime Men's Group, a Los Angeles based non-profit organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black same gender loving men (SGL) is adapting to the new normal and has moved their weekly in-person discussion group to a safer virtual format. On Tuesday, in a rare sighting in media, two Black SGL couples, both of whom are married and in ministry
shared the joys and challenges of navigating life as a unit.
New York-based couple Peter Simmons-Scie and Bryan Simmons-Scie, who have been married for three years and together for five, and L.A. based couple and discussion moderators Curt D. Sims-Thomas and Matthew Sims-Thomas, who recently celebrated one year of marriage offered insight into how they are intentional about maintaining a healthy commitment, creating freedom and joy within their partnership, and the importance of writing their own narrative and abandoning heteronormative models as Black SGL men.
"Within same-gender loving relationships or marriages, so often we try to live up to heterosexual normative's and it's important for us to write our own narratives and to live out our own marriages, and to discuss what is acceptable in our marriage as a couple and to make those decisions, it doesn't always have to look the way we've been taught because the way that we love is different," said Bryan Simmons-Scie.
"As long as we're committed to the same goals it's going to be successful. Often times we just look at the love portion of it, but long-term relationships and marriages are work. It is a commitment, it is a partnership, so there is a business part to this," he added.
The Sims-Thomas' share it was through two months of pre-marital counseling and advice that Curt received from his mother prior to exchanging vows that set them up to navigate the highs and lows of marriage.
"You have to be willing to learn, unlearn, and relearn the person that you’re with," Sims-Thomas recalls his mother saying.
"The greatest thing you can do is to get counseling," said Simmons-Scie, echoing earlier sentiments from Sims-Thomas.
The Simmons-Scie also cautioned folks not to compare their relationship to those who have been partnered for decades.
“It’s dangerous to compare yourself to couples that have been together 15 to 20 years. You have no idea the challenges they’ve been through to get there," said Peter Simmons-Scie.
With statistics showing that as gay men age, the likelihood of us being partnered over the age of 45 decreases significantly, it's only natural to wonder what the secret is to a succssful relationship/marriage.
"You have to walk in forgiveness," says Simmons-Scie. "We have to realize that slavery is over...nobody owns anybody. We are free. Even when you're married, you're free. There's a respect level, but I don't want to control him. I like it when he's happy and free, and I want to be happy and free."
Watch "A Conversation with Couples" presented by In The Meantime Men in the video below.