Why I See My Queer, Black Existence as a Protest
What does it mean to be proud?
Being proud, to me, means loving my full self, and thus having a desire to be fully seen.
To be proud of yourself means, “to feel deep pleasure or satisfaction as a result of one's own achievements, qualities, or possessions.”
When I say I am proud of my identities as Black, queer, polyamorous, and gender non-conforming person, I mean these identities bring me deep pleasure.
I am proud to be queer because it is a testament to my values—that human beings are born inherently worthy of choosing their own experience.
Queerness is aligned with my belief that we come into this human experience to grow into the fullest, truest versions of ourselves. To be authentic and express our uniqueness, whatever that looks like for us.
Pride Season is a time I celebrate myself and reflect on the legacy that I have inherited.
I feel so much gratitude.
I know without a doubt that my experience in the world—my ability to express myself and love others authentically—is a direct effect of the organizing, protesting, educating, and healing done by LGBTQIA+ people who came before me.
I think of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera and Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, the trans women of color who led the Stonewall Uprising and all who gave of themselves in service of me being able to live a dignified, safe, and beautiful life.
It is because of their loving compassion, their unwillingness to accept a world in which our humanity was denied, that we celebrate Pride today.
We have inherited a better world because of them.
This moment we are in, this radical shift happening in our collective history, is a reminder that all justice movements are rooted in love.
Author and activist James Baldwin wrote: “The role of the artist is exactly the same as the role of the lover. If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don't see.”
Activism is a courageous, compassionate act—it comes from love and from loving human beings.
It is because we love each other that we work to create a world in which each of us can thrive, and reach our full potential.
Right now, we are in a moment of great awakening. People all over the world are becoming aware of the systems and scripts that are in place to maintain the status quo.
I feel like a veil is lifting—like the parts of our world that aren’t working towards the greater good are being exposed so that they can be transformed.
And I’ve learned it’s in those moments when the veil is lifted that we can tap into our truth and connect to our most authentic selves.
A few years ago, I attended a lecture by author, activist, and founder of The Body is Not An Apology, Sonya Renee Taylor, where she posed a question to the audience that changed the way I thought about the world.
She asked us to consider, “Who profits from my self-loathing?”
I asked myself: “Who benefits from me not loving myself? Who profits from me being ashamed of my queerness, my blackness, my hair, my body, my love, my expression, my sources of pleasure?”
The answer was clear: Systems of oppression benefit. The beauty industry, Eurocentric cultural standards, patriarchy, racism—are all upheld by people’s sense of self-worth being undermined and diminished.
When I do not see myself as worthy, I am less likely to stand up for myself when I am being oppressed.
When I do not see myself as powerful, I am less likely to use my power to create a different world.
When I do not see myself as deserving of a wonderful life, I am less likely to demand it, pursue it, and claim it.
When I love myself, when I accept and celebrate myself, I am actively resisting these systems. My very existence becomes a protest.
Research shows that having an impaired self-concept—holding negative beliefs or perceptions about one’s personal attributes— adversely interferes with a person’s ability to find happiness.
The way we see ourselves impacts the way we live our lives.
This Pride season, I encourage you to fall in love with yourself and to see yourself as worthy of a life full of things that bring you joy.
Honor your true self by taking steps to unlearn shame and self-loathing—to fully accept yourself, find peace within yourself, and treat yourself with compassion.
You matter, and you have always mattered, just as you are. Be kind and gentle with yourself, these days and always.
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