We had the good fortune of connecting with Ariel & Dominique Wilson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ariel & Dominique, what is the most important factor behind your success?
There are many factors that contribute to our success, the most important factor being love. We began The Word Queer as a way to further our journey ‘out of the closet’ and normalize our Black queer love within our immediate circle. As our brand grew, with it grew a community of queer people expressing to us the need and importance of sharing our story. Although things are getting better everyday, the LGBTQ+ community still faces much homophobia and bigotry; couple that with being Black and queer women, the struggle gets even harder. This is why we believe wholeheartedly in the powers of representation and visibility. Too many times are we bombarded with an LGBTQ+ story in the media that is rooted in trauma and pain. Although pain and trauma happens, we agree that it is not the defining aspect of LGBTQ+ relationships. This is the reason we decided to continue building our brand on the foundation of love. Our love shouldn’t be stigmatized, marginalized, or politicized. We owe the success of our brand to the authentic expression of our Black queer love.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
To fully understand the art of The Word Queer, we have to take you back to where it all began. Ariel and I, Dominique, met at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia and began dating in 2012. We were both each other’s first girlfriends, with neither one us being ‘out of the closet’ to our families. When we came out to our families, we were met with mixed emotions. My parents were not accepting of the idea of me being queer, while Ariel’s family was more accepting of her and of our relationship. Although Ariel’s family was accepting, both of our families needed to be educated about some of their actions or thoughts and words that were, unknowingly, rooted in homophobia.
The next few years were filled with uneasiness as we navigated being in a relationship around our families. Eventually, we decided that we wanted things to change and wanted to share our relationship with our families. So, we boldly began The Word Queer to show that our relationship is beautiful, ’normal’ and filled with love. We felt that allowing our family see the happiness and authenticity that we show online would allow them to really get a deeper look into our joy.
Little did we know that there was, and still is, a need for more Black queer families to be more visible in our circle and across nations. Was it easy? No! But we were determined to see change so we had to tough it out through the awkwardness and uneasiness of it all. On the other side of that, came something very beautiful. We found a community that also needed our story. We are proud of everything The Word Queer stands for, but we are most proud of the impact we have made. We have read so many DMs about how we have helped others.
Being Black and Queer, hate will come your way, but one of the biggest lessons we’ve learned is to lean into your support and positivity and focus less on negativity. Another major lesson is to always be authentically you. We want the world to know that The Word Queer is here for anyone who has ever felt different or alone. We want to inspire a better future and want to show the world that LGBTQ+ love and relationships are beautiful and valid.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Richmond, VA is home to beautiful parks, cool shops, and yummalicious (it’s an adjective) restaurants. To start the perfect day we would visit Roastology on West Cary Street in Carytown to enjoy iced coffees and muffins. Then we would have brunch at Millie’s Cafe on East Cary Street. They serve one of the best huevos rancheros dishes we’ve ever tasted! Don’t get us started on their mimosas!
Following our food induced coma, we’d check out some shops in Carytown. Carytown is lined with some of the coolest shops, boutiques, salons, etc. One of our favorite shops is Aquarian or Mamie’s Apothecary. We really dig quirky things. The evening would be filled with tons of outdoor adventure, from kayaking on the James River to visiting the interesting Pipeline Trail. There are so many hiking and biking trails to get lost on and have to the best time. Some of our best sightseeing adventures in Richmond have been those that we accidentally stumbled upon.
A week long stay in Richmond would most likely include ordering food from the WAWA gas station (it’s a must), visiting our favorite burger spot Carytown Burgers and Fries, feeding the animals at the free petting zoo at Maymont Park, and swimming in the river at Pony Pastures. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
We want to give a super shoutout to our amazingly supportive The Word Queer Instagram community. At times when we forget the ‘why’ [as far as sharing our lives on social media], our community encourages us and helps us uncover new meanings for The Word Queer. One of the most beautiful things about the LGBTQ+ community is the focus on chosen family. We are forever grateful to the genuine love and support from people who were once strangers and have become family!
Dominique Wilson Ariel Wilson