Fatigue. Exhaustion. The need for rest. So many of us feel these deep in our bones. Especially for those who are queer people of color, the need for a moment of solace is stronger than any drink that can be poured.
We are the legacy of unapologetically queer community leaders, activists, families, performers and so many more. There is an intergenerational, intracommunity understanding that our individual and collective existence itself is an act of rebellion.
However, this fight isn’t new.
What continually surprises me is the perennial awakening of our white cisgender counterparts that America is a hostile place of residence for people who don’t share their privileges. Our country and state haven’t recently become broken. The current administration running our country didn’t suddenly ruin the sanctity of American democracy.
The U.S. has been in the business of separating children from their parents and putting people in cages through chattel slavery since white colonizers first stepped foot on First Nation land hundreds of years ago.
Our country and state aren’t broken – they’re functioning exactly how they were designed.
Asian-American immigrants weren’t even granted full naturalization rights until 1952, a full 100 years after the U.S. recruited contract laborers from South China. Even though Congress formally wrote racial discrimination out of immigration into naturalization laws in 1965, all of us know we’re still dealing with a humanitarian crisis at our Southern border and in detention centers across the country.
Our country continues to find new ways to keep queer people, people of color and immigrants in cages. If you look at the timeline of anti-black policy in the United States, you will find that after Jim Crow laws were abolished, those states then passed new laws to criminalize black and brown bodies. The trend snowballed into the mass incarceration that plagues our communities today.
We must recognize that the fight for racial and ethnic equity has always been a part of queer liberation. While marriage and military service continue to be the focus of keynote addresses to audiences of white gays with 401Ks, our siblings continue to be evicted from their homes, fired from their jobs, and murdered on our streets.
I’ve been in this work for a few years now. There are many mornings that I wake up and strongly consider packing up my car and driving to a place where I don’t have to face the realities that lie waiting for me outside my door.
Continually engaging with conservative lawmakers who consider the “other side” when calling a conference about prohibiting conversion therapy for minors in the State of Georgia is another reminder that I cannot — no, we— cannot give up.
For some of us, this struggle is a matter of survival. For others, it is an optional act of solidarity with those in their community. The strength of our story as queer people is that we exist in every other community, whether they want to claim us or not.
Intersectionality of movements and identities is key in our progress forward, but those more privileged among us are privy to perpetuate oppressive structures that have been used to take away our power for centuries.
If we are to truly be liberated, we must do so together. Queer existence is resistance— may our rebellion be beautiful.
This column originally ran in Q magazine. Read the full issue online here:
Pick up a new edition of Q each week at queer and LGBTQ-allied venues around Atlanta.