Diary of a Mad Black Lesbian: The Company You Keep

imageThe headline in my local newspaper caught my attention, but what saddened me were the circumstances: a Florida A&M University female basketball player was murdered by her lover over Labor Day weekend. The couple, who had been in a three-year relationship, had been fighting all day, and eventually tempers escalated to the point where Shannon Washington found herself stabbed in the neck by Starquineshia Palmer. She later succumbed to her injuries. 

Both women were only 20 years old. Shannon, an an All-American honors player from Illinois Valley Community College, had just transferred to FAMU when the fall semester began only two weeks before. Starquineshia was visiting for the weekend with plans to eventually be with Shannon.

It hurts my heart that this deadly incident occurred, more so in my hometown. The fact that this was a young woman in her prime, poised to be shooting guard at her new school, has been taken away…and at the hands of the woman who loved her. Why this had to happen is what I want to know?
From the newspaper articles I’ve read, the pair had more than a tumultuous relationship. If Shannon could have foreseen the night she died, would she have ended the relationship earlier? Or would she have stayed with Starquineshia, never believing that her girlfriend would put her life at risk? 
Shannon Washington

Maybe. Maybe not. According to what Starquineshia told police Washington choked her several times and antagonized her by saying, “If you’re going to do it, just do it. Both of us are going to die tonight.”

And Starquineshia knew what she was going to do, allegedly calling her mother to ask if she would take care of her two children prior to killing her girlfriend. 

This violence has to stop. About 25-33 percent of same-sex relationships experience domestic abuse. Being in an affair where there’s frequent violence can only lead to heartbreak and tragedy. Now a mother has to travel 283 miles from Sarasota to say goodbye – not to see her daughter win her first game. 

If you’re in a similar situation, please get out.

No one, whether in a gay or straight relationship, should have to endure abuse – whether physical, verbal or emotional. 

Easier said than done, I know. 

Gay and lesbian  couples sometimes often find themselves between a rock and a hard place when the abuse begins, not wanting to speak out because of their family’s rejection of the relationship or, worse, if their families don’t even know they’re together. Along with the breakdown of one’s psyche and self-esteem, it also creates a dependency that makes her cling to a partner more than she would normally. 

But again, if you’re in a similar situation, make a plan and find a safe way to leave.

Shannon’s murder should teach us that life is precious and should be surrounded by a partner who loves and nurtures us. I just wished Shannon – and Starquineshia – had figured that out sooner.