LGBT four letters you may feel indifferent about at best. Yet we’re all talking about them with a hyper-focus on the “T,” or transgender, and the visibility it seems to be getting. And whether it is for a political, social, or emotional reason, this topic is on the lips of every talk show host, podcaster, and problematic rapper.
Everyone who’s anyone has made their way into the chat and rightfully so, but let’s be honest here. We all know or love someone within the community, hell a lot of us (through a couple of self-help TikToks) might have realized that we, too, are a part of this community in one facet or another. So why all the conversation? Why the need to constantly dissect something that seems so black and white? Why does the “T” seem to stand alone and where do we go when we want to guide folks on how to learn more?
Many people have a legion of theories for why folks “turn out” the way they do, but the notion, specifically within the Black community, that says the absence of a male is the sole reason for “sissified” men takes the cake. I’ve heard this excuse used a million times to justify bigotry in the Black community and it’s a vast generalization, to say the least, but one that we’ve adopted as our truth nonetheless.
This conversation wouldn’t be whole without the mention of the grip that sexuality seems to have around the necks of Black manhood; even more, is the need to place the “blame” on Black women. And while there is room to have that conversation it’s not the only way we should tackle the reasons for vitriol around this topic in the Black community.
The lack of interest in other subsections of Black queer identities also comes to mind.
Some folks will take issue with the lack of dialogue we have around the Black lesbian struggle within Black family dynamics and social understanding. Some would say it’s a part of the reason we have so little conversation around Brittney Griner, a masc-affirming lesbian WNBA player who has been wrongfully detained for over 100 days in Russian custody.
“Far too often I am forced to decenter the Black man’s need to constantly talk through an emasculation that starts and ends with self and to have real conversations about the humanity and rights of others to thrive in a safe environment despite their sexual identity or gender expression.”
I am tired of the need to perform mental gymnastics for men who wish to remain daft and misinformed about their sovereignty! You’re a man because you said so. No one can take, will, or wish that away from you with “behavior,” clothing or media.
It’s past time to discuss our need to repress the Black woman’s experience with queer alignment in the Black community and it starts here.
In June, millions of Queer folks and allies alike seek solace in spaces dedicated to celebrating themselves while Black queer people navigate the nuances of how some of our Black family and friends will force us to choose between our Black identity and queerness as if the word intersectionality was never conceived.
As stated before, the nuance of being Black and queer presents folks with an array of questions, some of which have been presented above, but here’s where things become even more interesting. The infatuation with Black queer culture and the need to uplift it in some ways while damning it in others has always proven prominent. The use of Black queer talent in the church, fashion, and even social media is somewhat of an oxymoron in and of itself.
The constant reclaiming of things that gay men were crucified for like skinny jeans, man weaves, and the ever so appropriated “hoochie daddy” trend that yes wasn’t coined by gay men, but most certainly wasn’t celebrated by straight ones until recently either. The list of things that queer Black folks are nearly crucified for only to later have some socially acceptable heterosexual person make “OK” is endless and also insulting to the folks who’ve lost their lives, childhood, and general social experience is endless, but when you make the “choice” to be gay you don’t get to complain right?
Then there are Black trans folks, specifically Black trans women, who are dying at rapid rates due in large part to fragile masculinity and femininity gatekeepers. Black trans women are dying in record numbers in the same ways as Cis Black women and yet the conversation is swept under the rug because to have real conversations some Black folks would have to admit their negativity and phobias and the sheer mention of the latter seems to incite a visceral response.
This pride month I challenge folks to engage with the community rather than question the need for its visibility. Inspect your unconscious biases and believe the information you’re given rather than combat it or shut it down with your own lived experience. And do so to truly learn and see if you can make space to empathize at the very least, maybe then Pride Month won’t be the only month we get to discuss all of the issues Black people face and not just the ones that center the Black cis-het experience.