On this week’s episode of I’m Married To A… we stepped into the lives of Jessica Lynn Johnson and Scott Schofield, two performers who’ve been in a committed, long-distance relationship for six months. Despite the distance, the duo is incredibly close, connecting through their own spirituality. But before taking any “next steps,” they needed to see how their first in-person visit to Jessica’s home would go down.
A a transgender man, Scott’s is learning how to open up to Jessica’s Christian faith, part of which includes her decision to remain abstinent until marriage. VH1 caught up with the happy couple–still living in Los Angeles and Atlanta, respectively–to chat about that crucial first visit and meeting of the friends, as well as how they view their relationship in terms of today’s portrayal of sexuality.
What’s the response been like since your episode aired?
Scott: I was in IKEA today and a family stopped me and asked if I was just on television. They said it was so good and that we were beautiful and that they talked about [the episode] as a family. That’s exactly what you want to hear in IKEA.
Did you have any reservations about putting your lives on camera?
S: Totally. I asked some friends; I was worried. The transgender storyline has been so exploited–this idea that we’re weird or a freak show. We’ve seen that in scripted television and in reality stuff. The way [VH1] portrayed everything is exactly what a documentary does and not reality TV. We were never encouraged to be or do anything but who we are and what we do.
You two have spent so much time a part in your relationship, living in different cities. Do you think that helped bring you closer in any way?
Jessica: We get to know each other mentally and emotionally without the physical distractions. We’ve been together now for six, seven months, so it’s gotten challenging–we’ve been feeling the impact of that and have been trying to coordinate our schedule to see more of each other.
S: I think we probably talk to each other more than most people do. We’re really disciplined about communicating with each other, which I think, when you are dating in the same city, you can just be doing your lives. We are prioritizing each other in ways that are both about living and about our jobs and a lot of people don’t get to do that–you each live your own life and kind of mixes where it will.
As your relationship progresses does it get increasingly difficult to abstain from having sex?
J: It’s always a challenge, but I’ve been practicing this for 31 years now, so I’ve become a pro at putting myself in the right situation and avoiding the wrong ones.
S: It really doesn’t. I can’t say how much I respect Jessica and her choice about that. At this point if she were to say, “Forget it, you’re the right guy, let’s do it” I would be like, “Nope, I’m holding on to this! I want this moment, too.”
How do you feel sex is portrayed in the media?
J: It’s exploited quite a bit and a lot of the sacredness of sexuality is lost. It’s portrayed in a very heterosexual way, and I think there’s a lot of diversity within sexuality that needs to be explored in the media as well. While I have a traditional view on the sacredness of sexuality, I’m pretty progressive in terms of orientation.
What about Christianity?
J: Christianity is often portrayed as a close-minded, unloving group of people. I know so many tremendously generous and open-minded Christians who have an abundant amount of love. I hope that the episode portrayed Christianity in a new way in a more progressive, modern world. There are a lot of up-and-coming Christians who have a much more progressive, open-minded, open-hearted view.
Scott, based on your personal history and experience with more close-minded types, were you apprehensive at all about Jessica’s religious beliefs?
S: I kept going through these different developing phases of what the heck is going on and how is this happening because Jessica is definitely not what I as a queer person would consider to be a typical Christian. Unfortunately, for better or for worse, the stereotype in my head is that Christians are mean, judgmental people, which is a terrible stereotype because when I met Jessica or when I go to her church, the more and more people that I meet are Christians that are great. I was glad this branch of Christianity got the mike for a second because for me this journey with Jessica has been a healing thing for my heart with regard to Christianity. To truly be someone who loves the teachings of Christ, loves everyone–the freaks, the queers. That has been a wonderful journey for me.
Jessica, a big moment of the episode was introducing Scott to your friends. Did it feel as important to you as it did to the viewer?
J: Yeah, we were both nervous because it’s a high stakes situation. Both of us value the opinions of our friends and I wanted him to fit right in and for them to like him. I just wanted to make sure that [Carrie] was seeing what I was seeing in him and that they would get along, and they did. We all hung out outside of the show for them to continue to know each other and they really like each other.
Are you planning a visit to see Scott in Atlanta anytime soon?
J:[For six weeks this summer]. I’m meeting all of his friends, so we’re nervous and gearing up for that. [It’s the] same kind of thing–very close, opinionated types of people in his life. It will be my first time meeting all of them and seeing his condo. He’s trying to decorate and get it ready.
Scott, how do you feel about introducing her to your world?
S: We’re excited. It’s just the next step. We’re taking all these steps together and I couldn’t be more happy than to do that with her.
Jessica, how much of your relationship have you shared with your family? Have your parents met Scott?
J: No, everyone is meeting him in October when we go to my brother’s wedding. My immediate family know about him. He did meet my younger brother Austin when he was in town. I have five siblings, so he met one of them in Los Angeles–they actually got along well, so I was happy about that. My family is pretty conservative, Christian, republican, Mid-Western…
How did they take the news that you are dating someone who is transgender?
J: They have all been really wonderful and loving. I actually just got off the phone with my dad and he was pleased with how we were represented and everything. He’s looking forward to meeting Scott in October.
You’re both performers who’ve created and put on their own one-man/one-woman shows. Do you plan to collaborate together professionally?
S: Yes. We were just in Alaska together and Jessica directed my one-man show which is about my own spiritual awakening back during my suicide attempt. That was amazing to work with each other. We did a double-deal where she did her show, and it was great for the audience to get perspective from a transgender person and then to watch her show as a straight ally–a Christian person negotiating transgender identities, too. It was a wild success–sold out and loved. It was great and we are going to do it again in Seattle in August.
Do you see a long-term future together?
S: Absolutely. I’m already married in my mind.
J: I see the whole thing with him. I dream of having the whole lifelong romance. I want to get married, I want to have kids. That’s what we dream of and what we are working towards–hopefully that happens.
How do you think Christianity will come into play with your children?
S: I wasn’t raised with religion and Jessica very much was, so those traditions are really important to her. We haven’t gotten into the nitty-gritty conversation, but spirituality will be a big part of the kids’ lives. I think I’ll probably balance it out with the yoga-spirituality that I belong to. We’re both all about choice–they’ll probably have a strong Christian background but feel free to choose on a path.
J: I want to have an open discussion about it, saying this is what mom believes and this is what dad believes–the similarities and the differences. God will always be a part of the dialogue, but I’m not going to force my children to walk the same path that I walked. I hope that they know God and however God resonates with them is fine with me.
Scott, will you continue taking hormone injections?
S: The hormones are a part of my life forever. If I wanted to, I could actually have a baby if I stopped taking hormones and get pregnant and have a baby. I do not see that in my future; I cannot imagine more steps in my life. I’m the man that I always wanted to be and now it’s time to get over the identity part in my life and get into the what I do with my life.
So no more surgeries?
S: I don’t think so. You never know.
Catch an all-new episode of I’m Married To A… on Tuesday at 10/9 C.