22 March, 2021 LGBTQ+ Family Photos Dallas
Photographing LGBTQ+ families in my Dallas community & watching families evolve over time brings me so much joy but getting asked to photograph their memories is such a huge honor. I have followed some LGBTQ+ couples with my camera all the way from their engagements and their weddings to maternity photos and baby photos. Meet Dallas LGBTQ+ Family Nadra & Mariel.
Tell us a little bit about your family:
We’ve been together 7 years. We live down in north Oak Cliff with our 2 rescue dogs and 2 year old daughter. We both work and our daughter Eloise goes to a local Oak Cliff Montessori school. When we aren’t working or in school, we spend our time on our side of the river mostly; We walk to the parks near our house, go to the zoo and spend time with family. Since Covid, we have spent most of our time at home, making jungle gyms and play spaces in our yard to hang out. Luckily we have family with a similarly-aged toddler across the street, so we have built in adult, family, and kid time!
What is the first thing you remember about the other when you first met?
Nadra: The first thing that I remember about Mariel was her liveliness. She was extremely charismatic and super attractive, charming even. I immediately wanted to know her and be her friend, also the energy we shared together was magnetic (everyone noticed). I was my typical Aries self and started roasting her because that is my go-to flirtation mode, and I think she found me both irritating and amusing all at once. It just worked. We were fast friends that fell in love with a swift and intense passion that is hard to articulate. That type of feeling does not come around often and I am glad that we both went for it. It was never easy, but it was always worth it… and 7 years later we are best friends, coparents, devoted wives, and life partners. She is my everything. I can honestly say to myself and creation that I am still wholly in love with her for many reasons, and I feel fortunate to have the life that we share.
Mariel: Nadra had the hair of a goddess (still does!) Super long, blonde, beach wave vibes hair and piercing blue eyes. Our daughter has her exact same eyes, and I don’t know how I got lucky enough to get to look at those eyes in my wife and child, but here we are. Now if our second daughter comes out with those same baby blues, well, everyone better watch out!
What is one of the most challenging things you’ve faced being an LGBTQ+ family? The most rewarding?
Nadra: I believe that starting a family is very challenging due to the social vantage points that can often dwarf the process. The due course of making a family is profoundly intimate and takes a lot of prudence, and I have found that many people feel a unrestricted desire to know about the donor and the DNA facet of it all. We subsequently field endless questions about our donor. EX: The difference between IVF and IUI “so was your baby made in a lab” If we used the same donor for both children, why Mariel chose not to carry, did she not want a child of her own? Implying that our children are not her own! This particular issue of DNA is one that we even had to school our own family about. Now that our first daughter is here that fear of a lacking connection from some of her family members is gone… but, it was very present question beforehand. There is a lot of emphasis on biological relation from people in our lives that cannot seemingly appreciate the idea that not all “nuclear” families are alike. The notion of family in itself is fluid and as a lesbian mom my only hope is that our daughters understand that the love they are given goes much deeper than the social constructs that frame the orthodox norms observed in our daily interactions with the outside world. Overall I think that the biggest challenge is being forced into the role of having to help people understand that most basic knowledge: We are REAL parents who love our daughters equally and infinitely, and that is enough.
Mariel: People seem to get embarrassed not knowing how to talk about LGBTQ+ families and their embarrassment can make for awkward moments. I’ve had people ask if our daughter calls me daddy since I’m not her “real” mommy, people wonder why I didn’t carry our second child based on the assumption that genetics are what make you a parent or that genetics would make me love a biological child more, etc. The most rewarding is seeing how our daughter and family really doesn’t find it “unusual” to have a mama and a mommy. I worried that our daughter would struggle to call us both mommy/mama and might get confused once she knew kids with daddies, but she has no trouble knowing which one is mama (or mamo as she now calls me) and who is mommy. When someone gets it mixed up, you can see her confusion and in that moment I know that she knows we are both her mommies.
Top 3 things that you feel make a marriage/partnership last?
Nadra: First and foremost I think that removing rigorous expectations is important. We cannot always be who people want us to be, but we can have respect for one another and create healthy boundaries that we can both live with. Second is 100% communication (and how your do it). Listening, being able to validate what your partner has said, and trying to come to a malleable compromise in moments of divergence or anger. This is not easy and is hardly ever perfect, but the trying is the most important facet of it all. I think the third item would be making time for intimacy (a date night etc.) and understanding one another’s love language and honoring that. Also, laughter…that is so important. These things, along with being moms, have kept us together even when it felt hard.
Mariel: Change. Knowing that it happens, allowing each other to change, and keeping to the basics: communication, respect, and love; Some days won’t be great, some will be boring, and some will be painful, but everything passes and good times come back if you wake up and choose each other day after day.
Why’d you choose Steph to document these memories for you?
Her photography is not only incredible, but her commitment to LGBTQ+ visibility is inspiring and powerful. We wanted our story told through the work of someone who understood it.
Book LGBTQ+ Family Photos Dallas with Steph Grant HERE
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