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An Update: Terri Monique Leroi and Jennifer Kaylin Steele
By Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
Saturday, May 22, 2004
Rated "PG" by the Author.
An update about two lesbian women, one disabled, the other able-bodied, one black, and the other, white, who live together and try to go on despite ostracism and misunderstanding from other people.
Life has been nothing but a series of ongoing challenges for both Jennifer, my lover, and myself. Some of these challenges have been very good, but others have been rather bad; and some I would not rather talk about, but I am afraid I have no choice or say in the matter.
This is Terri M. Leroi. My partner is Jennifer K. Steele; and we have been together for over a year and a half now. I met Jenni at the bar I work at, and we somehow both fell in love and seemed to hit it right off; and we have been together ever since. It doesn't matter to me that she happens to be white or is in a wheelchair: she is a person first, and she is very funny and kind-hearted, although a tad rough around the edges. She cusses like a sailor, and she isn't afraid to speak her mind; and she has quite the fiery personality that I find charming and attractive.
She isn't that pretty: muscular of upper body, short, wine-colored hair done in a punkish, spiky hair cut, brown eyes, and tanned skin (she used to do construction work until she fell and became paralyzed; she still works in construction now, but she now works inside in the office; and she hates it; she hates not being outdoors, in the fresh air, or not being with the guys and doing "women's work", she says!), thick, black eyebrows, and a mannish way about her; but she is still my best friend, and we couldn't be more suited for each other. She has been my savior, especially since my own parents all but abandoned me when they found out that I was a lesbian and was in love with another woman; and for a while after I met Jennifer I was still stewing and angry about my parents' narrow-minded, overly-religious views; and that made me all the more determined to be with her; and we have been together ever since.
We haven't gotten married or anything like that, but as a gay/lesbian couple, we have been following with much interest the sudden upsurge of gay/lesbian marriage ceremonies being performed in places like Massachussetts, New York, and California; and it seems all of a sudden everyone seems to be doing it. Now, we may get married eventually, but we have been receiving a lot of flack from religious-minded people who call our ways "sinful" and "deceitful"; and frankly, I am sick and tired of hearing their talk; and I wish they would just shut their fucking mouths up and leave us the hell alone and let us be and live as we see fit!
My mother, father, and myself all had a big blowup over Mother's Day about my being a lesbian; and we left the house early on non-speaking terms; and we haven't said anything to one another since. Which is fine with me right now; I don't care if I don't ever hear from them again if they are going to act like God or something! Jennifer was with me at the time, and all we could do after we got home was cry; we were so hurt and humiliated by my parents' outburst! I don't know what their problem is, but I wish they would just learn to accept and love us; after all, I AM their very own daughter!!
We regularly hear from Louisiana Sandusky, the little head-nurse at Nashville Memorial Hospital, who had taken care of me when I had been hurt in the construction accident, and at least SHE treats Jennifer and myself with some degree of respect and dignity, although her views on gay/lesbianism is more suited for my parents. She is a Christian, herself, and religion is very important to her and her very large, multi-culteral, international family; but at least she or her husband or kids don't shove Jesus and sin and "how we are going to Hell because we are women, and what we do is sin in God's eyes" in our faces! She has accepted us (even though she may NOT agree with our lifestyle); and she has acted very civil and kind towards both Jennifer and myself! If she wants to say something if she observes us kissing or holding hands or hugging one another, she doesn't; she bites her words back, and she tries to overlook what we do and accept us as her friends, even though we are very much an openly lesbian couple. She may not agree with what we may do or believe or even think, but she at least lets us be ourselves and lets it go at that!
I would love to go to her church, Christ Community Assembly of God, again sometime, but we won't ever go back because of the stares or comments being directed at us by some of the people at her church; and it made both Jennifer and myself very uncomfortable. And hearing the people talking in tongues or doing strange things like falling over at the altar when the pastor prayed for them or openly weeping and laughing didn't help our nerves any. So we haven't been back; it's not because of Louisiana or her family; it's just that we aren't familiar with the Pentecostal/nondenominational way of doing things, and it spooked us both. And we just aren't church-going people.
I miss seeing Louisiana on a regular basis; but I do see her or the kids or her husband if we are someplace like Wal*Mart or at the mall or at Golden Corral or someplace like that. Sometimes we see them at the hospital when I take Jennifer for her weekly therapy sessions, and Louisiana always stops by and says hello, which I think is very nice of her to do.
Jennifer is still paralyzed; but I am afraid that will never change. She can move her arms more; but she still can't really use her hands, and she still can't move her legs at all. She is subjected to bedsores, and we have to be so careful that she doesn't get any or get sick; or else she can end up in the hospital again. She just got out last month, in April; and her latest hospitalization lasted a month. She was in the hospital from March 15 until April 28, 2004. She had some really bad bed sores on her buttocks, and we thought for a while they would never heal; but after a while, they finally did, and now she is doing so much better. She also has been having some problems with her blood pressure being too low (she gets dizzy once in a while; and twice she has nearly passed out), but she is on medication to help raise the blood pressure, and she seems to be doing a lot better with that. She still has her weekly therapy sessions in the pool and in the therapy room (but while she was in the hospital she had it every day, twice a day), and she is feeling better and stronger with each passing day.
Well, that is about all that is new with us, I, Terri Monique Leroi, and my lover (and very best friend!), Jennifer Kaylin Steele. We are still plugging away at our jobs, and we are still able to make ends meet, even with the demands of Jennifer's physical needs and the ostracism we often face in society because of our lesbian lifestyle. We have our bad days and our good days, as you can see, but we are still functioning as best as we possibly can, and we will continue to as long as we have breath in both our bodies.
I will write more soon; I am sorry we haven't written, but now you know why you haven't heard from either one of us. Maybe Jennifer will write the next entry while I take a break. HA HA
Til later, this is Terri Leroi saying Toodles!
~Love, Terri Monique Leroi (and Jennifer Kaylin Steele).
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Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado