Entry #3: The Big Ole Fag
A really good friend of mine put an event together for his organization centering Black men that for the most part went well. There were breakout sessions at certain points during the events, one of those sessions was led by yours truly. The moment that the announcement for my breakout session rolled off of his tongue the microaggressions started. "Ashton is a good friend who came in from Houston to talk to host a session called Blackness Is Not A Monolith: The Intersectionality of being Black & LGBT." He gave everyone directions on where to go and what to do as I sat in the space designated for my session. By my count, FOUR out of almost TWENTY - FIVE men and one woman came to the session as I watched the disdainful facial expressions of the men quickly avoiding my gaze to go to the other session. I thought that I wasn't bothered by it, but today made me realize that I was and am bothered by it. Actually, it hurts deeply to the point of white hot anger. Interestingly enough I sat in a later session on mental health and expressed that I typically don't feel safe around straight Black men and that I tend to feel safer around Black women.
I kept my stride into the dollar store and commenced to shopping, as I entertained the thoughts about how people pull their children closer or watch the movements of my eyes when I am in the presence of young guys. I flashed back to being 16 when I was accused of doing something I would never, EVER do. I stayed with a friend of my mother's who happened to be a really cool stud, her girlfriend had a little boy and one day he used the bathroom, I am guessing he was constipated. Who knows, but I wake up to three people standing in front of me accusing me of making him bleed in an attempt to penetrate him. I NEVER touched that child, I had actually just been raped the week before and didn't tell anyone. Eventually they figured out that I did nothing wrong and they never offered an apology. In my trauma and still in physical pain myself, I left and went back on the street. I grabbed a couple bag of chips as I fought back a tear or two.
I then continued to carry on with my shopping while processing the look the face of one of the overtly observant men as two teen boys stood near me in closing to the event in Austin. As if I can turn someone gay by just breathing or speaking. That man was genuinely uncomfortable around me and it was clear that if he had the chance to, he might try to harm me physically. I can fight, I'm strong and I can defend myself, but the idea of hate this strong towards me even though I looked like him. Black. Accusations and implied looks from folks come on a regular basis, specifically from BLACK men and SOME women. I checked out with the salty ass cashier and quickly grabbed my things as I could. How can I care so much about a community that has elements so hateful, I asked myself as I walked out of the store. Of all of the risks that range from police violence to death threats from white supremacists, I feel most threatened in my own queerness. It brings me to a place of pain that I have always felt in this life of mine. I am not a predator, I don't have a gay agenda and I just want to live my life.
I am a MAN. I am a BLACK man. I am a Black QUEER man. I AM A BLACK QUEER MAN!