Check out my CentricTV.com interview with singer and “R&B Divas” star Monifah Carter…
Without question, when it comes to Black representations of LGBT people in Hollywood, singer Monifah stands at the frontline. Stepping back into the spotlight since her glory days in the ‘90s, the R&B diva has become a vocal activist for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights, even recently marrying the love of her life, Terez.
As a spokesperson for Out Loud Secret – a non-profit that provides services for the children of LGBTQ families – Monifah is utilizing her celebrity to encourage love and equality. In September, the organization will attempt to break a Guinness World Record for the largest mass LGBT wedding in the World. Not to mention, Monifah knows a thing or two about wedding ceremonies.
In an exclusive interview with CentricTV.com, Monifah talks about why she thinks such an event is important for the national movement for marriage equality, how she’s enjoying the newlywed life and how she deals with being the mother of a daughter whose religious beliefs creates a divide on where they stand on same-gender love. Despite their difference of opinion, the Harlem native says love and acceptance is the only way to go. Check out the very honest and poignant conversation, which also includes an update on what to expect from her upcoming album.
CENTRIC: What made you want to be a part of Out Loud Secret’s mass same-sex wedding event?
MONIFAH: I believe it’s important what Out Loud Secret does; helping bridge the gap between children and their parents who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender. I think especially being a parent who has a daughter who believes in what she believes in as far her religion, we’re having a divide in that area, I can totally relate to how important that dialogue is. It’s definitely close and personally for me. As far as the mass wedding thing, why not? Let’s do it. I think it makes a bold, big statement politically, socially, and it’s beautiful if people are doing it for the right reasons.
A lot of same-gender loving couples can probably relate to your relationship with your daughter. How do you bridge that gap when you have someone who clearly loves you but doesn’t agree with that aspect of your life?
Acceptance is key, and I think people should look that word up. We can’t change people nor should you want to. You should give what you receive, so I give respect of different opinions of belief. I don’t want everyone to think the same; it would be just a boring thing anyway. But that’s the point of opening up the dialogue and having life experiences that will help people see your different side. This is a little different because it [involves] religion, and usually people don’t budge from that area.
But it’s love, and we’re not talking about sex because I think people go straight to people’s bedrooms when they think of about relationships hetero- and especially homosexual connections. Who says that you’re having sex? That’s not the only way that only way to connect with someone. Acceptance is key; keeping the dialogue open and respect and love. That’s the reason why Terez, Akemi and I decided to share this part of our family life…because we thought it was important to show that you can agree to disagree and still love and support one another, and move in love. That’s my daughter. God doesn’t want my relationship with her all crazy because of a difference of belief. I believe that in my heart.
So speaking of marriage, you recently wedded your new wife Terez. How are you enjoying the married life?
We were spiritually married anyway. We did a thing between me her and God one day way before she even proposed to me, so spiritually I already felt married. Marriage in the sense that we’re able to get married now and be protected legally is just about that, because marriage basically is a business partnership. Let’s be real clear about what marriage is. Politically and legally and from the beginning of time, it’s really been about joining families, power, etc. It’s a huge business decision; you’re joining your life not only spiritually but financially, politically, socially with someone else. Really this was like the last frontier so now we’re able to make moves and do things and own stuff, move through the world legally together. But it’s been good (laughs). We got things we’d like to do and we’re protected the same way everybody else is. It’s been amazing.
The wedding looked absolutely stunning. How did that moment feel? It looked like it was a mixture of extreme joy and a little of nervousness.
[I thought] ‘OMG I’m marrying my best friend. Whether I could be legally married or not, I would have done a ceremony to whomever I were to marry. But marrying a woman, I never really carried that thing on my back. I just believed that you should be able to marry who you’d like to marry, who you want to share your life with. As I was walking down the aisle I was like I’m marrying my soulmate. I was excited and the people I care about the most – minus my daughter – were there to celebrate with me. It was awesome and I relished in the moment.
On your new single “The Other Side” you touch on the opposite of happiness when a marriage hits a rough spot. What do you do when you hit a rough patch or what advice would you give other couples, especially same-sex couples who may feel more pressure to make it work?
Communication and being open. You have to always be able to see your partner’s perspective and care enough where they’re coming from when things get rough because it’s two people in a connection. And be willing and vulnerable. Vulnerable doesn’t mean weak. Vulnerable means being able to share without fear or the mess of the ego. I know I try very hard in in my close relationships and my marriage to lessen my ego, because that’s really where all of that stuff comes from. How it looks or how it feels…it’s usually the ego that gets us tripped up.
So I would say true communication – and not trying to change somebody! Stop trying to change people, you know? That’s insane. All you can do is do is be your best self. Work on yourself and your perspective on a lot of things will shift. You’ll find that every battle is not to be fought (laughs). Some things you let go and some things you come to the table on.
Although this country has become more tolerant of LGBT people, we all know that bigotry still exists. Do you or have you ever experience negativity from people as it relates to your relationship with Terez and how do you handle it?
With a good ‘God bless you.’ Yes I have, but I really don’t think that I was aware that it was about that. A lot of times my phone doesn’t ring based on somebody’s feeling about whatever, seen and unseen. But I can’t be concerned about that. I just gotta keep pushing on and doing what I believe what is correct and right for me.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about same-sex marriage?
That it’s about sex, that it’s about lust or that it’s carnal. Most of the couples that I know have been in healthy and loving relationships for years and they’re finally able to show that and be legally protected. It’s way bigger than anything carnal. Everything is not about that and I think that’s one of the biggest misconceptions because I think people think it’s about the physical and threesomes and silly sh**. It’s not – not all. It’s the same as in any relationship. You got some hetero situations that are super wack and super based on shallowness, and you want to take people who really want to build together and just want to be with each other and keep them from being protected? It’s crazy to me.
What kind of impact do you hope Out Loud Secret’s mass wedding ceremony will have?
I hope that it speaks volumes. I don’t want to be accused of agism, but I hope that there are a lot of 40 and over couples that participate. I think that the country needs to see that there are [couples] that are productive members of society who have been living together and have been partners for years that now finally have the opportunity and same rights as heterosexuals do when it comes to marriage equality. I want to see the seniors represented in this as well. I really think that needs to be seen because same-sex relationships are not new. The political and socio-economic hoopla is making a distraction with it. They’re taking rights away across the board while we do this tit for tat over marriage equality.
What can Centric expect from you musically…will there be a video rollout or album release date soon? What’s next for Monifah?
I’m going to do a video and the album will be coming early fall. I’m thinking sometime late September, early October. I’m really excited about my new project. It’s been a long time coming. It’s full of my journey and experiences, and I’m just having fun. I’m comfortable in my skin and that will be very much felt. I’m in a good space and don’t have to take everything so seriously. I’m going to be strategic and tactical but I’m going to have a good time doing my music. You’re going to hear a lot of stuff on the album. I’m an actress; whatever I feel when a song gives me a feeling there’s different voices in there. There are different expressions and ways to convey that. Being a woman who’s been exposed to so many genres of music you’re going to get a little piece of everything. It is what it is, you either like it or you don’t. I’m just doing me.