Tag Archives: Queer

In the Quiet/In The Closet/In The Space: On Thoughts of Self, Success & Androgyny

“If you are silent about your pain, they will kill you and say you enjoyed it” – Zora Neal Hurston

I don’t really remember the moment that I knew I was queer. I just know that I knew. I had a crush on Josh* and Helen* and I liked them both equally. I wanted to be close to both of them always, hold them always, play “Duck Duck Goose” during recess and all the other cute things that children desire to do with crushes. I remember being asked if I had a crush on Josh* and never being asked if I had a crush on Helen*. Queerness in whatever form it came in seemed to be something that was silently made fun of and only okay if you did it on the terms of straight people, if you adopted their ways, if you picked a side of either masculine or feminine presentation. I remember those silent and unspoken rules vividly.

I’ve always dressed weirdly. Kudos to those who find true expression. I love the feel of clothing, just as I love the feel of removing it. Clothing is expression to me. I’ve always loved the idea of androgyny and the reality scared me. I’m not shaped like a boy and most of the views of androgynous people that I see are with those who have a very “boy-like” shape. But my androgyny exists outside of those boundaries. I love experimenting with what my breasts do in mens clothes, and just how I can both accentuate and disguise my hips and ass in various wears. MY androgyny is based in inclusion and experimentation. Just how many new ways can I find to fuck up the binary?

The other day, I sat with a family member who asked me, “Why can’t you be Queer quietly? Why do you have to broadcast it?” In the moment, I rationalized the sting and said something rehearsed, but I also thought to myself about why I do “broadcast” my Queer, my Polyamory, my Self. Well, because that’s who I am. It is just as much a part of me as is my sex, my skin complexion, my eye color. Who I love, how I love is important because love is what makes the foundation for a world worth living in. Frankly, I’m out, because I can be. I love myself enough to be all of me, whether that’s privately or publicly.

With the invention of internet and apps, we have much less privacy now than we did 10 years ago. What’s your personal threshold? How often do you broadcast your life and what do you choose to keep to self? It’s a constant wondering for myself. I don’t like to put out all my business but I do choose to display some of it. Is there a right and wrong in that? Does it matter?

I’ve always been a creator. I would create clothing/crafts/songs/poems/plays/ etc. as a child and it all seemed to carry over into adulthood. I occupy space in this world as an actor/dancer/singer/director/designer/singer/songwriter/advocate/activist/writer/etc. I am the slash in a world where the slash is confusing. But isn’t that the fun of the all? How do we manage? How do we fall? How do we choose to fly? Confession: I have not gone a single audition in months. I have no desire to. There’s nothing that grabs my heart and truly makes me want to be a part of it. I am not just an actor. I’m an artist. I want to create space where there is no space. I remember being in school and being taught how to manage and maneuver auditions because it would be “so much of life as an artist” and I wanted to vomit. If Nina Simone had spent all her time auditioning, would she have written Mississippi Goddamn? Maybe, maybe not. Let me make this clear, I am not judging those who choose to audition frequently. I’m simply stating that for me, it’s not the way.

Currently, I’ve done a lot. I released an album, finished a play, started on two projects, got asked to do a few more with some wonderfully talented artists and am simply living, teaching and learning. I’m content with the world and growth that I see from my life. I can see a pattern, a place, a space to occupy. As a millennial, I feel that I have to make the space. I not only don’t want to, I am not willing to endorse the system that doesn’t work. If it’s broken, don’t hop on it and try to ride. I’m not here to apologize, to be nice, to participate in so far as abiding by rules that are clearly messed up. Be bold in seeking your truth. Be brash. Be loud. Make mistakes. Make corrections. Find new ways to love both yourself and others. I’m here to re-frame, to burst through, to hold space, make space and take space.

To all my wonderful fellow beings,

I see you. I support you. I live you.

Love Always,

Damali Speaks Xx

 

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I’m Insecure & Queer: The Importance of Visibility & Big Dreams with Even Bigger Plans

I’ve been glued to Issa Rae since The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl. I was in the early years of college or maybe late years of high school, I don’t really remember now. I do remember being glued to my computer screen thinking, “Oh shit! She knows my life!”. I loved everything about Issa, her style, her awkwardness, her confidence, her work. The joy I felt at watching not only that series, but the appearance of a whole YouTube Channel eclipsed anything else that I might have wanted to watch. My friends and I would call each other up or message each other post episode drop, “Oh snap girl, she finally gave White J some!” and we would launch into laughter and recalling of our own lives, sighing in relief that we finally were feeling and being seen. It wasn’t just a dream. There was nothing to wake up from.

When Insecure was finally announced on HBO, I remember doing a happy dance in my bedroom. I had moved on from being a semi-awkward Theater & Africana student to a semi-confident Education Intern at one of the best theater companies in the US and yet still felt like so many things were missing. I was one of the very few people of color in most spaces, including my living space and I was hungry. I oftentimes found myself in situations with either queer men of color who could and would shut me down and desire my silence or with white women who wanted to empathize but not actually do any work required for change. These people all wanted change to happen at a comfortable pace for them, but I needed to see and speak with people in the entertainment world who looked like me and who were visibly making change. I needed to know that it was possible, that all of it was possible. I didn’t have to choose between being an actor and writer. I didn’t have to only put down director or producer on my resume. But at the same time, I didn’t have a black theater/film fairy godmother to guide me along. So I looked to Issa. Issa always got me through. The first episode of Insecure, Season 1 found me hunched in front of my computer screen yet again, and having finished an entire bottle of wine, I don’t remember much, but I do remember screaming “TAKE THAT LENA DUNHAM!” and then falling off to sleep. As Season 1 rolled into Season 2, I continued to watch, joy filling me at the fact that the 20s are just messed up and I’m just normal and that black people look gorgeous in all shades, sizes, sexual positions and hilarious anecdotes.

But still, in all of that visibility and glorious blackness, messiness and realness something was always missing for me. I’m Black, Womxn, Queer, Pansexual and Polyamorous and I want to make work that highlights the art, realness, and humanness of the spaces that I find myself in. Most often, the shows and web series that I find center either white women or drama. The L Word, was the first show that I watched that featured queer women. I remember sitting in front of the computer in college thanks to Netflix and binge watching The L Word. Although it made me feel invisible because of my blackness, it made me feel seen because of my queerness. I’m not saying that the world of queer womxn of color isn’t dramatic, cuz it certainly can be at times, but people don’t need to be murdered for a following to build. So then, what’s the point?

The point is that visibility is possible in all it’s variables. We already know that POC make money. No one wants to see all white anything anymore unless it’s the Bordelons dressed in all white on Queen Sugar (Cuz that was black people magic on all levels). But the thing about production that bothers me is the who. No matter what, are we always engineered by white men because they are the ones with the bank? Literally. How many Oprah’s and OWN Networks are there? Right now? Oprah. That’s it. She’s got it. But even in that, there’s a closed door. I love Oprah, but Oprah isn’t queer, poly or foregoing the idea that GOD isn’t the end all be all for the black community. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up going to church, but at this point in my life, I choose to believe that there’s a lil bit of truth in everything but that doesn’t mean that I have to subscribe to it. So what’s next?

I’ve made it my mission to center varying art forms alongside black, womxn, and queer. I know that’s what I want to see. So why not make it? It’s hard. My biggest obstacle so far is capitalism. I need a team. I want a team. I want to work with artists who are just as hungry as I am. But most of the time, that means money and at 20 something, who has money? But where there’s a will, there’s a way. Right? If that’s my only obstacle, then I’m doin pretty damn well. I also want to highlight theater.

I don’t work loudly. I work mostly in silence. You don’t see that I’m doing work until the work is done. So often, my friends and I sit and dream and plan for our future world where there’s artist housing that’s cheap, studios to work in that houses various forms of art and a collective of beautiful people that just get us. Isn’t that the dream? As good as all this visibility and dreaming feels, how good will it feel when we finally get further along in our process? Maybe that’s the whole point. That it’s never ending and each moment is in fact a process to be savored. I used to say, “I’m the next Oprah”. Now, I simply say that I’m the best version of me, day to day, I’m working towards elevation and building and creation and art.

Thank you Issa for pushing me to be better. Thank you for being visible. I may never meet you and you may never read this, but know anyway, you’ve helped more than one black womxn to find her purpose, just by being you.

 

Love Always,

 

Damali Speaks Xx

Follow Me on Social Media:

Instagram: @blackgirlhope
YouTube/SoundCloud: Damali Speaks

 

Flash Forward Friday: Passage Five

Cora sat beside her mother in wordless bliss as they drove home to their house. Words became a welcome additive to their world of deep communication and love. After a long time of centering and remembering what it felt like to be immersed in a world of love and acceptance, Andrena looked across at her daughter, who it seemed had grown even more into a strong and beautiful woman that she always knew would be there.

 “How are you, my love?” Air hung between them as the streetlights glowed in a steady motion from darkness to light. The car wheels hummed along the road and the whole world seemed committed to a space held in familial love. “I’m well, mom. I’m really and truly well. I feel like I’m ready for this new adventure. How are you?” Cora looked over at her mother and for the first time, she realized that her mother hadn’t at all aged. Her face and physique were just as clear and crystal and they always had been for as long as she could remember. “I’m well. So tell me about these dreams you seem to be having.” Cora looked over at her mother in complete shock. “How did you know?” “I’m your mother, I know everything.” Cora had two options, she could choose not to tell her mother, or she could choose to engage in the spiritual moment that she knew would be exhausting on so many different levels.

As they pulled up to the house, Andrena looked over at her daughter and smiled. “You can tell me later if you want. You could use some rest.” Cora tiredly picked up her bags and walked into the house. The house they shared was one of the oldest on the block, dating back to the early 1900s and was separated into two apartments, one downstairs and one upstairs. Cora had the upstairs apartment, while Andrena lived on the first. “I went food shopping, so you’ve got some food up there. I saged some too, so the space is ready for you.” Cora mumbled a thank you and walked for what seemed like ages up the stairs and inside.

She opened the door and everything was just as she’d left it. As a teenager, she had decided that the apartment was her “Chakra Apartment” with each room representing a different chakra energy center. As she opened the door, she was greeted with a deep blue that reminded her to use her voice daily. To the left was the creative room where she did most of her painting, writing and music production for the Root Chakra and grounding. Walking through the house, various colors met her eyes and she soaked in the healing energy and remembrance that they came with. With each room, her pupils changed as though downloading information from the very walls. By the time Cora reached her bedroom that glowed with a light purple for wisdom, she had put down all bags, removed all clothes and stood naked before her bed. It didn’t even seem likely that in her body as she was now, she could fold back the covers and crawl into bed, but she did. Sleep enveloped her like a friend that she had missed for so long.

As soon as her eyes closed, Cora saw a great hall, never-ending and blurring. As she ran through the hall the years passed overhead, to her sides and even below her feet. “It’s a timeline”, she realized. No years marked the hall, only memories. She saw her face flash by continually through years and years of clothing changes, industry, enslavement, ancient times, and more. As much as she wanted to stop and discover each time, something was pulling her onward. Cora continued to run down the hall of time to the very beginning as a hole seemed to open in the wall and a wave of blue light emerged, sucking her inward and upward.

Cora “awoke” to the grass beneath her feet and the sounds of a village in front of her. She saw women and children, teens and young adults. Some were singing, training, cooking, making art and weapons, etc. As she looked around, one small girl stood out to her. The girl looked so much like she had at that age. Her skin was a beautiful bronzed cocoa much like her own and her hair was frizzy and beautiful with afro puffs on each side of her head. She had on animal skin clothing and cowry shells around her neck. Her eyes were big and bright and glowing bright purple. She seemed to be concentrating on something outside of herself and as the world went on around the two of them, she wondered if the girl was a part of her imagination.

Cora bent down and tried to see what the girl must have been seeing, but she saw nothing. In her head, she thought,” Well this is helpful. Where am I supposed to be going?”. The young girl lifted a finger and pointed to a small hut on the outside of the perimeter embraced by trees. “There?” The girl said nothing, but continued to point. As Cora moved toward the hut, the girl disappeared as though she had never even been there. “Okay.” Cora said. She took a deep breath and slowly walked up to the hut. It seemed so close and yet the walk there seemed to take ages. She took notice of how tall the trees were and how green everything seemed. She could feel the heat of the sun and yet it felt glorious instead of hot and sweat producing.  She reached the hut and as she put her hand on the door make of oak bark, she felt a great change in the air around her.

 

In Them I Found (Poetry by Damali Rose Xion)

I found my life partner

In between being

abused and being worshipped I found that I want or need neither.

I was searching for her all along, and him, and them

It all fit.

I put it together early on that I was queer

In the midst of friendships there was something

That fit so right here

I just loved

being close

holding

kissing

My friends were more in every sense of the word

and I discovered a deep well of love and what didn’t belong

and I don’t have to explain that to

you

-Damali Rose Xion

 

Flash Forward Friday – Passage Four

“You have to be aware of all your surroundings!” Andrena came at Cora with her walking stick ready to be brought down in a crushing blow. Cora quickly ran and unfurled her wings and let loose an arrow in mid-flight. It flew exactly where she aimed it and yet still, her mother moved away just in time. “I am! Mother!” Cora was out of breath and yet still pressed on. “Again”. 

Andrena was a merciless teacher. She used anything she deemed fair in a fight and for her that meant any and all power she wielded. Her weapon of choice was a huge walking stick, the symbol of her people emblazoned on it. “Feel the current of the energy. Feel your feet on the ground, the wind at your back, the beat of your heart. Hear your breath. Now see what I’m going to do. See it in your mind before it happens and you will stop it. “ Andrena watched her young daughters’ eyes glow a subtle red before she closed them in concentration. “Harness it. Trust it.” The energy around Cora lit up and when her eyes opened again, her whole eyes glowed with blood red light. “Let’s go mother. I’m waiting.” The energy changed her daughters’ voice in a way Andrena hadn’t heard before and she had the lightest bit of hesitation in her movement that not even Cora could’ve picked up on. 
The two squared off. Andrena lunged as Cora ducked and managed to grab Andrena’s walking stick and turn it around to trip her mother in mid-lunge and place the stick above Andrena’s head in what would be a killing blow. Cora’s eyes slowly returned to their usual deep brown with no sign of what they had been only moments ago. Both women stopped for a second, surprised at what just took place before Cora extended her hand to Andrena and helped her up, returning her walking stick to her left hand and standing in conference of the morning battle lesson. 

“How do you feel?” Andrena said. “Like I just tapped into something greater than me.“ Cora turned to sit on a nearby rock. “That’s your power. You’re stronger than you realize. One day, you’ll be stronger than me.” Andrena pushed herself up and sat on a rock opposite her daughter. “I don’t understand. How can I be stronger than you?” Andrena caressed her daughters beautiful brown face with eyes that shown so brightly. The face that looked so much like her own. “You’ll innerstand it one day my love. Now, we need to get moving. We’re getting a visitor for dinner.” Andrena stood, stretched her long limbs and began to move toward their village. “A visitor? Who could possibly be visiting us mother?” Cora said with doubt. They never received anyone in the village. Everyone of importance lived with them. “Martol” Andrena responded, her back turned away from Cora as they walked. 
“My father?! Martol? The man you never even talk about, much less see? What would he be doing here?” Cora was shocked. “I see someone’s been snooping.” Andrena responded. “I know that you’ve known his name. But you’ve yet to meet him. That was my error. I feared that you would see so much of yourself in him.” Cora didn’t quite understand what her mother meant. “So much of myself. Is that…” she trailed off. “You’ll see” Andrena replied. 

Cora had only ever heard her father’s name mentioned once during a convened council that she snuck in on as a young girl when her powers were too great for her to control at times. She had used her abilities of sight to keep watch on her mother and that accidentally led to sneaking in on a council meeting and hearing the name of the man who fathered her. Martol the Warlock. She couldn’t imagine just what her mother was planning, but she knew it came from a place she couldn’t yet grasp. 
Cora woke to the sounds of the pilot exclaiming that they had safely landed at JFK Airport. She felt unsure and confused. What had she just dreamed? It had seemed more memory than dream and she saw her mother clearly. Martol, her father was there as well. There would be more time to think on it later and she slowly brought herself back to her surroundings with slow breath, removed her headphones and waited until the seatbelt sign flashed so that she could remove her seatbelt and retrieve her few belongings. She waited until it was her row’s turn to disembark and she walked as though in a dream off the plane and into the airport. It seemed to take forever for her to grab her bags and find the gate where she told her mother to meet her. Just as she was about to get frustrated about where to find her with a dead cell phone she heard a voice behind her. “Hello my love” Cora turned to see Andrena standing right in front of her, arms open. “Hello mother”. Cora slipped into her mothers’ arms and took in her scent, the feel of her skin and the warm stability that she always emitted. “Let’s get you home, shall we?” Cora simply nodded and smiled and allowed herself the time and space to enjoy her mother and the world of home. 

Flash Forward Friday: Passage Three

*The name of the character of Brenda has been changed to Bridgid*

Cora stood in front of Bridgid, breathing even as they kept eye contact. “What do you see?” she asked. “Your pupils are purple this time.” Cora blinked and laughed as she moved to lean against the kitchen counter. “Pretty purple or bruised and battered purple?” Together they laughed as Bridgid situated herself back in her spot against the doorway. They stood directly across from each other as they spoke. “Pretty purple. Light purple. A little inhuman but not too shocking even if you did catch me off guard.” 

Cora stared into Brigid’s eyes, the purple getting brighter as they played the staring game they often played in the moments like this. “Do me a favor? Look at yourself in the window. Bridgid looked past Cora to the window to see her own pupils looking back at her with not the usual deep dark black but a light brown. “Am I mirroring you?” There was light concern in her voice. “No. You’re cultivating that entirely on your own.” “So, what now? Do we both just stand here?” Cora laughed. “We don’t have to. Or we can. But before we decide the course of action, how about you check that cake?” Bridgid walked over to the oven and opened it.

The smell that wafted up at her was heavenly and there in front of her eyes was a beautiful cake the very same shade as Cora’s eyes. “Done already? Just 4 short minutes. I love when you do that.” Bridgid sighed as she took the cake from the oven and placed the glowing pile of sweetness atop the stove. “Do what?” Cora asked, genuinely curious. “Use your powers to heal. I’ll miss it.” Cora sighed. “ It wasn’t just me working on that cake. You have incredible powers of your own. Just because I’m leaving doesn’t mean that I won’t be with you. It doesn’t make us any more separated. Physicality is a trick. You can be anywhere that you choose to be.” 

Cora walked up to Bridgid’s back and with love and care placed her hands around her waist and moved one hand up to Bridgid’s heart. Speaking right into her ear she said “I love you and that’s never going to change. Trust it. Trust me. Don’t make this harder than it needs to be, baby.” She gently kissed Brigid’s cheek lingering for only a short second before Bridgid turned and lightly placed a kiss on her lips. They hovered for a moment, light purple pupils staring into light brown before Cora cut herself a piece of cake. She carried the piece of cake with her as her eyes returned to their deep dark brown and she walked down the hallway to finish her packing. “I wish you would stay.” Bridgid whispered, cut a piece of cake and turned to look in the window as her pupils slowly faded back to their usual black. 

Cora sat on the plane completely at ease. It was early in the morning, or should we say night. It was 5:55am and her plane took off in two minutes. The sun wasn’t yet up and most of the people on the plane were asleep. She and Bridgid had woken up this morning with a combination of sadness and excitement. It was unclear what would happen next for both of them together and apart. They could only plan so far into the future without time travel. No, time travel doesn’t exist in this particular story…well, at least not yet. They had spent the morning in each other’s arms, talking without speaking words. Cora believed in their abilities and their intimacy. She apologized for seeming cold. It was often in her life that when she was working through her thoughts, her abilities, she could seem detached only because she withdrew deeply into herself. Bridgid didn’t push her. She understood. She did much of the same.
 When Bridgid dropped her off at the airport, they held each other tightly, wanting to somehow keep the other from moving, but time continued and Cora took her bags and left through the boarding gate. Cora hated the way airplanes were stuffy, but loved the idea of flying. She seemed to remember a time, faint in the back of her mind when she could fly. Maybe it was just a dream, a fantasy in her subconscious. With 5 hours to spare, Cora closed her eyes, turned on Solfeggio frequencies on her Walkman and fell asleep. 

Te Amo Mas Que – Poetry by Damali Rose Xion

Te Amo Mas Que

said Shange

I loved you more than I knew how

You had to teach me

But I was a fast learner

I used to watch you sleep and when you wrapped your arms around me

I wanted it to be forever

I knew when I boarded that plane that you would never join me here

Our listening ears were never meant to work

together

Joy and Splendor

met with betrayal on a sunny day and planned their escape

Nothing personal.

Healing work for you eclipsed any of what we could have been and denial of

Queerness left me feeling alone

He mistreated you and I witnessed what you couldn’t let me give

For real.

Truth.

“I know you”

that’s what I said when I first met you

I knew that we had met before and that we were game changers

Rule breakers

Heart makers

of a different kind

When I fell in love with you

I don’t think ill of the day you left

You gave me so much but really all I wanted was for you to

Come

Back

To

Me

Be whole with me

Open-Minded Is Dangerous: Meditations on Un-Learning, Re-Learning & Listening

“You have to be willing to teach men, baby.” My mother said as we delved deeper into both conversation and cheesecake. I looked up at her like “Que?!” This was coming from the woman who raised me and my brother as a single parent, and is now happily tied with my stepfather as they treat each other like beautiful gifts instead of roles to be set and conquered. I sat confused. I sat hurt, not because of anything to do with sexism or patriarchy, but because in some ways I was reaching too high and my wings “needed” to be clipped by a “reality” that I never consented to join in the first place.

Hey Speakerz! Yet another Meaning-Full Monday with yet another blog post! This week was one that seemed to fly by and while time is a social construct, I do think that weeks/days/years/hours/seconds have their own distinct feel. Last week felt like Unlearning to me. “Unlearning” is a term that my friends and I tend to use in conversation regarding discovery of self and the world around us. Most of us are millennials in our mid-late 20’s. Yes, we’re the ones who are constantly shit on for being different. Every generation has their “moment” in which the previous are like “they’re destroying everything”  and we’re no different. “Unlearning” encompasses the act of deconstruction. Taking apart everything that you’ve been taught, evaluating and deciding what to salvage, what to discard and how to move forward. Today’s post is largely concerning “unlearning”, “re-learning” and “open-mindedness” in terms of black queer womxnhood in conjunction with experiencing patriarchy, sexism and misogyny.

The other day, I sat with my mother in Juniors (a magnificent place for Cheesecake in NYC. Like seriously. Go there) and as we sat and talked, she asked me some important questions as she usually does. Black mothers have this uncanny way of making you think about the exact thing that you might have been avoiding in a gentle but firm way. I honestly think it’s genetics. But I digress, my parents who are older than your average Millennial parent have no idea what to do with me or the Millennials in general. Sometimes when I talk with my mother, our views clash because I have no intention of living my life as the generations before lived theirs and I realize that the uncertainty in many ways leaves anxiety for those who are nearing the end of their cycles on this plane.

Explaining my Openness in my sexuality to my mother was something that I never really considered as an anniversary, mark on the calendar moment. I never really had a “coming out” moment. She knows my preferences and has her own reservations and homophobic moments and I establish boundaries. I’ve been attracted to so many various types of people for so long that for me, embracing the fact that a “scale” of attraction is in many ways unnecessary for me. Embracing a label, even Queerness is something that I use for convenience in conversation rather than to define myself. At the same time, as long as I know myself well, and know what it is that I want and need and can communicate that openly and honestly, then that’s all that should matter right?

One topic of conversation that sat so strongly with me all week was the danger in being so open-minded. With all the beautiful, brown, open and openminded womxn that I know and love, all of us have found great love amid great strife. As educated and in many ways privileged as we are, we find ways to filter a space that annihilates ideals of right and wrong, good and bad and ugly and beautiful. We simply exist in our truth as different and in many ways holy as they are. Black and brown womxn in the new generations in specific seem to be unwilling to compromise as we move forward and I honestly believe that is what will change the world for the better.

This idea that womxn have to be gentle with men and their fragile egos is something that I find myself and my sisters pushing back on. If I can dismantle the problematic ideology that I was conditioned with, so should men. The expectation should be present more than anything else. Let’s change the narrative. I’m finding more and more that as we unpack this conditioning of marriage and children being the height of a womxns’ life, we find more equality and stability. I have no intentions of being “equal” with anyone. I have every intention of engaging in humanity. I’m human and so are you, different as we are. I want equity. I want accountability.

So often, I’ve been confronted with conversations that start with “well that’s just how it is”. But don’t “we” as a society make it that way? Therefore, that very same “we” can dismantle it. Taking part in the problematic behavior does nothing to correct it. Blame and shame are games that society toys with, especially with black women. We are shamed for our preferences, for our thoughts, for daring to reach higher than our foremothers did. Yet still, we do so unapologetically. Therein lies the danger. To be black and womxn is dangerous. To be black, womxn and open is another type of danger entirely. To have an open mind in my opinion, which changes every day is to acknowledge that learning is constant. I may think/feel this way today, but tomorrow, I can think/feel something else entirely. I grow with every moment that I spend in this body, time, place, etc. To find all types of people sexy, to want to experience them sexually, intimately, emotionally, and/or otherwise and to be unapologetic about that behavior is in many ways contradictory to society’s goals of sameness and this is again seen as dangerous. It is something to be ashamed of rather than liberated by. Sexual assault is not a coincidence or a random throw of the dice, it’s a tactic. 

Patriarchy and misogyny along with a host of other societal pressures and conditioning prevents human beings from fully experiencing our whole range of capability. Black Queer Womxn have for centuries turned all ideology on it’s head and for that we’ve been assaulted, molested, raped, killed, etc. It may hurt to speak about, but poison bites two ways, on the way in and on the way out. To acknowledge and to move forward is to raise a new generation of womxn. Womxn who are strong and fearless, are human and precious. It’s all a part of the un-learning.

Re-Learning is fun because it’s all a new process. Actively creating a new way of operation is a part of the healing process. We can’t have one without the other. In positions of privilege, how do we as human beings and more specifically as black and brown people, best support one another?

Do we listen? I’ve been reading a lot of articles recently on the importance of knowing how to listen. Last week, I was with two friends, both black males and I just sat and listened. There came a point where they both asked me what I thought about something and while I gathered my thoughts, they talked over and past me and soon the moment was gone. I could’ve pointed out the misogyny, but I decided that all of this was a learning moment for me. I don’t always want to have to teach men, especially black men about their patriarchal tendencies. Be accountable for and to your own self!

Just how do I listen? I enjoy listening to others speak and while I take everything in, I become a sponge. I’m not in a talking mode because I’m fully invested in listening mode. So often we listen to respond and especially for those conditioned as male, the expectation to specifically grasp the idea that deep thought is separate from a moment of deep listening isn’t present. Listen with more than just ears. Listen with your whole self, your entire atomic self and see just how much you pick up. I say this for everyone, all people.

How do we spend our time? In my world, time is my most precious friend, partner and confidante. If I choose to spend my time with you, if you have access to me, then you are probably important to me in this moment. How do you decide who gets that access and why? If someone abuses it, how do you handle the misuse?

How often do we pass the mic and let others speak? It’s not always important to speak. Your experience isn’t the only one that matters. There are different levels of this even among black queer womxn. If the space is for a specific moment, acknowledge that and act accordingly.

Everyone wants to feel and be seen. Just see them. 

As I continue to grow and learn and listen, I hope that I stay open-minded, but I also commit to doing the work to stay that way. Open-mindedness is a choice. A dangerous one. One that can cost life and love, but I like to think that we can all find completion in what we desire with knowledge of self.

Love Always,

Damali Speaks Xx