Sex & GenderSummer of Blacker Love
pride is a journey that never ends
July 1, 2019
There are at least a thousand deaths one experiences before they die. On the surface, it may seem counterintuitive but an unshakable truth is death is a part of living in more ways than just signaling the end of a life. Death indicates the ending of a belief, a habit, a characteristic or a part of an evolving whole. Death during life is renewal and to allow parts of ourselves to die in order to make space for newness is the essence of personal evolution and this PRIDE month, more than ever, I see the LGBTQ+ community as depictions of the kind of courage backed by the vulnerability that drives personal revolution.
The first crush I had on a boy, the part of me that died was the innocence embedded in youth. It was that almost undiscernible shift from worrying about my extensive coloring pencil collection and what games we played as children to worrying who I would be playing the game with and if he would notice me. The first crush I had on a girl was death to surety, even for a 7-year-old. I was a chubby Black girl and she entered our grade half-way through the year and I was immediately drawn to her. Her skin was brown like mine and her hair was longer, with beads that clinked with every movement she made. It was the first time in my life I felt compelled to explain my youthful pudginess, explaining to her that “I used to be just as skinny as you.” I had never felt the desire to explain myself to a boy before, maybe because I had an overdeveloped sense of avoiding rejection but, for her, I felt like an explanation was needed. I had never wanted to be liked so bad and my young mind framed it as friendship, but I was still stuck on the sheen of her long brown braided hair and the brown of her skin in the morning sun as we stood in line for class.
My crushes grew and evolved over the years, sometimes taking the form of infatuation, sometimes taking the form of what a stubborn Cancer would deign to call “love.” The attraction would take on many forms and the individuals on the receiving end would too. Growing up in a hetero-centered society, the label that first made sense was bisexual but that identity always came with the precursor of lacking or not being satisfied. Bisexuality is always treated like a pitstop on the way to men in one way or the other – bisexual men are described as being men in the closet and bisexual women were accused of being straight but curious. Bisexual erasure is still infamous today and sadly, some of its most vocal enforcers are within the LGTBQ+ community.
For years, I have been orbiting around bisexuality until I realized that it didn’t really speak to my experience – didn’t feel like the mold that would accurately represent the dimensions of my sexuality. As my general understanding of sexuality and gender identity grew, I retreated further into myself, quietly wading through and researching identities to see where I might fit. I found it hard to connect with people and thus convinced myself that I was demisexual — a person who does not experience sexual attraction unless they form a strong emotional connection. The kicker there was that, that inability to connect was a pattern across all my relationships, thanks to a mountain of unresolved self-hate and trauma. Besides, I was still drawn to a range of people who represented different gender identities – at that point, Pansexuality made the most sense.
Except, it didn’t. Not to me. On the surface, it feels like the identity that most accurately accounts for the reality that we, and specifically I, could fall in love with anyone. I remember understanding in high school that my love was not dependent on gender and apparently race considering I was in the midst of my most intense infatuation with a white girl. Nothing came of that because, like everywhere else, homosexuality in our conservative, predominantly white all-girls school was something that white girls had dibs on. It’s not to say their lives weren’t made difficult because of this, but as a depressed fat Black girl, it was best to pick my battles — an unlikely privilege that further led me astray on my quest to understand myself.
The fight for the LGBTQ+ community is one that hinges on fighting to be who you are. In that spirit, the most profound “evolutionary death” I can think of is the one a transgender person undergoes when they become their true selves. This evolution also speaks to the difficulty of evolution because the fight to undergo it usually amounts to resistance from those who know you as one thing and would rather you suffer to stay in that box so their comfort is secured. This is why I didn’t speak about my sexuality because who was I to be struggling to figure out who I was when others were fighting and dying to be who they were. I didn’t feel I deserved or belonged to the LGBTQ+ community so I sat on the edges fighting for it to exist in any way I could contribute. It was this space, this ether, this purgatorial island that made me so thankful for the space, the positive ether and belonging of Queerdom.
I am Queer. My sexuality is the conversation that will never end. Perhaps one day, I’ll plant roots in a future conception of sexuality that truly speaks to all that I love and all whom I am will love in this life, however long it may be. That is the kind of freedom I want for all people, specifically my queer family — for the colorful spectrum of love to leave space for exploration and authenticity. Realistically, that might only happen when the laundry list of traumas of oppressive structures imposed by white heteronormative capitalist supremacy have fallen but the Black LGBTQ+ community, lead by Black trans women have shown me that, that world exists and those courageous enough to follow them into battle will get a glimpse of it too.
Love is the message. Always. Getting so decide how that love looks and feels in freedom and that, like PRIDE, is a journey that never ends.
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