Boo'd Up! Meet the Whitakers
Boo’d Up is a celebration of love! Each entry will feature queer women of color, non-binary and transgender couples sharing their love with us. I hope that these entries will give you as many feels reading about the couples as I got from interviewing them. In a society that often overlooks us, here we share a bit of ourselves at our softest and most vulnerable… in love.
Our next couple is Arlesia and Tish a.k.a. The Whitakers! These video game playing moms to 1 human and 3 dogs were a joy to talk to. They are devoted parents, extremely funny and clearly enjoyed being in each other’s company. Cut-ins from their human and fur babies gave a glimpse into the beautiful family life they have built together. The pair talks about some incredible obstacles they have had to overcome, and are willing to share what they have learned along their journey of 17 years together!
Tell me a bit more about yourselves.
Tish: Ladies first!
Arlesia: I’m 37 and currently am an operations manager handling loans. My goal is to own my own business. I’ve been working on a dog accessory line for the past 2 years with my friend and we’re looking to make it a business.
Tish: I’m originally from New Jersey and now live in Atlanta. I’m a musician. I’ve been playing the drums since age 2. In college I studied music. I am currently the drummer at First Mount Pleasant Baptist Church. I have songs on most music search engines. I am a writer, singer, I love God—and my wife is my sugar mama!
How did you meet?
Tish: She stalked me.
Arlesia: She was the drummer for the gospel choir and my best friend was completely attracted to her. So I convinced her to talk to Tish and to get her to hang out with us. For the longest time Tish avoided us. She would say she was going to hang out with us and then not come over. The second semester we started hanging out. Then my best friend and her started hanging out. We got together later.
Tish: She was with someone else. I stayed with her over that summer, so we got close. We went back to school and stayed close. She really didn’t want to be with me because I was a musician. We became really good friends but we weren’t together. We moved in as friends. I wanted to make sure I was ready for us to be together. It was about another two years and we’ve been together ever since. It’s been 17 years!
Arlesia: And I didn’t steal her from my best friend. Just in case anyone is wondering!
What was your first impression of each other?
Tish: My wife is from Washington, DC. And she is a Washingtonian. She is truly from there. When I first met her I wasn’t sure I wanted to be with her because she was nothing like anyone I would have ever been interested in. But she was so funny with what she said and how she represented DC. She was always so funny and making her best friend do funny stuff.
Arlesia: I thought she was alright. I wasn’t really into her because she was a musician and I thought she was a player. My roommate at the time introduced me to her, and I knew for a fact she was sleeping with everyone in the gospel choir!
Tish: Boy was she fooled! I am a one woman woman!
Who said ‘I love you’ first?
Tish: I think I told her I loved her first. We were working at the same job and I got fired. We weren’t even together, but I was finally ready to tell her that I wanted to be in a relationship. When I got fired, all I could think about was how she would feel about me getting fired. So after it happened we were outside sitting in my car, I was crying and I told her I loved her and asked her to be with me.
When did you know you were in love?
Arlesia: I think when I moved to New Jersey with her shortly after we got together. It wasn’t this cosmic whole “aha moment”. It was just the connection between the two of us and the fact that we just enjoyed each other’s company. When I moved to New Jersey, it was just the two of us. When we moved I was in between jobs and I didn’t know anyone. To know that she was there for me and supported me was everything. I was working selling perfume on the streets and I’d make money, we’d eat off of that and it was just us. And I just knew.
Tish: I had to move back to New Jersey because my mom had fallen ill and needed support and she came with me. I knew it was going to take me at least a year to get that done. I asked Arlesia if she would come and live me because I didn’t want to go without her. I think this time really helped us both know we were in love.
Who takes longer to get ready?
Arlesia: My wife! Tish! This used to be an ongoing joke. In college we always knew it would take her forever. She has gotten better over the years but she still takes forever.
Tish: I gotta wash for the father and the son and the holy spirit!
Who is the better cook?
Tish: My wife does all the cooking! At our second apartment, one of my friends came over and we were smoking. I left some water on the stove and we went to the store. When we came back the water was boiled out and the pot was smoking. Since then, I am not allowed in the kitchen to cook unless I am authorized!
Who is your partner’s biggest celebrity crush?
Tish: Kevin Gates and his wife Dreka Gates.
Arlesia: You might be right! My wife’s biggest celebrity crush… I don’t know if I really want to say it. Kierra Sheard.
Tish: Yes that’s a thick blessing!
Tish: My wife is first, but Kierra is second in beauty.
What is the best date you’ve been on with your partner?
Tish: When we first moved to Newark, New Jersey we used to go on walks. In my area we used to take walks and look at all the different houses and imagine what was happening in the houses. Our walks were pretty much the best dates.
Arlesia: We get everything out. We talk. We laugh at stupid stuff. The [dates] in New Jersey were always the best ones. We would walk so far and just enjoy ourselves.
Tish: In more recent times, it’s probably when we go to The Daiquiri Factory. We drink like we’re still in college!
What is one of your pet peeves about your partner?
Tish: This convo could take forever!
Arlesia: Let’s keep it short!
Tish: You go first. I got a whole list.
Arlesia: My wife has really intense cleaning habits. I cannot even pinpoint which of the cleaning habits is my pet peeve! When I’m in the kitchen, she likes to remind me that I am making a mess while I'm cooking.
Tish: My wife lives like a dude. She’s beautiful. She’s very, very feminine but she lives like a dude. She has clothes everywhere that she plans to pick up next week. I would say her clothes, because it affects the bedroom. I don’t mind it if I can’t see it in the closet. but that pile….yeah! So yes this is one of them.
What is the best quality about your partner?
Arlesia: You go first.
Tish: The best quality is that she understands my dream. She understands how important it is. She understands how important God is to me, and she chose to go on this ride with me.
Arlesia: My wife has a way of just getting everyone to talk to her. At the racetrack people know her. People call her when their empanadas are done and fresh. Her whole spirit is just so welcoming. Everyone talks to her.
Tish: My mama called it the ‘can’t help it love.’ People can't help but to love me. I like people! I like helping people be honest with themselves and love themselves. Help them see it’s okay to be you!
If you could choose just three words to describe your partner what would they be?
Tish: Loving, talkative, questionable.
Arlesia: Are there any positive words? <Laughter>
Tish: Okay fine inquisitive!
Arlesia: SexyAF, personal, extremely funny.
What makes your love unique?
Tish: Obstacles. We have been in positions to forgive each other. I have forgiven her for things I could not have imagined. It’s a different situation when you are in love with someone and willing to fight for a relationship.
Arlesia: Obstacles. I deal with a huge health situation and where most people would probably say ‘I didn’t sign up for this’ my wife takes it on. We moved to Georgia without family, just us. Anytime I am sick she is right here by my side to take care of me. We’ve been through a lot. I mean, 17 years you are going to go through some stuff! Hell and back. Definitely.
Tish: My wife had brain surgery. She had a tumor. She can’t hear out of her left ear. She went through 15 hours of surgery. We weren’t together during her first surgery, but we were during the second one. She had to completely rehabilitate herself. She had to learn balance and getting back into the workforce. She was told to wait a year before working and was working again in 6 months. She’s so strong! She motivates me to give my best every day. She has Metastatic Paraganglioma. Google it. It’s a rare disease. She’s an alien! She so strong though. She pushes through everything. She’s only 37. People don’t know how much we’ve been through.
Do you have any advice for other queer women and non-binary POC looking for love?
Arlesia: My wife and I always say, you have to know your ‘at the end of the dayer.’ When you meet someone and you're feeling the person out. You have to ask yourself ‘at the end of the day is the person i want to be with?’
Tish: ‘At the end of the day’ and ‘when it’s all said and done’. Those are the two things that make love last long. When you’re mad at your mate and they put you out, at the end of the day do you still want to be with that person? When you’re mad, when things are hard, when it’s all said and done who do I want to be with? Ask those two questions. These two things should be a thought you have when you’re considering being in a relationship with someone. At the end of the day can I depend on this person? I know that I can depend on my wife and she knows she can depend on me at the end of the day and when all is said and done.
Where do you see yourselves in the future?
Tish: Pretty much my wife doing her thing with her business. I love playing drums and writing. I see myself writing and traveling. I made a promise to myself to retire at 45 and travel the world. I am hoping that my wife wants to join me on this journey. Me, my son and my wife.
Arlesia: Doing my thing with my business. Hoping that in the next couple of years it will take off. As far as love, I joke that one of us will be pushing the other in the wheelchair. Ride or die. We gone be here till one of our wheels fall off.
You can follow the Whitakers on Instagram @meet_the_whitakers.
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