Today I’m super excited to share this awesome guest post with you today. In her words, Caress Scarbrough (She/They) has been coaching and consulting for 25 years, focusing on sexuality and relationship coaching for the past five years. She is a principal coach and co-founder of Mindful Passions International and a DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) consultant. Caress is a proud Black, Queer, Disabled, Non-Monogamous Leathergirl who advocates for the BIPOC, LGBTQ+, Poly, Kink, and Disabled communities in every aspect of her life. In my words, she’s a fucking bad-ass and I dropped everything to read her post on American queer blackness as soon as it hit my inbox.
Caress guides people in the BIPOC, LGBTQ+, Poly, Kink, and Disabled communities to intentionally create the relationships and sex lives they desire. To learn more, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or find her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at @CaressMindful.
American Queer Blackness in the Month of June
Every June, we celebrate Pride, with seeming oblivion or ignorance of the fact that the incident we commemorate was instigated by people of color, including a Black lesbian and a Black drag queen. June 19th, we commemorate Juneteenth, the emancipation of the last of the Black Americans owned as slaves. This June, we have seen worldwide protests in the cause of Black Lives Matter due to the continued violence Black Americans are enduring. How do we continue to acknowledge either Pride or Juneteenth when so many are still dying?
We commemorate these events and celebrate our wins so we can continue to have strength for the fight. While we’ve seen some progress, it is clear that there is still work to be done.
On June 6th, 2019, the New York City Police Department’s police commissioner issued an official apology for the raid on the Stonewall Inn. This raid started a riot and is the event we commemorate during each year’s Pride month. This apology came nearly 50 years after the historical development, and while well-intentioned, it does nothing to repair all the years of discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community.
In June 2020, 155 years after the last slaves were freed in the United States, the U. S. Supreme Court declined to review cases involving qualified immunity for police officers. This qualified immunity has shielded many police officers from being prosecuted for events leading to Black Americans’ injury or death. The decision not to review the cases extends the time in which we continue to say #BlackLivesMatter in the face of actions demonstrating that they don’t. In the same session, the Court voted to protect LGBTQ+ people from being fired for their sexuality. Talk about mixed messages!
In the same week that the Supreme Court delivered its mixed messages, two Black trans folks were murdered in the same 24 hours. The message #BlackTransLivesMatter is now being centered in the media and in protests.
I am a Queer Black American. Every June, I find myself questioning which identity takes priority. Am I Queer first, or am I Black first, and why should I have to choose? At the same time that I am battling racism within the Queer community, I’m fighting homophobia in the Black community. When I compare the progress made in advancing the rights of Black Americans over the past 155 years with the progress made in advancing LGBTQ+ Americans’ rights, I am disheartened. It seems that Black people have to die first in America to be recognized as having a life with value to the world, a life worth recognizing with human rights.
When will we, as human beings, recognize that we each have our own unique value to share with the rest of the world? Will that recognition include valuing the lives of people while they are living? Will we one day stop requiring Black Americans to die before they are considered worthy?
Quinn Rhodes (he/him) is a freelance journalist, sex writer, and professional transsexual. His work focuses on dismantling shame and queering sex.