Q1: What is your earliest memory of realizing your sexuality/gender identity? What was that like?
A: My earliest memory was in elementary school on the playground. I was friends with this boy and we were playing on the monkey bars. He was smiling at me and I felt butterflies in my stomach, but I was confused because at that age my mind was set up that I should’ve only felt that way about girls so I pushed the feeling aside.
Q2: What is something you wish someone would’ve done for or said to you during your earlier years of finding/accepting yourself? What is something YOU would tell your younger self or others?
A: Something I wish that someone would’ve told me when I was learning to accept myself is “God doesn’t hate you nor has he forsaken you. Build your own relationship with God within yourself and not off of how others think God sees you.”
I would tell my younger self or those younger than me seeking acceptance of themselves that it’s okay to be different. Don’t allow others to silence you or you voice. You deserve respect just as much as straight people.
Q3: What was it like for you to accept yourself? Was acceptance of yourself contingent upon the acceptance from peers/loved ones?
A: Accepting myself was hard. I was stuck on religion based upon how others felt God felt about me. The acceptance of myself began seeking acceptance from family. However, it took time for my mother and older individuals to accept me for who I was as a gay black male. Coming out put a strain on my relationship with my mother which tore me apart, because we were always so close and for the first time I felt she wasn’t there for me. Also, I was apart of an organization at school that was in the spotlight, coming from a smaller town being gay was something that you were bullied or ridiculed for… therefore I thought college in a bigger city would be the same.
Q4: How did you come to understand your identity? Are there some things you do still don’t understand about yourself or others within the LGBTQ+ community?
A: I came to understand my identity through the acceptance and guidance from one of my best friends. She never made me feel less and helped me the best she could with whatever I was dealing with. One thing I will say that I don’t understand about our community is how we are so quick to attack others within the community. Specially gay males attacking and tearing down trans women.
Q5: Did you come out or did you just start living in your truth? Do you feel like coming out is necessary/required? Why or why not?
A: I slowly began trying to live my truth after I came out to one of my friends. At first I felt coming out was necessary and required, however after I told my mother I didn’t feel that urge to “explain” who I was to anyone anymore.
Q6: Do you feel like your sexuality/gender identity is apart of who you are or a part of you that you can grow “in and out of”?
A: I do believe that my sexual identity is who I am. I personally don’t think you can grow in and out of it.
Q7: Has religion/spirituality had any kind of affect on your journey to accepting yourself (good or bad)? If so, how does that affect your view and/or practice of religion/spirituality today?
A: Religion has had a huge impact on my journey of acceptance. It began off impacting me in a negative way, because the household I grew up in being gay was something that was shameful and frowned upon. As time went on I developed my own personal relationship with God. This relationship affects my view that I don’t have to prove anything to anyone, as long as I am strong within him I am strong anywhere.
Q8: What do you see for yourself in the future? Does the current state of the world have any affect on that vision?
A: I see myself married with children and working in my career. The current state of the world does affect that vision due to hatred in the world, however that will not stop me from living my truth and following my dreams.
Q9: As someone who identifies as ____, what do you wish heterosexual/cisgendered people were more considerate of/knowledgeable about?
A: As someone who is an effeminate black gay male something I wished others were more knowledgeable about is the difference between that and transitioning. I choose to express my masculinity and femininity, which does not mean I identify as transgender.
Q10: When people say they accept you, what are some green flags that indicate that they do? What are red flags that indicate that they don’t? When it comes to people showing support, what is your biggest pet peeve(s)?
A: When people say they accept me a major green flag is them not having to say they accept me at all. A true green flag is when I meet someone they treat me as normally as they would anyone else. I especially value this green flag with my heterosexual black male friends.
Red flags are people saying things such as “I fuck with you, but I ain’t with that gay shit.” That right there makes me pull away, because you are assuming that because I’m gay and you are a male that I want you and that’s not the case.
Q11: How important do you think it is for people who “accept” you to be knowledgeable about your identity? Do you feel like language is important?
A: People accepting me isn’t really that important to me anymore. I am secure enough within myself as an adult, that if I am not welcome I will not be around that person. Language is important in terms of the wording people use.
Q13: On a scale of 1-10, how difficult has it been to navigate (platonic, familial, etc) relationships with individuals of the LGBTQ+ community? How do you hold space for those around you?
A: On a scale from 1-10 I will say a 9 on how difficult it has been to navigate relationships with people within the LGBTQ+ community specifically gay black males. I don’t have many gay black men as friends due to everything becoming a competition after time. In addition, it’s sometimes hard to find male friends who do not have a hidden agenda and just want sex.
Q14: What does living in your truth mean to you? Do you feel like it’s important? Why or why not?
A: Living my truth means being my true authentic masculine and sometimes feminine self. I wake up everyday choosing to be me and no one else. This is important because if I don’t love me I cannot expect others to love me.
Q15: What do you identify as? Have you always identified as ___? What led you to identify in that way?
A: I identify as a gay black male. I have always identified as male. What led me to identify as a gay black male, was choosing to love me and take this journey no matter how difficult it may be when I was 19 years old.
Q16: What do you think your younger self would have to say/think about who you are today?
A: I think my younger self wouldn’t believe that this is him. I believe that he would be proud of me as the strong personality, vibrant person that I have become. If I met the younger me I would give him a hug and let him know the journey was rough but we made it <3
"People accepting me isn’t really that important to me anymore.
I am secure enough within myself as an adult.." - Anonymous Submission, He/Him/His