Black Pride is Same Gender Loving Pride …

Although It’s the end of August and the performative parade of appreciation of Pride has long ended, we need to talk about the intersection of Blackness and the LGBTQ+ community. We need to acknowledge boys, girls, non-binary, and trans people who love other girls, boys, non-binary, and trans people. More importantly, we need to realize much of the groundwork done in our communities has been done by Black LGBTQ+ people.

June is Pride month. In that month, we see a confetti like burst of “solidarity” for LGBTQ+/ same gender loving folks. When the rainbow confetti is swept away and the flag flooded with colors comes down, it leaves the question of “so now what?” Especially after the continued and senseless violence enacted upon transwomen and the erasure of transmen.

Before any of you decide to snub your nose at celebrating pride or LGBTQ people, ask yourself these questions:

“Do I love to watch Pose or RuPaul’s drag race?”

“Do I say shade, read, the gag?”

“Do I sympathize with civil or uncivil disobedience?”

“Do I say sickening? Do I say realness, fish, or serving?”

If you answered yes to any of those questions then welcome to the celebration because you owe all of those things to the community. Especially the Black LGBTQ community!

Black people are trendsetters. We are the backbone of this society and have worked to create a culture that is our own. In doing that, Black LGBTQ+ people created a culture because there was a divide created in our community. Black people have adopted patriarchy and other Eurocentric ideals that have damaged our relationships with each other. We have othered a group of people within our community. Eurocentrism promotes othering and having a lower group to enact power over. Eurocentrism also encourages heteronormative societies while establishing gender roles to be followed. When we have people who don’t fit that structure, othering happens.

“Disagreeing with their lifestyle,” is an invalid, ignorant statement. A lifestyle is a choice. A lifestyle is something you can change. It’s a way of “styling” your life. Health and fitness is a lifestyle. Being “outdoorsy” is a lifestyle. LGBTQ+ people don’t go through life as heterosexual, then randomly one day wake up and say, “… it’s Saturday. I think … I think I’m going to be gay today.” That’s not how it works. People usually know they aren’t heterosexual or cisgendered early in their lives. We usually ignore children or shame them into hiding their true selves. We must stop this. We are causing detriments in our culture and denying the importance of our people in history when we do. We can’t beat, pray, or force people to change who they are to make others comfortable and we shouldn’t want to.

They are several people that made contributions in our community that are Black and LGBTQ+ . We have:

•Bayard Rustin

•James Baldwin

•Ernestine Eckstein

•Alvin Ailey

•Audre Lorde

•Andrea Jenkins

•Willi Ninja

•Angela Davis

•Marsha P. Johnson

There are so many more people that we could and should acknowledge in our community that created space and opportunity for Black people. We need to stop othering and exile homophobia from our communities and our lives. We should not be asking Black people to choose between their identities because intersectionality exist. Stop asking, “Are you Black first or are you [insert orientation or gender identity] first?” Learn the difference between orientation and gender. Learn/ educate yourself on the topic of gender or the social construct that it is. Your opinions about a person’s preferred pronoun doesn’t matter. Call them by their preferred pronouns.

We have many issues plaguing our communities. It’s time to retire homophobia and transphobia.

Get Uncomfortable!

I was at work, during a very slow hour, scrolling on Facebook. I saw this event for protesting Atlas (group) that same day at 5pm. Lucky me, I was off at 5pm. My bf came to scoop me and we headed straight there. It didn’t matter how tired I was, who we knew going or how many people would be there. Our support was needed, so we showed up. At the protest, we walked through the streets of Harbor East to Choptank, Ouzo Bay, and one other restaurant that belongs to the Atlas Group. There were people enjoying meals as if nothing ever happened. Black couples who may or may not have been informed were also in attendance. We shouted “Black Lives Matter, all the time,” “Don’t pay another cent, Atlas must repent,” “Boycott Atlas” and other phrases that conveyed the overall message. As the organizers of the protest gathered to the front center of the crowd, they gave a list of demands. I won’t list them all, but they included dropping the dress code across the restaurants and recognizing their acts of discrimination.

During the protest, it was business as usual, customers were ordering food and drinks, but then they had a crowd around the patio seating informing them of the behavior of the restaurant. They saw signs that said “Black Lives Matter.” They saw signs that said “White Silence = White Violence.” Some people thought it was a joke, laughing while we demanded justice, fairness and equality. Others decided to leave and some quietly moved their plates to more comfortable seating inside. While we protested outside of Choptank, they continued to increase the volume of the music. Another way for them to silence our voices – it was cool tho, we just got louder. Get uncomfortable!

I wasn’t shocked to see people patronizing the businesses still, but I was shocked at the fact that even with the information presented, it seemed that they couldn’t wait for us to move on. No one wants to face these injustices. They just want to live their daily lives as normal and carefree as possible. You don’t think that’s what we all want? Everyone does not have to be on the front lines or protesting but damn, don’t contradict our movements. We need to unify in order to be the force for change in this unjust ass world.

Personally, I know that I don’t have all the answers and I still have loads of information to educate myself on. I have come to a place in my life where I can’t be comfortable with just going to school, getting my degree and living the “American Dream.” I can’t be comfortable with staying under the radar just to avoid conflict while I’m watching so many Black people being discriminated against in a White world. I can’t be comfortable knowing that not only was Breonna Taylor shot in the comfort of her own home, but none of the known parties involved were arrested and sentenced for their crimes. I can’t be comfortable seeing videos of the beautiful soul that was Elijah McClain and feeling that pain of him no longer being with us. I don’t need to know these people personally to take this shit personal. Going forward, my goal is to create an environment where people can be Black and be surrounded by Black to build unity and trust within us so that we may thrive in our own communities. My goal is not to swap places with our counterparts or oppress others the way we have been for generations.

We need to be prepared and we need to take action. I am a Black woman who does not wish to live in fear for the future that lies ahead. I am a Black woman who wants to be a part of the change. I have started with educating myself, finding ways that I can support and showing up when it counts. We all have our day to day battles and struggles, jobs, and grievances and that is absolutely okay. Unfortunately, we weren’t dealt the hand that allows us to decompress and analyze on an individual basis. We have to play an active role every single day in fighting these battles. It may be a single post, signing a petition or simply patronizing Black owned businesses specifically. I have never seen a better time than now to be more active in this fight.

Stud Struggles: We Just Out Here Trynna Function

Studs/dykes/butches/bois/masculine-presenting women and the like: Throw down your PlayStation controllers and raise your picket signs because enough is enough! How many more cookouts, conversation parties, kickbacks, baby showers, and other events must we attend where the conversation quickly and unnecessarily shifts focus to our very private business? Business that in no way involves the stranger asking and likely isn’t even relevant to the vibe? Soon as we walk in, it’s like game night to these people and I will no longer be played with. I cannot tell you the number of times I have been minding my own business enjoying very casual conversation before being asked some of the following foolishness at the function:

“How does strapping work?”

“Do you strap or do you get strapped?”

“So, why not just be with a guy?”

“YOU want to carry a baby??” 

“So. Question about strap-ons…”

“Do you like head?” (And proceeding to not offer any)

“Excuse me sir…oh my bad yo. HAHAHAHA”

Can I eat my honey BBQ wings in peace? Is the sex life you imagine I have more popping than what you should currently be doing on a handstand, sis? This is a party! There is a time and place for people to ask queer women these questions, I’m certain. However, I would appreciate the opportunity to finish my Prosecco and two-step with my friends without being interviewed by a bunch of bored, tipsy, nosey individuals. Please do not ask me about my bedroom activities in front of the potato salad! Please respect that I am uninterested in disclosing my plan to conceive children with a stranger I just met in the club. Please understand that you are NOT low when you use a tipsy game of Never Have I Ever to ask if I also enjoy dick. This is what happens when there isn’t enough food at parties. Mouths find less productive ways to keep busy.

I came here to get lit, and these recycled questions are not it y’all. Please consult YouTube for any questions you have for the community because the information is plentiful. The site is booming with women willing to explain themselves to anyone watching. I know masculine women are quite interesting and very fine, but I also know that people (women, men, etc.) can make conversation with us that does not include sexual harassment and other invasive inquiries. Especially in environments that offer free or discounted liquor! So with that said, if she didn’t volunteer this kind of information, please refrain from harassing that gay lady at the Rona cookouts I know you’re having. Find a snack and keep it pushing.

A Dream or a Nightmare ?

By Donovan Peterson

The local governments of New York and Rhode Island competed to be the capital of the North American slave trade and by the early 1800’s, Newport and Rhode Island outpaced New York to be the top slave suppliers

That is just to say; racism was never purely a Southern issue. And I say this because I know that it makes white liberals feel a bit better if they can pawn slavery on rednecks in the Appalachia with character defects. While they aren’t necessarily wrong, this characterization is a misrepresentation at worst and a deflection at best. If a racist threatens to hang me, I will know my enemy; confirm him. Act accordingly. But silence among friends in the face of tyranny is both deafening and complicit. And confusing.

Racism in fact permeates just about every facet of society. I don’t understand what else anyone would expect after a society is built on slave labor and native land. It doesn’t go away magically after 400 years with a stroke of a feather pen and it doesn’t just stay in the South like mullets and hot chicken. Human minds and values were corrupted. A 250 year machine was constructed that stole lives from birth to death and decimated generations. That’s not 90 second rice.

I believe this why W.E.B Dubois coined a term “double consciousness”.

If you’d like an explanation, you probably have one of those supercomputer things in your fucking pocket that could help. But seriously, the knowledge of my history combined with seeing what feels tantamount to black murder porn several times over the past few years…it makes sense to say that being black in America has caused me irreversible mental anguish and sadness. It’s become an impossible task to compartmentalize it all, but at the same time I’m grateful and proud to be black and to be a small part of the mad man sort of resilience it takes to have some respect for yourself in a country that recently figured out that your people were indeed human beings not too long ago.

Black people have always expressed pain through music or art.

As a gesture of both this sadness and love that I feel; I asked my friends to come and say what they felt on a mic. One of my friends lost his freedom the day after he laid down his verse and I knew this was urgent. For us; there is no refuge. There is no choice. There is no South, East, West or North. There is no taking a uniform off. There is no silence. There is only continued struggle. There is only total liberation.

Click here to hear the contribution.

Donovan is a guest writer who currently resides from Baltimore. Although his beginnings are not in the city, he embodies the Baltimore spirit and drive. He is an artist, cat enthusiast, and writer for medium. He

Eight Years Later, We Have Another Black Body

I was a senior in high school in 2012. This was also the year every senior in high school watched Trayvon Martin’s murderer walk innocently out of a courtroom. We all watched the trial diligently. My friends and I just knew that he would be guilty and he would go to jail. Eight years later, I am still shocked by the verdict but somehow Black bodies are still being publicly executed. Black bodies are still being disregarded because they are Black.

The year every senior watch the mockery of justice.

At that time, I was 17 and the not guilty verdict turned my entire world upside down and inside out. I knew racism existed but I didn’t know just how deeply it was engrained into American culture. AntiBlackness is not a new phenomenon that suddenly swept the nation. It happens on a grand scale and especially in small circumstances. Looking back on my high school experience, there were several examples of antiBlackness and racism from classmates and teachers. I had a government teacher tell me to think of slavery as a “business venture.” A middle aged, balding white man who strongly resembled Lord Voldemort told a room full of Black students to not condemn slavery but consider it from a different perspective. “Consider it a great business that benefited the American economy.” Another history teacher decided to ask me how much of my box braids was actually my real hair. Never had he asked a white girl this question. Never had he picked of a lock of a white girl’s hair and examined it.

When Trayvon Martin died, I revisited the moments in my head. I had revisited the lessons on slavery, the murmurs from white kids who separated themselves from the Black kids, other non Black POC students smirking with glee when Black girls feened for their long silky hair, or white boys who found Black girls physically attractive but couldn’t take them home. All those moments added up in my head to just how society viewed Blackness and Black bodies. We weren’t just peers or children. We were Black boys and girls who became Black women and men who would be seen as a threat.

Trayvon Martin was seen as threat before he even entered the neighborhood of George Zimmerman. A 17 year old loving his life without regard for whiteness. A threat. A young Black boy freely walking without fears a threat. A young Black boy existing in his own space that didn’t serve whiteness in that moment. A threat. A young Black boy becomes dangerous when he puts on a hoodie because of the value whiteness has placed upon us. A Black body should be visible. A Black body needs to be announced; they need to see Blackness coming their way to determine what value they want to place on it. A hoodie becomes a shield and stereotype for Black boys.

Zimmerman was described as a white Hispanic. A term used to pacify his crime. His proximity to whiteness allows him access to innocence while being Hispanic condemns him. However, when your identity is associated with whiteness, you seem to have more leeway in a society that devalues Blackness and upholds and uplifts whiteness. You also have the keys to be just the right amount of racist. So racist that you can kill a child in cold blood.

After the murder, of course protests sparked around the nation. T-shirts and memorials all over to raise awareness. Even President Obama said, “if I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.” Yet somehow, after Trayvon was the unofficial sacrificial lamb to the Black Lives Matter movement (hence the Emmett Till comparisons), we still have Black bodies being brutalized. We still have public executions to keep our Black bodies from being as threatening as possible. The question is why?

Why is Blackness still a threat? Why is the value of the Black body not attached to the value of the things whiteness can take from it? Why does racism and antiBlackness still burdened the lives of Black people?

Racism is tightly woven into American culture. From the time European immigrants stepped on the shores of this land, they have done nothing but assault and erase people of color. They created laws that would uphold their ideals and power. Created loopholes in official documents that would allow racism to fester and spread. Span for hundreds of years and reinvent itself through various systems and vocabulary.

Before Trayvon was Rodney. After Trayvon was Sandra, Eric, Tamir, Freddie, Korryn, Philando, and many more. In the year 2020, eight years after my senior year and the death of Trayvon Martin, we have a slew of Black bodies being assaulted and brutalized. Obviously, we need change and we need justice. We need to redefine justice and how it is executed. We need a reform in policing, and most of all we need a shift in mindset, which is the hardest thing to do in a country that determines the value of your body based on what it can offer- including the satisfaction of invoking terror upon you- and what you look like. That is the hardest part. Accuracy in history and culture can create a shift. Representation and decriminalizing minuscule things associated with Blackness, like wearing a hoodie per say can create a shift.

As Dr. Angela Y. Davis once said, “we have to talk about liberating minds as well as liberating society.” This is the key to prevent Black youth from seeing more Black bodies lifeless in their lifetime.