Today, October 11, 2020, is “National Coming Out Day.” National Coming Out Day is an annual observance that began in 1988. Its ostensible purpose is to celebrate Queer liberation and to honor those who have journeyed toward self-discovery, embraced new self-acceptance, and risked public scrutiny.
While decades of Queer observance, prides, media representations, laws, and practices have ushered incremental movement toward true liberation of Queer indivduals, there is a pervasive message that only certain manifestations of Queerness merit celebration–while others remain in the oppressive margins of mainstream society, on the fringes of public discourse, and at the mercy of continued racial, sexual, and gendered violence.
The “accepted” representations of Queerness are those for which whom you happen to love is the only aberration. That is, outside of sexual orientation, these individuals are accepted for their whiteness, their cisness, their educated-ness, and their socioeconomic status–or the extent to which their performance of these dimensions grants them protection or promotion in mainstream social discourse.
What we see as “acceptance” is merely the willingness to turn a blind eye to the single discrepancy of a same-gender-loving “lifestyle” in favor of subscription to white supremacist capitalist patriacrhal paradigms.
This is a regressive model that tolerates this individual, isolated “anomaly” in exchange for a preservation of a status quo. This is not liberation. Liberation exists in how we reject this status quo, how we redefine paradigms that center non-white and non-cishetero identities, and how we reimagine a world wherein our existence is embraced.
To this point, I reject the label of “gay” to describe by identity. To me, “gay” assumes a preservation of white cisheteronormative hegemonies that define accepted sociocultural and sociopolitical discourse.
This is why I embrace “Queer”.
Queer is different. Queer is abnormal. Queer is deviant.
Black folks, our very existence is queer.
To be Black is a gift. To be Queer is a blessing.
To be Black and Queer is a divine opportunity to live on our terms.
To be Black and Queer is to embrace identities that are aberrant. It is to reject white, patriarchal structures that have punished us for both our skin color and for how we navigate our humanness as social and sexual beings.
To be Black and Queer is to realize that we will never be accepted in our fullest authenticity. To be Black and Queer is to realize that we will never be embraced in all of our identities. To be Black and Queer is to recognize the divine opportunity in this realization.
As a Black, Queer man. I have worked very hard to be accepted. In this journey toward acceptance, I have had to acknowledge that this “acceptance” came at the rejection of one or more of my identities. I had to realize that my fullest existence lies outside of the pervasive social fabric. I had to accept that acceptance resides in how I choose to define myself and how I choose to reimagine the world that I create for myself.
I have had to embrace that fact that my expressions are not “normal”. I have had to realize that the binary that separates “friendship” and “relationship” is nonexistent–or at least exists differently. I have had to realize that my “culture” resides both within and outside of “Black” culture and “Queer” culture–it lies in a space that I have created for myself. It lies in a world that I have constructed for myself wherein I feel the safest and most empowered.
To be Black and Queer is to “come out” to a realization that we are not designed to exist in our current world, and that we are equipped with the tools to reconstruct or realities . It is to embrace “Queerness” not as aberration, but as liberation.