Editor’s Note: For Women’s History Month, I am curating a few articles by women sharing their thoughts, experiences, and wisdom. If you would like to be included in the series, please email me.
Growing up in a household where art, music and intellectual discourse were always part of the backdrop, as well as a kind of spiritual love that always permeated the atmosphere, I, as an adult, have always sought out spaces where I could have access to and experience this type of community. As a straight woman of African descent, I have often found myself experiencing this perfect balance in queer spaces, more specifically among queer women of color.
Growing up around openly queer men and women who were loved and welcomed in our home, I learned at an early age that all people–no matter how they identified by gender or sexuality–were worthy of my love and acceptance. It was in that environment I developed an attachment to the concept of unconditional love and acceptance.
I never understood other hetero people’s discomfort within queer spaces or even in the company of someone who was openly gay. It just was never part of my experience to exclude or feel threatened by people who chose to love those of the same gender. I always felt deeply secure in my own sexuality and never succumbed to the idea that as a straight woman, that I could only experience unconditional love, friendship and community in spaces with other hetero people.
A few members of my family even assumed that I was a closeted lesbian because I had so many friends who were lesbian, even lesbians who were in committed relationships with children. But it says something about the nature of the love I felt. It seemed as if I could only find the level of intellectual discourse, freedom to be me, unconditional love and a certain degree of comfort within my own skin among Black queer women.
I do not want to reinforce stereotypes about straight women but I have never been preoccupied with discussing the latest fashion, difficulties found on the dating scene, or how men seem too hard to understand. I have found that most queer women that I have encountered and formulated friendships with, possibly because of their lack of desire for the approval of men, left a huge space for me to explore other themes such as spirituality, literature, art, music, politics, travel, and the dynamics of gender. The queer women I have known were open to exploring the often painful and traumatic issues of Black women and our relationships with our mothers in ways that the straight women I knew were not.
The depth and the level of honesty that I have experienced in my time spent with queer women has allowed me to grow exponentially, evolve and remain true to myself. The lack of jealousy and competition for male attention that existed between me and these women, allowed us to reflect, strengthen and build as women who love and support women and are concerned with healing the wounds that we have experienced as women in a white supremacist patriarchal society.
I have felt so honored, cherished, loved and supported in these spaces and also mothered in the most positive sense of the word. And even when I felt like maybe I should try to find other spaces where I could possibly meet other Black hetero women like me, because I was seriously cutting down on my chances of meeting a straight male (which turned out not to be true at all), I bravely chose to go where the love is and continue to unabashedly, unapologetic hang out with lesbian women. And as a result, I have been exposed to others, straight men and women, who felt that they could not fully be themselves in other spaces.
I am gratefully finding myself part of a movement of people who are choosing love in whatever form it comes and choosing to not be led by fear when determining who and where they choose to spend their time. In a world where many people face ugly expressions of hate against them because they love outside of white male patriarchal norms, there is a developing movement of people who are choosing to share space with those for whom love knows no gender and the choice of who you love is not as important as simply creating and existing in a space of love.