“I feel like people don’t hate our love. They hate who we are. I think the world hates black people,” Ericka Hart said.
She and her man, Ebony Donnley, share a love that is revolutionary. “I am so used to being hated just by my very existence, that being in partnership with someone and our relationship being hated, it’s kind of hard for me to wrap my head around it. Of course you’re going to hate my relationship,” Ericka said. “Eb as a black trans person, and myself as a black queer person, a feminine-presenting person, I feel like there’s hatred anyway.”
But the couple don’t let the world’s hate end their love. In fact, it just makes them closer because, as they both say, “Our love is not complicit in white systems.”
You may have seen Ericka Hart come across your feed. As a body-positive advocate and breast-cancer survivor, she often shares images and appears in spaces like Afropunk topless. The image of Ericka is striking. It’s difficult to look away from her smooth brown skin, and your eyes are drawn to her nippleless breasts. Ericka aims to share the realities of a woman’s body that cancer tried to claim.
When you look at Ericka and Ebony, how could you hate their love? The Root went to Ericka and Ebony’s apartment in Brooklyn, N.Y., to film them in their love nest. As Ericka sat in the hot seat, talking about her and Ebony’s first time making love, she mentioned having been nervous about disrobing and showing that she had no nipples.
Ericka: He was a little surprised. But he played it off well.
Ebony: I’m gonna wait until my interview because that’s not true. I wasn’t surprised.
Erica: You said that you were surprised.
Ebony: I never said that. Uh-uh. I was like, “Titties! I’m about to have sex!”
During his interview, Ebony said, “When it was time for her to take her shirt off and she was like, ‘I don’t have nipples.’ I’m like, ‘OK, I don’t want to take my pants off because I don’t know what to do because I haven’t had many sexual relationships with people because I’ve never thought they desired me.’”
So, all the while Ericka agonized over her lack of nipples, Ebony was agonizing about disrobing, too, but because Ericka created a space for Ebony to feel comfortable in this consensually sensual experience, he was able to relax into it.
That is something that Ericka continues to do: create space for Ebony to be him. Ebony said, “She created the conditions for the person that you see, and I’m still growing and I’m still expanding because of her.”
Ericka and Ebony are more than lovers and best friends; they work together. Ebony manages Ericka’s business as a sex educator. They also have a podcast together, Hoodrat to Headwrap. Yes, it’s a must-listen!
What is it like to work with your lover is really dependent on the type of relationship that you already have. Me and Ericka like to kiki [chat like good friends]. We like to go have fun with each other. We actually are friends. So it really helps. It’s like working with your friend. My only fear is that if we funkin’ about something that happened in our relationship and she got to go speak somewhere, I get nervous about it because I don’t ever want to upset her or have it be on her mind that we just had an argument or something.
That’s the kind of person Ebony is. He loves and respects Ericka almost to the point of religion. During Ebony’s interview, he looked over at Ericka and told me, “She feels like Jesus a little bit to me.”
My face twisted up in confusion and Ebony went on to explain:
The reverence [of love] can be very really religious in nature. Even the love that people have for God, if you go to the second verse in the Bible or a Scripture called Song of Songs. It’s literally all about this woman in the Bible talking about how she wants to get married to Jesus and be with Jesus. It’s crazy. So it’s the same thing for me.
Ebony started humming Lauryn Hill and D’Angelo’s “Nothing Even Matters” because he sings that in a lyric: “I sometimes have the tendency to look at you religiously.”
Deep sigh. These two. Check out the video above—Black, Queer and in Love—a profile of one of the most adorable and amazing couples I’ve ever met. And I’ve met Pauletta and Denzel Washington. Just saying.