A few months ago I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting a Facebook friend in person at a conference. We both like to think of ourselves as "woke", so in the time that I knew her, we would often exchange Facebook post about both our queer and Black identity.
While at dinner, we got on the subject of injustices we face as Black queer people and she made a comment that really hit home. She stated, "One time while I was at work, a co-worker of mine came into my office and asked me: "Hey, are you queer today or Black today?" While she explained that in that moment she did her best to laugh it off, that comment has stuck with me for the last 6 months because of knowing folks personally who have asked me that questions before.
In that moment, I sat there thinking about how for a good portion of my life, I have been made to feel like I have had to pick one identity over the other. In some spaces, I feel like I have to speak up louder for my Black identity. In others, I have to scream louder for my queer identity.
But never are the two able to coexist at the same time.
The truth of the matter is: Black people don't like queer people and the LGBTQ community don't like Black people.
I often pull quotes from Audrey Lorde to validate my points only because I sometimes struggle with putting my feelings into words. In one of my favorite quotes she writes:
"I remember how being young and Black and gay and lonely felt. A lot of it was fine, feeling I had the truth and the light and the key, but a lot of it was purely hell.”
So what does this hell look like you ask?
Hell is the constant reminder that when you walk into a room full of Black people, a place where you are suppose to feel at home most, you monitor the tone of your voice. The way you move your arms. The way you respond to someone you DO feel comfortable around. The hell of wondering are the men in that space laughing with you, or at you? The constant feeling that in one way or another, religion is going to be brought up in conversation and you are going to be made to feel as if you are some sort of alien figure, all because you are walking in your truth.
Hell is going to pride, an LGBTQ space or anything queer related and being able to count the number of Black men who are present. Opening a magazine or turning on a television show and knowing that anti-Blackness will some how, some way creep up and into the thick of your neck.
Being told in college that the constant, "No Fat. No Femmes. No Blacks" is you overreacting.
No Blacks. No Blacks. No Blacks.
No queers. No queers. No queers.
I write this not to say that my life is hell, because honestly, it is anything BUT that. But I do write this because I, as both a scholar and activist, get tired of not seeing articles written that highlight the both/and-and/or complex (Washington, Wall, 1991).
I am tired of feeling as if I have to pick a side when it comes to talking about the injustices that I face as a queer Black man.
To be Black and queer IS the same struggle. While I am seeking to heal because my Black family continues to be murdered, I am also seeking to heal because my trans-Black sisters are also being targeted. As a Black and queer person, I don't get the opportunity to choose which identity I speak up for because both identities are under attack, daily. Constantly.
Because being both Black and queer is my everyday reality and something that I don't GET a choice of choosing.
Whether someone wants to believe that or not, the reality is that being a double minority means to live in a place where you are constantly seeking equal & equitable representation. This post, is my first steps to doing that.
One of my favorite bloggers stated that if you want to see yourself in content, sometimes you have to create it. I write this blog today to say that this is the first steps to me using the small platform I have to highlight this issue.
How do we begin conversations around what it means to be both Black and queer? Why are we not talking about the highlights and the lowlights of what it means to be both?
Why is hatred for both so prominent in both communities?
Sending love and light to all my queer Black family members who are hurting today. May I uplift your struggles and your voice.