My Letter To YOU! Queer Black Teen Maneuvering Through Life ... I See You!
Dear Fabolous Queer Human, My name is Jimanekia Eborn. I am now a queer, black, polyamorous cis female and I happen to be a sex educator. I’ve worked in the field of mental health for about 10 years now. During this time, I found that something for me was missing, like I loved what I did but, that there was more. I just was not fulfilled. I wasn’t a 100% me, yet. I wasn’t 100% in the right alignment of the work I was supposed to be doing. A few years ago, I was tired of not feeling a 100%. So, I gave myself what I needed. Permission to be me, at all cost no matter what anyone else thought about it. I was finally able to come out as a Queer Polyamorous Queen. Up until my late twenties I presented as a heterosexual, monogamousish cis woman. It is hard trying to figure out who you are as a teenager, hell or even as an adult. It is even harder to figure out who you are as a black teen with the other stressors in the world, and finally and to be at peace with it.
It is hard trying to figure out who you are as a teenager, hell or even as an adult. It is even harder to figure out who you are as a black teen with the other stressors in the world, and finally and to be at peace with it.
I wish that when I was teenager someone had written me a letter as I am writing you. A letter of support, acknowledgment, and help navigating this crazy world as a queer black teen. Although I may no longer be called a teen. I am still right there with you. I want to share things that I have learned so that by the time you are my age you wouldn’t have had to go through such hard times. Or you can figure out some things currently going on. I didn't have the verbiage of identifying as queer. Hell, I didn't have the verbiage or a lot of knowledge that you have although I wish had. I also had no representation in my life, family, friends, school, or the media. So, I felt very alone and isolated in my feelings.
Ok, so let’s get to it. Have you told your parents that you identify as anything other than heterosexual? If not, this may be a tricky conversation with your parent(s). There are a lot of parents that are open and want to support their children no matter what. And then there are the parents who are not accepting. You know your parent(s) best, with how you want to approach this. There are a few different ways to go about this. You can reach out to someone that you feel safe with and may already know that you identify as Queer and have them support you. They can be somewhat as a barrier or a middle person when you sit down to share this information. You can tell one parent that you feel may understand and or support you when sharing with the other. You do not even have to tell them face to face. If you feel the safest and best way for you to share this information with your parent(s) is in a written letter, that works too. Remember, do not let anyone pressure you to share anything you are not ready to share yourself yet.
I've had to come out to my mother twice. She claimed that I did not tell her that I was queer. I think she blocked it out and that may also happen to you. You may finally build up the courage to have the conversation with your parent(s) sit down and tell them, and they may act like it never happened. I want you to know that this is not about you. This totally has to do with them, and things that have not worked through. When coming out to your parent(s) be prepared for the list of questions that may follow. In the black community, there is now more representation. But honestly, a lot of our community is ignorant to all this information and terminology. Have patience with them as they are trying to understand. To them you are showing a totally new side to them. When we know you are just being the person you have always been.
Now, maneuvering through school. As far as I can remember and note what I see with the teenagers that I work with and via social media being a teenager can be extremely hard. There are still the kids that are different and get made fun of more.
I wish someone had told me, that junior high and high school were literally just stopping points in my life. And that later in life I would get to look back, and see how much happier I am living in my truth versus all those that never get to, I know looking towards the future does not tackle the current issues so let’s get back to that
Present day, school has three different levels for most teenagers: It sucks, and you hate it. It is whatever, and you get through it. Or, you love it and think it is amazing. Most, weight in with the first two sections. Most teenagers do not know themselves and are trying to figure it out just like you. NO one has it all figured out and or together no matter what they say or how they look. So maybe you can find a bit of comfort in that. Being black in some areas can already be hard just showing up as a black individual and then adding queer into the equation There is a chance that you will and or have had to deal with racism and prejudice. And that is hard and terrible( I SEE YOU). Depending on what school you go to, you may feel like you do not fit in, or you are forced to think you do not fit in. Growing up, I was never black enough for the black kids and I was never “whitewashed” enough for the others. Early on, I found myself tired of trying to fit it and doing what made me happy. I went through different groups of people in school. Do not feel like you must find one tribe at your school. Find whatever makes you feel safe and happy, regardless if that is one tribe of humans or multiple tribes. If you can find YOUR tribe, the kids, that see you for WHO YOU ARE! See just another magical black teen that happens to be Queer. Thrive with these people there are always going to be people that do not understand and make fun of you and start rumors about you. And for that, I am sorry for their ignorance and lack of seeing how magical you are. But, if you do not find that ONE tribe, again that is ok. If you can find someone or people you can feel safe with and get through this time with. I cheerlead that on as well.
As for the community aspect of all of this. I would love to tell you that the world outside of school and your family will be better and or they all understood. But, I know you are smarter than that and know what is going on in the world. The black community is hard to break. One of thee hardest part is you may face some hatred and see people you have known your entire life change. AND I AM SORRY, that these people aren’t open-minded. And do not see that you are the same person you have been,forever. There is a lot of misogyny and ton of secrets that are weaved in between the black community. People “hate” what they do not know or understand. You are a shining star, and some people have never seen a star like you. By, the time you read this there will be multiple examples of people that you can see and relate too. People that look like you, love like you and see you for who you are. The black community is getting better but it is not perfect by any means. Be true and honest to yourself. If you feel that you are in an unsafe situation always listen to your intuition. NO matter what type of situation you are in, TRUST yourself and TRUST what your body is telling you.
I know this isn’t all the support you need. But, I truly hope you find something in all of this.
But, before I let you go. I had a few older black queer friends that wanted to leave you with some advice as well.
* What you decide now can and will change later and that’s okay.- S.B
* Being Black and queer means you need to be stronger. You have to fight to have your voice heard and folks will base the worthiness of your voice off of the color of your skin and your size. Don’t worry about the white gays. Work to heal yourself and the rest will fall into place.- DR. J.P
* “Yo glow up is about to be SO fucking real. You’ll be living in your truth without apologies. Just wait.”- T.M
* Your chosen family might take time to assemble.- B.J
* You aren't alone, but sometimes feeling alone is better than surrounding yourself with those who don't have your best interests at heart.
* Saying NO can be your superpower.- B.J
* It’s okay to feel both masculine & feminine & be yourself- D.E
* Your family's opinion is NOT the beginning and end of your world. If they love you they'll learn to accept you for who you are. If not, then they didn't really love you - L.G
*You don’t have to define yourself/sexuality outwardly to make society comfortable with you at the expense of you not being comfortable with you... Who you are is good enough for the right people and forget the others.- C.C
*That you have space to bring you slay to the party, too. Don’t be put off by the opinions of others. They’re only saying mean shit because you came in the room and made everyone have to tuck their chain! Shine, girl, SHINE! - M.J
We wish you so much love, strength, clarity and the ability to persist above it all.
Resources for you:
Cover photo taken by:@gaptoothshorty