Becoming Mrs. Drake: Belinda Drake and Danielle Nimtz Share How They Found Love in the Political Eye
Former 2020 Indiana State Senate candidate Belinda Drake recently announced her engagement to her partner, Danielle Nimtz.
Danielle is a non-profit professional who works for a youth-serving organization in the Indianapolis area that inspires young women's leadership development and career preparedness.
They sat down with me to discuss their relationship, the pressures of being a couple in the public eye and shared advice to the Gayes who may be alone on Valentine's Day or who are inspired to go into politics while living in their truth.
The two have been together for one year exclusively, and they first became aware of each other and became acquaintances through events that they both would be at.
"At my campaign launch last year I noticed her, but I think she noticed me more," Belinda said. "Immediately, she was like, [wanting] to volunteer and I'm like, okay, let's see how this goes."
We previously reported that Belinda ran for Indiana State Senate District 32 seat, the district that Danielle happened to had lived in, and Danielle felt that Belinda's views were more aligned with hers than the Republican incumbent Aaron Freeman.
"When I saw that Belinda was running, I had been following her journey as a Black queer woman in politics and what that means in a space like Indiana," she said. "There's a space being created for people who are like me, in the sense of, being queer and of color."
Initially in the beginning of their relationship, Belinda was extremely busy with campaign initiatives.
"I was really focused on the campaign and being the voice of the people," she said. "But I also appreciated having a partner that understood that she has to share me, not intimately, but from an outgoing and engagement standpoint.
Drake's time and energy was and remains dedicated to community policy and advocacy through her LIFE platform, but with Danielle being involved in the same field of work, it took less stress off the relationship.
"She works in the nonprofit sector and pours into that next generation of young women as well," she said. "So, it's kinda like, we are both doing our own thing to give back to society, but in two different lanes."
While Danielle was admittedly attracted to Belinda, her goal has always been to help push the greater causes that the two of them fight for in their community.
"I wasn't going in on that level," Danielle said. "[Belinda] might tell you differently, but I definitely was more like, I want better for our community. She is better for our community."
For a while, they kept their relationship under wraps due to the secrecy that comes with having a private life as a public official.
"I was running for office, and I am in this place of trying to trust and knowing who to trust," Drake said. "It's interesting trying to date in this capacity, especially last year."
Their first official date as a couple was at the Mayor's Ball in their town. This was standard fare for Belinda, but Danielle was nervous as it was something a little outside of her comfort zone.
"I was trying to impress Belinda the whole time," Danielle said. "And I was being courted in this way that I have never been courted before, and I'm meeting people in the political realm that I have read about in articles."
Through all that however, Danielle was impressed with how in her element that Belinda is by just walking into a room. She began falling in love with her, and while they both felt it between them, it was Danielle who said it first.
"For one, it was easier for me to say it first because I strongly felt in my deep core that there was love in this relationship," Danielle said. "There were just things that I've never seen before that she was able to show me and walk me through and hold my hand and completely be there as a supporter as we explore new areas in our relationship."
Belinda knew that she loved Danielle, but the extra vulnerability that came with her being a politician created hesitancy when it building personal relationships.
"It's crazy that the amount of vulnerability that you need to be a politician doesn't add up to the amount of vulnerability to just say 'I love you,'" Danielle said.
Being a public figure, the public may feel entitled to know as much as they can about their personal lives but this did not deter their relationship.
"She probably understood that I did love her before she said she loved me, just because I was very hesitant to make any first move just because of the space I am in," Belinda said. "She did say it first, but I may have felt it first.
Communication is key in any relationship, and it is exactly how Belinda and Danielle navigate being in public view.
"I kinda follow [Danielle's] lead when it comes to things we do as a couple or not," Belinda said. "I never want her to feel uncomfortable."
Belinda always leaves an open invitation for Danielle to accompany her to any event she may be going to, but ultimately leaves the decision up to Danielle. The nature of the political scene can often be intrusive and investigative so they had to have conversations about how to proceed as a public-facing couple.
"The only rule we created was that the public should never tell us anything about each other that we have not already discussed with each other," Belinda said.
Belinda understands that in her occupation, it's essential to have private and public social media accounts. Danielle doesn't necessarily get to have that. Belinda knows that her constituents and supporters are going to focus on who she is with. There is a line that Belinda must walk as a public official of trying not to be too transparent but also not being too private. Thankfully, Danielle realizes the spouse of a politician is different than other spouses of other positions.
"If I'm approached on something that Belinda has prepared and I am not [prepared], I am automatically a representation of her and her political career," Danielle said. "You talk to, like, a CEO of a company and then you talk to their spouse, [the public doesn't] make that connection."
They discuss their life plans and Danielle even picked out the ring beforehand so she knew that there was a proposal coming.
"Obviously we had these conversations where we talk about what our life plan looks like," Danielle said. "It's just the type of people that we are as well. I don't think it has much to do with what her profession looks like or what my profession looks like. So we had these conversations about marriage, but she was so ambiguous with what it meant."
Danielle asked Belinda to honor her one request when it came to the proposal: Make sure that her eyebrows and nails are done beforehand.
Danielle had suspicions about the proposal being on Election Day just because it was the day they were building up to, but then it came and went with no proposal. She was disappointed at first, but excited that it meant there was something else planned.
"A lot of times, the focus is on me, even though I am actually more introverted and reserved than people may actually believe, and so I wanted engagement night to be about her."
Belinda proposed to Danielle at an annual event Belinda helps organize, "Studs Who Lead."
The event is for masculine-presenting women to speak about their experience in the world and is one of the greatest LGBTQ events in Indianapolis, due to its intersectionality.
"It didn't even cross my mind that it was going to be the night of this event," Danielle said. "Because there was so much to do."
Enjoying the time out of quarantine and practicing social-distancing protocols, Danielle was there just to enjoy the night and have fun. Towards the end of the night, Belinda started acting weird, according to Danielle. Belinda kept leaving without explanation and Danielle was beginning to get irritated.
"I just remember sitting down, I was talking to somebody and they started playing 'All My Life' by K-Ci and JoJo,'" Danielle said. "And I see Belinda walking in with like, this big flower bigger than her whole face."
Belinda then said a prayer and got down on one knee.
"I just wanted it to be special," Belinda said. "Just because, you know, everybody's trying to figure out what I am going to do next. When am I going to run for office again? In 2024? What am I going to do in the meantime? And I still don't know, let's be completely honest. But what I do know is that regardless of what's around the corner, I'm ready to do it with [Danielle]."
The entire panel knew about the proposal, as well as mostly everyone in attendance, and Belinda wanted it that way for a reason.
"This is her moment. You know, like this night will be about [her], like everyone will know," Belinda said. "And that's the type of love and affection that she deserves and I'm telling you, anyone that can date a politician deserves the world."
Watch Belinda's Proposal Below:
When the cameras are off and they aren't in public, Danielle sees the real Belinda through it all, whether she's upset or frustrated.
After they announced their engagement, the couple got a congratulatory call from a special someone.
"I want to say thank you to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg for actually calling me and congratulating us on our engagement," Belinda said. "I think that was one of our most special moments, like we saved the recording. He did endorse me last year so I'm extremely grateful for his support."
Danielle was elated, and wanted me to pass along a message to the Buttigieg's.
"I do want to put on the record that we are 100% Team Pete and Chasten to the fullest capacity. If Chasten wants to be friends, just DM me and let me know."
This Valentine's Day, the couple plans to be low-key in their celebration as they just came back from their anniversary getaway. It will be similar to the mandatory date nights they set up during the campaign.
"It's something that we created during the campaign," Belinda said. "Just so I wouldn't lose focus, you know, I go out here and try to save the world. But [I] don't forget about my relationship, [I] make it a priority to love each other intentionally."
As for the Gayes who are potentially spending Valentine's Day alone, the two have some words of wisdom.
"A lot of times in my experience in LGBTQ couples, it's like we go through this trial period of exploring different partners when we should have just been exploring ourselves," Belinda said.
"Enjoy the time with yourself and be your own valentine, so that if you choose to have a future partner, you know exactly what you deserve on Valentine's Day in the future," Danielle said.
The two have set their wedding date for October 22, 2022 and have created the hashtag #BecomingMrsDrake in anticipation for it.
"I just hope that our story inspires others LGBTQ couples to just, you know, be your authentic selves, and that there is a space for love in politics as well," Belinda said.