A chance meeting on South Street is to thank for Teneshia Washington and Carla Gamble’s romance — and now engagement.
Washington, 31, ran into Gamble, 26, outside XO Lounge, as Gamble and her friends were hailing a cab in December 2013.
“She was coming out with a friend and I said, ‘Do you ladies need a cab?’ She was beautiful and she just seemed different, like she didn’t fit into the mold of anyone else,” Washington said. “She didn’t seem that interested at first, but her best friend was like, ‘She’s nice, give her a call.’ And she did.”
“Boy oh boy, is she consistent,” Gamble laughed, recalling her first impressions of Washington. “She saw what she wanted, and she went after it. The way she talked to me from the beginning was so genuine and kind, so not like I was ever used to. She didn’t come with negativity, just so much grace and patience.”
The women, both originally from Overbrook Park, made their relationship official in the spring of 2014.
Gamble, 26, is a HeadStart pre-school teacher in Ardmore, and Washington, 31, is the assistant executive director of a national nonprofit based in Center City.
Gamble said their mutual support has been key.
“So many people in relationships just seem to take, take, take from each other, where there is no balance, but with us it’s about keeping that balance and being able to give, give, give,” she said. “We focus a lot on supporting each other in every way possible; if Teneshia decides to start her own business or I decide to further my music career, we both know we have each other’s support in any decision we make. Teneshia is also my best friend; we laugh so much together my stomach hurts. We can lay in bed all day and just talk to each other about whatever.”
Washington said their shared value system has also helped them thrive; they’re both very family-oriented, and their faith is important to them.
“We have a really strong foundation and a huge support system,” she said. “Carla was afraid in the beginning her family would reject her, even though she had been openly gay, but when they met me and they realized I also go to church, I practice my religion just as well as they do, I’m just a lesbian, I think that was important.”
Gamble’s family was actively involved in her proposal to Washington on Dec. 19. During a family dinner at Maggiano’s in Center City, Gamble took Washington outside for a few minutes and, when they returned, each of Gamble’s family members handed her a rose that included a note about why Gamble wanted to marry her.
“I didn’t know anything about it; it was a huge surprise. The people at Maggiano’s helped her set the whole thing up and were so kind and supportive,” Washington said, noting she had been thinking of proposing herself. “But she beat me to it! We were just on the same mindset; our spirits are connected enough to know that this is what is supposed to be. For us, it’s not just, OK, we can get married now so let’s get married; it’s about knowing that this is the person we see our future with, the rest of our life, not just the honeymoon period of the relationship. We take it very seriously; marriage is a covenant.”
“I proposed to Teneshia and decided I wanted to marry her because she became all I knew and simply all I wanted to know for my entire life, and then beyond,” Gamble added. “When you are with someone for a long time, there will be disagreements and arguments, some misunderstandings, but love is forever. And it always wins.”
The couple plans to marry in the spring of 2017.