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Race journal- What I learned this summer//Why I need to talk about Queerness

Sunshine's picture

This story is about race because my family is black, so inherently anything I say about them will be about our experiences as black people.

I described to one of my friend’s parts of my summer like a womanist poem. The day after graduation I went to Trinidad with my mother to visit my grandmother. My grandmother was staying in my aunt’s house so she could be taken care of by my cousin, who just had a baby girl. We were all taking care of each other, which made it a womanist poem. The men, my uncles and cousins, came and left. It was the women who stayed in the home and made sure everything ran well. We all had a role and it was beautiful.  

I had a similar experience at the end of the summer, when my mother, my father, and I went to Canada to visit my other cousin who just had a baby boy. There were more men around this time, but it was a similar experience of us all taking care of each other and fixing up the house before the baby’s christening.

This is how I learned about feminism. Or womanism? Seeing the woman around me do everything and take care of each other is the type of feminism I aspire to. So I am grateful to have family that lets me experience that. But unfortunately my story does not end there.

While I was looking at the beauty of my family, I was simultaneously miserable. I felt empty on the inside, and yet I was full with so much emotion. Because I’m gay. Because my family can teach my what’s great about being a black woman but they can’t show me how to love unconditionally. We can have conversations about what it means to be called a nigger on the street (which happened to us this summer), but we can't talk about what it means to be afraid of holding hands with my girlfriend in public. For me, every experience with my family that shapes my blackness simultaneously negates my queerness, simultaneously confuses my identity as a first-generation american, simultaneously complicates my status of financially secure, etc.. And while all of these intersections and more are important to my identity, it is queerness that feels closest to me, feels most threatened, feels most risky. And what I learned from my family is that my love is not welcome in their circles, which is why I bring to this 360 a need to have my queerness afirmed, and why in this 360 queerness will be the first thing I think of when I think of my own identiy. Becuase what is most threatend we need to hold close.