2022 Empower Match of the Year: Keke & Amber

Over the past eight years Big Amber has earned Little Keke’s trust through patience and consistency. Amber said, “I believe she really trusts me; this kid doesn’t open to just anyone, but she does with me.” Amber began to recall a chaotic Facetime call where Keke handed her phone to another young lady who said “Hi, I am Keke’s girlfriend.”

Amber was so grateful that Keke was finally ready to share this. Amber said, “For some time, I had thought this may be a part of who she is, but never wanted to assume nor ask. I knew in time she would want to share with me. And she did. I am still to this day so grateful she decided during this time to stick with our match.”

Keke and Amber with their Program Specialist Khalil.

Over the next few years, Keke evolved into a brave and radiant young Black woman, however as she came out as lesbian to her community, she found heart breaking challenges with her mother, LaToya. LaToya’s struggle to come to terms with Keke’s identity only built a wall in their once close relationship. The COVID-19 pandemic only amplified the tension between the two, LaToya leveraged social distance to limit how Keke expressed and explored her identity. The family found relief from Amber when they were able to reconnect. Keke said, “Amber was the only person my mom would trust me to go with when I needed to get out of the house”.

Keke and Amber shared that their time eating mac and cheese at Noodles and Company became a code word for “a deep conversation or check in” being that Amber is vegetarian and Keke is not, Noodles and Company was the first place they made a real connection. To this day when things get sticky in Keke’s life Amber will use their code word and the match will meet and connect over the warm comforts of a bowl of mac and cheese. Amber said, “it’s simple, but it’s always just worked for us.”

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