CultureFirst LovesSummer of Blacker LoveWe See You

first black queer loves with abdu ali

June 17, 2019
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Often Black queer public figures are exclusively beholden to talking about their traumas and the sociopolitical activations they would like to see in the world. These things are not for naught, the Black LGBTQIA+ community has many areas where there is a need for attention and support: homelessness, HIV advocacy and destigmatization work, and the murder and brutalization of Black trans women.

Despite, and perhaps because of, these more dismal realities, there is a need to have Black queer folks talk about something that isn’t always tethered back to death and trauma. There’s a need to return to love, and what’s a better way than to collect the first love stories of some of our favorite Black queer people making work and change in the world? Some are short, some are long, but all of them serve as a reminder of the fact that we’re more than the first (and last) time we knew the world was dangerous. We are also our first loves and the events that affirmed life was worth living and fighting for.

First up is Abdu Ali, one of my favorite artists (and people) in the world. Abdu is a multidisciplinary artist that just released their abstract sonic odyssey, FIYAH!! The project is an homage to the publication FIRE!! that platformed some of the most cutting edge and prominent writers during the Harlem Renaissance era. Unfortunately, the publication only lasted for one issue due to a fire that destroyed the headquarters, but the lasting impact of the intention of what those revolutionary ancestors were doing is still impacting a generation of Black queer folks.

When did you first fall in love? Abdu Ali responded, “I had a bunch of different first ‘in love’ situations. But I believe the first time I truly felt desired, nurtured, and loved was in my junior year of high school. It was a time where I was truly stepping out into myself as a queer person, as an artist, and just as Abdu Ali, so it made sense that was a time where I found my first love. He just made me feel alive and worthy. He normalized gay love for me and the fact that yes, we too can be in loving relationships that are just as regular, ghetto, untethered, and authentic as heterosexual folk.  We were a popular couple, too! He won homecoming king and I won homecoming prince! Our school was hella gay, but yeah it was hella cute.”

We followed up by asking Abdu when do you most feel seen and without pause, they responded, “I feel most seen when my voice is acknowledged and affirmed by community.”