Emma Colquitt-Sayers was born in 1953 in Alabama, and grew up mostly in Hastings, Florida with her grandmother, a share cropper who taught her the value of honest work.  Working in the fields herself until college, Emma overcame tough challenges including nearly losing her right arm at age nine after being shot by a ten-year-old neighbor boy. Her early life taught Emma resilience – but in later years, it also felt sometimes felt like life had dealt her too many obstacles.

Emma attended Florida State University (FSU) and to this day considers herself a Seminole for life. Transferring to a college in Gainesville, she studied cardio-pulmonary technology and cardiovascular imaging. Her first cardiac imaging job was in New Orleans, and it was there that Emma met Kathy Bowser (a fellow OUTWORDS interviewee). With Kathy’s encouragement, Emma moved to Dallas, and the minute her plane touched down, she knew she was home.

Emma started her first company, Cardiac Concepts, in 1987. She sold that company, tried other things, came back to ultrasound, and finally started a mobile cardiology company called Cardiac Dynamics in 2010. Along the way, Emma earned her MBA from Texas Women’s University and attended Leadership Texas, a training program for women started by the late Governor Ann Richards. 

Beyond her businesses, Emma sees herself as a servant-leader, a person who leads by example and action. One of her first causes was Emma’s Elves, which for 11 years provided holiday gifts and toys to needy kids. During the AIDS epidemic, Emma became involved with Oak Lawn Community Services, serving as board president in 1992. Under her leadership, Oak Lawn created LifeWalk, a major ongoing AIDS services fundraiser for Dallas. Emma also got to serve with joy on the Committee of 30, an advisory board for FSU women’s athletics.

In the mid-1990s, Emma survived a rare form of cancer with the support of her life partner Joan. But perhaps her greatest surprise came in the early 2000s when she and Joan met “a wonderful young girl who seemed very sad”. Her name was Trinity, and Emma and Joan became her adoptive parents. Overcoming steep obstacles, Trinity became an All-American volleyball player and college graduate who “looks up to” Emma and Joan with love and respect, despite towering over them physically by several inches.

Emma admitted to being nervous for her OUTWORDS interview in June 2017. We tried to put her at ease; but in the end, it was Emma who stared down her nerves, and granted us an interview replete with courage, humility and humor.
Mason Funk: Okay. So do me a favor start off and tell me your name, and spell it out first and last.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [00:00:30] My name is Emma Rose Colquitt Sayers. Emma, E-M-M-A. Rose, R-O-S-E. Colquitt, C-O-L-Q-U-I-T-T. Dash Sayers, S-A-Y-E-R-S.
Mason Funk: Okay do you want to be identified on camera as Emma Rose Colquitt-Sayers or just Emma
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: Emma R. Colquitt- Sayers.
Mason Funk: Okay. Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: Yeah
Mason Funk: [00:01:00] Okay, and do me a favor tell me the date and place of your birth.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: February 2nd, 1953 in Columbia Alabama.
Mason Funk: Okay now when I ask you questions if you remember to, for example if I say if I asked you a question about your mom or your grandma, if you can start by saying my mother, or my grandmother, or my sister. In other words start with the subject that I ask you about so that we know what you are talking about without hearing my question.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: Okay
Mason Funk: It will make sense as we go.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: Okay.
Mason Funk: [00:01:30] So do me a favor tell me a little about your family, who are the key figures, and paint me a little picture of sort of your family.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: I was raised by my grandmother, and really my mother came into my life later, and my aunt. I actually tell people I was raised by three people: My grandmother, my mother, and my aunt. I was telling this story the other day.
Mason Funk: Sorry. We have a cat in the back. You stay where you are.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [00:02:00] They'll bring her in. She wants to go in the room.
Mason Funk: Hi sweety. Hi baby girl. You want to come in here?
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: When you said talk about your family I mean I can go all the way back.
Mason Funk: [00:02:30] Well you know we are not intending to go all the way back because people have long family histories for sure. When I said your family I was mainly talking about your family of origin the family you were born into. Kind of more immediate nuclear sense of the word.
Mason Funk: But I'm always interested to hear for example if your family was descended from slaves that's an important detail, but honestly without going into so much detail that we go down a long path it takes a long time to come back. I hope that helps.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: Yeah.
Mason Funk: [00:03:00] It's not real cut and dry.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: Like what I was saying earlier I was raised by my birth family. My grandmother, my mother, and my aunt.
Mainly I lived with my grandmother. She been a shear cropper and we lived in small town and it was a migrant town so we all worked in the fields. I think I got my work equity from my grandmother because she worked in the fields until she was 70. This is what we do, we do good hard work. Good hard honest work.
Then I was there, and I moved away to college at 18.
Mason Funk: [00:03:30] We'll be there let's spend more time on your childhood. So tell me about your grandmother. Again just say my grandmother.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [00:04:00] My grandmother was special. I would say that I got my core values I think from my grandmother. She had a sweat equity, she was very honest, very straightforward. She had 23 grandkids, and I was the only grandchild she actually raised, but she was like a daycare center for of the 23 grand kids, we lived in Florida. So the 23 grandkids, 20 lived almost in the little town that we lived in. So a lot of us lived there so she was like the day care center long before we are talking about back in the 50's and 60s so.
I used to tell people all the time that my grandmother we can read before we went to school. She was really big on us learning to read and write before we went to pre-K. They didn't have pre-K back then they had kindergarten and first grade. I tell people that all the time. It's like a house joke. She taught us to read from the King James Bible. I tell people all the time we probably the only kids in kindergarten who knew what "verily verily thus saith the Lord" really meant. That's 5 year olds and so. She taught us to read, and she taught me a lot.
A lot of my core values really stem from her.
Mason Funk: [00:05:30] And what core values which values are you talking about?
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: Honesty, integrity, believing in yourself. I remember one of her sayings to us was, to the girls she said, "Don't be dependent." Keep in mind she lived to be 90 so she was 54 when I was born. Some of her dialect was a little different, but we got it. Her saying was "don't be dependent on no man." She said you have to be able to make your own money, you have to be able to work.
She was really big on education. She only had up to 6th grade education when she went to work on the fields. But it was important to her that we get educated. Don't be dependent on a man, and get an education she thought education was the key to everything. So that was important to her. It's important that we got that. And believing in yourself.
Mason Funk: Now this is the mid 1950's into the 1960s.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: I was '53 yeah.
Mason Funk: Okay so this is pre civil rights. Towards the end of the what we called the Jim Crow era. And you are in the south?
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [00:06:30] Yes.
Mason Funk: So can you paint a picture of I guess some of the racial discrimination that was very quite present, and what you noticed as a child kind of taking it all in, and figuring out at that time how society worked. Can you talk about that?
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [00:07:00] Oh there are numerous stories I can share. For one we lived in a very small town called Hastings Florida. That's about 14 miles from, 14 miles from the beech. We are between St. Augustine Florida, Palatka Florida. 60 miles south of Jacksonville Florida. So we are kind of near the east coast. Small town population 5 or 600.
As a little kid I remember that we go to the pharmacy, and go up town we called it going to town. The pharmacy was the one where the ice cream shop was. I remember going into the pharmacy, they called it drug store back then, and going up and getting ice cream, and I knew the stand we had to stand at the side of the counter we couldn't go sit on the stools. I always remember kind of looking around seeing the green shiny bar stools, but knowing that I could not sit there, and so we get there, and go buy ice cream.
I remember also that one summer I went to Summer school not because I needed it, but because I just liked school. We had a teacher that was from the north and he came down, and he was a little upset. He gone up to the pharmacy the drug store also sold hamburgers, and so there were items that were priced kind of high and he found that those items were priced high like a dollar more than they should be to keep black people from buying them. Like a hamburger instead of being 25 cents would say a $1.25. In the '60s that's a little unheard of. I remember him coming to the school that day, and he was outraged that there was such a differential in pricing.
Also, we integrated our high school my senior year. That was a little difficult because the parents, it was interesting, it was the parents who wanted us ... it was a small town again 14 miles from St. Augustine, and the black high school was the newer of the school so we had white high school, and a black high school. They decided that we needed to integrate so instead of white kids, and white parents were lining up kids to come to the black school they just shipped them all to St. Augustine. So if we go 16 miles away to school anybody participated in extracurricular activity was not able to do that.
I remember having we had the ... as an 11th grader we had secret meetings with white kids. To find out whether or not they really wanted to go to St. Augustine, and they didn't want to. So we would have secret meetings to try to work through our issues so that we can talk to our parents about doing that. It wasn't the black parents that, they were okay with us integrating. It was the white parents that were not okay with their kids coming across the track. So because the county said okay if you stay in Hastings you have to go to the newer school which was the black kid's school.
There are a lot of stories. I was born in Alabama, and we moved to Florida when I was one so we go back to Alabama in the summer. And then we would spend time with my cousins, and so it was really cool because we would go to the theater.
Back in those days you can go to the theater with six, cup of cold ... it's like a matinee you go to the theater with six coca cola bottle tops basically. They put … we had to sit in the balcony, whites were down below and blacks were in the balcony. Which I didn't really get too much because all they did was we just threw popcorn down below. And there was difficulties there but you learn to work through it. The object was to win the game. You do what it takes to win the game.
There is something interesting with my grandmother though, even with all of that, she was really big on respect. You respect everybody. So that was ... it was a difficult time but we worked through it.
Amy Bench: [00:11:30] Hold on. [inaudible 00:11:27] is hanging from her necklace
Mason Funk: [inaudible 00:11:30]. I'm going to grab a tissue for myself I'll be right back. Then I'll adjust that.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: Notice that's wrong?
Amy Bench: We’ve got two mike's going and the one above you sounds really good the one[crosstalk 00:11:47] the one
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: Right here? The closest did not say.
Amy Bench: It's hitting [inaudible 00:11:51]
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: Should I take this off?
Mason Funk: Let me test that for you.
Amy Bench: No it's gorgeous it might have to go under her shirt.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [00:12:00] Put it over here?
Amy Bench: But then it won't it's gotta be kind of near your.
Mason Funk: Let me fuss with it a little bit. I can tell that was gonna come close to your necklace.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: I'm sorry.
Mason Funk: No, no no it's not our fault it's just one of those technical things. That's really, again I think of this as social history as well.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: Let me share also if you don't mind I'll share a kind of a fun-
Mason Funk: [00:12:30] I'm sorry I saw I was afraid it was going to happen. I'm going to adjust this one more time. Okay now just count to 10 for us.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
Mason Funk: You hear everything. Okay good. So you had a story you wanted to share.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [00:13:00] Yeah I was gonna say kind of the integration was difficult in the '50s, and the '60s, but there were fun things that happened too.
The two schools in Hastings, Hastings high was a white school, Harris High was the black school. Harris High had very good sports team so football team, basketball team actually I played basketball. I made the varsity team when I was in eighth grade. I played basketball throughout my senior year. When we integrated my senior year Hastings High on the other hand, basketball, sports was not really their high point and they always gotten beat.
And I'll never forget this because I met these two ladies later at FSU when I went to school at Florida State. We went to they were in Orange Park that was the conference school. We went to play them, and they told a story to me that they knew that Hastings was coming to town they really didn't practice, because they didn't want to embarrass the girls because they didn't know how to play basketball. So the week that they were playing Hastings high, when we integrated we kept that we got to keep the Hastings High name, we got the black school colors, and so we tried as I said when we got together we kind of worked through all those things. We kept the same high school name Hastings high.
So my friends Candace, and Bobby were telling me that at Orange Park high where they went to school when they were playing Hastings that week they didn't practice because they always beat them. They never lost to them. Well we integrated, they didn't know that. So we came there, and we slaughtered them. So when I went to Florida State and went out for the basketball team there they saw me, and ran over to me, and they said they wanted to get more information about it because they realized they were not prepared to play us so we actually went on to play State I think we won State that year. And Hastings in the past, that school had not really done well in sports. So that's good word.
Mason Funk: [00:15:00] That sounds fun. You mentioned in your questionnaire at the age of nine you got shot. Can you tell us about that?
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [00:15:30] Yeah. I was again raised from my grandmother my mother lived, we lived out in the country my grandmother lived what we call uptown. My mother lived uptown, and so it was a break, and my mother asked me to come spend the weekend with her. It was like a holiday so I told my grandmother and asked her can I go spend a weekend at my mother's she said yes. So while I was up there, she lived in a duplex. I actually ridden my bike up. I got home, got my bike we walked home to my house in the country where my grandmother lived. Brought my bike I was riding my bike around the two complexes.
A 10 year old boy came out with a shotgun and he said, "don't you believe I'll shoot you." And I said, typical nine-year-old answer, “No.”
Amy Bench: because your mom might beat you good for doing that. But it was really interesting my bike fell at their doorstep and he ran out with a shotgun, and he said that. And I said no because your mom will beat you good, but I didn't lean over to get the bike. I kind of dropped down to my knee, and reached over, and this is the arm that's deformed now. Reached over to get the bike, and that's when he shot. He actually shot the elbow out.
I went to from nine to say fifteen I was in and out of hospitals doing different procedures, and stuff. It was kind of neat. It was not neat what I'm trying to say is that and this was a small town. About 60 miles from St. Augustine, and 66 miles from Gainesville where Shannon's medical center was.
There were two residents who had just finished their program in orthopedic surgery and took up residence in Palatka Florida which was about 10 miles away from, where the ambulance took me to the hospital there. Keep in mind now I can actually see through my arms see the ground. My elbow was shot out. And so what they said was that under normal circumstances they would have immediately amputated it. Because these guys were just coming out of the program and had heard of some new things they wanted to try. They decided to try to put it back together. Because of that I was able to keep the arm. Because what they said they told my mom, and they said, my grandmother, that we can always amputate later, but she's only nine let's try to put this back together. And they were able to do that they put some of the nerves back together.
But it's interesting with that saving of the arm they learned some things. For example, was that they put me in a cast for six months. Today we would never do that because that constricts by that time so by the time they did take they had me wired up, and I was in a cast for six months. A hard cast for six months so when they took it off, and they pulled the wires out the arms had constricted. They were hesitant and I didn't want for them to re-break the arm to try to put it back so having thought at some point I may have to get it amputated keeping this the way it is it's fine. It didn't stop me I played basketball, I played in the band. I did tumbling so
Mason Funk: So that arm effectively became your non shooting arm?
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [00:19:00] Yeah more of a guide, I shot, and it was interesting I was right-handed, and I had to learn to write left-handed, and I tell people my writing immediately became art because it was so bad. I learned to write left-handed.
And the band, I'll never forget this story too. The band director when I was in 6th and we gone to band, and I had excelled in learning about music, different clefs, and base, treble clef, and different notes and stuff like that. So when it came time to find an instrument. You get locked into woman are expected to play clarinet first. Let's go clarinet, then flute, and then we found that was, at that point Mr. Cambell, and even I, realized that with a clarinet I don't have the dex ... I wouldn't be able to play the clarinet as well with my right-hand as I could with the left.
He was determined that he said you are one of my smart students so I'm determined to find an instrument for you. So what we wound up doing we went from the clarinet to the saxophone, and then we went to trombone. So and what we did the turn the bell over to the left side. So normally the trombone play it with the right hand. Well we turned the bell to the other side so I learned to play with the left hand. So I played marching band I played trombone, and concert band I played baritone. So like I said I got to do everything I wanted to do.
Mason Funk: [00:20:30] As a nine-year-old going through that experience which lasted for several years what do you think in the grand scheme of your life what do you think you took away from that whole experience? And mentioned that the experience of being shot, and recuperating start that way so we know what you're talking about.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [00:21:00] I think having been a person who'd been shot, recuperated. One it kind of gave me confidence that if you can make it through this you can do other things. It also taught me that that's not gonna stop you. It's all kind of like I'm aware of my grandmother talking, you know don't let that stop you. So yes nine-years-old, and you got shot. Yes you were right-handed, but now you can write left-handed.
You can still do that, and also I remember as a five-year-old playing basketball, I love basketball. I remember even now as a five-year-old trying to get the ball up to the hoop. As a five-year-old you never can't because it was the high school hoops. I never could. So I'm saying all that to say that you adjust. What that taught me as a nine-year-old that if you really want it you gotta go after it, and you hake to make the adjustment to get it, okay. Find the adjustment, find the alternate route to get you what you want.
So what Mr. Cambell said we gonna find an instrument you can play. Because you are one of my better students, and so we found the instrument. So if you are really determined you can find a way I think that's what I kind of do, we can find a way to do it.
Mason Funk: Great, wonderful. So I know you made your way you went to Florida State, and then you worked your way to New Orleans, and then you ended up in the Dallas area.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [00:22:30] Uh huh.
Mason Funk: Can you give us just imagine you just respond like a short essay answer where you just have to cover the facts. Just give me a little trajectory and we'll go back and we'll pick up pieces.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [00:23:00] Sure. I went to FSU, and I loved it, please. I'm a seminal forever, I love FSU. I have my bachelors, and my master's but unfortunately I didn't get it from there. So I wound up moving... I was there for four years and I realized that I needed to spend another year. I was going in medical technology but I hadn’t all the courses, I needed to take. Even with medical technology I needed to stay there for another year and a half. And my roommates were graduating, and I was really tired of being poor. So I had work-study on the campus, and I wanted to get out, and make money.
So I was being raised by my grandmother she was 85 at the time, and I thought well there's some things I want to do for her, because were poor, and we will still lived in that little house. So I thought I want to get out and work. So I actually went to Gainesville Florida, and worked, and got involved in the physiology department I was working as a technician there. Through their program, some of the graduate students were teaching at the community college. They had started an ultrasound diagnostic program it was an associate program with Santa Fe community college where you had an associate in echocardiography, noninvasive cardiology, and invasive cardiology. So I actually, through the encouragement of my boss at the physiology department Dr. Otis and also the graduate students who I worked with there, they encouraged me to go through that program I did in two years, and I moved to New Orleans.
I worked in a small hospital on the west bank of New Orleans Joan Smith, and then moved to Texas, and when I moved to Texas lived with Kathy Bowser for three months, and I met her in New Orleans. I moved to Texas, and went back to school, and got a Bachelor's degree then I went to Texas to get my Master's and stuff.
It was a time where I was willing to work, because I felt that, and you are just tired of being poor, just tired of being broke, so I thought. I had a skill, and I can do [inaudible 00:24:54] and now I did ultrasound which actually worked out because the business that I have is an ultrasound. I moved to Texas worked in the Catholic St. Paul hospital for a year. Started moonlighting doing ultrasound after hours. From that got my own company four years later. So I've been on my own since 1987.
Amy Bench: You got a [inaudible 00:25:18]
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: I'm sorry
Amy Bench: No it's not you.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: I keep moving.
Mason Funk: Oh I see it again yeah
Amy Bench: It's just the necklace. Mind if I
Emma R. Colquitt -[00:25:30]Sayers: No please yeah
Amy Bench: Okay I'll just try to not sure how it's hitting if I can just slide it up a little bit. Because it's a gorgeous necklace.
Mason Funk: [inaudible 00:25:37]
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: Oh sorry.
Mason Funk: It's just this jigsaw puzzle it happens every single interview. The placement of that mike is like reinventing the wheel.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [00:26:00] But you know also I was gonna tell you a lot of things happen for me in New Orleans. New Orleans actually helped me to define my sexuality in New Orleans. And if I'm honest I would say I went to New Orleans because of a relationship with a woman I met from the church. So there was a lot of conflict with me spirituality and sexuality. I grew up with the two not coming together, and so almost I felt you had to choose one or the other. And I remember, like I said if I'm honest I think I moved to New Orleans to follow an old flame that was not to be. As I look around I'm glad it was not to be.
But to be honest I think I did it for that reason, and also the fact that I moved away to not embarrass my grandmother. I battled with the sexuality thing for a long time. I would never want to do anything to hurt her, or to offend her. During those times that's why that's so neat now I appreciate you allowing us to share the stories because there was a time we couldn't share these stories. There were times where you kept those stories to yourself, and you didn't want to let anybody know. You spent your whole life hiding it basically.
It's interesting I am able to sit here and talk to you now because there was an incident in New Orleans, before I met Kathy. I remember being out there, and it was a Saturday night, and I don't even drink, but just like wanting cokes so I went and bought I had cokes, I bought some rum, and I remember, and it was a one bedroom apartment, and I remember squatting in a corner of my kitchen just crying. And I was so angry with God because I was very spiritual I was raised by my grandmother, I’m very very Baptist. I've gone to Church with Christ so I was really in it. But I remember squatting in my kitchen in the corner saying I was so angry with God, and I was saying look, I said, “I'm black, I'm woman, I'm handicapped, and I'm gay. Can't you pick one or two things? You had to have all four of those things?”
If you look at when I was feeling at the time was that all four of those things were bad: woman, black, gay, handicapped. That would be bad. So my anger was that because they were bad, and all of those things all four of those things has helped me have defined who I am today, and I couldn't, even the handicap you can't take it away, because if you took that away from me now you would actually take away a part of me.
So talk about New Orleans it was a defining moment, because it was there when I met Kathy, it was there when I really came head to head with my sexuality. I gone to, by that time I was very active in Church of Christ in Gainesville when I moved to New Orleans, and got away from it. But then I used that opportunity to get away because I thought it was a sin, and when I realized that well so I thought well and I wanted to go back to the church because at that time that was the big fight within me was that if you were gay you can't be spiritual. I don't feel that way at all now it's almost the opposite, but at the time I had to choose.
And so I remember confessing I even went back to the Church of Christ met some wonderful people in New Orleans, they were Church of Christ members. I joined their church, I confessed it, confessed homosexuality as a sin. I was following the rules, and followed my own personal thoughts, and things and I stayed away from anything that could be connected with gay life at all, for about six months.
On an odd night I decided to test the waters basically. I went out and met Kathy and her sister. Kathy Bowser, and her sister and they were just spending a weekend in New Orleans. And from that weekend I became their tour guide, and showed them the town of New Orleans that I knew, and then she invited me to Texas. And this is how I got to Texas.
Mason Funk: [00:30:30] Oh my goodness I didn't realize that part of your story with Kathy.
Amy Bench: I'm gonna see if I can pull the cord towards.
Mason Funk: Yeah I would say that would be better and then just to attach it [inaudible 00:30:44]
Amy Bench: Or just away so the necklace won't.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: I should take the necklace off.
Amy Bench: [00:31:00] You should not take the necklace off it's too amazing. It’s too amazing.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: So she invited me to -
Mason Funk: Hold on a second let her get out of the frame. Just hold up. Okay.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: Oh I was just talking. I'm sorry.
Mason Funk: [00:31:30] Oh that's okay that's alright let me ask you a question then. I think one of the values I think you pointed out is that through these stories people can realize how different life was. For example the idea of not embarrassing your grandmother. That's just so important for, I just want you to spend a little more time on the thinking that you had, the love and respect for your grandmother that you would desire so deeply not to embarrass her, but you thought that if it ever came out that you were a lesbian that you would in fact.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: It would embarrass the family, yeah.
Mason Funk: [00:32:00] So just tell us about that's the thing most people, young people these days don't think about maybe not quite some other way.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [00:32:30] Yeah. I don't know, at least I think, yes. But I think that thinking was the thinking of the time. I think that it wasn't just me not wanting to embarrass my grandmother by having found out that I was gay. I think a lot of people who felt that way moved away. Because she was well respected in town. My aunt was married to a minister and they had the biggest church in Hastings, and they were well respected.
We were raised to take care of family, family was very important to me. And so I was the second oldest I was actually fourth oldest grandchild of my grandmother's, and so the other 16, 17 kids that were in town they kind of looked up to me. Between the family, between the respect that other people had for my family I felt a sense of obligation, but also at the time when we were talking about me, we were talking about someone who was 21, 22. I had bought into it, I had bought into the fact that if I'm gay maybe something's wrong. So if you are gay then you must be bad, and so if it is bad you don't to embarrass family members.
There were so many things I had to work through myself, but because, you're right, because of the love for her I would never want to do anything to shame her, or to shame my family name. It's interesting my grandmother, I tell people all the time that my grandmother had played this wonderful psych job on her grandkids, she loved all of us. Played this wonderful psych job because she would tell us she said, “As long as you had Ware blood you were fine. As long as you had Ware blood you can go and do anything you want to do. Get your education, as long as you have Ware blood.”
Sometimes one of the grandkids were bad we say well he has more of the other side of his family blood. But it was important that families stuck together, and that we believed that because we had Ware blood that we can do anything. And so I took it I took that hook line and sinker and I passed it on to my cousins, and they passed it on to her kids.
Mason Funk: [00:34:30] When you say Ware blood just clarify for us.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [00:35:00] Ware blood was my grandmother's maiden name. Her marriage name is Ware I'm sorry my mother's maiden name was Ware, and we were, she was, my grandmother and my mother like I said my grandmother was a shear cropper. She married Silas Ware Sr. I know they had eight kids, and so out of the eight came 23 grandkids.
Mason Funk: That's the meaning of the Ware blood.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: That's the Ware blood yeah.
Mason Funk: Just spell it for us for the transcriber Ware.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: W-A-R-E
Mason Funk: [00:35:30] Okay great. So that's a great story about meeting Kathy, and through her that you came to Texas. So tell us about setting up your first company in 1987 I think you said.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [00:36:00] I had been with a doctor, and I had worked with him, and we had put together a company. I had the idea went to the doctor, and he backed me financially on the idea, but I wasn't too astute about the deal I kind of got, not a good deal. When I realized I didn't have a good deal I decided that you know I'm making them money, but nothing for myself. So I decided I wanted to leave, and so at the time I had signed a no-compete agreement so it forced me to leave Dallas I went to Austin.
I worked in Austin for two years, and started a company. In fact, I started the first mobile service in Austin. It was Cardiac Concepts, it was the name of the company. I moved there in '87, and then moved back to Dallas two years later after two years as a no-compete. So I started doing ultrasound where I did echocardiogram. I went to doctors offices, and hospitals in Austin area for two years. And in '89 moved back to Dallas, so I had an office in Dallas, and in Austin starting in 1987.
I sold that company in 1996 to a publicly traded company. The world of ultrasound is something that you know you hear people tell the story about, and you’ve seen people be in jobs that they hate, but they stay there because of the money, because of family or whatever. It is pretty cool that you get to do what you like. I sold that company in '96, and I tried to find something else that I can do that I liked, but it was always gets me going back to the ultrasound.
So I started a company again, and I started called Colquitt and Associates as a medical consulting group. I got involved with the cardiology group here developed their mobile program, and I started Cardiac Dynamics in 2010. And so it's just that I enjoyed, I just enjoy doing it. So I actually scaled back, obviously I only have two companies one in Austin, and one in Dallas, two locations rather, but I do provide the staffing for some areas in the Dallas area. I have a very good rep here. I provide the tests, and we do good, job we do good work. So I still do that, and I enjoy it.
Mason Funk: [00:38:00] That's great. Now you mentioned in your questionnaire another question do you consider yourself an activist? You said-
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: No
Mason Funk: No I'm too busy being a servant.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: Servant leader.
Mason Funk: A servant leader, and an entrepreneur.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: Right.
Mason Funk: [00:38:30] So I wondered if you can take us what are your thinking on those three roles, and why you say you are not an activist because you were too busy being these other two things, and just tell us about, drill down a little bit a little bit in kind of the point of view or philosophy behind that statement you gave us.
Mason Funk: Help us understand.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [00:39:00] A servant leader is something that I apply to the personal, and the nonprofit world that I happen to live in, and work in. I think it's important, again it kind of goes back to I'm a Ware a little bit. And also there's a verse in the bible that says, "To those who been given much, much will be expected, and much will be demanded." And when I look back over the things I've done in my life, I’ve always shared it, and because she always shared it.
My grandmother had a garden. The grandkids that lived in Hastings were expected to help her harvest that garden. One of the things she did was she plant these wonderful sweet potatoes. So she would plant sweet potatoes, and we would help her dig up the sweet potatoes, and we would share it with the neighbors. Share it with the families in the area, and so for me, that, it carried me because if I'm sharing when I didn't have very much, how can I not share when I had obtained a little? So it was much more, it was just as important to be aware of that you learn the skill, you get educated, but you share what you have. And I think that is very paramount to me is that, now I try to pass it on to Trinity, and I think she has it, and I think Joan, and that's a neat thing about Joan she has it too. We're respectful for people, but if there was a need, and we can help, and it doesn't hurt our family dynamics and we are not enabling then we do that because that's what's expected.
I don't think we were ever meant to be here by ourselves, and collect everything for ourselves, and not share it. The servant leader in me is the person that, the fact that I'm a business owner, the fact that I do think I am a leader, but I like to see myself, look at myself as a servant leader by my example sharing what I have, by that example. Entrepreneur pays the bills so I like working for myself, and so that's the entrepreneur part of me, but I know I need to also not horde anything, but to share. Volunteering in non-profits allows me to do that so that's what that means to me.
Mason Funk: [00:41:30] We interviewed a woman last summer who I don't know if it's a coincidence or not she's also African-American, and she had been raised by her grandmother she lives in Chicago. And she said her family's unwritten, unspoken code was service is the rent we pay for living.
Mason Funk: Have you heard that expression?
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: Yes
Mason Funk: You have?
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [00:42:00] Yeah. We're not I really don't think we are here to be by ourselves. You hear the saying all the time, “You never see a Brink's truck follow a hearse to the cemetery.” So you are not, and so what are you gonna do with it? You just gonna pile it in your room. And that's when the Emma's Elves project came in when I moved to Texas-
Mason Funk: The which project?
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: Emma's Elves
Mason Funk: Okay introduce what is Emma's Elves?
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [00:42:30] Okay when we talk about the servant leader. A project of mine that was started back in 1984. Kathy Bowser, and I, I was working at the hospital and in the social services department I didn't know that was where a lot of families were, but back in '84 social services department there were families walking past going to the cafeteria, and I heard them talking about how they are gonna get family's food, and gifts for Christmas. I got 10 people together, and actually that started right in the gay community here in Dallas. I got 10 people together I think it was '84, 1984, '85, and said okay we need the 10 families here. I think it was at the time 5 families. I said let's ... because I stopped at the social services office. What are you talking about, what do you need she said well we have families that need food, and presents, and stuff. They actually had their own little angel tree of what was needed, and so I got with Kathy, and I said let's get some people together get these families taken care of for Christmas. So we did.
And so we started they called it Emma's Elves project. So we started that project, and it ran for 11 years, and we stopped it in 1996, but during that time Joan and I we figured out we had bought presents, and food, and clothing for about 2000 people. Between I think it's like I want to say '85, 86 until 90, I know it went 11 years so it must be like '85 to '96, and we bought food. It was really so cool mission because here's a secret. There is no giving like the gay community giving. It was really neat because I had eventually I had 250 volunteers most of which were the gay community in Dallas. And we bought incredibly.
In fact, the social services department said that Emma's Elves people gave a lot, and we did. We gave, it was important to me that whatever that kid wanted let's try to get it. If you couldn't team up to get it, don't take the tag let someone else get it. In addition to that let's give them some food, because there's nothing, it's not good to be able to open all these presents, and not have food in your kitchen. So let's take your food, and gift cards, and whatever you need to do for mom and dad, so we did that. The gay community in Dallas rallied around me, and gave me some incredible support for that. They gave big time.
Eventually, I think Cavern Enterprises went on started adopting schools, and it's incredible. It's almost like, because we knew as gay people almost what it feels to not have or to be without. Whether that be love, or emotions, or whatever they really poured it out on these kids. And I try get kids from everywhere we did that first AIDS house in Dallas, we routinely did to those kids. We did kids from Parkland, we had kids from ... we adopted families from the hospitals because that was my background.
Also to me it's really nothing worse than having a family member sick over the holidays. And so to be sick, and to be hurting financially, and be poor that's a lot to bare. It was easy for me because what we could do is I can just go downstairs, and get the names. I'll go and get the people and deliver it back to them. And sometimes we deliver it to their homes. It was really important to me that we did not disrupt the family of those homes, we take the gifts, and we give it and we leave. It's not about us it's about them. That's what Emma's Elves project was. That was great I had, I was blessed to have people to support me with that, and we had as many as 250 people who did that.
Mason Funk: [00:47:00] Can you expand a bit on the idea on why you think it is that perhaps LGBTQ people might be more likely to jump in, and respond to any like that that they see the connection maybe?
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: Yeah I think we identify with that. We know what it feels like to be marg-
Mason Funk: [00:47:30] Do me a favor before saying we identify with that say who identifies with what.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [00:48:00] We, the gay community, or the person of LGBT community, we can identify with those families, because we know, as a community, what it feels like to be marginalized, to feel marginalized. We know what it feels like to be made to feel less than, that's the big thing. We know what it's like to be, you know what it's like when someone makes you feel less than, and so it's hard to achieve sometimes when you feel like you are always behind the 8 ball. So that's from my perspective, I think, I can't speak for the 250 people who gave, but it was very generous, and it was from the heart. I honestly feel that and my wife Joan and I have talked about this often it's like of the 2000, we figured out one time it was 2000 people over that 11 year period that served. We only need one. I only need one to be successful. And we done what we were supposed to do.
But I do I think, and maybe it's a secret, maybe it’s almost the best kept secret, Mason, but the gay community is a very giving community. It's a very giving, loving community. I think for people who don't see that are trying to put that down they are depriving themselves, and the community itself the great opportunity to serve, and to love each other, and to help each other.
Mason Funk: Are you feeling a little better?
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: Yeah I think so.
Mason Funk: Good because you are doing great.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: You think so?
Mason Funk: Yeah. You are doing fantastic. I'm hoping that means you are kind of in the flow, and you maybe [inaudible 00:49:21]. A little bit. I'm hoping, I'm hoping
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: So does he have harder questions coming?
Amy Bench: No, no no no.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [00:49:30] Let me set you up now are you ready now?
Mason Funk: Here's the softball [crosstalk 00:49:32].
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: Or the fast ball.
Mason Funk: [00:50:00] That's hilarious. No I promise you it's gets better. That's hilarious I love how you ask her. Two other projects you were involved with organizations, or projects, one was Oak Line Counseling Services which became Oak Line Community Services. Can you tell us about what, introduce us to that organization, and what its importance was, and how you were able to help?
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: Oak Line-
Mason Funk: Give me a favor just set us in Dallas. Say here in Dallas just to let people know again where we are in the world.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [00:50:30] Okay it's been such a long time I'm trying to make sure I say all the right names because there was so many people involved in this.
In Dallas, in 1983/4 there were two organizations, non-profit organizations, that were really active in the community. The AIDS resource center, and Oak Line community service AKA OLCS. And they were, I think OLCS were more or less the mental arm of the gay community. I think John Thomas ran the AIDS resource service center, and that was more or less the whole body, but I saw OLCS as the mental piece of it. They were great people Terry Stone was the executive director there.
I don't remember how, I think Kathy and I got involved in their fundraising in some capacity. And Steve Hikerson was a guy I met he was a board member there, and we started board projects. Do fundraising through him, and then I got involved with OLCS. Kathy, and I both had served at one time we were both presidents of their board, I was first I think she came after me. They were really they tried to help wherever they could. Then we started the Life walk. The fundraising, I think I was in charge of fundraising at the time, and out of that came Life walk. We kind of mimicked it, we got that idea from Kathy. Fred York was another guy who was on the board.
It was really cool that we had members on the board who worked every day in a non-profit environment. So some of the things, March of Dimes, Life Walk, all of that, they were able to share, and pair that to this program. And we used it to start programs like Life Walk, and stuff like that.
Mason Funk: What was Life walk?
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [00:53:00] What Life walk was, once a year it was where you walked like March of Dimes walk. You walked, and you collected money, pledges for AIDS services. We gave to Brian House, we gave to AIDS arm service, OLCS, AIDS resource center. There was, at the time I can't think of the name of it, it's still active. There was a place where people with AIDS can go, and live. I want to say John Mason, but that's not I'm not saying the right name, it's still active. AIDS Arms, maybe have been AIDS Arms, maybe the name of it. But anyway we would actually literally go out for walks like March of Dimes, or Heart walk, and then whatever funds were raised we would divide it among the different AIDS services, agencies and stuff. When AIDS hit it devastated us, made it even more important for us to participate and do stuff like that.
You know it's interesting AIDS was devastating. I've gotten to know a lot of brothers, and sisters, but it was devastating to us, but it forced us to look at some things. For example, in Dallas, in 1984, '85, '86 there was the gay bars for white guys there were gay bars for black people, there were gay bars for women. AIDS forced us, because AIDS in Dallas, a lot of times guys who had AIDS in Dallas when they went to the local hospitals they weren't really being served, I mean ones were not being served. Some of the nurses were hesitant. It was the gay nurses that said, “How can I help?”
So even though we have, don't get me wrong, we have our own racial issues from time to time it forced us to forget that for a little bit. Because we got a bigger issue here, people are dying of AIDS and people are by themselves dying of AIDS, and people are hungry dying of AIDS. So people's family rejected them because they had AIDS. I think when you talked about me saying stepping up from the Dallas We Talk. That was what it was, it forced us to put the differences that we had aside because we had a bigger concern and it was to combat, and fight this AIDS battle.
I don't know if you remember, but for a while it was a gay issue, and only when it began to go into the heterosexual world then all of a sudden we need to stop this problem. I'm glad we did it when we did, but I had wished we could have gotten it as a people a little sooner, but it did force us as gay people to look because you weren't getting help over it here, because they think it's gay issue. So the gay issue is your problem so we did.
Organizations like OLCS, and AIDS resource they were the conduits. They were the places that you could go to get the counseling that you needed to get just how do I get disability? How do I get social security? What doctors can I go to? Who will see me? They were incredible. We owe them a lot for the service that they been doing.
I don't think OLCS is not in business anymore, but I think AIDS resources still is. CC Cox I think is executive director of that doing a great job. And then also from the black tie dinner also out of that OLCS, and AIDS resource you have the federal club which started a black tie dinner in Dallas, and that became one of the largest organizations it was an annual dinner where different AIDS services, and AIDS organizations could apply for funding. Tickets were like 300 dollars, maybe more now. The tickets back in the '80s were like 300 dollars and I think about 250 went to the agencies. We try to take care of our own, but we needed help.
Mason Funk: [00:58:00] Dallas, I was saying this to Kathy we just interviewed her this morning she survived. I'm not sure if she called you to say I'm alive.
We were talking about Dallas as a particular place that seems very philanthropic, in a way a lot of places aren't. Dallas is also well known as business community, and a conservative city as well. I'm a total newbie so this is all new to me it's like I'm trying to understand almost a foreign country. And understand what makes Dallas the way Dallas is.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [00:58:30] To me Dallas is a white-collar town, and business town. Compared to Houston, Houston to me is a blue-collar town. Houston was really in the oil business for years before that, but even now I still look at Houston as more blue collar more working man, whereas Dallas is white collar banking business. I've been on my own in the business capacity as a woman I own my own business really since 1987. I don't know if I could have done that anywhere else than Dallas. I want to give them credit.
Being a woman who owned my own business in healthcare there is not a lot of those people across the country. But to be able to be in Dallas, and be successful because of the support I had. I had great mentoring. When I talk, in one of your questionnaires you asked me to name some people who had an impact, it was Laurie Masters, Mike Grosman. They were my mentors because they were business owners themselves. They were gay, they were business owners, and I was able to watch them, and watch how they were successful not because they were gay but they were just good business people. Also I had the opportunity and the blessing to be mentored by a wonderful gentleman by the name of Mr. Gurston Burnstein
And it's interesting what I've seen in Dallas, my own personal experience is that if you are really sincere, and really trying to make something of yourself be something, work on something. If you can show the sweat equity first there will be somebody that will help you to encourage you not to help you not doing it for you, but they will encourage you to do it.
Because I remember in my meeting with Mr. Burnstein, I first met with him he was an accountant at an accounting firm in Fort Worth. So I met with him, under the encouragement from Kathy. He had been on her board in March of Dimes, and so I met with him and he said okay he told me to go back and do this, this. The original things he asked me to go do. So I went and did them and I came back I said, “Okay, they are done.” And he mentored me from that point until he died in '91. So I think Dallas you gotta bring it, and you gotta be willing to do the work, but if you are willing to do the work, and you are willing to put in the sweat equity. There are people out there who will want to encourage you, and who will help you if you ask.
Sometimes there's that old saying, ‘you have not because you ask not’. No matter how great an echotech I am, I had never owned a business. So it's a whole different ball game when you had staff to deal with. So you gotta have somebody who knows, you want to be around someone who's had that experience.
That's what I'm saying, I can watch Laurie, watch Mike, and Candace Markham. And speaking of, take Candace Markham who is another name I turned in to you as a great, as one of the counselors in this area who really helped gay people to realize it's okay to be gay. It's okay. That's who you are. I went from not liking us myself to that's who you are be proud of it. Go live your life.
Mason Funk: [ [01:02:30] Tell me more about that because that's a really important, it's an important thing in my life is the coming you mentioned that your spirituality, and felt like your spirituality and sexuality were on a road that was just you know.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: Dividing.
Mason Funk: Dividing. And you have worked I'm sure long and hard to bring those two pieces of yourself back together. So I'd love to hear you talk about the peace you made, the peace you forged-
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: That night.
Mason Funk: The different parts of yourself
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [01:03:00] Yeah. It took a while.
Mason Funk: Tell me what you were talking about, it took a while what?
Mason Funk: Start fresh.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [01:03:30] Okay ... My accepting my sexuality, and my spirituality as one took time, and it took work. Because prior to that I had not I had been raised baptist in Church of Christ. It was a sin you are going to hell, and that was one piece of it. Also there were people out there during the '70s, and '80s. The '70s is when I really began to question my sexuality that I couldn't identify with. It wasn't black, it wasn't white I just that's not me.
It's interesting because that was the only gay person I saw. So I did not identify with the individuals who I saw were gay. So it's like no that's not me either so maybe I'm not. But I still had to battle with the fact that there were still the attraction. More importantly than that to me was the fact I was not attracted to men. So the battle to me was yes I love God, and God is love, and I love God I know he loves me wants me to love other people, does he really want me to love a man that I can't love, and ruin my life and his life too? That's when it came to head for me is that a God who loves, who wants me to love, and loves me, demands that I love others would deliberately want me to marry somebody I didn't love so I would destroy his life, my life, and possibly children that may come from that?
I just came to grips with that one day and I realize that he can't do that, he can't have it both ways like that. I just felt that I would be ... I had a better chance being, loving who I'm supposed to love. Because if I love who I don't love then what does that say about God? God wants me to love someone that I don't want to love? So it was confusing, it was about as confusing as what I just said to you, but I got it in that he wants me to love who I'm supposed to love.
I met Joan, my life mate, my partner, and my wife. Anyone who knows us anyone who sits with us five minute can see the love, and respect, and honest, and the admiration for each other that we have. And though I have dated men, and I have some wonderful brothers who are good friends, I never got that kind of fulfillment. So I took a chance, but I just felt that I don't think I was that shallow, I don't think God is that shallow that he's going to say I want you to love only this person right here. So having got passed that feeling I was able to put the two together, but they are important to me. My spirituality is very important to me. I'm not trying to bible beat anybody, it's a personal thing. It really is a personal thing that you have to come to grips with. I think we are here for a purpose. I don't think we, I just think we are here for a purpose, but I also think God wants us to be happy.
Mason Funk: [01:07:30] Do think in your thinking as its evolved do you ... do you think being a lesbian has in some way made you or helped you become the person that God wanted you to be? Is that a way to characterize it or is that not quite right?
I guess what I'm kind of asking is do you think God created us to be created I guess you can say homosexuality, LGBT folks to fulfill a role that other folks don't fill in the world?
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [01:08:00] As I said earlier, Mason, the role ... I can only speak for myself. The very thing is that I was angry with God about: Woman, black, gay, handicapped. And the gay piece is just as strong to me as the handicap piece is just as strong as the woman piece is as strong as the black piece. All four of those things have made me who I am. I don't know if you can take one of those away. So what, as I said whoever you are you need to be that.
There are people who are on this earth, who for whatever reason, cannot find their manna, like manna from heaven. I think that we all have our role we all have something that we're supposed to do, and I can't tell you what it is. It's something that you got to decide among yourself find that manna within you. But I think that definitely gay people have a place at the table. I said I think, I think black people have a place at the table. Woman have a place at the table.
I used to joke with friends a lot, and a used to tell them so you know when we get to … On the day of reckoning, the day of heaven God is going to say you guys just blew it, all I wanted you to do is love each other. That's all I wanted you to do. You just messed it up you guys just blew it.
So I think gay people as a people, and sometimes when I think of people I hear these stories of people saying negative, nasty, mean things about gay people and I'm thinking the clothes you wear, some of the clothes that you probably wear was designed by a gay man probably, or a gay woman. That music that you listen to, the people that you work with, at your church. I mean you gotta be careful with that, because I think we all have talents, and so I think gay people are blessed with a lot of talent. That is very much needed in our society. Just look at the fact the clothes that we wear. I would say there were a lot of gay input by designers. And so the food that we eat, the clothes we wear I mean I'm not saying we're the only ones that can do it.
You get in trouble, that's the problem is you get in trouble when you are saying I'm the only one that can do it you have to do it my way, but I think we all have a place at the table. Until we accept that we are gonna all have difficulties. We have our difficulties here.
I think we as a people, we are a people it's only one of us, and we own this earth one time. We spend too much time putting others down to make ourselves look good. If we spent more time raising each other up so we both can look good. I don't think, if you don't have to look bad ... You don't have to look good at the expense of me looking bad, we both can look good. And I think that's what we need, we spend too much time hurting, and saying mean things to people so that we can feel good about ourselves. But that's only short lived.
Mason Funk: Let's take a break. Okay so we go back to our list of questions.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: The two taped things have come down do you want me to have Trinity come.
Amy Bench: No I think we're.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: Is it good?
Amy Bench: It's hanging up there that's why we put so many up there.
Mason Funk: One thing I wanted to ask you about. Well actually let's talk about Trinity. So tell us about your and Joan's journey to.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [01:12:00] It was a journey.
] Mason Funk: Yeah. How did that one go about?
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: Joan's Sister.
Mason Funk: Start by saying Joan [inaudible 01:12:05]
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [01:12:30] How we got to get custody of Trinity was, it was a long process, but how we first met Trinity was the fact that Trinity's father was a Mormon. He went to the Mormon church. Joan's sister who lives here in Grand Prairie as a prosecutor, Katy's mom. There was a new neighbor that moved across the street from her who was a Mormon. I guess when Wendy talked to her she let her know that I played Basketball in college, and that I liked sports, because I played softball into my 40s.
So the lady asks Wendy would Joan, and I be willing to talk to ... would I be willing to talk to Trinity? Because Trinity had come to church with her dad, but she was very depressed, and very sad. Now further back, Trinity had never lived with her father. When she was born she lived with an aunt in Las Vegas. She had never lived with her mother, her mother kind of abandoned her, and so she lived with the aunt in Las Vegas. When the aunt got a hold of the father to ask for child support, he said he wanted Trinity. So at the age of 11 Trinity was forced to come live here in Grand Prairie with her father, biological father.
He was married to an ... Trinity's father is Nigerian. Trinity is part Nigerian, part Navajo, part African American. So his wife, Nigerian wife died in childbirth. So I don't know what it did to him, but he did not take care of the newborn nor was he taking care of Trinity. But he would take them to the church I think he would give Trinity five dollars, that's what she had to eat on for a period of time, and if she complained he give her another five dollars.
So what Delane, the new lady across the street did asked Wendy would I talked to Trinity about basketball because the church even bought her a basketball goal, because she seemed very sad so we met her on her birthday, her 14th birthday July 31st, 1980 ... 19, she was 14 so I think 2004 was when we met her, 2004. We took her to lunch and bought her school clothes. It goes back to that giving thing again. So we are all there, Delane, Wendy, and what we wound up doing was we did not know Trinity's situation at all. We were told to talk to her about basketball.
I started, at the time I thought I was just mentoring to her. On the weekends we did not know, but he was just leaving her basically by herself on the weekends. CPS eventually took the baby from him because he wasn't taking care of Trinity, and wasn't taking care of the baby, but Trinity was old enough at the time to say, CPS came and took all the kids away, but Trinity said she wanted to stay. She told us later on that she stayed because she thought if she left we wouldn't be able to find her, because they told her she had to go stay in a group home.
So we went to the courts and got custody of her, she came to live with us. We met her that summer, her 14th birthday in July, and by January we did not know this, but we were clothing, and feeding Trinity. We didn't know that. It was interesting that she come to visit us on the weekends, and sometimes I get her during the week sometime. When I would get ready to take her home I said okay we have some food would you like to take some food or something home? If I don’t forget, she will take bread. So we take bread, a couple of apples. or something like that. I remember telling Joan one time you know something strange is going on here it's like with all the stuff that we have in our refrigerator, candies, and cakes, and stuff like that she just takes bread.
So the custody battle for Trinity started Memorial weekend that next year. The CPS worker kind of kept up with Trinity, she went out to the high school one day, and took her and told us and said look, you don't have to live like you are living. Because what happens is every week they would try to go, and he would tell Trinity to tell him a lie to get the baby back from CPS. The CPS worker really felt sorry for Trinity, and so she went to the high school one day, and took her. Told her said look come with me. You shouldn't be living in that environment. So she took her, and so but on the way back to Dallas, Ms. Dale asked Trinity she said is there somebody who might be willing to take you? And she said maybe Emma and Joan. So she actually came by here, and showed the lady where we lived.
That was the weekend she was actually gonna come stay with us the weekend it was memorial weekend. So we got a call Friday afternoon from CPS and says that Trinity was living with us they have removed her from her father. What ensued was a long custody battle that went from May of memorial weekend until February 17th, 2005. We would have to go to court every now and then. And that was hard a little bit, because the mother came back into the picture, and the father was in the picture he was saying that the CPS in Dallas gave his daughter to two lesbians. He didn’t like that, he didn't think that was right. And because her mother was part Navajo she got the Navajo nation involved, and they said that they didn't want Trinity living with us.
We were just people who was asked to help. So at that point we got standing in the court, we got our own attorney. We just challenged the court the Navajo, her mom, and her dad for her because she deserved better. She decided at 16 she was gonna run away she told us that. That she was gonna run away at 16, and she has a good heart she's a good kid. And the father was upset with her because he blamed her for the loss of the baby because he wanted her to take the baby, and raise the baby, but she was in school. She was in 10th grade. It was a hard time for her.
Actually it was little difficult for her once we got her, because keep in mind she was 14. And at 14 when you been beat down like that it's hard to believe that when people start pouring love at you, you kind of go why, or is this short lived, or am I gonna get this forever and ever? So she had some things she had to work through. We allowed her to work through those things. And to her credit she did that. We are very proud of the woman she is becoming. She was 14 when we got her, and in July would be 29.
And the interesting story, Joan tells this story to people about Trinity. Trinity was born July 31st 1988, and we moved in together August 1st, 1988. So I was saying God had planned her to be in an illegitimate household so we moved in the day before she was born together.
Mason Funk: How do you think having her in your lives, this wasn't something that you were planning on trying to do?
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: No.
Mason Funk: So how do you think it's changed you, and you and Joan in your relationship? Having Trinity.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [01:22:00] Yes. It's interesting both Joan, and I Joan raised her two sisters. We talked about earlier, she raised her two sisters after her mom died. And I've been the surrogate big sister to 20 grand kids. So we’ve always, and we been our home was always the family home people came to. But we didn't have the birth child, basically. We didn't have something that was ours. And someone that we had that was our child. And so I remember, at first it was Joan who was more insisted than I was, believe it or not, about Trinity. Because I was actually working, and in fact, I was in Gainesville Florida at a meeting.
I was serving the advisory board at Florida State for Women's athletics. I was at a meeting there, and Joan called me she says, “I'm gonna turn him in.” I go, “Why.” So Trinity, when CPS finally got her, to show you how bad it was, when Trinity first finally got out she had … when CPS finally got Trinity, she had had all four molars removed, seven teeth pulled, and a bunch of fillings done. She had never had any dental stuff done. When she was in with her aunt in Las Vegas she had that, but from the time she got there with her dad that basically stopped. So when Trinity was not, Joan realized that Trinity had a lot of cavities so she called her dad to tell, and he said, “Well I'm gonna take her, I'm gonna get her an appointment and get her in there to see her.” He didn't do that.
So Joan picked her up, and we got to the point where we decided to go and get her each weekend, because he'd go out and just leave her there. So I said so we get her every Friday, so even though I was in Florida that weekend Joan still went and got her. So she says, “We need to keep her Emma.” And I said and I told her you know we are in our late 40s now, but Joan said, “Emma I can't go to my maker knowing that this kid needs us, and we don't help her.” So I said okay. But it totally changed us.
I used to go to the final four I used to go to the ACC tournament in Greensboro, and I remember Joan said, “We can't go to those things anymore.” So I go why? She said, “ You can't take Trinity out of school for sporting events.” I'm like, really? That's a fun adjustment. It's interesting you think if you really care about them you do that No profanity, we are very particular about the movies that we watched. You have to live a life, you can't demand things of her when you're living life worse than her. So there was an expectation so it made us it was good for us because it made us to stand up if we really wanted it. If you want to have kids then if you want to be a parent then be a parent.
And so certain things that, and what I have learned over the years that mapping from my own therapy mapping is so important. Sometimes, what I mean by mapping the family of origin no matter how much you want to be different. I'm not gonna be like daddy, I'm not gonna be like mamma. If that's all you see, and that's all you experience, and no matter how much it will be difficult not your family origin follows you so you are gonna need to get help to not try to follow that map. It was important to Joan and I to give Trinity a good map to follow, and it was respect.
I tell people, it's an interesting story. Trinity, beautiful kid now, but every time she goes to an interview she would tell me she says I look people straight in the eye like you taught me. But people they don't know when she was young at 14, 15 when I was talking to her she was looking down, it was like, “Look at me. Look at me.” So from that and now 10 years later she goes, “I look people straight in the eye when I talk to them now.” I said, “that's a great thing you want to do that you want people to see who you are and, what you are saying.” So it definitely changes.
Our family loves her. And it's really neat in that she's actually helped us I told you earlier in the story earlier when you first got here about she outing us, and so it's kind of easy to feel good about yourself when your child feel good about you. She's not ashamed of us at all, and we're not ashamed of us. So that definitely has helped me to work through that piece.
Because I think early on I had that professional life I led, and I had a personal life I led, and Joan was in the personal side, but not so much the business side. But Trinity made that come together.
Mason Funk: How did she make those two parts of your life come together?
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [01:28:00] Because when we put her in private school we went to there was a private school that didn't accept her, because we were gay. We went through custody battles with her that we had to say that we were gay. To have the Navajo nation say we don't want her to be with two women. We had done nothing wrong, we had actually tried to save a kid that needed to be saved, and deserved to be saved. But we were made to, tried to make you feel bad for doing that. So yeah she did a lot for us in terms of ... and for me though personally, Mason, there was a period of time like I said Trinity knows now that we loved her, but there was a period of time when she had to find it out for herself.
She had dropped out of school for about 18 months. For me, that was one of the more difficult times, because I realized for the first time all I could do was pray. I fix stuff, I'm a fixer upper, I'm an alpha cat. Let's help people, Joan and I are both alpha cats. We are leaders, we fix things, we make things happen. But there was nothing I can do, but let that kid go find herself, and hopefully come back. Luckily for us the time of love and support that we have given her did sink in. So in about 18 months she called back and she says I'm going back to school. It's like okay. Even the day she left we told her that behavior has to change, we love you, we always love you, but the behavior has to change. When the behavior changes, and when you are ready to be the person that we expect you to be, and that God expects you to be then we'll be right here for you.
About 18 months later she called, and asked for 25 dollars to fill out an application to go back to school, and we said okay. And then she called, and told us she was sorry for what she had done, and things she had said. She's lived up to that, but sometimes that's that piece where you have to just let them go. That was hard that was different for me. That was a growing thing for me too, because I’ve always fixed stuff, I couldn't fix this. It was the only thing, honestly this may sound strange, but the only thing I could do was pray that she'd be okay, and she was.
And I tell people it's still a work in progress, but I'm very pleased at what I see.
Mason Funk: Great that's great what a wonderful story. My goodness. I think the only other thing that I really have to ask you about is in your outrageous oral talk you talked about having been diagnosed with cancer.
Mason Funk: [01:31:30] And you did mention in your questionnaire, but it seemed like an important story in particular because of what you learned from that experience about keeping it to yourself versus I think that sounds important. Can you tell us that story?
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: Yes. That's when I realized that-
Mason Funk: What's realized?
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: I don't do this for a living I'm sorry.
Mason Funk: It's alright.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: The cancer.
Mason Funk: Start by just telling us that you were diagnosed.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [01:32:00] Okay, in 1994 I was diagnosed with cancer, a rare form of cancer. I had two surgeries in '94, and I've been cancer free ever since. And to show what kind of friends I have, the cancer I had at the time was like 39 people in the world have. I was saying what kind of friends I have, a friend of mine from Houston called, after this was over, few months later, and she goes, "Let me get this right. You can't win the lottery, but you have something 39 people in the world get?" I said, “Yes, I'm gonna win the lottery too. But it was it was just something that was rare, and it was really weird when I had this, it was found in a day surgery.
Joan was there with me. The thing that I want you to get out of this hopefully is that good comes out of every difficult situation. A lot of good came out of a very difficult situation at the time. I was 41, aged 41 when this happened. Joan at the time went back to where she worked and said ... we hadn't been out basically. That was before Trinity, and we had a holy union in '96, this was in July/August of '94. But Joan went back to her company where she worked, and she said, "Emma has cancer so I'm going to be leaving at times we are not sure of the treatment we're gonna do, but I'm going to let you guys know up front it may require me to leave and I'm going to let you know I'm going to leave at times to be with Emma." And they said they were supportive they said okay. And it's interesting Joan says oh by the way, she asked for domestic partner benefits. To their credit they said no one's ever asked about it.
So they went to the corporate office the corporate office called around it's a well known brewery, and they called around to the other breweries, and inquired, and probably couple of months later got back the word and said okay we can offer that. So they started offering domestic partnership benefits. So we got insurance, and stuff.
So I was talking about the good that comes out of that. I was telling you this it was found on a day surgery, on Friday. I tell people grass never looked as green it did that Saturday. In my backyard, we had a big backyard -- we didn't live here we lived over in Arlington -- and I remember walking around actually barefooted on the grass just to feel the green carpet. To this day I can still see grass never looked as green as it did that weekend. Because I was looking at the value how important things, how important life was and so really enjoy the moments because you never know when those are gonna be taken from you.
We had … Once we went through the MD Anderson in, Houston, and got their interpretations of it, and it was a very, it was called … mine must have been one of the smallest, it was a tumor in the bartholin gland. It was metastatic, but it was very small and so they felt if they got clear margins through the second surgery everything would be fine. So we did the second surgery up here. And you can call it karma, or you can call it a blessing but the person who found it was the person who wrote the first paper on it at Southwest Medical school. And then I went to see the second guy who wrote the second paper on it in Houston. I was blessed to be at the right place at the right time.
So that second surgery, I remember laying in bed, I was laying in bed this way at the foot of the bed was a daybed that was going that way that Joan was laying on. It was 3 o'clock in the morning, and we been to Houston, we been at different places just getting second opinions and stuff like that. It was three o'clock in the morning, and I said to myself, this is someone that you don't hide. She was asleep, I was looking at her, and I thought you know Joan is not somebody you hide. I loved her, and she loved me and she had demonstrated that to me. So from that point on because at the time before that happened I think I would say there was 1A my family, 1B Joan, and 1C my business. A, B, and C, but at that moment it became Joan, family, and business, A, 1, 2, 3.
Don't get me wrong I don't want to glamorize this devastating news, it kind of like, turning the bell over to the other side of the trombone you make the adjustment, and you go on. I remember Barbara Jordan who was a congresswoman from Texas. I had the opportunity to do ultrasound tests on her, and I wind up talking to her for about an hour and a half down in Austin. I remember her telling me that “If you are gonna play the game, know the rules.” And that's something that I tried, that impart Trinity too is that play the game to win, but know the rules. You can't whine about the game while you're playing it if you didn't know the rules. If you know the rules play the game to win. You can always change the rules later, also you can change the rules before the game starts, but once you play the game play by the rules.
So what I did with that with the cancer is that try my best to beat it, and then once that's done then how does that change me as a person, because that's what I think it did. It does change you because like I said when I saw Joan laying down there at the foot of the bed I go she's not somebody you need to hide. She's someone you are proud of you want to show that, and you want people to see her.
Mason Funk: But it's interesting that also you told that story about how you were also at times not willing, it's almost like a parallel you know the hiding versus the divulging, and what you think you gain by hiding that you actually gain by divulging vis a vis your own cancer and whether you let people in.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [01:39:30] And I didn't want, again now I can see that looking back okay at the time I remember the night before you know when I first got the announcement it was important that people treat me the way they normally treated me. Even family members don't do that don't be. It's kind of funny Wendy's husband at the time, Daniel, he and I had always be at odds with each other and the week-
Mason Funk: Sorry who-
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [01:40:00] Daniel, Joan's sister's husband Daniel and I were always at odds sports and that somebody always be bickering back and forth at each other. I will never forget that weekend he came over, and he had this sad look on his face and I'm like nuh uh don't even go there. I said, “No you will treat me like you normally treat me because I'm used to going at it with you.” So I did at the time not want to be treated differently.
I remember Kathy, remember I had been a board member I had been president of the OLCS board at the time, and so Kathy Bowser who you met earlier today came up to me, and said Emma, it was like the night before the surgery she says, “Look we need to tell people. I'm trying to honor your wishes, but you need the prayers of the people.” I think that's what she got to me. She threw the spiritual stuff at me that got to me she said you need the prayers of the people. She said we can't just keep this to ourselves. She says, " I want permission from you to tell people that just to pray for us, pray for you in this because the people out there who want to who would love to do that." And so I did. It was very nice.
The day of the surgery the second surgery when I came back the room was full of flowers from the community. That was a blessing. I agree, at times I'm my own worst enemy and that I thought by pushing them out trying to maintain the normalcy, what was what I thought was normal for me was the best course. Sometimes you do need the prayers of the people to help you.
Mason Funk: Okay we're almost entering the home stretch I always allow Amy to ask any questions she may have, but you are gonna answer me as if they were my brilliant questions.
Amy Bench: [01:42:30] Yeah so I heard a discussion before we started filming in the living room somebody was saying that Trinity uses you guys as a litmus test. Can you explain how she presents your relationship to that outside world? Is she the one who normalized it for you?
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: Yes. Yes, Mason. She did.
Amy Bench: Can you start with Trinity like explain.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [01:43:00] Trinity helped us to be comfortable in our skin as lesbians, because she was comfortable with it. We were her moms, she had two moms. The way she stated, she stated it in such a way that she was proud of it. There was never a time that I heard Trinity say anything about her moms that she was upset about that she didn't like us. And so and I know that with Katy being raised by us, but watching them they would tell they would tell their friends I have two moms, and Katy would say I have two aunts so but yeah Trinity helped us normalize that by being comfortable with it herself. Even at a time when her parents, her biological parents tried to use her against us to say that was bad she never felt that way, because she had always gotten the good from it, and she doesn't know the bad stuff there is no bad stuff. So she helped, and being a straight person.
And also our families. To our family Trinity, to both the black side of the family, and the white side of the family, Trinity is our daughter. That's their cousin, that's their aunt, that's their niece. So you're treated that way, from day 1 for Trinity.
Mason Funk: And to follow up on what Amy was asking she will introduce this information to-
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [01:45:00] At some point, yes guys that she dates at some point she goes out with the guys the first date she's gonna let them know that she has two moms. I mean she doesn't wear a banner or anything about it, but at some point when the opportunity of conversation allows her. On a date you are gonna ask where you are from, who are your parents, your mom and dad so at some point when opportunity allows her to say it she's gonna say. We've teased her about it, but we tell her we are using a litmus test to see whether or not you really like this person or not. And they may or may not be but she does, she told us she wants to know who she's talking to.
I remember when we went to the school, the coach of the school wanted Trinity, we were turned down at one of the private schools and the coach really wanted us to go, wanted Trinity, at the time she was playing basketball at the time. We went there, and we met with the people the principal and everything, and then we were later the next day told we were not accepted. I kind of feel bad a little bit I said, “Trinity I'm sorry about this”. And she's like I don't want to go to school that won't accept us. Okay well we'll go to the next school then we're going to the next one. She in some respect did help us to make it feel it’d be okay.
Also Katy in terms of our niece.
Mason Funk: Katy's who?
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [01:46:30] Katy is our niece, Joan's sister's daughter. We gone to grandparent's day from pre-k up to ninth grade. She has two grandparents that come out there and she considers us we are officially her aunts, as she got older, she calls us aunts to introduce us to her friends as her aunts, but she still would invite us to her grandparents’ day because we were like grandparents. I think both of them kind of help normalize it for us.
When your family and your friends accept it, you can deal with the other stuff. The difficulty comes when your family rejects you. If you got the nucleus of the family, and this is another thing I'm gonna say this, if I may, about the gay community. It's great that I've been blessed to have a biological family that supports us, and also I have a family of choice in the gay community. It's important that you have one of those two things. I think it's sad in the gay community when you are rejected by your parents, or your family and then you don't have that family that you created to support you because I think we do need support. But that's in anything. I think so.
Mason Funk: Other questions?
Amy Bench: Yeah you moved to New Orleans when you were younger because one of the reasons was you didn't want to embarrass your grandmother. Did you ever go back home, and explain to your grandmother who you were?
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: No. She knew not who I was but-
Mason Funk: [01:48:30] Start by saying your grandmother.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [01:49:00] My grandmother knew that in her farming town and me having gone to college there was no jobs for me there. I kept her in the loop career wise whatever I was doing, and so I interviewed up in Pennsylvania, and Ohio and I interviewed in New Orleans. So I’d gone back to her I said grandma I said I don't really want to go to the north because I wanted to be ... New Orleans was the closest to my grandmother, I was nine and a half hours away from her. It was a lot further Cleveland and Grand Berry, Hershey Pennsylvania was further away.
She was aware of that move for that reason, and she never, again education was the key to her, and so educate yourself and go about making a life for yourself. She was always okay with that, me coming to Texas. I would make sure I go home at holidays, and vacation time I always go home. Also I said there was a part of me too.
Another interesting story about New Orleans if I can tell you. There's a part of me, my first relationship was with the woman I met in Gainesville. She had graduated got her masters in pediatric nursing and moved to New Orleans. So if I'm totally honest I think I came to New Orleans for that reason as well. But before I moved to New Orleans I had to deal with the fact, when she moved when Darlene moved to New Orleans, her name was Darlene, when she moved to New Orleans, and then she got engaged that kind of helped me look at my sexuality. We had been active in the Church of Christ, but she moved to New Orleans, and I was gonna finish school and move to New Orleans too. So she moved to New Orleans, and was gonna get married and I realized I had those feelings that I’d never had before.
Believe it or not I was actually anti-gay until I got to, really until I got to New Orleans, well when I was in Gainesville, even at Church of Christ I was ... So when I had those feelings when I realized Darlene was getting married she didn't get married she realized she was gay too. I think me coming to grips with that made me look at my sexuality seriously and really kind of defining who I was, and so I moved to New Orleans trying to see whether or not I can get that relationship back. But also not being close enough to get a job but I can be close to my grandmother still. When I got to New Orleans I didn't get that relationship back, but it really helped me to see that you really are gay.
I did play, even in New Orleans I dated guys even when I first moved to Texas I dated guys too, but it was just different. It was just a different feel, and so you can't make a lifetime relationship with that without having that feel.
Amy Bench: [01:52:30] So I don't know if I misunderstood it or didn't catch it, but so you were realizing that you were gay once you moved to New Orleans, and explored other relationships. Was it not until you got cancer that you became out to the public with your sexuality?
Amy Bench: Can you kind of just summarize that like I started realizing I was gay at this point in my life, but it wasn't until several years later when I realized I needed a community that I felt.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: Well I had been in the community for a long time.
Mason Funk: [01:53:00] Talk to me.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [01:53:30] Okay ... I am 100% gay. I am 100% lesbian, and I'm proud of it. But there was a period in my life when I wasn't sure, and for that reason I dated men because I thought that was what I was supposed to do. From birth, from religion, date, marry men, have children. And so that was the battle because I could never have those feelings for men that I had for women. On the one hand I wanted to be married have children like everyone else, but I knew that to marry a man it's almost to me at the time you really want me to marry somebody I know I'm never gonna love. Like I said earlier ruin my life, his life, and if we had children hurt them.
So I just kind of said maybe marriage is not for me. And then when I moved to Texas I still, I didn't date any men here, but I didn't commit to being, I wasn't a woman that would sit here like I am sitting right now and say I'm 100% lesbian I am proud of it. I got active in the community, I met some wonderful people in the community. I fell in love in 1988 with Joan. That's when I really kind of came to grip, so I fell in love with Joan, and I knew that she was a person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. But I think that night in the room was it's almost like if you can understand what I'm saying it's almost like when I got with Joan I was 95% sure that I was gay, and the revelation that night in the hospital bed made me 100% sure.
And I also see with that once I came to grips with that in '94 I had that revelation and a year later we married, had a holy union. A few years later we got Trinity, and we were prepared for that. It would have been hard to try to raise Trinity by myself, or Trinity by herself. It was almost like okay, again following the spiritual vane for me it was like Joan is the person who's supposed to be with, and I'm happy with that spiritual meaning from God. Now I'm going to give you an opportunity to bless someone else's life. And we were prepared for that.
Amy Bench: I just have one final one. Did you never talk about this with your grandmother because you weren't 100% sure yourself?
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [01:56:30] Right. I wasn't sure. I wasn't sure. Also again gay people, okay I didn't talk with my grandmother because I wasn't completely sure, and it was at a time that gay people we were talking about it I went to FSU in the early 70s, '71, to '75 that was not something, and even there at FSU I didn't know about gay life, I dated men in college.
Probably '78 to 79 is when I had my first gay experience. And so during that period of time that was not well received in the town in which I lived, and in the State of Florida which I lived. And so I didn't have that conversation with my grandmother, but it was interesting. My grandmother up until the time I was 25 she asked me about once a year when are gonna get married? And at 25 she stopped asking me, and she never asked me again. She was always big on don't be dependent on a man.
Another thing that she shared with me that I had been able to hold onto to this day, and it's never happened and that's a story for another time, but another one of her sayings to us her grandkids she used to tell us that the weight of her husband's hand never touched my face. She said, "The weight of my husband's hand has never touched my face, so don't let a man, anyone, abuse you or hurt you." And so those attributes I definitely have lived by, and I been blessed by it.
Amy Bench: Thank you.
Mason Funk: Four final short questions.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: 4?
Mason Funk: Believe it or not these are really short.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: Yes and no answers?
Mason Funk: [01:58:30] Almost not quite but they really intended to be like simple one or two sentence.
If somebody comes to you and says I'm thinking about coming out what single piece of simple wisdom do you offer that person?
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: Pray about it. Make sure this is what you want to do for you, and pray about it.
Mason Funk: Great! What is your hope for the future? Simple?
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [01:59:00] As I said earlier in the interview, and I really belief this, but on the day of reckoning God is gonna say, “All I wanted you to do is love each other. That's all I wanted you to do.” You set up constitutions, you set up these laws, and stuff, and you marginalize, you said up these isms you did all these things. These bill of right, and not knocking the bill of rights, but I really do think he's gonna say, “All I wanted you to do is love each other.” That's what I want for us. I want us as a nation, as a people, that's all over the world if we learn to love each other more.
Let's not be so quick to, if the person looks different, acts different, dresses different from me, he or she must be bad? How do we make that leap? That's the leap we sit there and we said because they are different they must be bad. Well maybe they are different maybe good. Maybe different might be better. Maybe that different is what I need to be a part of or be around.
Mason Funk: Great. Why is it important to you to tell your story?
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [02:00:30] Really because of Joan, and Trinity, and people that may come after me. I don't want ... if my story allows them to lessen that doubt, I don't want them to be that crying black kid, young lady woman who's 26 years old in the corner of her kitchen angry with God because of the way he made her. Who you are is who you been made to be. Let's get about making a life of that. For one, Joan and Trinity, because and that's why I brought them over here too if I could have them sitting here next to me I would. What I'm saying all that to say for the family that I have right now, and for the family that may, our friends, our acquaintances, that may come after me that they can know that you, don't have to do it that way. You don't have to go through that kind of pain, and you are definitely okay who you are, and the way you are, and God loves you just the way you are. It's the way he made you. We don't grasp that, and I wish we can grasp that.
Mason Funk: And lastly, what is the importance of a project like OUTWORDS?
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: It's a godsend.
Mason Funk: [02:02:00] Do me a favor, start by saying OUTWORDS.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [02:02:30] Okay, OUTWORDS to me is a godsend. Initially Joan, my wife, had to encourage me to do it. In fact, she called me she got the voicemail, I guess you called the house, and she calls me, I’ve had a meeting or something, she says, "You gotta listen to this voicemail." She gets her voicemail and it's like, so this is, hang up and so she says you gotta listen to this, and so I listened to it, and it's like You know Joan maybe you can go do it. So she said no you need to do it. I've lost my train of thought here with the question.
Mason Funk: The importance of OUTWORDS.
Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers: [02:03:00] The importance of OUTWORDS is in fact it gives, it's not a GPS, but it gives us a foundation to build on.
There are millions of kids who are homeless in this country. In Dallas, it's like 40,000 homeless kids. And a lot of these homeless kids are kids who are gay because they’ve been rejected by their families. And they haven't the alternative of family in place yet. Not that misery loves company, but be able to say that I can identify with what she just talked about because that's my feelings.
Like I said with the Emma's Elves project. Out of 2000 all we need is one. I think that's why I said it's a godsend because I think what you do, and all the people you talk to if one kid looks at that and says I can identify with him, and he made it and so can I. Then your project was well worth it. You just need one, that's all.
Mason Funk: Great.
Mason Funk: Terrific Thank you. We're gonna, we can take the mike off you.
Mason Funk: We can turn the AC back on.
Amy Bench: [crosstalk 02:04:12] Can we sit in 30 seconds of silence just to get this out of the room so you can just meditate.
Mason Funk: Think of it as a meditation, 30 seconds. (silence)

Interviewed by: Mason Funk
Camera: Amy Bench
Date: June 07, 2017
Location: Home Of Emma R. Colquitt-Sayers, Grand Prairie, TX