Yes, I’m Queer

I was 4 or 5 years old when I first developed my queer analysis.

At the time, my family was very religious, and as I sat in our place of worship – my mind freely wandering in toddler dreams – I was quickly brought back to reality when a fellow worshipper proclaimed that they could no longer listen to “Macho Man” because it was an anthem of gay expression.

I vividly remember thinking “what’s wrong with men liking men?

Fast forward a decade, and I was in high school. Hormones racing in the flourish of puberty, my sexual identity was intertwined with adolescent growing pains. Through this socio-biological rush, I realized I liked girls. I was attracted to them, enjoyed them, and was comfortable being in sexual partnership with them. In between hushed rumors and teenage angst, I came out as bisexual and — surprisingly — received unequivocal support for my sexual character.

But even with this label, I didn’t feel wholly captured. I didn’t feel represented, nor did I feel completeSomething didn’t seem right, and once in college — with the opportunity to reinvent myself with sophistication, maturity, and access — I dropped the “bisexual” label, while still holding my sexual complexion.

I grew up believing that “queer” was a vicious pejorative used to demean people who identified as LGBT. But while in university and through unintentional political education, I soon found that “queer” was an acceptable term. Still, I didn’t hold the term in personalized depth. “Queer” was terminology outside of myself — a linguistic expression that I respected although it didn’t define my sexual ipseity.

But once removed from college, radicalized in my reliable pro-Black feminist framework that solidly influenced and refined my critical observations of systemic and cultural oppression, queerness spoke to me with urgency, ferocity, and safety.

I no longer approached queer analysis as a spectator or ally, but as a student … a calling.

Of course, this process didn’t happen overnight. It took months — years — of reflection. It took recall; of thinking back to those moments when I found myself outside the stigma of bisexualism, but still within the confines of it. Still attracted to both women and men, though in different ways. Still open to and enthusiastic about sexual partnership with women under a specific set of circumstances beyond my immediate control.

These definitions of “queer” helped clarify my sexual complexion:

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 1.01.59 AM

But the most profound, transformative, and pivotal impact on my sexual expression has been my commitment to the Black Lives Matter Movement. A Movement with clear uncompromising principles of queer inclusion, I’ve embraced all parts of my Black self. I’m confident in my ability to come whole. My sexual vulnerabilities are centered because such uncertain vulnerability is the product of heteronormative patriarchy — and by extension, white supremacy. I don’t need to impugn or challenge myself to fit into standardized and violent edicts that don’t speak to or acknowledge the strength, love, and courage of my Black sexual womanhood.

My sexual identity need not be wrapped in oppression, confusion, and self-doubt. And it no longer will be. So today, I say, with no reservations or ambiguity, I’m queer. 

photo 1Arielle Newton, Founder/Editor-in-Chief. Get at me @arielle_newton. Get at us @BlkMillennials. Learn more about our BM Fellowship Program here.

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6 responses to “Yes, I’m Queer

  1. Very relatable! I’m still not at the place where I’m completely comfortable enough to be open to people about my sexuality ( I’m bi in a hetero relationship and people generally don’t question it). Sometimes it seems as though there’s a piece of myself that I’m hiding from people. A piece of myself I only feel comfortable expressing by way of social media. Hopefully with time I’ll be in a similar place as you mentally– unapologetically accepting of every part of myself =)

    Great piece! Thanks for sharing!

    Like

  2. I’ve noticed something over the past decade or so. It seems that many black women who are involved in pro-black movements are gay or bisexual. Over the last few years I’ve even seen more black feminists come out as lesbians. I remember hearing years ago that even the great pro-black icon of the 70’s Angela Davis came out and is living with a white woman. What!! What’s going on here? And for the record,you can’t fight white supremacy and sleep with whites. Sorry that doesn’t work. That is counterproductive. I know all the interracial lovers don’t want to hear that. But it’s the truth.
    Anyway,have you noticed this trend?

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    • I think many women and men in the pro-Black movement come out as queer because the space (for the most part) is welcoming and safe for Black folks to be their true, healthy selves. Those who are the most oppressed are best poised to fight oppression.

      And I disagree with you about interracial dating. I wrote a piece about why it’s acceptable for Black folk to date white people, even while fighting white supremacy https://blackmillennials.com/2015/04/06/interracial-politics-of-pro-blackness/

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      • I think white supremacy does a great job if confusing our people. And as we all know…confusion is the enemy to revolution. Most black people I’ve met who believe you can date whites and still fight WS usually are attracted to whites. And seek a relationship with them. Also many homosexuals that are black seem to believe this as well. A couple of points that may clear up my position:

        Agrees that we live under a global system of people who classify themselves as white, and are dedicated to abusing, and or subjugating everyone in the known universe whom they classify as not white.
        Agrees that the biggest problem on the planet is racism/white supremacy
        Makes some effort by his or her thoughts, speech, and actions to eliminate the system of white supremacy
        Is “black-identified” — meaning they view the world through a “black perspective” that validates self, respects self, and promotes self AND group interests
        Does not confuse “assimilation/integration” with whites as “black progress” or “racial equality”
        Understands that blacks “assimilating” into a white supremacy system is “subjugation” NOT “integration”
        Understands that blacks who control nothing cannot be “equal” (in power) to whites who control everything
        Does not elevate blacks with a white parent as superior to blacks who have two black parents — and does not praise blacks for looking more white than black
        Does not blame poor blacks (the biggest victims of white supremacy) for being poor and black.
        Does not blame black people for the crimes of the white supremacy system
        Understands that knowing AND respecting their history is the KEY to black liberation
        Understands that the ONLY true ally of the black male is the black female and the ONLY true ally of the black female is the black male
        Understands that the FAMILY is the foundation of every human society
        Understands that RESTORING THE BLACK FAMILY should be the number one priority of the black collective
        Understands that an authentic BLACK FAMILY is composed of a black man, a black woman, and a black child (or black children)
        Understands that it takes strong, committed black males and black females to build strong black families
        Understands that it takes strong black families to build strong black communities
        Understands that it takes strong black communities to build strong black business/economic bases
        Understands that WITHOUT strong black families, strong black communities, and strong black business/economic bases, the black collective lacks the tools for prosperity, security, AND survival
        Understands that none of the above is possible without BLACK UNITY
        Understands that OPPOSING INTERRACIAL SEX has NOTHING to do with hating white people
        Understands that opposing (and avoiding) interracial sex is necessary to ensure the economic, political, genetic, and psychological SURVIVAL of blacks in America
        Understands that interracial sex (dating, breeding, and marriage) should be avoided/opposed because it destroys black UNITY.
        I hope this clears it up for you. Thank you.

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  3. Pingback: How 4 Black Lives Matter activists handle queerness and trans issues - Ice Trend·

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