Meet Tricia and Stephanie: The Modern Day Interracial, Queer Married Couple

Source: Maharani Weddings

For LGBT+ Pride Month, BGM is excited to feature Tricia Prettypaul and her wife Stephanie Alvarado. We talk love, family life, and politics with the young couple. Check out our interview and their beautiful wedding photos that were featured on Maharani Weddings.

First off, when did ya’ll meet? When did ya’ll realize you’re in love?

We met online and had our first date on August 29, 2012. Stephanie must’ve realized about a month in… she said it in her sleep! Tricia about two weeks after. She needed time to tell me in a really sweet way, I think she knew since the second date!

What was it like telling each other’s parents? Were both of you guys out before you met each other?

TP: I introduced Stephanie to my mom on my birthday–a little over a year after we met. My mom was awkward but welcoming. She was never formally introduced to a girlfriend and it was the best intro I could’ve hoped for. I was out a few years before we met. After coming out to my dad, he refused to talk to me. We haven’t spoken in years. Although we email, the only conversation we had specifically about Stephanie was very negative. Since then, we really haven’t spoken.

SA: I came out to my parents a couple of years before meeting Tricia. At the time I wasn’t dating anyone, so they were in denial for a while. When I told them about Tricia, my dad was cool with it, but my mom freaked out a bit.

When did you guys realize each of you was “the one?”

TP: I realized Stephanie was the one when she met my family and charmed the hell out of them. I had no choice, but to marry her.

SA: When I got really sick and Tricia took care of me.

How was it like introducing each other to your respective families? How did your families take it?

TP: I introduced Stephanie to my cousins and siblings first, then aunts and uncles. They fell for her instantly. She has a really engaging personality and can laugh at herself. Even though she is from a different culture, she embraced our traditions, culture, and foods and I think that went a long way in getting people to instantly like her. Mom asked that we go out to dinner to really get to know each other. At that dinner, she gave Stephanie a gift. I was floored! I think mom was impressed with how much the rest of my family liked her. Since then, my mom takes Stephanie’s side over mine every time. Even when I’m right. (looks sarcastically at Stephanie)

SA: Unfortunately, when it comes to my mom, my being a lesbian and being with Tricia continues to be an issue and a source of conflict. She didn’t attend our wedding. Fortunately, my father, brother, cousins, aunts, and uncles were really supportive of my coming out and of my relationship with Tricia. Even though she wasn’t Latina, Tricia made an effort to speak Spanish, dance our music, and put up with me dragging everyone to karaoke. (smiles)

What’s your favorite thing about each other?

TP: Her humor.

SA: Her confidence

Is hard to be an out couple in your respective ethnic communities? How is it like to be out in our society, in general?

Yes and No. We are very lucky to be surrounded by supportive family and friends within the West Indian and Latino community. However, being Caribbean/Hispanic and part of the LGBT+ community, there is always a source of conflict particularly with the generational divide. We have some awkward moments, but generally, we’re okay. We try to live our lives and try not to worry about the older generation who hasn’t caught up with being at ease with the LGBT+ community. Being out in society we are always vigilant. There are always people who will make comments. However, living in New York is a blessing. We know we don’t deal with some of the homophobia of communities with less exposure to gay people.

How do you both feel about the current political climate on LGBT+ issues, especially the politics of marriage, adoption, and other related issues?

The current administration is a huge threat to all minorities. There will always be officials, even our President, who do not support our community. That will never stop. We feel positive about the progress of the law and state/federal protections for sexual orientation minorities and are happy that we won the right to marry across the country two years ago. However, there is still a lot of work to do.

In many states, LGBT+ Americans can get married today and fired tomorrow. It is legal in these states to be denied services or get fired for being gay. Living in New York is a blessing. Our local government is supportive about providing protections against this. We know we don’t deal with some of the homophobia of communities with less exposure to gay people. The only thing we can do as a community is live openly, honestly, and never stop fighting for equality. The LGBT+ community slogan–it get’s better–is our mantra.

What are the positives and negative things ya’ll have experienced as an out couple?

The positives are being accepted and championed by our co-workers, family, community and peers. For all intents and purposes we live a fairly normal life. We got married, bought a house, and get the same questions that all couples get… when are you having babies?!?!

The negatives are who continue to view our relationship as wrong make awkward comments such as “who’s the guy in the relationship? Why don’t you both cook, you’re two women?” (We can’t boil water) Plus, we are never really free to be a regular couple. For example, holding hands gets a lot of stares, when we travel, we probably wouldn’t do that unless it was a very gay-friendly country. We are avid travelers and have to do research on countries’ openness to the LGBT+ community before traveling.

Even still, we’ve experienced awkward moments. We went to Curacao on our first trip away as a couple. At dinner it was clear we were together and we signed for dinner using our room number. When we got back to our room, someone called our room and asked if he can do anything for us and if we needed them to come help with anything. It was midnight and super creepy. We don’t know if it was someone who worked in the hotel restaurant or another guest staying at the hotel. We filed a complaint with the staff the next day and they apologized, promising to investigate.

What’s one thing you’re are most thankful for in your marriage?

TP: I’m thankful that I found someone who finds me funny. Like the funniest person in the world.

SA: I’m thankful that all I have to do is laugh at her jokes and she’s happy. They’re not that funny, but it’s probably the easiest way to make her happy. That’s the only easy way!

TP and SA: We both have different personalities, but we complement each other and provide support to each other.

How is it like with gender roles in your marriage? Do you have roles for each person?

We do not have gender roles. We both have no idea what we are doing. (both laugh)

How did the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage affect ya’ll’s relationship?

Same-sex marriage was already legal in New York, so it didn’t affect our ability to get married. It allowed us to receive federal protections and benefits allotted to married couples. The greater effect is how the legalization of same-sex marriage changed the perception of gay couples getting married and legitimized that all love is equal.

What are some crazy, interesting, funny, and appalling things people have said to both of you?

A co-worker became close to me and felt open to talk about his personal feelings on politics. When marriage equality was coming to New York, he came into my office and was riled up about changing the definition of marriage. “How can they do that?!?” I stopped him before he said anything too much more insulting and said we would definitely have different opinions on this issue. He asked why, and I said because I’m gay. He fell silent for close to one full minute, backed out of my office slowly, and proceeded to ask others who were close to me in the office if it was true–as if I lied to him. He was appalled to find out everyone had known for years and they were all quite surprised he didn’t know. He’s an awkward guy. We’re still good friends, but my sexual orientation continues to cause friction and debate.

I often get asked some of the following questions: Don’t you think you just haven’t met the right guy? Can I join you two? While checking into a hotel room: “You booked a king sized bed, would you like 2 Queens?”

At the airport we get questions about being married that are probably not what other couples get asked. There’s always a sense of having to prove ourselves as a legitimate couple in almost every aspect of life. We anticipate this won’t change even as the times change.

Is there anything else either of you want to tell me?

We are generally private people. We know it’s not easy for gay couples, especially in our community to be out openly and to have a wedding with their family and friends. We wanted to be visible with this aspect of our life. Visibility is really important in our communities. Showing our respective communities that we exist as open and happy is really important to making people know we exist and to change the perceptions that people have about us.


*Some parts of the interview have been edited for clarification.

By Marina Ali

Marina Ali is a medical student, writer, poet, and blue lipstick enthusiast. She is the poetry editor for Brown Girl … Read more ›

The Family Immigration Process That’s Meant to Reunite, Keeps us Apart

These days, the phrase, “love knows no bounds” doesn’t seem to hold true. For many couples, specifically, those in long-distance relationships, the lengthy and complicated immigration process can keep lovers apart for six to 24 months. Well, aside from the thousands and thousands of miles of the deep ocean in between. I’ve been there; I have been an immigration attorney for 10 years and I found love abroad (my wife was living in the UK when we met).

I was flying across the Atlantic every few months so, as you can imagine, dating was quite expensive (though she quite liked the fact that for our first intentional visit, I paid several thousand pounds for a global migration conference as an excuse for flying over).

Marriage immigration is complex and costly. The eligibility and procedural requirements are confusing and require multiple long and complicated application forms over the course of six to eight years: from fiancé(e) or spouse visa through adjustment of status process, the Removal of Conditions Application, and thereafter applying for U.S. citizenship.

To put it in perspective, many immigration applications end up being 200-300 pages long. For you to know exactly what you need can be either extremely expensive — using an attorney, who typically charges $2,000-$12,000 per application (not including government-filing fees) — or time-consuming learning how to DIY. If you opt for the latter, it is quite scary to have to figure out the requirements and procedures and follow up with case status checks in hopes of finally getting some peace of mind that your case is progressing as it should. 

[Read Related: Tug of war: Brown Women and the Feat of Marriage]

The worst part? The grueling wait. Waiting while not knowing how long until you can bring love home; waiting to start a family — the next chapter of your life. You keep hearing people say, “life is short!” and you thought that you finally found a partner you want to spend it with. Unfortunately, life (bureaucratic procedures) get in the way. 

The combination of distance and long immigration processing times puts our next chapter ‘on pause’ while we do everything we can to bridge the gap — the gap that effectively challenges our ability to build a ‘real’ relationship. Or did it? Is there a test for this kind of thing? I mean, apparently, the U.S. Immigration Service (USCIS) seems to know what a “real” relationship is and tests ours against some “standard” to determine if it is genuine enough to grant a fiancé(e) visa or spousal green card. What makes a strong Fiancé(e) or Spouse visa application? I’ve experienced love; I am human. What do they want from me to bring my partner home?

I have been a U.S. immigration lawyer for over 10 years and I myself found love abroad and firsthand had to go through the process of bringing my spouse home to the United States. My wife is an NRI who grew up in the Philippines and lived in London where we met (more on how our meddlesome Indian families instigated our “meet-cute” in a future article). Having recently gone through this journey, and having helped hundreds of immigrant couples over the years, it became obvious that there had to be a better way. It should not be expensive, unaffordable, or overly complicated for you to bring your loved one home to become a family. 

[Read Related: How to Follow Your Heart, Even When it’s Hard]

When we were apart, we did everything from waking each other up in the middle of our respective nights, with the time difference, to one partner falling asleep with the other on the phone. We watched movies together on Netflix. We made travel plans and talked about what the future would look like. We craved each other and expressed our love daily, maybe even hourly.

The future can be uncertain for any couple, but perhaps even more so for those in a long-distance relationship. When one partner is waiting for a spousal visa or fiancé visa, there can be a lot of anxiety and stress about the process and wait times. Even one mistake can set the whole process back months or even years and, if you are not familiar with the process, there’s always the overhanging uncertainty of whether or not the visa will be approved altogether. 

In today’s globalized world where borders are becoming less relevant than ever before, largely thanks to technological advances which allow individuals across countries via Facetime, WhatsApp, and Skype chats without having left home, there is more of a need for a streamlined immigration tech platform that helps “modern” couples who are dating long-distance with the help of technology.

The number one reason Fiancé(e) visa or Spouse visa applications are denied is lack of documentation evidencing your relationship/intent to marry. This article shows what evidence you can provide USCIS to prove you have a genuine relationship and thereby strengthen your visa application. is an immigration attorney-designed platform that provides free tools and features to help couples going through the U.S. K-1 or marriage visa process plan, manage, and track their immigration journey. Many couples going through the K-1 fiancé visa process, or CR-1/IR-1 spouse visa process, have found its relationship timeline tool, which is as easy to use as Instagram, helpful in building their application. The best part: it’s free to use. The platform was built so you can focus on what is truly important, your relationship!

The long, unreasonable immigration processing/wait times are definitely another topic for discussion and, as time goes on, I will continue to share and elaborate on my and my wife’s joint and individual journeys through marriage, immigration, and closing the gap from our long-distance relationship. In the meantime, I hope the information provided will bring value to you and your journey.

By Kunal Tewani

Kunal Tewani is a US immigration lawyer who grew up in New York with his extended family under one roof. … Read more ›