MorningJoy Podcast is a biweekly podcast that focuses on education, mental health, and the music we use to cope in this crazy world. It highlights folks of color doing amazing work. 
Tune in every other Monday! 

Finding My Queer Black Joy

Finding My Queer Black Joy

Photo credit: Cassandra Hamer

By: Marques Dexter

HOW DOES ONE EVEN BEGIN
TO PUT INTO WORDS
THE INTERNALIZED SELF HATRED
THEY LIVED WITH FOR SO MANY YEARS?

HOW THEY BECAME COMPLACENT
THROUGH THE COVERING OF A SELF
SHROUDED BEHIND A VEIL
FABRICATED BY A SOCIETY
WHO SAW IT FIT TO DEFINE
WHO AND WHAT HE SHOULD BE
INSTEAD OF AFFIRMING THE POSSIBILITIES
OF WHO HE WOULD BECOME.

I AM THAT PERSON
NO
CORRECTION
I AM THAT QUEER BLACK PERSON
WHO HAS LEARNED TO FIND
HIS QUEER BLACK JOY

---

Sitting at my office desk trying to delve into my thoughts and feelings on what it has been like for me to find the space within myself to love and accept the various identities unappreciated by society has been awkward. It's not that I don't know what to say, it's that I'm still afraid to say, "I'm gay." [Long pause] But why is it difficult to express something that is only a fraction of what makes me who I am? That is what I want to uncover through this writing, to illuminate the root of why I should give a fuck about what some potential employer or client will think of me and my personal life? I know that the personal is political, an often-subdued manifestation of resistance to dominant norms. Yet, opposition to the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy dominating modern society is what I'm all about.

I digress…

We already know so much of our past defines and shapes us into who we are and what we may be. What is hard to accept, at times, is that you are so much more than your past. I didn't realize this until recently. Going back to school and existing in an environment where intentional affirmations coupled with intellectual stimulation has allowed me to shed the remaining desires to perform false notions of heterosexuality in the name of fitting in. The drain it caused to continually show a different face based on the company I was around, you'd think I was training for a career in acting. But let me tell you, it's not necessary; BE YOU!

How can you BE YOU and be happy at the same time? Well, I'm not going to lie to you and say that it's easy. Merging happiness with self-acceptance is a state of being that is rife with pain that transforms into love. It's not uncommon to have thoughts of suicide when you exist on the margins of societal respectability. To be a member of the LGBTQ+ community, more importantly, to be a person of color that identifies with the LGBTQ+ community, we are socialized to operate in a perpetual state of cognitive dissonance compared to the cisgender, white, heterosexual images dominating society. 

As a result, we are regularly searching for places to call home; seeking to find communities of people who look like us. Depending on where you live, that can be difficult to do without traveling grave distances (and that's if you have the resources to do so). I remember discussing this with the author and activist Darnell L. Moore. We reminisced about the "Gayborhoods" of Philly and NYC, places like 13th Street and Christopher Street. They were urban sanctuaries for many LGBTQ+ individuals of color. They weren't massive in size, but they were OUR SPACES to exist outside the margins of a society that says we are abominations.

So, if there's anything I could say to anyone who is conflicted with loving and accepting themselves for who they are and can't see the beauty they radiate by just existing, it would be to find your squad; find your community of not only allies--because we all know they come and go when it's convenient for them--find your co-conspirators who are willing to fight the masses in order to create space for you to take up on a daily basis. The journey may be difficult, but you will get there. Change begins with you! Trust me, the more you search within yourself to find your voice, the happier you will be.

 

And remember, you are loved!

 

About Author: 
Marques R. Dexter is a Second-year doctoral student in the Sports Management & Policy program at the University of Georgia. His research centers around the identities and experiences of academically & athletically high-achieving African American male student-athletes, using visual qualitative research methods. He is a member of the Sports Research Instruction Laboratory under the direction of Dr.'s Paul Schempp and Bryan McCullick, President of UGA's Graduate and Professional Scholars (GAPS), and a Student Ambassador for the College of Education. Additionally, he has a strong passion for service, social justice, engaging in advocacy and operationalizing in solidarity with various oppressed and marginalized groups. He is dedicated to efforts involving Black male achievement. You can follow him on twitter here

 

Black Man ADDing: 9 tips to navigate ADD as an adult without medicine

Black Man ADDing: 9 tips to navigate ADD as an adult without medicine

What saved my life

What saved my life