it’s funny to see people that I know embrace Lena Waithe and her success that she’s gained as an openly Queer, Black woman. I’m totally here for queer Black success, and I genuinely wish continued prosperity to Lena in her career.
but when it comes to queer Black folk in people’s lives that they’ve known for a while now, all that grace and support seems to just dissolve, like honey in hot tea. as a masculine presenting queer Black person, I know this reality all too well.
It would be nice if people had more integrity in how they choose (cause it’s definitely a choice, FYI) who is worthy of support and who is not. this choice falls along many visible identity lines, including body type, skin color, perceived alignment with cisnormativity, etc etc.
choosing people to be worthy of support based on aesthetics alone is dangerous and, frankly, really fucked up. in an aesthetic-driven world, however, this is the reality that Black queer folks have to contend with for basic human respect and acknowledgement.
there’s also a convo to be had about how queer Black folks are seen as useful ONLY when we’re able to do things for others….
– things like free labor, particularly emotional labor. i DO love a good tea party myself, but coming to your queer friend every time you need to vent cause they’re totally good at listening but never really reciprocating when they’re in need of an ear is a very draining tea party that becomes less and less fun to participate in, no matter how hot and good that tea is.
– things like only engage with stereotypes of queer folks, like the queer friend being your go-to fashion person. it’s cool that you think they’re fly AF and their taste is super eclectic, but it aint cool to only use them when you need fashion advice.
– things like being a lab rat in someone’s sexual exploration process. your sexuality can and definitely should be explored, but not when it’s at the expense of someone via stringing them along with half-truths or flat out lying in order to hoard access to their body for YOUR enjoyment. this happens to all kinds of queer folks, and especially at the intersection of being Black; being fetishized for sexual exploration by a sexually curious (and often emotionally irresponsible) cishet is wrong on so many levels.
to many people, we are only seen as useful when we do things like this, and especially when those things are done for F R E E.
Black queer folks deserve so much better and so much more than what’s given to us by the world.
to tell the whole truth, we often agree to go along with being used and/or dehumanized cause the world we live in has already told us that as Black, queer, and (often) poor people that we are not worthy of baseline human respect.
dominant narratives in society show us and affirm the ideas that no matter what, fundamental aspects of ourselves are not worthy of respect, love, and recognition from anyone. not family, not friends, not teachers, co-workers, politicians, bosses, civil employees, professors, anyone.
unfortunately, we too are not immune from internalizing these beliefs. Queer Black folks receive these poisonous beliefs in the form of internalized negativity that often turns to hatred towards ourselves.
what results are toxic and damaging beliefs that taint our self-worth and self-image.
we become a mirror to the world that we exist in and, without an alternative narrative to tell us any different, become masochists in our own self-sabotage.
in a world that tells us that we are inherently useless, how do we give ourselves purpose? how do we make ourselves useful?
what often happens is that we make ourselves overly available to those around us as an attempt to dispel these ‘uselessness’ myths. we do all the things that mean that someone, anyone, will find value in us. EVERYONE learns these myths, queer or not, but everyone rarely gets the chance to unlearn them…especially us.
we may willingly give our advice, listening ears, and shoulders as a down payment in hopes that someone will give us theirs in our time of crisis.
we may willingly work long hours for not nearly enough pay in the hopes that our higher up will notice our work ethic and hopefully, one day, pay us what we’re actually worth.
we may willingly share our bodies with those who don’t deserve them just to receive touch, attention, and what can feel like affirmation and love.
we may willingly pursue degrees in institutions that never genuinely appreciate our contributions in the hopes that, maybe, perhaps, we can finally connect with people based on academic interests and form friendships and relationships that are lifelong.
we often do these things to a fault, to our detriment, grinding ourselves down to the bone just to maybe feel affirmation, love, and respect.
predators and abusers (who might not even be aware that they are predatory and/or abusive) manipulate and abuse these vulnerabilities to the point of complete physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual exhaustion. but we dare not complain or resist, or else we get gas lit, get the ‘unconditional’ love and affirmation stripped away, or worse, blame ourselves for just not being enough and feel the need to punish ourselves so that we will be better.
this can have us bedridden with depression and/or anxiety too strong to bear, in the ER hooked up to banana bags to replenish our bodies, in our bedrooms contemplating if life is worth continuing everyday, in unhealthy relationships with human leeches, and so on and so forth.
it’s horrible. it’s hell. it’s depressing. it’s fucked.
as someone who has experienced most of these outcomes throughout my lifetime and is now on a journey to reclaim myself fully, along with breaking apart these fucked up cycles, I pray that the world can become better for Queer Black folks, starting with ourselves.
self-love, positive self-worth, self-affirmation, a commitment to ourselves and our health is so necessary for pure survival in this world, and I know for a fact that most of our people don’t get nearly enough of those things to keep us around long enough to see that an enjoyable life can be a reality.
so many Black queerbies that I know go thru all this, and sadly we are often the ONLY support we have. the ONLY support.
blood family, friendships formed over decades, mentors, siblings, everyone turns their backs on us if it is more convenient and socially/emotionally safe for them to do so.
we are left behind by the dozens, seen as wholly disposable and not unconditionally worthy of help, and are lucky if we get an ounce of empathy from someone large enough to buy ourselves a cup of coffee.
I pray that all the people that have abandoned a Black queerbie that they claimed to love at any point in time viscerally feels that person’s pain & carries it with them all of their days.
I also pray that Black queer folks are able to find authentic, unconditional love & support, are able to heal from all of their scars, & can stand in their beauty and inherent worth and learn to love themselves first. it is necessary for survival.
the road to self-love is hard and full of obstacles and plain old traps formed to trick us to fall back into old ways, but the road is more than worth it.
coming into our full power, full beauty, full creativity, full humanity is so. worth. it.
the inherent worth comes from our pure existence and nothing more.
we exist; therefore, we are worthy.