Vanessa Holmes is starting a new chapter in life — in May, she’s scheduled to finish up a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and in March, she and partner Gia’Donna Nichols will tie the knot.
“This is definitely a new chapter,” the 55-year-old Lanham, Md., native says. “I feel like I could write a book right now. This year is very key to me feeling settled and finally some things are coming together that I’ve long awaited.”
Holmes, a 12-year Air Force veteran who works as a business manager at University of Maryland’s College of Journalism, met Nichols at Metropolitan Community Church of Washington (MCC-D.C.) where Holmes recently returned to the choir after an 18-month break. She’s singing in Sunday’s 2:30 p.m. Black History Month concert at the church (474 Ridge Street, N.W.) that’s dubbed “A Myriad of Sound.” It’s a new era for the church’s music program as it’s establishing itself under new direction. The concert will feature a variety of African-American musical styles.
Holmes says it’s important to honor Black History Month.
“If anyone knows our history, they’ll know that going way back to the way the slaves communicated, it was through singing,” she says. “Many times they weren’t allowed to speak, even their movement was controlled, but they sang while they worked. Sang negro spirituals and many songs written in those days reflected the struggles people had. It’s very important for us to continue to sing so we remember the struggles they faced and the struggles our community is still facing. I see lots of correlations. For me singing is a relief and a wonderful form of worship.”
Holmes has one adult son, Asa, a Baptist minister. She enjoys bowling, watching movies and quiet evenings at home with Gia. Holmes lives in Hyattsville, Md.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
Since 1982. I was outed by my mother to my sister and that never felt right to me. I’m happy that we have a good relationship now.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
My Gia’Donna for her strength and belief that all people are equal and all of the pastors within the Metropolitan Community Churches who continue to fight for equality.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
We spend a lot of time at Annie’s and Busboys and Poets.
Describe your dream wedding.
Funny you should ask. We are about to make our dream come true. We are being married in our church, MCC-D.C., followed by a beautiful reception at the Oxon Hill Manor. The only thing better would be to be able to be married in our home state of Maryland.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Equality for all and finding a way to stop bullying, protecting the poor and underprivileged, getting guns and criminals off the streets.
What historical outcome would you change?
I would love to have seen what impact President Kennedy and Martin Luther King would have had on the world had they not been assassinated. I wish that slavery never happened and the destruction by Hitler, all wars, 9-11.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
The election of President Obama, the death of Michael Jackson and the recent death of Whitney Houston, wow!
On what do you insist?
Equal and fair treatment
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
A happy birthday message to a friend
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“God’s Not Done With Me Yet!”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Nothing. I love me just the way I am.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I know there is a God somewhere that watches over all of us.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Continue to fight and keep people informed about what you need from us.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
Gia’Donna and my granddaughters.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That people define us by what they believe we do in the bedroom. We are a strong people that want equality and freedom to live our lives like everyone else.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
I really don’t have a favorite but really enjoyed a great love story, “Hannah Free.”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
I don’t know about overrated. I wish people would use the courteous ones more often like, saying excuse me, please and thank you when appropriate.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
Everything I know now. Not sure I would do anything different but life sure would make a lot more sense!
I grew up just six miles away and never really appreciated what the city has. I’m close enough now to visit when I want, to enjoy everything the city has to offer and I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I’m close to family and friends and it’s a central location for travel.