For background information, read the first part here.
Both Stanley and Krystal grew up in the Chicago area, but never crossed paths until early 2016, when a business opportunity arose.
Krystal was an up-and-coming musician looking to get her foot in the door of mainstream pop culture.
“At the end of 2015, myself and two other trans women of color put together a music group that we were trying to pursue,” Krystal explained. “We met up almost daily to work on music. We would brainstorm looks, styles, names, everything.
“One of those girls told me about Stanley, this guy in Atlanta who manages trans artists. I was kind of blown away: I almost didn’t think it was a real thing because nobody supports us.”
After contacting him about working together he asked to hear some music — but the group didn’t have anything recorded. After they pooled some money together to get a spot in a studio, nothing was getting done.
The group disbanded shortly after, but Krystal didn’t stop there.
“I know that I did end up going into the studio alone and recording a track, which was called ‘Small Things.’”
When Krystal initially reached out to Stan in 2016, he was back in Chicago visiting some family, so they got to meet in person. But Stan thought it was going to be like every other meeting he’s had with artists before.
“It’s really going to be all about the music, they want me to manage them. I’ve been through it a million times,” he said. “So when I got to her place to talk, she had no makeup on. It was totally different than anybody I’ve ever met. It wasn’t about the artist and where they’re going, coming on to me — that’s what I expected. When I met her, none of that happened.
“She was just her.”
After talking about music and goals, and hearing Krystal’s track at their first meeting, Stan said he could work with her.
“I just fell in love right there,” Stan said. “I drove her back home, she turned around and I went, ‘Wait a minute. Do you know I’m in love with you?’”
In June 2016, they became a couple, and when Krystal moved to Atlanta in August 2016, that’s when her music career really started.
“As soon as I got [to Atlanta], Stanley got me in the studio and booking shows for me, and I started performing that one single that I had everywhere,” Krystal explained. “I had to get used to the whole process, and I know for a fact that from then to now, I’ve grown a lot as an artist and as a performer. We will go wherever we need to go.”
They’re coming up on five years together, and Stan reflected on how he identified growing up.
“I was never into cis women,” Stan explaiened. “People didn’t know the side of me where I had an attraction to femme boys at school going back to eighth grade. One thing people don’t understand about me — a trans-attracted man — is that we go through a transition too.
It started with the femboys at school that he was attracted to, Stan said. As he got older, he started dating drag queens, and from there, he started seeing exclusively trans women.
“I never considered myself gay, and I don’t consider myself gay now. It’s mind boggling. But what happens is you start ruining women’s lives — you choose to go out and live this secret life. I decided at 26 that I couldn’t keep living this secret.”
And leading into her relationship with Stan, Krystal also reflected on a time where she wasn’t appreciating life as much as she could have been.
“I think for a number of years, I was rather disconnected with my emotions because so many things were happening to me, especially things that I felt like I personally couldn’t control,” she explained. “For a minute I was never truly happy about anything. I think I just started using my head more than I was using my heart.”
But once she got into a relationship with Stanley, she said she was able to feel love.
“I love my mom, I love my dad, but I wasn’t experiencing anything beyond that,” she said.
And when she met Stanley, she felt as though she was radiating this self love at the time.
“Every time he would contact me and ask how I was doing, I’d always say I was doing great; I’m doing wonderful,” she said. “I was starting to be thankful for life, I was starting to look around me and appreciate the beauty of my city — lots of things that I didn’t pay attention to I started to be more grateful for.”
However, in December the couple experienced some “turbulence” in their relationship; several things were going on at the same time in their home and professional lives.
Krystal left Atlanta and stayed in Chicago for about a month before amends were made.
“We had this pandemic, and people are starting to get on each other’s nerves a little bit with things,” Stan said. They started having differences constantly, such as how to run their business.
They talked things out, because “you can’t control another human being,” he added. “You have to learn that you don’t have all the answers all the time.”
And furthermore, he said that if you get to that point where you do break up, then you realize the value of what you have.
“This one particular night, she called me and wanted to say goodbye — but I wasn’t going to let that happen. Neither of us wanted this,” so he drove up to Chicago to pick her up and take her back home.
Shortly after this, they got married at a small ceremony at their local courthouse. They plan to have a more grandiose reception when COVID situations resolve more in the future.
And over the past five years, Krystal knows that they would remain resilient.
“As far as our relationship is concerned, we’ve been through a lot — we’re going on into our fifth year this June. We’ve broken up, we’ve been homeless together, we’ve gotten things together, we’ve lost things together,” she explained. “We’ve been through it all. But at the end of the day, love has the last say.”
“And this last time when we broke up, I think you really do put a lot of things into perspective — the both of us — we realized what was important. We were arguing over the silliest things, and I think a lot of it had to do with starting a second business.
“But if you do love somebody, you make the conscious effort to make sure that it works. You will change – it’s not that you’re changing yourself, it’s that you make different decisions on how you will respond. That’s important for people to know, anyone who does have struggling relationships. It’s important to let the person be who they are.”