Todd Heisler/The New York Times
Happy #PrideMonth lovers! The lovedby.her team has been celebrating pride all month, including dropping our The Lovers Club: Summer Collection and collaborating with Giant Foods on a #PrideMonth social media campaign. However, we felt like it was essential to take a moment to discuss why pride, especially black queer pride, is so vital in our community. And why it should be celebrated every day, not just one month out of the year.
I am a black woman, but I am also a PROUD lesbian. And history has shown us that identifying as both can lead me to experience hatred, judgment, ignorance, and even possible violence or death. History has also shown us that black queers have been continuously marginalized and banned from certain pride celebrations and privileges that our white queer community members throw or benefit from. Those facts, coupled with the fact that I grew up in environments where other black queers did not exist or openly identified as such, led me to create safe spaces for other black queer women like myself. And these efforts are not just a passion but a necessity.
A recent 2020 study by The Trevor Project tells us that "Among Black LGBTQ youth in this sample, 66% reported depressed mood in the past 12 months, 35% reported seriously considering suicide in the past 12 months, and 19% reported a past year suicide attempt." And that they are "significantly higher rates of suicidality among transgender and/or non-binary youth in the overall sample are also found among Black transgender and/or non-binary youth."
What does this tell us? That the Black LGBTQ youths and young adults in your life need your support, love, and acceptance. Not just in June but every single day of their lives. Check on them, love them, and most importantly, remind them that they matter to you no matter what and how they identify.
When I came out to my family at 18 years old, I was scared, confused, and looking for understanding and support as I figured out my newfound sexual identity. The struggles of coming out sent me into a depression that I did not know how to handle at such a young age. I distinctly remember reaching out to my older sister and telling her how sad I was. She immediately called our mom and told her she needed to get me. A few weeks later, I was moving to Washington, D.C., and transferring to Howard University. Here, I better understood myself and found a much-needed queer community to support me. Looking back now, ten years later, this was the best decision I made in my life and one that probably saved my life (in the hypothetical sense).
The unwavering love and support I received from everyone in my life at the time directly impacted my ability to come to terms with my sexuality and now live a flourishing and healthy life as a black lesbian. But I am one of the lucky ones; most of my peers have not shared this experience. And many have taken their own lives directly from that fact.
Pride month is more than just a chance for major corporations to change their company logo in performance. It's a short time every year when everyone who identifies as queer can feel a moment of peace and freedom around their sexuality. But that should be a feeling we get to celebrate every single day.
So this pride month, I challenge those of you who have someone gay and queer in your life to celebrate their life with them. Because they are still here and living in their truths. I am grateful to be on this earth, loved and celebrated by my family and friends daily. They should be too.
Written by: Kee Simone, LBH Editor-in-Chief (@thebaddiegalore)