Florida-natives find solace in California — a state where same-sex marriage is legal.
January 6, 2021
By Jameela Hammond
Florida-natives, Adrienne (“Madam Muse”) and Janeeka Muse (“J. Muse”) were one of the many same-sex couples who traveled to California because the state was one of the few to legalize same-sex marriages. The Muses vacationed with their two daughters to celebrate J. Muse’s birthday and to get married. At the time, they were unaware that their joyous journey would become a life-altering chapter.
Due to religious reasons, their family did not support their union. They were no longer able to stay in their family’s California home. As a result, The Muses became homeless. Growing up as a preacher’s daughter, Madam Muse grappled with her sexuality throughout her life and recalled the following prayer, “Please God, take it out of me, please don’t let me be gay.” Her strength in her sexuality didn’t come easy. She confessed, “I was ashamed of it. It was hard.”
The Muses had been in a relationship for two years before they actually experienced homelessness as a married couple. The same suitcase they had packed with belongings for their vacation became the same suitcase that they would live out of for eight months. Madam Muse fell into a deep depression and explained,
“I went into a state of shock. I was clinically depressed. It was a deep dark place. I had never experienced poverty in the slightest bit.”
They soon discovered a Christian shelter for women and children called the Genesis House. It was an emergency shelter for women and children who were transitioning out of homelessness. They provided a safe environment for mothers and their children so they could be equipped to be self-sufficient and lead healthy lives. The house had rooms for nine families. The program was designed to give women the structure needed to seek gainful employment, save for the future, and move on to the next level of housing. Madam Muse confessed, “That was the first time that I had experienced a religious organization being accepting of LGBT and not judging me for it.”
The Muses agreed that the Genesis House had saved their lives. J. Muse revealed, “Genesis saved us.” Madam Muse was diagnosed as being clinically depressed and attributed her wife, J. Muse as the driving force to their family dynamic. “She really picked up with my girls because it was to the point that I couldn’t speak. I was mute. I would just be stuck for hours and hours, not moving. She was a guiding light.” Watching her mom struggle as a single parent who raised two children, prepared J. Muse for this dark chapter.
“I wasn’t new to the struggle of going without.”
Once The Muses settled into the Genesis House, they were able to tend to their mental health and were afforded opportunities; necessary to get them back on their feet. Madam Muse explained, “For people like me, it was like a place where I could breathe, relax, calm down. Once I kind of calmed down, it wasn’t this crisis-induced like anxiety, panic everyday.” Genesis House also became her haven of creativity. She started painting with the other kids who lived in the home. Teaching the kids to paint sparked a flame inside her. Madam Muse recollected, “I finally started to find my creativity again.”
The Genesis House was instrumental in The Muses’ metamorphosis. Its staff helped them secure an apartment while Madam Muse continued her mental health therapy. When they got their first apartment, Madam Muse was transferred to a different therapist who was also a member of the LGBTQ+ community and made home visits. Madam Muse disclosed,
“I was at a point where I still couldn’t leave my house. I couldn’t go into a grocery store. I couldn’t drive anymore. It was just this weird dark stillness. Where I was just existing.”
As a child, Madam Muse was raised to believe that therapy was demonic. Throughout her journey, however, she learned that controlling her breathing actually mitigated her anxiety and depression. She professed, “I’m a huge advocate for mental health. It changed my life.”
Madam Muse continued to paint. As a result, her paintings gave her life purpose. Her powerful and thoughtful artwork had caught the attention of television networks like Oxygen and VH1. Her first painting as a third grader, received an award. Today, both Madam Muse and J. Muse have become well-known artists. J. Muse’s first painting, “FLOTUS” of Michelle Obama went viral on the internet. It was shared and retweeted by A-Listers and appeared on top blog sites in a single day (after being featured in The Huffington Post). Madam Muse’s artwork has also garnered the respect of Ava DuVernay, Lena Waithe, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola. Despite the fact that she rarely painted celebrities, she felt compelled to recreate Lena Waithe’s Met Gala outfit — a rainbow cape that draped to the red carpet floor. She gushingly stated, “It’s iconic.”
The Muses created a YouTube Channel called “Her Wife and Kids” to not only debunk stereotypes of LGBTQ+ families, but also have honest conversations about family, sex, and love. They attributed the strength of their relationship to being in tune with one another and communicating often. J. Muse proclaimed,
“It has a lot to do with who you’re with. I think because she is my soulmate. Because she just gets me. I just understand her. We can communicate without even talking.”
Madam Muse knew at first sight that she had met her soulmate. She explained, “She gave me this look. I knew I was going to spend the rest of my life with her.”
As they geared up for their “a-MUSE-ing Summer Paint Tour (2018),” Madam Muse offered her words of wisdom. “Live your life, fearlessly.” J. Muse added, “If what you’re doing doesn’t scare you, then you’re doing the wrong thing” — an inspiration to find your muse.
At the time of the interview (June 12, 2018), The Muses were preparing for their first family reunion in Florida since they were homeless. Four years after their marriage, The Muses’ family finally acknowledged their union.