Everyone talked about the protests and the murders the past two weeks. From my ten year olds to my fifty year olds. The Mom’s, Dad’s, children, teens, white, Black, gay, straight…every one. We shifted from being inundated with COVID information to being inundated with who in our social media outed themselves as racist this week.
Have you ever had to look into the eyes of a young Black boy and watch as they cry because they are scared they will be murdered?
Because I have. More than once.
I didn’t realize the number of Black individuals I have on my caseload until the world fell apart over the last few weeks. It’s weird to be a white provider asking my Black clients how they have been coping knowing that I have little to no idea what it is like to wear my minority status on my skin.
I have a complicated relationship with the African American community as a lesbian.
I’ve had many conservative families over the years who do not follow up with me when they realize I am married to a woman. Many of whom were Black. I’ve had friends who are Jamaican and Haitian and they have been very up front with the fact that I would not be acceptable to their parents.
There also seems to be a general skepticism toward mental health among certain parts of the Black community that is around me geographically. I’ve had parents tear me apart because they are angry at my recommendation for their depressed child to take anti-depressants.
I’ve also taken care of many Black Queers and trans individuals who have been disowned because their family is not accepting of their “lifestyle.”
I’m sure you can imagine all of these experiences have led me to have a complicated relationship with the Black community in my area.
Because 1- I am a mental health provider. 2- I am Queer. 3- I am white. 4- I am not religious.
All four of those things together make relationships with certain Black clients and friends in my personal life…complicated.
When I hear Black Lives Matter I think of my young Black clients who are beautiful and some times geeky, and fun, and some of whom I’ve treated for more than five years now. I think that I can’t imagine the world without them and it hurts my heart to think their lives are endangered just by existing in their skin.
But sometimes when I hear Black Lives Matter I instinctively think; Queer Black Lives Matter too.
Martin Luther King Jr is one of my personal heroes. His written works are scattered around my house and I am always down to watch a documentary about MLK. At some point over the years I learned about Bayard Rustin. A “close advisor” to MLK. He was gay. He had a husband of over 20 years. He is not well known and I did not learn about him in history class. Ever.
MLK was known to have to multiple affairs. They both were incredibly intelligent and eloquent. Yet one of them is a legend and one is barely known. One had a long term monogamous relationship, and one had multiple affairs during his marriage. But the affairs were overlooked because MLK was heterosexual. Rustin is not a legend because he was gay.
I think I feel a certain type of way because when I hear Black Lives Matter I wonder if the people saying it truly believe all Black Lives Matter. Queer Black lives too. Because I’ve had experiences that have told me otherwise.
I challenge myself to do the work of white privilege and all that affords me. Because I do benefit from being white. I do not know the fears of having a Black son as I have two white sons.
I am a minority so I do have experiences of being discriminated against due to being a lesbian.
I am encouraged by this new generation of people. My young Black and white children talking about protests. Attending protests. Speaking out and engaging in mental healthcare…it provides me hope. Hope that there is a generation of people who will agree that all Black Lives matter. Not just heterosexual Black Lives. But Queer & Trans Black Lives Matter too.
These past weeks have been emotionally draining in so many ways. I cannot imagine the emotions running through the Black community if white me on the periphery has been feeling this drained.
I do know that I’ve looked into the eyes of people as they cry with fear and anger. A fear and anger that can only be felt by walking the shoes daily from birth as a minority. I know I’ve done this through screens because of a damn pandemic that just keeps marching on.
I know I’ve heard from Black women that they have been raped and not taken seriously by police. I’ve heard from Black men that they have been told to put stuffed animals in the back of their car and a carseat to make it seem like they have children because it may make a police officer view them differently when pulled over if they think they are a Father. I’ve met with Black boys who are literally some of my favorite people on my caseload and felt absolute grief and horror that their lives are endangered and if they become a hashtag I would be…I cannot put into words what I would be. Grief. Anger. Tears.
So you can hopefully see through my ramblings why one Queer woman has a complicated relationship with the slogan Black Lives Matter. I fervently believe white supremacy exists. I absolutely have benefited from this system and actively work to educate myself and challenge my own beliefs and life and educate my sons to not become more products of a white system.
But I also know Queerness. I also know homophobia and transphobia runs rampant in all communities Black and white. So when I say Black Lives Matter I mean ALL Black Lives Matter. I mean Queer Black lives are BEAUTIFUL and WORTHY.
Yeah I went all caps with that. You know I just yelled it.
I’m watching Douglas. Gadsby is great at yelling and I imagine half her show to be all caps.
I don’t think there’s a great way to wrap this up. Sometimes we just have to sit with the tension I’ve created for you. I’ve been sitting with it for two weeks and struggled with how to write about it. So I’m not going to wrap it up nicely for you. I’ll leave you with it. Ask yourself. Do you mean all Black Lives Matter? Or just the straight ones?
*** I am very aware that the BLM movement was created in 2013 in response to the acquittal of the murderer of Trayvon Martin. I’m aware part of their tagline is that they value Trans Black Lives. I’m not questioning the literal movement of BLM. I’m questioning each individual who utilizes that slogan. As my own personal experiences have shown me that not all people are accepting of Queer people of any race or ethnicity.