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Shamari Reid| October 16, 2019

to go back follow the Prince

You: When did you realize you were gay?

Me: I’m not sure I understand the question…..

 Unless you mean, when did I gain experiential knowledge about the dangers of homophobia? Or when I learned that folks would (and were legally able and socially expected to) hurt me physically, spiritually, and emotionally because of my sexual identity:: Or when I arrived at the sobering realization that heterosexist sticks and stones could break my bones; And words could too:: Or did you mean to ask how much it cost my humanity to learn that when I brought up bullying and harassment to my teachers, they would respond by bullying and harassing me too::Or when I found out that telling people about the homophobia I faced would almost always invite them to say, "just keep your head up, be proud of who you are" as if my pride was the problem. In fact, it was often my pride that "got me in trouble":: When I learned that my identity was too inappropriate to be discussed in schools:: Or when I learned how expensive it was for me to not enjoy sports:: Or enjoy Beyoncé too much:: When I first felt the anxiety of having to go to the barbershop:: Or when I learned that God loved all of her children, except me:: Or when I learned how dangerous it was for me to even look at dolls, move my wrists with style, walk with grace:: When I had to consider the idea that I might never know what embracing my partner in public would feel like...Or feel it and never live to speak about how it felt.

:: When I learned that my Black LGBTQ+  ancestors had been....

disappeared...

When I learned that some folks thought that Black people were 3/5 human; And that some people thought that cuz I was gay, I was only 3/5 Black::

When I learned that no matter what I did, when given any platform, the world would only wanna know….when I knew I was gay.

Yet, I’m never allowed to ask when they knew they were heterosexual. Or, when they became aware that they were homophobic.

 

When did I know I was gay? 

I don’t know, always, but I do remember when I learned that some people didn’t think I mattered.

-- These were the lessons of my childhood that I think you’re asking about.

However, I’ve learned many more things as an adult. 

In recent years, I’ve learned that I belong to a community of beautiful Black trans and queer  people who know we are worth fighting for. And that we are worth loving. And that our Black LGBTQ+ lives are worth living.

As an adult, I have learned that in the spaces free from societal restraints and expectations where creative prowess and imagination are unleashed; where you are not expected to be anything,  you can be everything. I am everything. We are everything. 

What if I had learned these things as a child? 

---

So, what exactly are you asking me?

to go back follow the Prince