FashionSex & Gender
op-ed: i was shamed for celebrating my queerness with my blackness
April 26, 2016
My name is Cheyenne Byrd, known by friends and neighbors as Saintly Sinner. I am a 34 year old Black lesbi-not-so-flexible biological womyn, and I live in a small, predominantly Caucasian neighborhood outside of Pittsburgh called Latrobe. I am a genuine gemstone jewelry designer, and I take great pride in my pieces. Everything I do is done by hand, I will NEVER mass produce, and I want my very special pieces to touch human lives across the globe.
I also happen to be a bit of a humanitarian.
I’m very big on Crystal meditation and healing, and it is extremely important to me that I educate people on them and make them available to all mankind. It is also extremely important to me that I do everything I can to make this rock of a planet a better place to live for Black people, with a concentration on Black womyn and girls, and ALL BLACK HUMANS within the LGBTQIA+ community worldwide.
On a daily basis, I watch as Black members of the LGBTQIA+ community are ostracized, dehumanized and murdered, here in the states and abroad. This type of disgusting mistreatment hangs heavy on my heart, and it has become a personal mission to shine a harsh flashlight on it, and remind people that Black members of the LGBTQIA+ are human beings that are just as worthy of respect and care as cisgender, heterosexual human beings.
By Saintly Sinner*, AFROPUNK contributor
This has proven to be a daunting, worthwhile task.
I wanted to incorporate my jewelry into my mission. I just didn’t know how.
Then, one day, it hit me.
When Facebook introduced the rainbow pride filters, I fell in love. But I wanted my pride filter to be representative of me. A friend of a friend remixed the Facebook pride filter for me, creating an image of me with half the rainbow pride flag and half the RBG flag. I have included said photo in the attachments as a reference. When you choose to feature me (I’m owning it; fingers crossed!), please do not use that particular image. Please use the Black Bride of Frankenstein image; it represents me immaculately. Or the “Shh” image. You’ll know them when you see them.
A gentleman on my timeline (who shall not be named) became very angry at my use of the RBG and Pride flags simultaneously, shared my picture and shamed and condemned me, saying that I and people like me were the reason the Black community is in shambles.
I was incensed with anger. But I still wasn’t sure where to put my anger.
This particular gentleman makes jewelry also, “big body ankhs” and medallions. They’re beautiful, actually.
And then it came to me.
I did my research. Homophobia is a serious issue all across Africa. In many countries, LGBTQIA+ humans face constant harassment and harsh punishments, ranging from fines to imprisonment to death, just for being who they are and expressing their sexual orientation or gender identity. This has led to an influx of sexual refugees fleeing to more progressive South Africa, a place that grants refugee status based on sexual orientation.
Again, crystals have been used throughout the course of time to promote healing, inner peace and health. So I created genuine gemstone jewelry featuring African Adinkra symbols hand painted in the colors of the Bi Pride flag, The Pan Pride flag, and even a half pride/half RBG pride flag. Genderqueer/genderfluid creations are currently underway, and more. A portion of the proceeds from the jewelry is donated to Amnesty International’s South African LGBTQIA+ refugee advocacy programs. Every single time.
The gentleman on my timeline who sparked this revolution has been silenced, and has since issued me an apology for his behavior. I never once said his name.
I just want to further my vision. I want people to see what I’m trying to accomplish. I want to better this cold world. I want to enlighten, and inspire. More than anything, I desire to inspire. I really want AfroPunk to be involved in that, alongside me. Feature me. Feature my vision. Feature my dream.
I would consider it an honor and a privilege to be featured on AfroPunk. I believe my jewelry brand, Zombie Doll Designs, aligns with what AfroPunk stands for. I believe that my mission does, as well. *I have enclosed several images of my werq. If you would like to see more, please visit www.etsy.com/shop/ZombieDollDesigns and www.facebook.com/ZombieDollDesignsPittsburgh My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. My name on Facebook is Cheyenne Satana Byrd, and my Facebook URL is www.facebook.com/ladyherointheempress (I’m a fan of Lela Rochon’s character in the movie Harlem Nights). My height, weight and eye color is as follows: 6’2″ barefoot, 179 pounds and black. SSN provided upon request. 😉
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