A word that I have always struggled to accept when it came to talking about my lived experience. From the time I was a kid and had family members ask me, "why do you walk/talk that way?" or the times that I am minding my whole ass business and a young child turns and asks me, "are you a boy or a girl?", I have always been that, different.
For me, difference in the context of both my Black identity and Queer identity has often been hard to contextualize. Since childhood, I never presented my identity the way most young Black men did. I always enjoyed female R&B singers, I often would snap my neck when someone caught the wrong one on the right day and I was forever trying to out double dutch the girls on the playground. When it came time for me to admit to myself that I was in fact Queer, I never feared losing family or friends because honestly, I got comfortable with knowing that no matter what I did or did not do, I would always be different in the eyes of others.
In recent months, I have thought a great deal about what it means to be both Black and Queer and the joy it brings to be both, or different. For many of us, framing our lived experience from a place of "other" can be tough, because from a young age we are taught to be a part of a crowd that lives and loves the same way. But when you have no choice but to be different and to make sense of that lived experience, sometimes the only option you have is to make peace with said difference. On several occasions this month alone I have had to make peace with being different and it only amplified the importance of me writing something that helped others embraces the word as a positive.
In one experience this month, I recognized on several occasions that I was the only Black person in a space. I often notice it probably more than I should, but I often acknowledge it to remind others to be mindful about what my lived experience often looks like.
Day in and day out, I am the "different" person in a space.
On that same accord, I have also had several moments where I was in community with other Black/Queer (different) individuals. We laughed, we cried, we loved on each other. We recognized that what what society often tries to break us for, is the one thing that makes our community stronger.
What beauty can be found when we accept difference as the status quo?
It is highly important, in this day-especially with all the BS we are dealing with this administration, to not only embrace the struggle that comes with being different, but to ask yourself, "what am I doing to use my difference to change the world?"
Yes, I recognize that being Black and Queer is often a task because making sense of those intersections isn't easy, but what's most importance to know is that by accepting said difference and accepting that your identity is yours to create:
You are in fact the resistance we need to change the world.
The world is unable to comprehend difference because the easiest way to control people is to tell them that they need to assimilate. Recognizing the power in being the other, understanding that there is so much freedom in being who you are and who you choose to be: it scares people and makes them question their own lived experience.
Simply put, you can't control what you don't comprehend.
While it would be easy for me to continue to write about both my Black and Queer narrative from a place of pain, sadness and fear: I recognize that the only way that I have been able to survive and thrive in this world is by accepting the fact that I am in fact different and that is what gives me power.
Audre Lorde tells us that It is not our differences that divide us, but that, "It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences".
Today, celebrate those difference because that is in fact what makes you powerful.
Be strong. Be you. Be brave.