the voice and vision of a new generation

VIDEO: Celebrating my black and queer identities

February 22, 2018

This Black History Month, three GLAAD Campus Ambassadors sat down to talk about their intersecting Black and queer identities.

There is a rich legacy of Black queerness. Black and queer people have existed and thrived for centuries, but their stories are often overlooked, even in the months dedicated to celebrating their histories. There are advocates like Marsha P. Johnson, Bayard Rustin, and Audre Lorde who blazed a path of Black and queer excellence. Pointing to historical Black and queer folks, these young activists are using the history of Black queerness to empower themselves.

Queer Black people exist as Black and queer every second of every day at the same time. However, as mentioned in the video by Clark Atlanta University student, Savannah Green, many Black and queer people feel as if their identities are in conflict—as if they can’t be Black and queer simultaneously. Black and queer people have expressed the struggle to fit in LGBTQ spaces and communities because of their Blackness and vice versa. They enter LGBTQ spaces, which are usually majority white, as a Black person and enter Black spaces, which are usually majority cisgender and straight, as an LGBTQ person.

This is the idea captured by intersectionality—intersectionality states that identities aren’t independent of other identities, but rather all of one’s identities exist in a complexly interwoven relationship. Queer and Black folks enter all spaces as both queer and Black, they can’t pick and choose or turn off an identity. This confluence of identity, though, shouldn’t be seen as something negative. Jonathan Leggette, a student from Evergreen State College, said it best when they noted “Everything I do, I’m bringing my Blackness... I have to claim it because I was given it. It’s a gift.”

Black History Month serves as an important time in the LGBTQ community to honor the trailblazers who came before us and thrived living at the intersections of Black and queer. Watch the video to hear from Jonathan, Savannah, and Briannah on how they celebrate their Black and queer identities.

Adrian Vega is a GLAAD Campus Ambassador and junior at Stanford University studying Communication with a focus on Digital Media. He is currently interning at GLAAD as a Youth Engagement Intern.

Abdool Corlette is the Video Production Manager at GLAAD. He uses digital media to accelerate acceptance for all marginalized people. Abdool is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts.

the voice and vision of a new generation