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Issue 17 Out Now

IN LIVING COLOR

Updated: Apr 6, 2021


Learning to Live and Love Aloud

As the nation celebrates Black History month and the countless ways Black people across the diaspora have lived in and loved a world that rarely loves us back, it is important to remember the invaluable contributions Black queer folx have made toward our collective histories as Black people. During a time of righteous celebration and solemn remembrance, it is necessary to reaffirm the existence, history, and impact of queer people within the global Black community. The social advancements Black people in America have made cannot be separated from the contributions of queer Black people like Barbara Jordan, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Marsha P. Johnson, and the millions of unnamed who served and continue to serve as integral parts of the Black freedom struggle. In light of their selfless sacrifices for human rights, I offer these words.

To be visibly queer is to choose your happiness over your safety.“Visibly” meaning fem(me). “Visibly” meaning large and public platform. “Visibly” meaning unapologetic. “Visibly” meaning having a Queerness that, even if you wanted to, cannot be hidden. — Da’Shaun Harrison

On December 8, 2016. I arrive at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport eager to enjoy the few weeks of rest back home before my second semester as a freshman at Howard University would begin. As I leave the plane I quickly take off the coat I had worn in the DC airport since Dallas typically has one season with a few cool days here and there, and this was not one of those days. As I make my way toward the baggage claim area, I order an uber, and am captivated by a young girl who couldn’t be more than 3 years old singing at the top of her lungs, “I’m so fancy, you already know.”


Naturally, I am tickled. I’m thinking this is just the cutest thing ever. Since she was so young, the young girl didn’t know many words beyond the first sentence, so every 2 minutes or so, I would just hear her belting aloud, “I’m so fancy, you already know.”


Her parents weren’t so entertained, however, and in an effort to force her to behave more in line with the behaviors of those around, they instructed her to stand with the luggage and make sure nothing went missing. The girl’s parents unload bag after bag and sit them down next to the little girl who — still — like clockwork is singing aloud. The girl’s parents turn their back to her hoping she would quiet herself in light of their disengagement. Noticing her parents turn away and walk closer the carousel, the young girl tries to run after them. Unfortunately, as result of the luggage fort created around her. the young girl is stuck under her family’s baggage. As any small child would, the young girl began to cry and cry and cry, as the baggage was simply to heavy for her to move alone.


4 days later, I learned what it must’ve felt like to be that little girl. I came out as gay via a public video posted to all my social media accounts, and quickly found myself swallowed underneath society’s baggage. My family turned their back and could no longer see me. I was left to sing alone. This is what it is to experience homophobia. For no other reason than — like the young girl in the airport — living aloud.

Black boy, I hope you never learn how to be Jesus. How to hang on a cross for a “sin” you did not choose.How to be murdered in front of your mother because the world doesn’t accept you. How to convince a world to love you despite how impossible you seem. I hope you never learn how to be Jesus . — Durmerrick Ross

According to the CDC, queer youth are almost five times as likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual youth. In this year’s Studio Responsibility Index published by GLAAD, studies revealed that out of the 119 films released in 2019 by 6 major film studios, only 22 of them merely included queer characters. What does it mean to live in a world where your existence is accompanied by such horrific realities? How then do we find the unfathomable strength to — in the midst of a world that prefers our silence — live aloud?

The story of the young girl in the airport does not end in tragedy, however.

A bystander noticed the young girl drowning in the luggage and reached out to pull her up and stood there until the girls family returned to find her. How do we create a world where each of us, like the bystander, is aware and compassionate enough to reach out and pull one another from whatever social baggage that consumes us?

So many times in our lives, Queer Black people are told to live a little more quietly; to not be so “extra”; to not be so “loud” to accept a second class citizenship. Yet, every day, there are those of us who choose — and others who are robbed of choice — to live and love aloud.

To be a Queer Black person choosing to live and love aloud is to know the truest form of love and life. A love and life that despite oppression and bigotry, knows no bounds. A love and life that despite having valid reasons to contain itself, fills every space it enters. A love and life so humane, so pure, so limitless, it forces a mirror in the face of an ugly society and demands it be better.

Put a different way, to be a Queer Black person learn to live and love aloud is to show the world what it means to exist in living color.

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