Video: Exploring black queer life and how to support and uplift the community
NOTE FROM CHARLOTTE PRIDE: We are rolling out increased online events and programming, as well as news and commentary coverage for our local LGBTQ community in Charlotte and the Carolinas, as part of our new online programming during the COVID-19 crisis. Charlotte Pride is committed to ensuring our community has the most up-to-date and accurate information during this time, so we are sharing and documenting the stories and experiences of our community while also planning exciting and unique online engagement and education opportunities. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter and bookmark our website’s news section to get the latest updates.
On Wednesday, April 8, Charlotte Pride hosted its second Facebook Live broadcast as part of our online programming during the COVID-19 pandemic.
And what a great livestream it was! Charlotte Pride’s newest staff member, Programs Associate Nada Merghani (she/they), showed us all how to make a simple, easy, and tasty peach dump cake! Meanwhile, Nada also talked us through some important topics, questions, and thoughts on black queer life in the South and beyond.
At Charlotte Pride, Nada works to create year-round programming for Charlotte Pride and its several community programs, including Charlotte Latinx Pride, Charlotte Trans Pride, and Charlotte Women’s Pride.
Dump Cake Ingredients
Interested in making your own dump cake? It’s easy!
At its barest minimum, there are only three ingredients necessary — butter, cake mix, and pie filling or canned fruit. In this case, we used peaches!
It’s a perfect quarantine dish, easy to make at home!
Once you’ve laid in your ingredients, just pop it in the oven and wait 45 minutes to an hour, and enjoy!
Nada’s cake wasn’t finished cooking when the video ended, but it turned out great!
Black Queer Life
During the livestream, Nada talked about black queer life and how those outside the community can begin to do to the work to understand our experiences, uplift our voices, and treat us with humanity and dignity.
What is black queerness?
It’s the experience of being both black and queer.
It is incredible, beautiful, and so amazing.
It’s like playing a video game on hard mode even though it’s the first time you’ve ever played it. And you didn’t choose to set it on hard mode, it just is what it is. And there are times where you have to watch people who have had everything set on easy mode from the beginning who maybe got extra healing potions or stronger swords in their inventory as soon as they started be able to skate through the game with ease and then turn around and say “well I beat the game, so should you”
As much as you may love yourself, your skin, your hair, your everything, you are also existing in this state of awareness that you live in a society where every single social and political institution within in was not only made without your interests in mind, it was actively made to oppress and systematically disenfranchise you.
What are some of the challenges facing the black and queer community?
Black queer people weren’t in the room when the constitution was made. We weren’t even considered a person when it was made. This nation wasn’t built on values, ideas, and morals that matched with our cultural, social, and political experiences, as a result we face the brunt of economic disenfranchisement, extreme violence, higher rates of incarceration and police violence, health inequity, and homelessness and housing insecurity.
Race is the single largest determining factor of whether or not someone is going to experience queerphobic violence, whether it be from individuals or institutions
The statistic “A trans women’s life expectancy is 35 years old” floats around social media a lot, but there’s a key component to that statistic that’s missing. That’s the life expectancy for trans women of color.
In 2013, HRC documented the deaths of 150 trans and gender-nonconfirming individuals and of those 127 were individuals of color—a majority being Black and Latinx Trans Women. 58% of those deaths happened in the US South.
Statistics from the Movement Advancement Project also show that LGBTQ+ individuals of color experience higher rates of unemployment, homelessness, education bias, and hiring bias and on-the-job discrimination than nonblack LGBTQ+ individuals.
What is the beauty behind black queerness?
Black queerness has been at the forefront of all modern social rights movements.
Many names of historic leaders are familiar to us, though they don’t always get the credit they deserve: Bayard Rustin (MLK’s speechwriter), Storme DeLarverie (threw first brick at stonewall), Marsha P Johnson (one of the most prominent figures of the Stonewall movements), James Baldwin (one of the most revolutionary writers of all time).
We’re seeing, more and more, when black and brown queer folks are given platforms to grow and be great the things that are created as a result are absolutely extraordinary. Blood Orange (great album), Pose (incredible show directed and produced by and for trans folks of color), RuPaul’s Drag Race (led by RuPaul, a black drag queen who has become one of the most recognizable figures in the black queer community), Josephine Baker (a beautiful and talented early ’90s bisexual burlesque artist and activist), Janelle Monae (a modern nonbinary singer/songwriter), Tracy Chapman (an old school singer/songwriter), etc.
Want to learn more about iconic and historic LGBTQ people? The Equality Forum presents short video profiles of a wide variety of leaders each October for LGBTQ History Month. Click here to explore last year’s and past years’ profiles, including many people of color!
How can I support the black queer community?
Fund projects and initiatives led by black and brown queer folks:
- SONG (Southerners On New Ground)
- Black Business Owners of Charlotte
- Charlotte Black Pride
- Pride Support Services
- BYP 100
You can also participate, support, and provide resources to black queer folks and organizations. Follow the social media pages of the groups listed above, donate to them, attend their events.
For your friends that are black and queer—share their art, support their work, encourage and uplift them, donate to fund their projects, genuinely hear them when they speak, and don’t try to pretend like you understand our experience better than we do.
Understand that there is black queer excellence in your own communities and neighborhoods. As wonderful as it is to share Facebook articles about celebrities and nonprofits in big cities like California and New York, it can be ten times more enriching for you to share and uplift the stories of folks doing work in your own communities
If you find that you are struggling to connect with black queer groups and organizations you can follow local LGBTQ+ groups in your area on Facebook like PFLAG, Pride, HRC, Freedom Center for Social Justice, etc.
These are visibility groups and usually have sections in their websites or on their social media pages where you can find and share stories of local black queer owned businesses, entertainers, and nonprofits near you.
Finally, important during this time, learn to share skills and provide mutual aid.
How can mutual aid be accomplished during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Mutual aid is, in the most simple of explanations, asking for what you need and listening to what others need and providing it for them if you have the ability to.
Utilizing apps like Nextdoor (define what this app is), Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and your personal network to make sure the folks you care about have the things they need.
If you can and have the capacity to, donate extra food or funds to groups here in Charlotte like Greater Charlotte Rise (building tent cities and finding shelter for homeless individuals during this time), Transitioning Center of the Carolinas (helping folks get access to groceries and emergency supplies), and Campaign for Southern Equality (offering grants to businesses and individuals to get them through this work) that are making sure the most marginalized people are safe. – provide links to each org and a brief description of their work.