Hey, you. Yeah, you. I wanna tell you a secret.
(Well, actually, I told my family I was bi in the 8th grade because I didn’t have the right words then and I went through high school holding a whole lot of denial in my insides and it took the magic of community with women like me before I could reclaim the word queer — as in, I fall in love with people, not genders — and with it, reclaim myself.) (Also, this is 100% not a secret, I bet none of y’all are surprised.)
This is something I knew to be true before I could give myself permission to say it, as much a part of me as my love of music or the way my eyes squish up when I smile. But I don’t want to talk about how I figured it out, or what it felt like to hide this piece of my identity from people in high school, or what a miracle it was to find other queer people who understood.
I do want to talk about how the queer community — specifically, the “mainstream,” mostly white, mostly middle class queer community — and straight allies can do better. When the Supreme Court decision came out last Friday, it was hard for me to feel the joy of that particular victory with Black churches burning across the South and the wound of Charleston (and Baltimore and Ferguson and…) still fresh in our national psyche. Don’t get me wrong — I’m grateful we made it this far, and the speed with which people’s attitudes changed for the better gives me a great deal of optimism for the future.
But our liberation is not true if it comes at the continued cost of others’ lives and livelihoods. In the wake of this promising step forward, I urge you not to forget the 40% of homeless youth who identify as LGBTQ, our immigrant trans sisters fighting deportation and human rights violations, the trans women of color who risk their lives just by existing every day. I urge you to remember that your freedom is tied to that of everyone around you.
No part of our identity invalidates any other, and we are responsible for working towards a world that supports every exquisite layer of ourselves. So, to my fellow queers and allies, please educate yourselves and others. Uplift the history of our movement. Remember that Stonewall was a trans-woman-of-color-led riot against police brutality. Use whatever means you can to resist structures of racial violence. Share resources. Expand your community.
This is how we get free.
(this video is one place to start — content warning for graphic descriptions of racist and homophobic violence)