One couple proves that modern is more traditional than we think
The world has come a long way since two people were sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G.
Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Jazmine Anderson and her wife, Chief Culinary Specialist Tamara Larrison, don't necessarily see anything modern in how they are living their lives. Except for maybe their kitchen design, everything in their life screams tradition. They are both patriotic and wanted to serve their country. They struggled through young adulthood trying to find their own way. They met each other at a time in their lives when they needed each other the most, with Anderson, a newly single mother who finally realized she couldn't continue to live a lie and Larrison on the brink of ending a loveless marriage. There may not have been kissing in a tree, but there was love, marriage, and a baby - and nothing modern about it.
Before the Navy
Tamara Larrison realized she liked girls in 4th grade, but that didn't stop her from having boyfriends. She was trying to do the right thing, or what she thought was the right thing at the time, by God and her family.
"My stepdad found an email to my then girlfriend the beginning of my senior year of high school," said Larrison, who is from Santa Maria, California. "That did not go well at all. My mom drove to my girlfriend's house and told her parents and then pulled me out of school until we moved two hours away."
In Long Beach, California, a little more than three hours from Santa Maria, Jazmine Anderson was also struggling. She realized in elementary school that she had no intimate feelings for boys, but was also afraid to express herself to the girls in her class. She chose to stay isolated.
I had a few boyfriends here and there because that is what I was 'supposed to do' but I felt nothing but friendship for them. I had talked to a few different girls, but I risked opening myself up to discrimination and I didn't know if I was ready for that." -Jazmine Anderson
With Anderson dealing with the loss of her brother, college financial issues, and a recent move, she was ready to get away and start her own life. Larrison was looking for structure, stability and opportunity; they both eventually ended up joining the Navy. They were ready for the chance to see the world. What they didn't realize at the time, was the world, much like their families, wasn't quite ready to see them.
Life under DADT
It was very hard. It didn't make sense to me that I am ready to risk my life for everyone in America and yet I can't love who I choose without fearing that it could affect my career and possibly get me kicked out." -Tamara Larrison
The hardest part for Larrison was going on deployment and knowing that if anything life threatening happened to her first wife (they were legally married, but never filed the paperwork due to Larrison's fears in regard to her career - and they have since divorced), there was no way she could go on emergency leave to see her; no way she could attend the funeral and no way she could even truly express herself at work. And vice versa, if something happened to her she would have to hope and pray that her unsupportive family would inform and include her ex.
"I love being me and talking about my life, so it was hard to not be able to share things with my coworkers at all unless I thoroughly thought it through as to how to turn it into a story that fit for me and my "fiance."
Anderson was also living a much different version of herself for a long time, even eventually marrying a man and having a child. She wouldn't fully reveal herself to her family and friends for years to come.