I came out when I was 16 years old. For the longest time I knew something was “wrong” but I couldn’t put my finger on it. At first I thought it was because I was Black and being treated as a second class citizen in my Ft. Worth, Texas high school. But after a short, but memorable, black activist moment I still felt the same unsettling feeling. I then embarked on a feminist binge, reminding anyone that would listen that women held up half the sky…whatever that means. It was only after that that I began to deal with the fact that my identity wasn’t just that of a Black woman, but a gay Black woman.
It’s taken a long time to recognize that all parts of my identity are equal and important. As a young dyke in San Francisco I tried desperately to fit into the predominately white gay culture by denying parts of myself. I wouldn’t say anything about being the only person of color at an event, or the fact that certain white women were happy being my friend, but could never date me, because you know…
I tried to connect with a small, but active Black community at Stanford, but tired of the constant subtle homophobia and ignorance that occurred when I voiced LGBT issues. So, I silenced myself in those environments and listened to spoken word artists talk about Black liberation in one line and “batty boys” with the next.
It was only when I acknowledged that the same people that hated me because I was Black likely also hated me because I was gay. And they probably weren’t so keen on me being a woman either. Bringing my full authentic self to all of my environments and groups was the only way to help people understand that we had some of the same common oppressors. Not letting folks in any of my “movements” get away from recognizing that all of me is necessary [to get] some of me. And it has made a huge difference in my life. Not only am I happier and healthier, I know in small ways I’ve changed the way that people think about the complexity of identity. I am a proud BLACK QUEER WOMAN and all of those labels apply all the time, regardless of setting.