Name: Leah Spears-Blackmon
Age: Proudly 45 years old.
How do you identify yourself? I identify myself as a Cherokee and also a lesbian.
Where do you live? Fayetteville, Arkansas
Do you have any pets? I do. Beloved, little crazy dogs. I have Indie Rockabilly Pearl is her full Christian name and she is a mutt — a rescued beagle mix who sings all the time — and she is 13. And Memphis is our French bulldog. He’s the only man in the house and so he’s the prince and he is 12. So we kind of have a canine nursing home situation going on, but they’re so spoiled and they really make us happy.
Who helps with the nursing home? Well, you know that’s a funny question and Micah will take much delight in this. The dogs are mine and I am theirs and I’m their person, but she keeps them alive. She’s the one that feeds them, she’s the one that changes out the water, she’s the one that gives them cookies if they need a treat. So she does all the life sustaining things, I just get all the perks.
Tell us about Micah. Micah is my wife of almost eight years. We’ll actually celebrate 15 years together this year and we do celebrate both because there was a time that we did not know, could not have imagined that we would have an actual marriage anniversary. She is the person that keeps me grounded, keeps me fed because she’s an amazing chef and owns and operates our catering company, Early Bird Catering. She’s just the best person I know. My Micah, that’s what I call her often, so my Micah.
What do you do for work? This year, 2022, I’m celebrating my 20th year in my banking career and I’ve been at First Security for 11 years. In April, it’ll be 11 years. I’m the vice president of Retail Operations and also Business Development.
And if you weren’t in banking what would you do? If I were not in banking I would absolutely have pursued being a professional musician or as of late an Episcopalian minister. Being surrounded by books and talking and being quiet and in prayer and all that good stuff just sounds really nice right now. Now I know there’s a lot more to it and I’m sure that the pastors at St. Paul’s are going to be like, “yeah, right.” But I have some friends who are in ministry and it’s just the older I get the more it’s like, what a great career path.
If you could wake up tomorrow with any new talent or any skill, what would it be? Oh my gosh I would be a DIY person. This is totally a joke and it’s just inside joke funny — Micah and I always say that we’re the worst lesbians because we do not own a drill set. Like we cannot do anything at our house for ourselves, by ourselves. We have affectionately collected a group of friends that we call our house husbands who come and do ridiculous, simple things for us because we are just, I mean I know how to operate a screwdriver and hang pictures on the wall and that’s about it. So if I could have any hidden talent, it would be to lay tile or fix my dishwasher or you know, things like that.
What makes you, you? My faith, my family, my life with Micah that we have created. And really you know — coming to terms with it — being middle-aged. Just taking time to reflect and consider that legacy and what is my story. What is that legacy? What are my nieces and nephews going to take away from my life? Those little nuggets. But those are the main components — my faith, my family, my blood family and my chosen family. My chosen family is my family, and just what Micah and I have done together.
What is your favorite characteristic about yourself? So this is new and it’s been evolving, and I think most people will relate to this, but just authenticity. Quite frankly just cutting through the ridiculousness and calling things what they are. I grew up being very much a pleaser — firstborn, good grades, dance recitals, singing recitals, all the things and just being the pleaser. Not anymore. It’s fallen by the wayside as far as priorities. So yeah. Authenticity.
What’s your most treasured possession?
What sparks joy in your life? Isn’t that wonderful to have that question asked and you just can’t come up with a simple answer? Time with my people. I love my job, don’t get me wrong, but I work to live. I love taking vacations. I love going out to eat and sitting on the patio. I love our travels, live music again is just life-giving. Went to Roots Headquarters the other night on a random Wednesday night and normally we’d be in our pajamas watching TV and it was just, it was just church. It was so good. So, I’m fortunate. I have a lot of things that spark joy.
What do you do for fun? For fun we are with our chosen people a lot. We are all foodies and love cocktails and music. Micah and I love to travel to the beach. We love good road trips. We’re actually getting ready to take our nephews to Hot Springs to go to the races at the end of this month. We just go and do. We come to work so we can go and do.
When are you the happiest? I am the absolute happiest on a cloudy October day in Fayetteville. Micah would tell you, like in the fall she’ll wake up and peel back the curtain, she’ll be like, “Ope, it’s one of your days!” I think it’s when Fayetteville is its most beautiful of that season with the contrast, the coolness. I know that sounds so random and it’s so specific, but I’m usually so happy on those days.
I think publicly a lot of people know you from your singing career. Can you tell me a little bit about how you got into singing and what it means to you?
What brought you to Northwest Arkansas? My dad — my stepdad but my dad — offensive line football coach for Rogers High School. Being a kid of a football coach, football coaches move around quite a bit. Craig [my brother] and I really only had that one move because I only spent two years at Rogers High School and then I graduated and went to college. So my touring with the football coach was short-lived. They lived in a lot of places, I digress. Brought us to Rogers and I was always going to be an Oklahoma State Cowgirl. I always thought I’d be an Oklahoma State Cowgirl but by the time I graduated from Rogers, it was considered out-of-state. But then I had the opportunity to have my scholarship to the University of Arkansas and no brainer.
What’s your favorite spot in the region? I love Mount Sequoyah. I am so lucky to be on their board of directors. It is just one of the most beautiful and sacred and fun spots in Fayetteville, in the region, and we’re really fortunate to have a structure in place that’s protecting it, keeping it that way. When we need to get out of town for just a quick little reset, we go to Eureka [Springs].
What’s one place in the world that you haven’t been that you’d like to visit? I would love to go to Paris for my 50th and then you know leave the city and go spend some time in old vineyards and eat as much bread and cheese as possible. I’d love to go to France, Italy and do that whole little tour. So we’ll see. Fingers crossed.
What trait do you value most in your friends? So my friends — and we call them our chosen family, I often refer to them as my tribe — the accountability. And we talk about how we love each other hard because we love each other good when things are easy, but this group of friends has also proven to love each other hard when necessary. And the older I get and the more that life throws at you with babies and losses and divorces and financial hardships and then all the celebrations of course, you have to have that dynamic for those relationships to endure. Otherwise it’s just surface. So the accountability probably sums us up in the way we love each other really well.
Do you think representation matters?
Growing up did you have any members of the LGBTQ community that you could look up to?
What advice would you give to a young person of color who’s decided to come out?
Do you have a favorite Pride Month memory or experience?
What’s one thing you’re looking forward to this year? I am looking forward to partying with my people inside their homes. I am looking forward to recovery for small businesses and for all of our hospitality people getting back to work. I think we’ll always be better for our pandemic experience and that we’ll always be more knowledgeable about the science and tender towards each other. So I’m just excited to see how we regroup, recuperate. And I’m ready to go to the beach, too. Really looking forward to that. Really need some salt and sand, seriously.
Any final thoughts?