Mel D. Cole

Living the Fuck Out LoudWe See You

editor’s letter: living the fuck out loud

July 2, 2019
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“Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.” — Dr. Mae Jamison, first Black woman astronaut

I am a Black gay man who is Living The Fuck Out Loud. In my life as a seasoned journalist, activist and creative, living my truth has always been paramount — it became a form of protection (and often discomfort) when I felt that society didn’t always respect me for who I am. For the last year, I have been working at AFROPUNK as Chief Content Officer — immersing myself in the history of the almost 15 year-old cultural movement, listening to the community and experiencing it across the globe. I hope you have noticed the difference in our expanding digital and social content.

Having worked in media for over 30 years, I have been blessed to use my voice as a way of shifting culture and narratives in the Black community and beyond. My tenure at Vibe, Complex, Giant and Essence was always about moving conversations forward, through content and storytelling. At AFROPUNK, my intention is to do the same by amplifying the powerful voices, experiences and creativity of the Black African Diaspora we call the AFROPUNK community.

Allow me to introduce you to the AFROPUNK digital magazine, and our first Editor’s letter — and expect to hear from us every first of the month. Each month we will focus on a new theme to ignite conversation and dialogue. We want to explore and interrogate issues and ideas that are important to the Black community and our culture IRT.

The theme for July 2019 is Living The Fuck Out Loud. It seemed to be the perfect mantra for the hot days of Summer where Black bodies and melanin live in all their glory and also for the beginning of the AFROPUNK festival season which will begin in Paris this month, and then follow to Brooklyn in August, onto Atlanta and London in October, and commencing in Johannesburg in December — or Dezember as our South African friends say. Living The Fuck Out Loud feels like a rallying call, subversive armor, and an attitude and embodiment to create a Black Future — it is all sound and fury, with a rebel yell.

What is more punk or Black alternative and radical than Living The Fuck Out Loud. As Black people who live in the African Diaspora, we are constantly oppressed by the domination of white supremacy and the Right. Historically, we have been forced to Live The Fuck Out Loud or be silenced and possibly erased. Black people, our resistance has been our means to survival — that sometimes means losing our lives to create change in the fight for liberation.

To me Living The Fuck Out Loud means unapolgetically being who I am. It’s pushing past the status quo to change limited ideas and ideals of my racial, sexual orientation and physical presence in this world that doesn’t see me, respect me, or care about me. It means fighting for equality and changing the narrative of what it means to be a Black gay man in the 21st Century. It isn’t lost on me that we are ending World Pride and Stonewall’s 50th Anniversary (the beginning of the Gay Rights Movement started by Trans women of color) in New York City where we witnessed the largest gathering of LGBTQI+ people from around the world, and a month where six Trans women of color were murdered or found dead.

We are living in precarious times — political oppression, systemic racism, racial injustice, financial strife, privileges of power, collapsing educational systems, and prison systems built to house large populations of Black men. If that is not enough Black men and Black women in the U.S. still have the highest infection rates of HIV/AIDS, our teenagers are committing suicide at alarming rates, and we are still the bullseye of unrestrained police brutality. Shit is fucked up!

Living The Fuck Out Loud is a way to counter all of the darkness and negativity in the world. Saying, “I am here, I have a voice, I have an opinion, and I have value” is a politicized way to push back on oppression — and the oppressor. Our existence is enough, but there must be activism and radicalism to create change. The odds are not in our favor, so why are we being polite and concerned about respectability politics?

There is some optimism here though. When we think about our ancestors who most certainly Lived The Fuck Out Loud, we have a roadmap to follow. James Baldwin, Angela Davis, Marsha P. Johnson, Fred Hampton, Marlon Riggs, Stokely Carmichael, Shirley Chisolm, and Malcolm X all spoke truth to power without regard for systems of oppressions that were created to hold Black men, Black women and Black gender non-conforming folks down.

So take some inventory this month and let go of the chains that bind — mentally, physically and emotionally. It is most certainly the time to use your art, creativity, ideas, activism, words, music and action to speak-up, show-out and Live The Fuck Out Loud. We will not be silenced or erased.

AFROPUNK’s theme for 2019 is #AFROPUNKWESEEYOU. We also want to hear from you. Please share your ideas, thoughts and creativity with us at:

Emil Wilbekin is also the founder of Native Son, a movement to inspire and empower Black gay men. He has written for The New York Times, Teen Vogue, Rolling Stone, Essence, Huffington Post, and AP.