Growing In My Faith & My Marriage

by Tori Wolfe-Sisson

Who am I?

I know the answer that is normally given would be; name, age, hometown, college, work, children, pets. Those answers are available, but before I list the things you can find out with a quick search I will define myself.

I am a lover, free spirit, one who is easy to laugh, but finds it difficult to smile. 

I am an organizer, a concerned friend, recently a sister and a wife. I am Black. I am a Woman. My gender is expansive. I am a healer. I am a fighter. I am a believer. I am free.

I am called Tori Wolfe-Sisson and I am 26 years of age, I was born in Las Vegas, Nevada, and when my mother became ill I moved to Texas and from there Tuskegee University for college. The family I come home to after a day at HRC Alabama as the Field Organizer includes my Queen Shanté and our cat Whammie.

My relationship with my wife is symbolic of my relationship with our Creator and is really the reason Shanté and I wed. She is the best teacher I could have never dreamed of and the most accurate mirror I have ever seen.

In my childhood home my mother did not raise me to be affiliated with any religion.

Las Vegas is surprisingly religious and has a large number of Christian churches, Muslim temples as well as Church of Latter Day Saints because it was built on “an old Mormon fort.”

I went to church occasionally, I had friends who were atheist, agnostic, Wiccan, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, Muslim, Buddhist, and more I’m sure. I knew that I felt the presence of Spirit very clearly and profoundly, and I felt connected in more than just the churches and synagogues and temples available to me.

Now I am confident in my spirituality that strengthens my resolve and humbles me. Shanté and I believe very deeply in the Great Creator. I sometimes have a hard time letting things go and sometimes things get under my skin, but when I take a step back I realize that it’s the Divine hand at work that I am complaining about.

My marriage mirrors the way we respond to or resist Spirit. It’s both amazing and sometimes frustrating to see that we love so much and so hard, yet can be so stubborn which gets in the way of life’s learning process.

I don’t remember the first time I ever saw Shanté, but I remember the last time we met. 

Shanté has a sister who also graduated from my alma mater and I’m not sure when our paths would have crossed if not for her. Her sister and I were both freshman in 2008. We weren’t best friends, but our friend circles intersected.

In 2013 I started having group meetings in my apartment on the first Saturday night of the month. We called those meetings “Church.” I generally cooked vegetarian meals as folks gathered and at midnight, Sunday, Church began.

This was a space that was brave as well as safe. We discussed religion, politics, sexuality, gender identity and race. We developed a place for us to check in about current events and check in with each other about our queer lives. One night, preparation for Church took a little longer than planned.

When I arrived, Shanté, her sister and a few other people were sitting on the floor. 

I swooped into the kitchen, turned on the radio and let the party commence. During the icebreaker where churchgoers would say their first name and an adjective describing them. I became Tornado Tori and she Subtle Shanté.

The night grew old and everyone left as she grilled me about my entire existence. Subtle Shanté asked me about my eating habits, spirituality, what time I woke up, my style of dress-everything. Once she shared her love for poetry I got her contact information to send her to another organization.

I never called or emailed her until a month later. I saw her at a party and I wanted to see her again so I texted her which resulted in a date with two dinners, homemade vegan ice cream and a scavenger hunt at Walmart.

I knew Shanté was going to mean a lot to me and mold me into a better version of myself. 

But I never thought our legacy would be planted in Montgomery, AL. I am writing here to share my faith, stories and experiences. Hopefully my words can be useful.

Photo via flickr user reneemca