Lesbian. Gay. Bi-Sexual. Transgender. Queer. Those are the words that make up the acronym LGBTQ. June is national Pride month, which is a month that celebrates the lives and identities of people who identify as LGBTQ+. If you are reading this article, you know this community is under a constant struggle for simple rights and respect. Here is my personal story, and how I came to identify myself as queer black woman and why I and everyone else deserve equality.
For starters, let's just say I grew up in family that wasn't opposed to LGBT, but rather did not speak on the subject at all. My parents never really talked about it being "wrong", but neither did they express it being OK. So, I didn't grow up being biased in any direction.
I grew up in boarding school from the age of 9, and it made my life very different from most of my peers. I spent weeks at school, with no phone and very strict living rules, I was extremely sheltered. I didn't do the normal activities of kids my age, I painted, practiced yoga, and wrote. I was a very sad child, and expression through art and writing sometimes felt like my only source of companionship. It was almost as if I lived in a bubble, and I tried to create my own reality within it. When I started high school I went through a bit of an identity crisis. I struggled with what to identify as, racially and sexually. Some may be thinking, "How can you struggle with racial identity?". Simply put, easily. I knew I was black, but at the time that just wasn't enough for me. I went through a serious Hotep stage. I was watching Hidden Colors, and was exposed to the NOI and Moorish-America. For a long time I thought and claimed to have Egyptian and Ethiopian heritage. It was all a bunch of mess, and just a very necessary part of my journey to true self-realization.
In terms of sexuality, I was always TOLD or asked if I was gay. I was a very skinny awkward girl who wore her hair in locs, sopped at Village Discount, and painted nude bodies. This was far from the norm in a majority white Catholic high school. My peers found many reasons to ostracize me, and accusing me of being gay was one of them. It felt wrong, and it was hurtful because 1. I did't think it was accepted, and 2. It's not what I identified as.
Some of my closest friends tried to have an intervention with me to find out if I liked girls, because I wasn't talking o or expressing interest in a bunch of boys. This was extremely hurtful to young me. I wish I had someone there to tell me even if I was a lesbian (which I wasn't), that it was ok and I had the right to be. My early high school years was spent doing A LOT of soul searching, and finding myself.
Eventually, around sophomore year I got used to being an "other". Being different became something I took pride in. I accepted that I was not typical, and my life got much better as a result. I was happy. Realizing and accepting individuality made me a much more positive and understanding person. I was able to relate to and empathize with people from all backgrounds, because I knew how being an Other felt. But I still didn't know I was Queer.
In the late of 2015 is when I was introduced to the concepts of queer, genderqueer, and non-binary. I realized this is where I fit in with my sexuality and gender. Before, I just labeled myself as care-free and sexually liberated. But Non-binary took the cake. For those who don’t know, Non-binary is defined as, “category for gender identities, that are not exclusively masculine or feminine—identities which are thus outside of the gender binary and cisnormativity.” Though I prefer not to label myself, this category is where my fluid spirit felt most at home.
Ever since this realization, I’ve felt liberated and empowered by my sexuality. Similarly to how the natural hair movement empowered me as a young black girl. These are experiences everyone should be able to access. People should be able to feel comfortable as themselves. So, when people are not in support of LGBT, I truly don’t understand. How can you be against someone being themselves, living their life, and loving who they want? It is not anyone’s job to police the sexuality of another. Love knows no limits.
I am proudly in love with myself and my identity. I am a 19 year old African American, Gullah Geechee babe with Sierra Leonean and Gambian roots. I believe my sexuality is fluid, and therefore identify as Queer. I am proud to be me, and it is such a great and empowering feeling. I love myself, and
everyone deserves this feeling.
Love has the possibility to transcend Gender, Sexuality, Race, Culture, and more! Love wins, regardless!
Happy Pride month!