Love is a topic that everyone can relate to and towards the end of the year, TFF was very excited to hear there was a new series titled Black Love airing on FYI TV in 2016. To our surprise, one of the young ladies in the cast is also a part of the LGBTQ community and very open about her experiences with love and relationships on the dating scene.
Meet Jae Eady from New York, NY. She's a 26 year old web developer who is interested in meeting a life partner that is mature and successful. Jae is interested in both men and women and looks forward to shifting the focus from her career to her love life. Fab Femme creator Aryka Randall had a chance to chat with Jae about all things related to love. Check out their interview, share with friends and watch Jae on Black Love Tuesdays at 10:15/9:15c.
The Fab Femme: Tell our Fab Femme readers a little about yourself. Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?
Jahmil Eady: I was born in NYC but I lived in Charleston, South Carolina from the age of 2 to 13. I came back to NYC at the age of 13. I’d like to think I got the best of both worlds. I have the fashion sense and independence of a city girl yet I still feel like a southern girl at heart. Although I still don’t know how to make the perfect mac and cheese. What self-respecting southern belle can’t make mac and cheese? My collard greens are bomb though!
TFF: Come through collard greens! At what age did you begin to explore your sexuality and how did people respond once you became open about your feelings towards women?
JE: All of my sexual experiences before the age of 15 were with girls. My first kiss was at the age of 9. I had a classmate who I was very good friends with and I would spend the night her house from time to time. One day we kissed. I don’t think I was even aware enough to understand that kissing a girl might be viewed as a problem. For me it was more “Oh I can’t tell anyone because I’m too young to be kissing period” lol.
One day I was watching Montel Williams (don’t ask me why an 11 year old was watching Montel Williams) There was a mom talking about how she caught her teenage son with the boy next door. She was crying and saying that she didn’t want her son to be gay. There was a therapist or some kind of expert and they said something to the effect of “kids explore their sexuality with whomever is close to them. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are gay and even if they are we should love them still.” So this was the first time I realized that people might have a problem with what me and my friend was doing.
At the same time I remember thinking, ‘But TV says it’s normal!’ Then I moved back to NYC and I only dated guys in high school and college. I fell in love for the first time when I was 21 and it was with a woman. 8 months into the relationship I called my mom and told her “I’m bringing my girlfriend and her mom home with me for the holidays.” My mom was like, ‘Okay sweetheart, that’s nice!’ My mom was absolutely shocked when I kissed this girl in front of the family. I said, “what? I told you she was my girlfriend!” My mom responded, “I thought you meant a friend who was a girl!” She is very supportive so Mama Eady recovered pretty quickly. Actually, she was more pissed that I waited a full 8 months to tell her that I’d fallen in love for the first time.
TFF: So you’re currently featured on the new reality series Black Love which airs on FYI network. How did you end up being casted on the show and what makes you different than the other women featured?
JE: I found out about the show from Monet Bell who was on the first season of another reality show called, ‘Married at First Sight.’ I thought the premise of #BlackLove sounded like a fun reality tv version of the show ‘Girlfirends’. Turns out it I was right. I really love that each woman comes from a completely different background. We’re discussing ‘dating and love’ which is something that’s universal, but we each bring something unique to the table. There’s the funky travelista, the spiritual single mom healing from heartbreak, the fashion forward hopeful romantic, the quirky but hilarious corporate chick, and the free-spirited artsy queer. Guess which one I am lol. What sets me apart is that I’m the only character with multi dimensions when it comes to my sexuality. I date men and women. I also am the youngest so I’m in a different place than the others. I’m still building my career and I;m unapologetic about that being my priority.J 7m still trying to figure out what I want in terms of ‘ideal relationship’ while the other ladies are more experienced and clear about what they want.
TFF: Ok, so let’s talk about love. In what ways do you think social media, music and television affect the way our generation navigates their way through relationships?
JE: A lot of social media, music and television encourages superficial and even ANTI-social ways of interacting with each other. This is the time of ‘Netflix and Chill’ and ‘Waste his/her time 2016’ memes. These are some deeply screwed up behaviors and ideas that are being encouraged and passed off as jokes. I regularly see imagery and hear songs that depict possessiveness and jealousy turning violent, all the while folks are laughing and commenting “HA ME AF!” Unfortunately it’s getting more and more difficult for younger people to find healthy examples of loving and caring relationships in popular culture.
There’s almost nowhere for us to go to actually have a conversation about what a healthy fulfilling relationship would look like for us, especially for those of us who are queer and especially for those of us who may not necessarily be looking for a marriage focused relationship. As it stands now it’s either netflix and chill or move in and marry. It’s that ho or housewife dichotomy. What about those of us who want something in between? Where do we find it? Where do we discuss it? How do we even verbalize what this would look like if we don’t have clear examples in our lives to point to? I feel like this is one of my roles on the show #Blacklove, to offer an alternative example of what a healthy relatuonship could look like to mainstream culture. I often get questions in my social media DMs, like “what are doing on the show if you’re not looking for marriage?” That’s the point, marriage isn’t the only way to show you’re desirable and/ or in love. We need more examples in the media.
TFF: Wonderful insight. As far as “deal breakers” are concerned, name a few things that will absolutely turn you off from the idea of dating someone. What are your deal breakers?
JE: If a person is closed minded, loud, crude, objectifies women, doesn’t like to travel or challenge their self to try new things, I doubt we’d get along. Oh god and people who call me baby, sexy or sweetie when they hardly even know me! That is a major turn off.
TFF: What are your thoughts on heteronormative dynamics in relationships between queer women of color? Do you feel like QWOC are more affected by this dichotomy than other people?
JE: I don’t think that queer women of color are more affected by heteronormative dynamics than anybody else. Forced gender roles and performance is a major issue within heterosexual and queer relationships alike. For example, a masculine presenting woman and a femme presenting woman is deemed the norm. Two femme presenting women who are dating is also okay but two masculine presenting women together is definitely frowned upon. Why? These gender performance ideas are dangerous and archaic as hell. However, they’re so ingrained in our culture, that even as we LGBTQ folks fight every day to live life on our terms, we still act out these dynamics. Just because we’re queer doesn’t mean we don’t struggle with our own inner conflicts. We just have to be aware of these preconceptions, own up to them and put in the necessary work to change.
TFF: What are a few tips you can give our readers on individuality and maintaining a relationship with yourself while creating a life with someone else?
JE: You know the book ‘The Prophet?’ The way that Khalil Gibran describes love and marriage in that book stuck with me ever since the first time I read it.
“But let there be spaces in your togetherness…
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music… And stand together, yet not too near together. For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”
The imagery and writing is absolutely gorgeous but the idea is the what’s so powerful. I think you have to come to a relationship as a solid person, a pillar that’s strong enough on it’s own to lay the foundation for something even more amazing. That means you have to have your own goals and stay focused on them. The key to happiness alone and within a relationship, is a strong sense of purpose.
Often times people–especially people who are naturally givers– get into relationships and allow themselves to get sidetracked. They get wrapped up in being in love and helping their partner achieve their goals that they forget about their own. One day they look up realize they have all of these resentments and unrealized dreams and they don’t understand why. The lesson here is you have to have that clear sense of self before you even enter into a relationship. Bringing your own achievements and aspirations to the table not only keeps you happy, busy and confident and but it also keeps you attractive to your partner. Well at least the kind of partner I’m looking for lol.
TFF: That's a beautiful quote. Last question. What did 2015 teach you about love and how to do plan on incorporating those lessons into 2016?
JE: I learned that I don’t have to be afraid of love. I don’t have to close myself off to it just because I’ve been hurt in the past. I’ve been pretty closed off for the past few years. In 2016 I’m trying out for team hopeful romantic.
To learn more about Jae follow her on Instagram and hit the link below!