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.

The Pen is Mightier Than The Sword: A Conversation with A Poet

Baltimore is a hub for artistry. We have musicians, painters, writers, and of course poets. One poet in particular has created a name for herself through words and select readings of her work. Her work is ” [a] getaway from the world ” and healing for the poet. 

Meet Ashley Elizabeth, the writer and teacher with a knack for storytelling through verse for over a decade. Ashley started writing fiction in elementary school, poems in seventh grade, and creative non-fiction in college. She creates glimpses into the world with her work. Her poetry as she described are ” more condensed version of that story that packs that story in a small, vibrant punch.” Ashley Elizabeth’s most recent work is her first published book titled, “you were supposed to be a friend.”

you-were-supposed-to-be-a-friend-glory

It is a collection of delicate yet tough realities about the brutalities of unrequited love. It’s vulnerable. It’s soft. It’s true. It’s definitely worth the read. Ashley gave us insight to what it’s like to be a teacher and poet.

What is your full name?
My name is Ashley Evans
Do you have a poet/author name?
My poet name is Ashley Elizabeth.
When did you start writing?
I started writing fiction in elementary school, poetry in middle school, and creative nonfiction in college.
How do you define writing? Poetry? How would you define your poetry?
I define writing as putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and telling a story in a way only you know how to tell. Poetry is a more condensed version of that story that packs that story in a small, vibrant punch. My poetry is a little of this a little of that. I write about different topics, such as blackness, womanhood, family, abuse, and more. It’s my getaway from the world when I cannot physically get away. It’s my release; it’s my healing.
How long have you been a poet?
I’ve been writing poetry since about 7th or 8th grade, so that’s around 12-13 years or so.
What inspires you (to write)?
My community inspires me to write, my pure existence as a black woman. The love I have for my partner. The hate I have for oppression. The secrets I have, the constant thoughts running through my head. My trauma is definitely up there on the list as well. Murky relationships between family and non-family members.
How did you start doing readings?
I started doing readings by simply responding to calls for writers and being lucky enough to be chosen. My very first reading was with Yellow Arrow Publishing in April 2018 after I responded to a call for writers who write about Baltimore. From a couple readings, I have been solicited to do other readings.
Tell us about Ashley, outside of writing.
Outside of writing, I am a teacher at a Montessori school in Baltimore. I am also a freelance writing consultant/editor/proofreader. I live in my partner in Baltimore County, and when I’m not writing, I’m looking for great spots to eat and experience life, reading, or playing video games.
When and why did you become a teacher?
Originally, I did not want to teach at all. I have a psychology degree, but an experience I had teaching in Jamaica, available through my university, changed my mind completely. The students were bright and eager. They wanted to learn, and I wanted to keep sharing my gifts and knowledge when I came back to the States. After I graduated, I landed a job teaching in Baltimore City, and I’ve been in education in some way ever since.
Does being a write help you as a teacher? Do you incorporate writing into your teaching style?
I wouldn’t necessarily say it makes me a better teacher, but it does make me a better processor in evaluating needs of my students. I have both creative writing and more academic work structured into my classroom routines as both are important for different reasons.
Who inspired you to teach?
My kids in Jamaica and all the amazing teachers I’ve had along the way, especially the late Ms. Nevel. I wish I just had one more day with her.
Who is your favorite writer?
That’s a tough question. I like the work of many people as everyone brings something new to the table, and I appreciate the variety greatly.
Do you have a favorite book? if so, what is it?
Not really, that’s like picking a favorite child, and that’s sacrilegious in my line of work. I just really love to read. The most current book I’ve read that had me feeling all the feels was The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. That is definitely high on my list.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writer and teachers?
To aspiring writers: Keep writing no matter what. There will be times you want to give up and get rejections from submissions/residencies and be the bridesmaid but never the bride, but do not let that stop you. Keep writing and reading and working towards however you define success as a writer. It will come. Try to write everyday, but know that it is okay to put a piece down for a nap and come back to it later. For teachers: Teach the new generation to the best of your ability (obviously) but also listen to them. believe in them. Hug them when you can. All they need is love and support. Know that you may not be able to reach all of your students, but try your damnedest.
If you could anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
Right now, I’d go back to Jamaica, but I would only stay in the home stay I stayed in the first time I went. There’s something about the summertime that makes this non-beach girl want to go to the beach, eat some amazing food, dance, and not have a care in the world. (Ask me this again later, and you might have a completely different answer.)
Ashley is actively writing, reading, and tweeting. Keep up with her updates via Instagram or Twitter.

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.

My Kind of Weird

We all know the bittersweet feeling of hanging with your best friends for the weekend, then having to say goodbye before the week begins again. We all wished for secret tunnels that led to one another so that the fun could continue but that never happened. Well, living with your partner is kind of like that but way better because there are no rules.We can stay up all night and eat pizza for breakfast if we want. You also get to laugh endlessly with someone who understands you more than anyone else. In my personal experience, living with my partner is a journey of love, friendship, and balance.

In 2018, I found myself on Tinder, swiping right on this handsome, brown skin man with locs. I just ended a 6 year situation-ship and was ready to let it go. It was the type where sex was guaranteed, he was familiar and I hadn’t found anyone who could keep my interest. I wished that I would run into a fine stranger at the supermarket or the bar but that only seemed to happen in movies, so I gave online dating a try. With Tinder, it was easier to meet people, but I had to filter through the crazies. There was this one time I hung with a match who seemed pretty cool — until the liquor kicked in. Things were going well until he felt some chemistry that I had no idea existed. He kept leaning in for a kiss after every laugh like I signaled him then he had the audacity to tell me that he wanted me to give him the daughter he wanted so badly. Red flag! Sir, I don’t want your baby and I really want to go home now, but there was Henny to be finished. I’m ashamed to admit, but I entertained him until my lil’ honey bun came into the picture. Once I met my baby, it was a wrap.

My favorite Tinder match was this is anime-loving, nap enthusiast who is my kind of weird. I always find myself super awkward in social situations but with him, I could relax. The day we met in person, I was completely hungover and tired from work — yes I worked my 9-5 with a hangover. We went to the park and he pushed me on the swings. He felt up my butt a little, but I was into it. All I really wanted was fresh air, a shower, and water, but even feeling as gross as I felt, I stayed out as long as possible to be with him a little longer. Even with only knowing me a few weeks at the time, he made sure I had everything I needed and I never questioned his motives; mostly because I had my own. I didn’t bring a spennanight bag but thats surely what I did.

We would do dance tutorials from YouTube and have the most raw conversations. The chemistry between us was undeniable. From the time we met, we were open with each other about our interests, fears, and personal battles. Not only was I attracted to this man, but he was turning out to be an actual friend. We didn’t have a relationship where sex was the only intimacy we shared. Most of the time, we took naps that lasted until morning. I started staying the night more often and then those nights turned into me moving in.

One cold day in January, we went to my place to gather more essentials, even though my side of the dresser was bulging, when he suggested that I move in. We were dating for eleven months once I moved in with him; I was never home and it made sense financially. There was a roommate at the time, but things still worked out. We had family dinners, blasted Soca and Dancehall, and smoked…a lot. They introduced me to fetes, we got wasted at The Mt. Royal Tavern and finished off some nights dancing at the Crown. These were some of my most memorable nights. It was always a good time escaping reality, but in the morning, we always had to face it.

Individually, I’ve been working on my mental health and that in itself is a journey; what I didn’t expect was that this man would be willing to take this journey with me. One day on our way pick up our pizza order from a carryout, everything seemed normal, but I was feeling uneasy for some reason. Just a few moments after, I was sobbing uncontrollably with no explanation to give. He never made me feel embarrassed or that I had to hide my mood swings and anxiety. He grabbed napkins from the glove box to give me, gently kissed my face a bunch of times and asked what he could do. I’ve always had people around me who cared, but it’s different when someone sees the parts of you that you hide and wants to go even deeper. Not having to worry about shielding him from parts of myself allowed me to confront my issues. He persuaded me to see a therapist again and I’ve been going consistently for the last year and a half. He’s always rooting for me to win and knows that success for one of us is success for the both of us. Naturally though, we pick on each other whenever we get the chance — just to keep it interesting.

I fell in love with a man who is sensitive, protective, passionate, and unapologetically Black. Sometimes he wants to be my surprise sparing partner and other times he’s chasing one of our cats down the hallway. I never know what the next day will be but it’s always another opportunity for us to grow and learn new things about one another. I also fell in love with the person I’m growing to be. In this relationship, I believe our comfortability makes it easy to be able to tell each other anything. This is how we build and maintain trust with one another. One thing we really had to learn is that we can’t always succeed in making each other happy but it’s important to be there in the ways that we can. I’ll always have someone to tell me when I’m being dramatic, back me up when I need it and help me plot escapes to islands. Having a partner who is also my best friend was something I didn’t know I needed until I had it.

Baltimore on Tinder

Why is it so difficult to find a decent Tinder date in Baltimore? Let’s face it – Baltimore has a bad rep concerning the physical attractiveness of its citizens. We’ve all heard it. People in other cities just really seem to think we’re ugly.  We’ve seen our city appear on various lists of places with the least attractive people, and we’re constantly reminded on social media.  Earlier last year, the entire city was roasted when the #FinePeopleFromBaltimore hashtag was trending. Between the initial unimpressive selfies and the many (equally unimpressive) follow up selfies intended to “help” the movement, it was the biggest social media L of the year. Citywide disrespect. Although some of our own natives agree with this negative sentiment, most of us seem just fine dating one another. I happen to find a beautiful woman or nice-looking man almost everywhere I go. Gorgeous, stylish people are all over Baltimore, but looks are not the problem with our tiny online dating pool.  Whether you’re looking on Tinder or OkCupid, the profile content is horrendous! While online dating can be bleak in any area, the profiles I see in Baltimore are just ridiculous.  Let’s examine some of the unattractive content that holds us back:

  1. Basically Cursing People Out in Your Bio

If I had a dollar for—you know what, never mind. So many bios are filled with SO much aggression that the reader is exhausted by the time they get through it all. The pure, unfiltered negativity will make you want to get up and take a walk. This kind of bio typically reads like this:

“I’m here, but I’m not here for the close-minded foolishness. I’m not the one for petty games! F*ck your opinion cuz it’s worthless tbh. F*ck you if you childish. Please don’t be ugly. This site is pointless, but I’m bored so I guess. Not really on here like that, so if we match and I don’t reply, oh well. Don’t be dry in my messages. Positive vibes ONLY [random heart emoji].”

If your profile looks like this and you ARE NOT intending to scare people or make them want to fight you, consider a change? Love you.

2. Clearly Throwing Shade at Past Flings

This is Smalltimore after all, but even if we can’t name your target, we can tell there is one. These profiles make it obvious that the last person you dated annoyed you so much that you felt the need to forewarn the public. Not cute.

3. Acting Too Cool For Online Dating

This kind of profile is similar to number 1, but far less angry. They try to seem like they don’t care to be on the site even though they took the time to sign up. Every other sentence in these bios reminds the reader that this person does not give a damn about this bio, potential dates, nor themselves.

Image result for tupac juice gif dont give a damn

4. Already Making Excuses for Terrible Dates (or lack thereof)

These are very popular for the men. These bios will actually spew cheap garbage like “Not here for material b*tches” or “Let’s vibe first and see where it goes.” They are letting the internet know that the women they’re courting are not deserving of their scarce funds. This is really happening. These are the profiles to swipe left or even block unless you want a (at best) mediocre smoke session in someone’s mother’s basement as a first date.  That’s putting it VERY lightly.

If the internet doesn’t find you a date in this city, it will certainly give you something to laugh and think about. As we near the third decade in this increasingly digitized world, online dating will likely increase from common to the normal way we meet potential partners and friends. Some people would say it’s the norm now. Online dating is taking over the dating world, and that includes us, Baltimore. If we’re going to do this thing, let’s do it for real!

What are the most bizarre things you’ve seen on dating sites in Baltimore? Have you had any interesting dates? Comment below and let us know.