Building a life of love and spirituality
Building a life of love and spirituality
By Lorenzo Robertson
Helena and Esperanza Guess were legally married over a year ago and are the proud owners of Trinity Funeral Chapel servicing Broward and Miami-Dade Counties. They are one of the few lesbian couples in the mortuary sciences field in South Florida. When asked about how it was to come out to their families about being lesbians, both shared their experiences.
Helena remembers that it was a struggle to have the initial conversations coming from an extremely strict Pentecostal family and being reminded that her sexuality would cause her to go to Hell. Late sixties, early seventies, being homosexual was not an easy. “My family wanted to throw Holy water on me to change me, and I realized that they could not just do an exorcism to fix this (sexuality)”, stated Helena.
According to Helena, telling her parents was the most difficult part because she did not want to disappoint or disrespect her family. However, she was not going to live a lie. Helena says, “I was stubborn and bullheaded and was going to live my life for me and not for my family”. Even though the names used to talk about lesbians were very derogatory during that time-period, Helena knew who and what she was and forged ahead to live her life openly.
Esperanza’s transition to living her life as a lesbian was a little less stressful, coming to herself after years of dealing with men and having five children before she came to the understanding of who she was. When she came out, she was at a place in her life where she did not care what people thought because she took care of herself and her children. There was some fear and a little trepidation because when she was younger she wanted the traditional look of what society told her to have- a husband and children. Al-though inside, she felt like she wanted to be with a woman.
The field of mortuary sciences is generally a man’s arena, but Helena Guess got the introduction to it at an early age and it stuck. She remembers growing up and the local funeral director invited the kids in for ice cream and other snacks. All of the other kids were more frightened of the dead bodies than interested. Helena was very intrigued with what the funeral director was doing with the bodies. After going through personal upheavals, Helena finally realized her purpose. Initially, she entered school to study nursing, the family profession, but mortuary sciences won her over. Now, Helena’s family thought, “here we go again and the family felt they needed to take Helena back to into prayer to exorcize this mortuary sciences demon because she has lost it again.” Helena did go through a dark period when she partied like a rock star and did not want to do anything because of being ostracized because of her sexuality. How-ever, she realized what she needed and went back to school and the rest, as they say, is history.
Esperanza says, “I stumbled into the funeral business because of Helena. When we first were together, I would not even enter the facility and little by little and body by body, I began to feel more comfortable. When I watched Helena moving the bodies and they looked like big baby dolls, I started to become more at ease around the dead.” Although Esperanza’s back-ground is in the medical field, she has become the backbone to Helena performing up to Helena’s standards of making each family feel unique and special. Helena takes her role at Trinity Funeral Chapel very seriously because they have been entrusted with a family’s loved one and this is the only opportunity make it right. She has set very high standards and only wants what’s best for the families she serves.
Why was it important to you two to live your lives openly as a legally married same sex couple?
That very important question is to know and understand why people of the same sex get married. Helena expressed, “she came from a time period that was very difficult for gay people to come to terms with their sexuality.” Esperanza, stated, “you have to be very comfortable with being who you are, giving an example that before she met Helena she did not wear makeup.” Helena did her makeup and showed her how to apply it and now before services they are touching up each other’s makeup before they leave, which for Esperanza demonstrates the depth of their comfort with and commitment to each other. Esperanza was adamant about not being in another relationship without being in it for the long haul. She was tired of being the girlfriend and wanted to be a wife. Esperanza made it obviously clear to Helena, “that if we are to be together, you need to marry me”.
According to the Guesses, they feel saddened for the next generation and how there are so many things hindering them living their lives authentically. Helena wishes the three Ps for the next generation. Helena wants the younger same gender loving people to understand hard work and dedication, and be true to who you are. She applies the three Ps to her life: Pray, Plan and Prepare. She says, “I set a plan and I pray over it, always keeping God in the midst. God will always tell you, yes, no, or not right now. Be your own person and work hard for the things you want and need”. Helena applied these principles to her life when she started Trinity Funeral Chapel.
“Don’t allow your sexuality to define who you are,” is an important mantra for Esperanza. She feels that you have to follow your heart and follow your passion and do not allow other people to define who you are because you have to determine your worth. Even with negatives that can occur when you decide to live your life openly, there are still obstacles and roadblocks in 2018, especially for Black people.
Contrary to popular belief, there are many same gender loving people seeking a closer walk with the Higher Power. The Guesses are an example of a couple building life and love together with their spirituality. Love is love regardless of the gender you choose to love.