and Dot met at was the first gay bar
in Memphis. II was a period of time
where homosexuality was deeply rooted in the closet.
'That was a period when a woman
best nol be caught in a bar after dark.
I don't care who you were or why."
says Vaughn, a well-known fund-raiser and personality in the Houston
community. "A woman just wasn't
there. And they didn't wear slacks.
You just couldn't. When they decided
lhat every woman going in had to
wear dresses and they lost all of their
business, then they made the bar a
Jeanette and Dot started dating
sonn after they met and continued to
do so off and on for nearly seven
years, when they decided that they
were destined lo he wilh one another.
Neither one of them knew exactly
what they were getting into, bill they
knew they cared lor one another and
were going lo spend eternity together.
"There were other people in and oul
of both of our lives during that period
of lime. Dol and I never did stay totally oul of contact with each other during lhal period." Vaughn said. "And
then, we were out togeiher one nighl
and we just said 'Why are we doing all
this other with other people? Why?
[.tls go look for an apartment; lets do
it.' And we did. We slarted building
our lives togeiher. We went to go talk
10 my father ... he already knew I was
Their relationship has endured and
il is clearly evident that the two of
them are still in love wilh each other
to this day. Twenty-seven years of
couplehood continues to grow. They
have, and continue to, live it. So,
what is the formula for a greal rela
"I think wilh everyone—straight,
gay, old, young lhe first attraction
is. whether we wanl in say it mil loud
or nol, the sexual attraction.'' says
Vaughn. "Beyond that, whai makes il
lasl once you realize This is good and
1 waul lo hold on lo it,' is the mutual
building of trust in each olher. The
dependability. The knowing lhat Die
olher individual is there for you no
There is a support mechanism.
There is a oneness." she says. "|
would have never understood this
when I was young. I don't believe thai
lhe very young, even the ones getting
married by iheir priesls when ihey
say that you actually become one,
understand the meaning of what thai
is. At that lime, there was no way lhat
I could have. Not even when I made a
commitment with Dol. I had no idea
that I would ever feel lhat and know
what it means, hui I do know what it
means now. You really do become
"Vim don'l realize une day lhal 'Yes
I'm a lesbian,' and lhe next day. there
Is somebody thai I think thai I want
to live wilh. It's nol lhat way al all."
she said. "It's the building, lhe confidence and many Ihings thai go with.
11 anybody feels Ihey caul comprehend living with someone else for lhe
real oJ their life, then they have nol
mel the righl person. Because when
they do meel that righl person. Ihey
are going io know and everybody else
becomes non existent as far as looking al Ihem in a sexual aspect."
Relationships require a lot of work
and "patience*." says Vaughn. "During
times of crises, not with each other,
but individual crises wilh family,
jobs, finances, etc.. we worked
through those issues together. It
brought us closer, simplv because II
brought a deeper undersianding. We
both grew up in the same generation,
We took each Step togeiher.
Everything happened lo both of us at
the same lime in the process of being
openly out. so we experienced il
Vaughn maintains lhal il was difficult at times because they could not
be openly gay during their early years
together. The couple also raised Dots
son and managed to keep their relationship hidden from him until he was
older. She also believes that the
lumulluous periods in their relationship brought them closer together as
Thompson, who is the quiet one in
the couple, spoke with the Voice
briefly about Iheir relationship. She
maintained that she enjoyed raising
her son with Jeanette even though her
son did not know about his mother's
relationship with Dot for a long time.
"We didn't do anything in front of
him," Thompson said. "As he goi old
enough, he learned thai we were gay
ami he asked 'Why we didn't tell him
years ago.' 1 ti>ld him it wasn't time."
Thompson says lhal her sun Is
straight and accepts them as his par-
Separation is a word that never
entered their mind during the relationship. Jeanette and Dot made a
commitment to each other and they
intended to keep it. To be sure, there
were periods of discontent, however,
nothing that couldn't be ameliorated
with some personal time for introspection.
"We have to get away from each
other at times. One of us will go outside, or take a drive. Not always as a
result of anger, but just when we get
on each others nerves. We're both
retired. We are around each other 24
hours a day, so naturally ihere are
times we get on each others nerves,
but separating never enters the mind"
said Vaughn. "I cannot comprehend. I
cannot imagine my life without Dot
being a pari of it."
Thompson emphatically concurred
with lhal sentiment. "1 wouldn't trade
my life wilh Jeanette for nothing,"
Interestingly, ihey both have their
own set of friends and do nol do everything togeiher. Dot enjoys fishing.
Jeanette does not. Jeanette enjoys
going to bars (she's has been a major
figure in the imperial Court for years),
Dol does not. Yet. they allow each
other the latitude to enjoy their separate activities and seem content in the
process, primarily because they are
secure in their commitment to one
another. And. on occasion, they will
compromise and do something with
the other regardless.
Many community activists argue
that long-term relationships in the
gay and lesbian community are rare
because gays are not afforded the
legal mechanism for sustaining a relationship - marriage. Would gay marriages encourage gay couples to make
"We might see more marriages,
because il would then be in vogue."
says Vaughn. "But I think we would
see just as many divorces as Ihere are
in the straight community, I want,
trust me. all of the advantages of marriage—the insurance rights, the
spousal benefits—but as far as having
See VALENTINES/ page 16
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