Written by Chasyn Carter
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been the girl I could be comfortable as. I was sweet, kind of outgoing, quiet in some spaces, and the most open I could be in the most private way possible. Anyone who knew me before I went to college will say they knew all about me. They will tell you CiCi is a sweet, funny kid that will look and act 12 years old forever. That persona kept me safe in a space that wouldn’t allow me to exist as my whole self. Classmates knew some, family knew more and very few close friends including my sister knew the most about who I actually was at that time. Well, they knew as much as they could from what I knew. But one thing that stood out to me from my life before college is how I viewed women and the female body.
For most of my young adult life, if I was in the room with my friends while they changed, I never looked at them. Something in my subconscious mind always told me to look away, look down, look at anything but the human body in front of me. I would say it was for the privacy of my friends, but they had all told me they didn’t care and would actively ask why I never could hold a conversation looking at them while they changed. I never could explain the gut instinct that forced me to divert my attention, I just did it. But that changed when I met one of my best friends. This new friend in my life was very comfortable in her body. So much so that she was naked often and that remains true today . From doing hair, to just hanging out, her body was visible and I slowly was able to look at her. When I was first able to look at my friend shirtless, I almost felt ashamed. I felt like I was doing something so wrong by seeing the body she willingly exposed to me. It wasn’t romantic, it wasn’t sexual, she was just comfortable, and I knew this.
Message to Allies: How Not to be a Weirdo During Pride Month
It’s that time again – Pride! In remembrance of the LGBTQIA+ community who sparked a nation-wide gay rights movement after the Stonewall uprising in the late 1960s, you might already have noticed that sections of your town or city are decorated with rainbow flags and welcome signs, streets and sidewalks are painted with rainbows, your baseball team may even be wearing rainbow-colored socks (which their bigoted fans are currently arguing on the internet about). If you aren’t seeing signs of Pride month in your town, you need to move far, far away because you live in a sad, sad place. But I digress…
All month, there are Pride-related events – festivals and parades and parties and drag shows. As an ally, you may want to attend these events, and you probably feel pretty proud of yourself for all your “wokeness,” which means you have no clue about just how problematic and down-right annoying you are. As an ally and a former weirdo at Pride events, let me offer you some advice so you don’t have to make the same mistakes I did.
Noah Berger/Associated Press
No matter how many books you’ve read, how many podcasts you’ve listened to, and how many Tumblr pages you’ve double-tapped, you’re still problematic.
You just have to accept the fact that you are problematic. No, you aren’t as problematic as the guy white women and men voted into the White House, but you’ve probably still got a little learning to do. Kudos to you for educating yourself, questioning your beliefs, and trying to be a better person — you should feel proud of yourself – however, there are just some things you will get wrong, and it’s okay. If somebody checks you about it, take the lesson, nod, smile and grow from it.
You’re a guest, so act accordingly.
At many of these Pride events, a good time will be had by all. There will be plenty of Beyoncé, some good ole fashioned twerking and voguing, and you are going to want to join in the fun. You should, but remember, ain’t nobody come to see your straight-ass duck-walk, so chill.I get it, you're excited & want to be supportive, but remember, the LGBTQIA+ community has been getting on fine without you since Moses parted the sea. One of the best things you can do as an ally is to let people live in peace. Click To Tweet
You’re a straight, we get it, now be quiet.
You are in a space populated by everyone on the sexual identity spectrum, and the assumption is that your sexual identity does too. If your sexual identity is firmly planted at cisgender hetero, that’s all well and fine. It is quite okay to be okay with that. However, don’t spend the day announcing to everyone that you are a straight. I know you think it’s cute or whatever, but it’s not. Ugh, I am literally cringing as I write this reflecting on how stupid I was. Woooo chile…the ghetto!
Save your questions and insights for Twitter
I remember when I first heard the word Trade. I happened to be a Pride event, and I was so intrigued. I was so curious that I proceeded to spend the rest of the day grilling my lovely companion about the history and origin of Trade. If that wasn’t bad enough, I then proceeded to point out every gentleman to verify if he would be considered Trade. Imagine you are at a party having a good time and your weirdo friend keeps tapping your shoulder pointing out men asking, “Oh, oh, is he one? With the baseball cap and the sagging pants? He’s Trade, right?” I was so clueless, just a whole mess. It was cute that I learned a new word, but Pride events are not the place to get your education (unless you’re at an educational workshop, which I was not). Chances are you will hear some new word or lingo that you aren’t familiar with; it is okay to be curious. My advice – create a new document on your Notes app, type the word down for research purposes later and keep the party going. Don’t stop the good time trying to learn some shit.
Don’t be a cliché
It is inevitable that you will be overcome with the sheer fabulosity of it all. Before you can stop yourself, the ‘Yesssssss Queeeeeeen’ is going to jump out of you. Sometimes, this is appropriate like at a drag show, a contest, or maybe a performance. Please don’t be that person that ‘Yesssssss Queeeeeeeen’’s every boy in a belly shirt and booty shorts you pass. A compliment is fine, but don’t be a weirdo about it. There is a huge difference. People get all dressed up to be noticed, not to be your spectacle, feel me?
Allyship is a slippery slope. It’s a thin line between being an ally and a weirdo, believe me, I’ve crossed it more times than I care to admit. Mostly, we are well-meaning people, but being an ally is a process. It’s about taking ownership over building trust with the community we wish to align ourselves with, and this requires consistency, accountability, and yes, a little humility. And I get it, you are excited, and you want to be so supportive, but remember, the LGBTQIA+ community has been getting on fine without you since Moses parted the sea, and one of the best things you can do as an ally is to just let people live in peace.
What other tips can you share to make people better allies?
Featured Image Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels
Re-imagining Black Love
By: Cody Charles
a bursting speck of gold dust
sunrise waking us
~Megan Pendleton (Badass Black Queer Poet)
I’ve been thinking about Black Love for a while now, and how it is both felt and intellectualized. As a Black fat queer cis femme, love has always been complicated.
I have been in community with beautiful Black folk who uplift me, challenge me, hold me accountable, induce hearty laughs, and often finish my sentences and interpret my infamous side-eyes.
I have been in community with resilient Black folk who hold me when I have nothing left, who cook my favorite meals in times of celebration and grief, who massage my shoulders and administer hugs that heal the soul, and who I trust passing the baton onto when I’m in need of rest.
In addition to the above, I have felt extreme isolation and violence in the name of love, often caping behind the veil of organized religion (informed by Imperialist White Supremacist Capitalist CisHeteroPatriarchy).
Re: someone does and says something really awful to me, and using the above framework, I’m supposed to respond with love and forgiveness.
The word love is complicated, and often goes untroubled.
I am curious.
I am curious about how we engage love outside of the aforementioned toxicity.
I am curious about what love even means? Isn’t it a made-up word steeped in violence and manipulation- a tactic to keep the powerful in power? Am I off here?
But, I am most curious about the following question…
What is Black Love outside of Imperialist White Supremacist Capitalist CisHeteroPatriarchy? (What is Black love minus the standards/expectations of the cisgender white phukshyt?)
Below I have asked a few of my brilliant friends to chime in.
Enjoy, and share.
Bulaong Ramiz-Hall– Educator, writer, community builder, granddaughter of the resilient survivors of enslavement and colonialism
Black love is the magic of our ancestors existing in our bodies, minds, spirits and souls. It is the deep and direct rejection of all things that tell us we are not beautiful, brilliant, worthy, and free. Black love is what makes us human, what allows us to access the deepest parts of ourselves, its that love that separates us from all others and connects us to each other.
I had to learn to love blackness, mine and others. I had to train myself to find the beauty in my people, to feel an affinity with my culture, to let the connection to both intergenerational trauma and intergenerational thriving sustain and guide me.
Black love is the antithesis to white supremacy, it is the cure to imperialism, it is a return to the fluidity of our roles in community, it is a rejection of hierarchy that allows for some to have more than enough and others to have nothing, it is the elevation and celebration of women and femmes, it is what will free us all.
Robert Jones Jr.- Creator of the Son of Baldwin Platform
To me, this kind of black love would, first and foremost, be built on a foundation that neither fetishizes nor recoils at the sight of jet-black skin. It would know that dark-black skin is something to be adored and treasured, like the cosmos itself, rather than covered up or bleached away.
Nor would black love understand or accept violence in the face of black queer desire and black queer bodies. Rather, it would celebrate, given their unpopularity in this current white supremacist cisheteropatriachal moment, any consensual romantic black bonds.
Black love would not be afraid of black children’s joy and would not seek to police it. I use that word “police” intentionally. Black love would seek, instead, to un-train itself from art of corporal punishment because black love would push out the fear and sadism that drive such practices.
Black love, outside the scope of the pathologies mentioned, would make untrue the rap verse (“And when you get on, he’ll leave your ass for a white girl” — Kanye West, “Gold Digger”) describing the phenomenon of black men who select white partners over black ones because black would be seen as more than enough.
Black love would eschew respectability for humanity, choose humility over pride, select gratitude not ego, seek to be spiritual rather than religious, make whole not half, restore as opposed to damage. It would never assume, but would always ask permission, move forward only when permission has been granted, and would not whither from rejection, but would rejoice at the mutual respect left in its wake. Rather than seek to narrow, confine, and exclude, black love would seek to expand, liberate, and include.
In short, black love is potentially the complete opposite of imperialist white supremacist capitalist cisheteropatriarchy.
Zerandrian S. Morris– Anti-Academic and Ivy League Professor
Hmm…black love outside of the phukshyt is…Hell, I have no clue, as I’ve never experienced it. But I would imagine it to be exceptionally liberating and a deeply creative space. A place where it’s ok to phuk up and the fear of relationships dissolving at whim, wouldn’t be there. It would be women liking me for me, not because they’re curious about what its like to date a non-binary person and a year later, they’re engaged to a cis-person.
Sorry let me try and stick to what it is, versus what it’s not.
It is freer. More liberatory. It’s both hood AF and elegant like a quarter pounder with cheese with a side of sushi from Masa in NYC.
Damn. That sounds dope AF!
Romeo Jackson– Black Queer Femme Educator, Learner, and Thinker.
This is such a hard question to answer given most images we have of Black love are Imperialist White Supremacist Capitalist and deeply invested in CisHeteroPatriarchy. Even the few public images we have of Black love are often coded as white and placed in proximity to gender and sexuality norms (think: Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade or Michelle Obama and Barack Obama). Where are the expressions of poor Black love, of Disable Black love, of trans Black love?
Black love has the potential to be the transformative power to liberate all Black people. This liberatory Black love understands that love is a way of being versus a feeling. Yes, love can be a feeling, but what if we imagined love as a place we can never reach, a way of thinking, as praxis? In thinking about Black love this way, no where can the cis-het-college-educated-upper-middle-class couple with two cis-het children be seen as the model for Black love? It is then, how we start to imagine the Black trans femme couple fighting for survival while mothering an entire community of queer and trans youth as Black love, because at its core Black love is a rejection of Black death, pain, and suffering.
Lastly, we must begin to understand Black friendship as Black Love. Love is more than the people we fuck, go on dates with, and enter into romantic relationships with. My friendships, often with Black queer and trans people, have been my greatest source of Black love. Black love that sees you in your wholeness. A Black love that is there to call you out while honoring your humanity. Black love is seeing another Black person as human, always deserving of love, support, and community. Black friendship is the past, present, and future of Black love.
Black folk, what is Black love to you outside of these toxic systems? #ReimaginingBlackLove #BlackJoyWeDeserveIt Click To Tweet
a bursting speck of gold dust
sunrise waking us
~Megan Pendleton (Badass Black Queer Poet)
This is the work of Cody Charles; claiming my work does not make me selfish or ego-driven, instead radical and in solidarity with the folk who came before me and have been betrayed by history books and storytellers. Historically, their words have been stolen and reworked without consent. This is the work of Cody Charles. Please discuss, share, and cite properly.
Bio: Cody Charles is the author of Getting To Know Rosa Lee: An Overdue Conversation With My Mother, Black Joy, We Deserve It, The Night The Moonlight Caught My Eye: Not a Review but a Testimony on the Film Moonlight, 5 Tips For White Folks, As They Engage Jordan Peele’s Get Out. (No Spoilers), A Letter to Black Greeks Who Happen to be Black and Queer, Student Affairs is a Sham, 19 Types of Higher Education Professionals, and What Growing Up Black And Poor Taught Me About Resiliency. Join him for more conversation on Twitter (@_codykeith_) and Facebook (Follow Cody Charles). Please visit his blog, Reclaiming Anger, to learn more about him.
1st ANNUAL SLAYFEST ANNOUNCES OFFICIAL 2018 PROGRAM LINEUP Festival Celebrating Black Queer and Trans, Arts and Culture
SLAYFEST 2018, presented by SLAY TV., announced its official program lineup for their 1st Annual SLAYFEST. SLAYFEST is a celebration of Black queer and trans artistic excellence and aims to bring together cinema enthusiasts, filmmakers, artists, and the overall LGBTQ community in the new Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Fisher Building (BAM). SLAYFEST will occupy 4 floors of the building and will screen short films and a feature film, along with special artists performances, panels and festivities. SLAYFEST will take place Saturday, July 21st, 2018 with a pre-party on Thursday, July 19th in partnership with Trappy Hour at Harlem Nights.
“SLAYFEST is bringing a new platform for filmmakers and artists to celebrate diversity,” said Sean Torrington, SLAY TV’s Co-founder and CEO. “We feel it’s more important than ever to promote, support, and protect our own narratives. From handpicked screenings, to dope performers and amazing panelists, we are proud to present this 1s t annual program and honored to those artists who are making it possible.”
SLAYFEST 2018 is proud to present the following short films to play in its main program:
- Gema – Directed & Written by Kenrick Prince | Starring: MJ Rodriguez & Ari Blinder
- Missed Connections – Directed & Produced by Michelle Sam | Executive Producer: Angelic Ross | Starring: Angelica Ross & Jermell Smith
- Finding Home – Director & Cinematographer: Abraham “AB” Troen | Producer: Marc Mounier
SLAYEST 2018 will feature panels that extend the festivalgoers experience beyond the cinema screen, offering opportunities to listen and discuss topics that directly affect the LGBTQ community. This year panels will feature:
- Holistic Wellness – On this panel, we’ll dive into a NEW vision, where we consider our entire health and wellness- mind, body and spirit.
- A Discussion on Representation in Media – We will discuss the advances being made to take ownership of our own queer and trans narratives.
- Money & Empowerment, SLAY.COIN – introducing the blockchain solution for funding queer people of color in media. A candid fireside chat about the sheer size of the global QPOC media market, and how using blockchain technology to create a new cryptocurrencies can help us fund the evolution of our authentic and unapologetic stories in mainstream media.
- The Women’s Experience– Through a queer feminist lens, this panel will examine and discuss sexism, exotification, healthy relationships and partner violence as well as sex and mental health.
SLAYFEST will finish the day with a concert featuring New York City’s hottest queer artists. Headliners and performers include:
- Headliner – Cakes da Killa
- Headliner – Dai Burger
- Mila Jam
- Davi Akei
- Charlie Xile
- Boy Radio
- Punk Adams
Additional festivities will take place throughout the day including a VIP Rooftop Cocktail Reception and a streaming live podcast with guest hosts who will report events as they happen and interview festivalgoers.
Corporate and community support for SLAYFEST plays a dynamic role in the life of the festival and underscores SLAYFEST’s commitment to quality and distinction in the art of queer and trans culture. SLAYFEST is privileged to collaborate with renowned consumer, health and entertainment brands including Gilead Sciences, Aid Health Foundation, Human Rights Campaign, Hornet, Black Gifted and Whole, Personal Data, Keith Institute and Tenz Magazine.
SLAYFEST is an annual celebration of queer and trans arts and culture presented by SLAY TV. Showcased through independent films, shorts, documentaries, music videos and other creative works, SLAYFEST aims to promote awareness, foster dialogue and build community by celebrating and bringing visibility to queer and trans artists and themed work.
About SLAY TV.
SLAY TV. is a global media network that creates and curates queer and trans digital content. Unlike other applications, SLAY TV. is a suite of applications covering multiple platforms including mobile and TV. SLAY TV is one of three entities under the SLAY. media umbrella. Other entities include SLAY STUDIO, a production company of actors, writers, directors, and producers who develop quality content and SLAY AGENCY, a full-service digital agency able to support small and large-scale campaigns from concept-to-production. SLAY. conceptualizes, produce, manage, and distributes. For more information, please visit www.slaytv.com