Update – Creatives speak on the intersection of Black and POC history, culture and Pride.
In June, many parts of the world supported Black Lives Matter and Pride month — two movements that are intrinsically connected. Queer history owes itself to Black culture and pioneers, and Black people have historically fought for queer rights. There are various defining moments in queer Black and POC (People of Color) history; a Black trans woman — Marsha P. Johnson — threw the first brick at the Stonewall Riots. The act led to a series of demonstrations that paved the way for the gay liberation movement of the ‘70s and ‘80s. James Baldwin, the pioneering American writer, spent much of his literary and activist career educating readers about Black and queer identity; his 1956 novel Giovanni’s Room details an American man’s feelings and frustrations with his relationships with other men, while Another Country addresses bisexuality, interracial relationships and extramarital affairs.
A seismic shift is happening in our culture. Black people and POC have fought for justice for hundreds of years — from the abolitionist movements that led to the end of slavery, to the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955 and the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2013. However, only recently did a greater part of the world shake up following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Belly Mujinga, Ahmaud Aubrey and more. People around the world have come together in the fight for racial justice, marching in the thousands at protests and donating to funds for those murdered as well as organizations such as the Black Lives Matter organization. There’s also been a rising level of support for Black-owned businesses, and for reading literature to educate ourselves.
I strongly feel that the Black and LGBTQIA community should rather gear their attention towards focusing on fixing the trauma within their own communities. There is a lot that needs to be worked out, whether it be Black men having absolutely no respect for Black women, light skin versus dark skin privilege, gays who are anti-trans. The list goes on. I think Pride month and Black History month are fine but the time is for action, the time is to vote and encourage the youth to vote. The time is to protect our own communities and champion smart, powerful, and coherent allyship.
Emeric Tchatchoua, founder and creative director, 3.PARADIS: The key to liberation is empathy, knowledge, and wisdom. Black people, POC and LGBTQIA+ communities need to keep educating themselves and others around them about the social oppression and injustice not only in America but all over the world. Knowing the past opens the door to a better future. We should all consistently stand united against social and systemic inequity, but we have to keep in mind that this is a long fight that has started decades ago (if not centuries ago).
We are currently fighting against a system, against beliefs that are so deeply embedded in the collective psyche and social institutions. These issues won’t be solved overnight, we have to keep on fighting against injustice at all times, keep on knocking on the doors of love and empathy, and never give up. Always fight and keep a leap of faith. A gorgeous wine takes time to mature. A flower takes time to bloom. A mountain needed time to form. It’s more about evolution than revolution.
Miss Jason, creator and face of Jason’s Closet: It starts with listening to us. Homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia weren’t invented by the Black community but it’s something that over time has been ingrained into our culture. But Black lives can only matter when all Black Lives Matter. Until every Black person is willing to be accountable for each other there won’t be progress. Progress comes when as a people we can understand that there is nothing wrong with embracing your masculinity and your femininity. I personally have no problem with expressing either and the hope would be that in this quarantine period people are reading and exposing themselves to the information that’s already out there. Empathy, acceptance, and compassion are ways in which we can make a start in uplifting each other. Also, a message to cis straight men… not everyone’s checking for you boo!
Rasharn Agyemang, creative director, stylist, photographer: I think we really need to focus more on black queer POCs in the media, showing more affection, love and compassion – something I’m not used to seeing much when it comes to black people in the media, and especially gay POC. I understand it’s important to talk truthfully and openly about things that are affecting the community but at the same time, there are many wonderful things about being an openly gay man – not always the story of abuse, or fear, and loneliness. I would love for the next generation to not be scared of coming out to their families and friends. I think we have seen the gay experience from the white person’s perspective for so long it’s time to tell other stories. It’s time to use our voices and include each other as it’s the only way we will be able to learn more about one another.
Sippin’ T, co-founder BBZ, a Black queer art and DJ collective: Black LGBTQ+ folk have a legacy of and continue to, uplift wider black communities and non-Black LGBTQ+ communities, unfortunately without recognition most of the time. Firstly, I think it’s really on POC and white LGBTQ+ people to come through with the same level of consistent support and action they have been shown throughout the ages by queer Black people; redistribution of wealth, calling out anti-Black racism and not gentrifying Black culture among other things, are important starting points. Secondly, hetero Black folk need to prioritize deconstructing their internalized misogyny which will assist with dismantling transphobic and homophobic attitudes; I think this is the best way for them to support queer Black folk.