Rev. Starlene Joyner Burns
Women You Should Meet (W.Y.S.M.): Rev. Starlene Joyner Burns
September 24, 2021
Donald Faison and Leisha Hailey
The L Word: Generation Q Round Up: Season 2, Episode 8
September 28, 2021

A Late Bloomer Pt. II

Mary Dean and Family

LtoR: Cate, Matt (son), Camden and Kinsley (grandkids), and Mary, June 2019.

In 2013, I picked up my first copy of Tagg Magazine at Freddie’s Beach Bar in Arlington, VA. As someone who just came out, I was excited to see a LGBTQ women’s magazine. Seeing my excitement, one of the waiters told me the editor Eboné Bell of the publication was right across the room. I ran right over to Eboné, told her I just “came out” and that I loved the publication. Out of that conversation came my Spring 2013 article for Tagg called “A Late Bloomer.”

So much has changed since navigating my “new gay life” so to speak. Since then, I married the love of my life while vacationing in Tahoe in June 2014. My wife Cate got on her knees and asked me the morning of if I would marry her. What’s a girl to do, so I said “YES!” It was either the excitement of the World Cup or the high altitude. This year we celebrated our seven-year anniversary, and still going strong.

Without a doubt the most joyful change has been the addition of grandchildren in our lives. They call us Yaya and Bamma (me being Yaya, of course). We take every opportunity to travel down to Blacksburg where they live to spend precious time with them. It’s interesting that the grandkids—now 5 and nearly 4—are having difficulty with our sex identification, often referring to Cate as “he” or “him.” While our son is horrified by this, we never correct them as they are smart and come from a loving family where we are accepted as we are. We are confident they will figure it out.

As we continue to grow older, we often look back on how we got here. It hasn’t been easy, but we have been embraced and lifted up by so much understanding, love, and support that we feel very blessed. My parents who once had written me off have completed a full 180o as we enjoy annual vacations to the beach and the Kennedy Center; and my dad and Cate are best golf buddies. We even were honored with a cake and a wedding anniversary gift this year.

So much has changed since my first kiss, though I still despise labels. We are just people like everyone else. I love who I love, and all my peeps know this to be true of me. Having been homophobic (my wife said “thou dost protest too much”), some find it a mystery that I am still in love with Cate. On my recent birthday at the Night Out at the Nationals event our daughter bought me a T-shirt that says it all – “I am Not a Lesbian, But my Wife Is.”

When Cate and I realized we were soulmates and were officially married, I wanted to change my last name back to my maiden name, leaving the old married name behind. In asking our kids, their only concern was what should their friends call me now…Mrs Goff, Momgoff, or what? We never planned on correcting anyone who called me (and still do) by my previous married name. We respected their concern by just being parents to all the kids that came in our home.

When I say our love has grown, I truly mean it. It is crazy how we can finish each other’s sentences, or how we can still just talk for hours. Having spent the past almost two years working at home together under COVID, I think we can make it through anything! The world has grown up around us too, with increased tolerance and acceptance. We proudly join everyone on the dance floor in “mixed” company, spinning with the joy of newlyweds! And soon, on November 10, we will celebrate 26 years since that first kiss. My how time flies!

Visit to read “A Late Bloomer Pt. 1.”