"Exciting Happiness:" Tenisha and Shanelle

Wed. May 25, 2011 4:32 PM by Jason Freeman

It's a Sunday afternoon, not unlike many others, for newly committed life-partners Tenisha and Shanelle when Tenisha can be heard yelling in the far background, "I'm on the phone!"

"Yeah," Shanelle grumbles, "she's torturing the kids."—Tenisha's two boys, ages seven and ten.

With eager excitement, and a bit of a laugh, Tenisha explains how if Shanelle had not been online while she was playing Farmville on Facebook.com just over a year ago, the two may never have connected. "Basically," Tenisha says, "she was going to get erased."

Tenisha says she only subscribed to the social-networking website in order to a be Farmville neighbor to a friend of hers, "so, I got all these friend requests." And while cleaning out her friend's list of unknown acquaintances, she noticed Shanelle online. The two got to chatting, which lead to 3-4 hour phone conversations, an eventual in-person meeting and a short-term "physical thing." According to Shanelle, the lifetime connection was instant; Tenisha was the [yang to her ying] and, "there's never a dull moment."

Their complementing passions turned happy household will be made legally official June 2, 2011, as the two take part in the City of Chicago-sponsored mass civil union ceremony taking place in Millennium Park's Wrigley Square—twenty days shy of their one-year anniversary.

"This is something I've wanted to do since coming out as a lesbian…" Shanelle says. "…The state of Illinois has come far in recognizing same sex couples … Man, it's like so exciting."

Tenisha shares Shanelle's "exciting" sentiments while also reveling in the ceremony's legal ramifications. "For me," she says, "I'm in the life but I'm still old fashioned. I still believe in marriage, in the legal documentation, in doing it the correct way;" "the correct way" to Tenisha being one that is socially and legally institutionalized. "What if [Shanelle] were to get sick and the [medical-care organization] said, ‘we don't recognize that?' Well, now they don't have a choice … We're a ‘real' couple."

Leading up the historical, mass civil-unions ceremony held at Millenium Park, June 2, 2011, by the Chicago Human Relations Advisory Committee on LGBT issues, The Chicago Committee on Special Events and Lambda Legal, ChicagoPride.com celebrates the love and commitment of five couples taking part in the day's legally-binding festivities.