Hi, my name is Ddendyl Hoyt, and I am a Country and Blues Music Recording Artist. I’ve been a musician for as long as I can remember, and my career was the thing I valued most about my life – that is until I met my wife.
When I was a kid, I was always a little different. Always super focused, not so crazy about playing with other kids, all about my future career, and trying to be the next metropolitan opera sensation. I was raised in a very conservative Christian home, but it was also eclectic, and it was led by my mother, an artist from Jamaica; and my father, a talented musician, accountant, and minister. So by most of my friends’ standards, I wasn’t exactly “normal.” Consequently, my circle of friends was small, and when I got the opportunity to leave my home to pursue my dreams, I took it.
I went to Interlochen Arts Academy at age 15, where I studied classical music intensively but also explored other genres and developed my songwriting. Later, I transitioned to country music, which I had listened to and loved as a child. My time there was invaluable, and it prepared me for my adult life. Fortunately, I was introduced to so many types of people, different cultures, and religion. And as I got older, I started to find my own way. In chasing my dream, I moved around a lot. After living in Chicago, Miami, L.A., New York, and Washington D.C., I finally landed in the glittering lights of Las Vegas, performing five nights a week in lounges.
In high school, my Christian beliefs started to differ. As years went on, although I still identified as a Christian, I didn’t share the ultra-conservative beliefs that my family did. I learned things for myself, and I was more open to other opinions and experiences that contradicted how I had been raised. I read different interpretations of the Bible that made more sense to me than the previous things I had been taught. Even though my beliefs were changing, I still deep down wanted to make my family happy and proud, so I often hid my beliefs whenever I was with them.
Oh, and I dated men. It had been drilled into me that a good Christian woman would find a husband, settle down, and be “barefoot and pregnant” until their family was complete. And while that works for a lot of people, and is such a beautiful thing for those who truly want that, it wasn’t for me. But I still dated men – although not very successfully – mostly to please my grandparents who literally started every conversation with, “Do you have a boyfriend? We will pray that you find one.” I was always way more interested in the future of my career than the future of a relationship, and eventually, my dating relationships began to feel more like tolerance than love.
During this time, I also became very materialistic. I told myself, “If I have this car, and these shoes, and the house of my dreams, then I can marry this guy and tolerate him for the rest of my life.” Any crush I ever had on a female was pushed aside instantly because I was “supposed to find a husband.” It wasn’t until I was in a botched engagement that I realized how incredibly miserable I was.
I remember sitting on the edge of my bed staring at the floor feeling immensely defeated, wondering if this was going to be my future and if my life was always going to feel so lonely and empty or if I was going to have to “do my job” as a wife and make my husband happy at the sacrifice of my own happiness. And I was really sacrificing. I was contemplating leaving Vegas because he didn’t like it, giving up my dreams even though the thought made me sick, and moving back home. Although I love my hometown, I’m more adapted to city living. And the greatest sacrifice was love. I couldn’t seem to find it on my end. I said it, I did my best to show it, but I didn’t feel it.
I want to be clear that I’ve always been a very happy and whole human. I enjoyed my independence and didn’t believe that someone could complete me. Actually Whoopi Goldberg made a great point when she said, “if someone ever says that you complete them, run.” I believe that when you find the right person, your life with be enhanced, and greatly elevated. But to be in a healthy relationship, you need to know who you are and be okay with yourself before you try to share your life. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in the relationship I wanted to be in, and it always felt like I was traveling right next to the path I was meant to be on but never actually on it. But all that changed when I got robbed – well, technically, burglarized.
It happened on May 12, 2017. My dog, Lola May, woke me up earlier than usual for her morning walk. We were only gone for 15 minutes. I returned to find my purse, phone, money, clothing, and music equipment all gone. And to add insult to injury, they drove it all away in my car. I had never felt so violated in my life, and picking up the pieces was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
To make matters worse, they stole my identity and started robbing other places using my ID, so I became a suspect for other burglaries. It was a mess, but that was easily the best day of my life. On May 18th, I got a phone call from a soft-spoken officer, Officer Belanger, who calmly said they had found my car and some belongings inside, so I met with her to identify my things. She was the most amazing sight I had ever seen. It felt like the movies; it was like she alone was gravity, and it shook me to my core. I had never felt anything like it before. But I was engaged! So I was determined just to brush it off and move on with life. However, that was a lot easier said than done. I found myself thinking about her all the time, every time I saw a police car wondering if she was inside.
A couple of weeks later, I had a new place, most of my belongings back, no more fiancé, and most importantly, the confusion of the other burglaries was all figured out. To show how appreciative I was for their help, I invited all the officers and detectives on my case to one of my shows with drinks on me.
Well, guess who showed up? Officer Belanger. And I was jealous because it looked like she had a date (her date actually was just a good friend who later was in our wedding party). Smoothly, I acted obliviously and got myself invited to a friendly night of bingo. I have never really liked bingo, but I couldn’t wait to go to this game. I think I changed my outfit five or six times, and for the first time ever, I was nervous! I realized that I was actually in danger of getting my heart broken, not just my ego bruised. I didn’t know if she was in a relationship or even if she was interested, but I took a risk and invited her back to my new place for a drink.
Over the next few months, we took it slowly although we spent almost every day together. In the fall, I took her to NYC for the Nash Next NY competition (which I happened to win). We did all the tourist things, and on that trip, there was a shift. I think she understood this wasn’t a phase or something I needed to get out of my system. This was very real for me; I wasn’t going anywhere, and I realized the same of her. She never spent another night at her place after that trip.
Soul mates was never really a concept I believed in until I met my wife. Life just got so effortless. I’m not saying that we didn’t have any rough patches or stress in our careers or family stuff, but she and I seem to move in a rhythm that’s just always felt so natural. We have so much fun together, and life is never dull. Even when we aren’t doing anything special, it’s a priceless moment to me; we never get tired of each other. Spending every second I can with her is paradise, and I always miss her when she’s away at work or I’m on the road. And while I’m still incredibly focused and determined to thrive in my career, there’s this peace and comfort that I’ve found in our life together. Instead of constantly seeing what I don’t have, I’m reminded daily of all the blessings that I do have. I could live happily in a cardboard box as long as she was there too. But what is amazing to me is the joy and happiness that my relationship gives me all day every day. I found my person and it’s an unbelievable feeling.
The night of November 19, 2018, she proposed in our backyard in front of our friends and family. Then on May 18, 2019, exactly two years after we met, I married the love of my life – the most amazing human on this planet and my soul’s true counterpart. We got married in her dad’s backyard with our closest friends, her family, and my mom. I had my dream wedding. The supportive members of my family watched the live stream online, but the rest of them were not there in any way. And maybe someday they will regret that, but if not, that’s okay. I know the happiness that I have found in my marriage has more value than any opposing opinion. I now sit on the edge of my bed staring at the floor overwhelmed with gratitude for the blessings and the joy we share. I am a girl who irrevocably and unapologetically loves her wife.
I never had to “come out” to my mom. She was amazing and so supportive from the start and even said that this was the first relationship I had ever had where she felt comfortable. Moms always know. My mom had also done a lot of research on the LGBTQ community since she also struggled with her personal beliefs and how they contradicted the religion she was raised with. I wish more people would do the same; I think there would be far more acceptance. My friends and colleagues were also incredibly supportive and sharing with them my news wasn’t anything more than a casual conversation. The rest of my family was a different story. I knew they wouldn’t be supportive or even happy that I was happy, so I waited to tell them until I was ready. They’re also the reason I didn’t share my relationship on social media. I wanted to be able to tell them in person, especially my dad, without having the narrative stolen from me. Also, I was very aware that country music has traditionally been more supportive of male-female relationships and being openly queer in the genre is still pretty scary, but that is rapidly changing thanks to people like Cody Alan and Brandy Carlisle!
I’d also like to take a second to thank all of the humans who paved the way to make being queer an easier journey for me than it was for them and to everyone who was shamed or rejected for being who they truly are, like my Aunt Yvonne and her wife Connie. Thank you. You all are so much braver than I am. My aunt once told me that she wasn’t brave but that she was just tired of the lie. However, she’s one of the most courageous women I know. I really hope that soon we will live in a world where “coming out” and labeling one another for loving as humans is not a thing.
So who am I? I am a daughter, a friend, a lover of life, a songwriter, performer, and most recently, Mrs. Belanger.
Contributed by singer/songwriter and Free2Luv Ambassador, Ddendyl Hoyt.