Tuesday, July 7, 2015

#ITLQBM - Brandon's Independence Day

Intersectionality Through the Lens of a Queer Black Man

I have never felt a connection to the 4th of July. I know that is the day that Americans celebrate the United States independence from England, and its supposed to be a collective celebration of freedom and independence. However, I have never had a connection to the holiday because, July 4, 1776, those were like me, black, gay, male, we were not free in this country. We were still enslaved in the United States. You couldn’t marry or be publicly be in a relationship with someone of the same gender. You couldn’t really be fluid in terms of gender back then. Therefore, it makes sense why the 4th of July has never really resonated with me.

I am a survivor of many things in my life. I have survived Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma twice. I am a rape survivor. I am a child-abuse survivor. Combine all of this with the daily struggles of being black, gay, and not 100% male conforming, it is a lot! I deal with all of these issues in my own way and in many ways in silence. One of the reasons why I deal with them in silence is because I’m often told to deal with them in silence because the world doesn’t like to hear people talk about the painful difficult aspects of their lives, especially if you have many. I also deal with them in silence because many of these experiences have been belittled and minimized by other people and you get to a point where you do not want your experiences to be minimized so you just remain quiet about it. Well, today I guess I am celebrating an Independence Day by saying to the world through this post that I am a Black Gay Male, Cancer, Rape, Child Abuse survivor who is dealing with all of these issues simultaneously each and everyday and I’m doing my best to handle it in the way that is most comfortable for me to handle it. It may not be the way that you deal with it, but at the same time, you’re not living with it. We as Black people have often been told that we have to love our enemies and understand others, without that same understanding coming our way. We as Gay people have often been told that we have to respect everyone else’s marriages and loves without having that same respect coming our way. We as gender non-conformists, have often been told that we need to not put ourselves out there, that are non-conforming behavior is problematic for other members of the LGBT community, and that are non-conforming is damaging to society. I say, why should any of us understand, respect, or conform to those who are not understanding, respecting, or behaving in a way that is pleasing to us.

I have spent a great deal of my life, silencing myself, understanding others, helping others, and trying to conform to standards that don’t have me in mind or are in my best interests. I know many of you who are reading this have also silenced yourself, given of yourself, minimized yourself, and conformed to standards that do not fit you. Today, I say, celebrate your Independence Day, and be free from all things that are inhibiting your voice, your progress, your growth, and your ability to freely live in all your intersections. Don’t wait because trust me as someone who has had his own family turn away from him, friends who may or may not be there when you need them, no real sense of consistency when it comes to love, you will drive yourself crazy if you keep conforming and waiting for these people. As my best friend has to often remind me, no one owes you closure, and at the same time, no one owes you, YOU. YOU owe yourself to be fully who you are.

So don’ t wait for others to grant you independence, claim your own independence in being freely all of who you are and expressing in the ways YOU feel you need to. I’m celebrating my Independence Day by claiming my own freedom in being fully who I am as a survivor of a whole lot of shit and someone who is finding his way the best way he knows how and marching to the beat of his own drum. I invite you to celebrate your own and let what ever flag you carry fly!

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