Lena Waithe is my black queer superhero

the voice and vision of a new generation
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Lena Waithe is my black queer superhero

May 14, 2018

When I saw Lena Waithe in the “Thanksgiving” episode of Netflix’s Master of None everything changed. When her character, Denise, came out as queer to her mother in a diner I was sitting in my bedroom, watching it on my laptop, listening and realizing that the conversation they had was exact same experience I had with my mother three years ago. It was emotional and I almost came to tears, and in that moment I knew I had to stan Lena Waithe.

I’m a Black nonbinary femme who sometimes presents masculine, but when I do, I don’t always feel confident in my appearance or identity. In any form of media, I’ve never seen depictions of Black families interacting with the queerness of Black women/femmes, especially those who are less feminine. Unlike the phenomenal Moonlight, which explored the Black gay male experience, there hasn’t been an equivalent film for Black women/femmes. But Lena has showed me and others like me that Black women/femmes have gone through what I’m going through and have made it out just fine. We’re not alone. Lena’s given me a chance to see others like me, and made me realize that I can achieve great things while being out and that I’m worthy of every single second of gratitude and pride.

Lena Waithe is gaining mainstream recognition. With her recent cover on Vanity Fair and an Emmy for comedy writing under her belt, she’s making herstory as a visible, queer black woman who is unapologetic in her sexuality. As someone who is constantly looking for representation in mainstream media, I feel like I can finally see myself reflected in a positive way.

Furthermore, The Chi, a Showtime drama series created by Lena Waithe about life in the South Side of Chicago, features a majority Black cast and depicts the many facets of Black America. I watched all of The Chi in two sittings, and I admired seeing Black folks being represented in ways that weren’t stereotypical; they weren’t always antagonistic, a side character, or heterosexual. In The Chi, Black people are mothers, lovers, children, protectors, friends, real people.

Thank you, Lena, for showing me authentic representation and giving me a sense of belonging within mainstream media. You’ve made it easier for me to accept my image and feel glamorous wearing suits and presenting more masculine. Now, whenever I wear even a casual hoodie, sweats, and a baseball cap, I think to myself, “I look fly like Lena Waithe!”

Lena, I’ll forever stan for you for what you have created for people like me.

#WeStan is an amp original series honoring LGBTQ legends in media because we know that representation matters. Follow along on GLAAD social mediaFacebook, Instagram, Twitterto see who our fans stan!

Briannah Hill is a GLAAD Campus Ambassador and a junior at the University of Colorado, Boulder studying Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. They are the co-president of the QTPOC club on campus where they advocate mainly for queer and trans youth of color.

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