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Thaabz Eniko

A Queer Lens

When we talk about the lgbt+ community, it is very important to take into account race, class, context and privilege; how those dynamics influence personhood, the way we navigate our sexuality and that we are individuals with separate identities and lived experiences.

I have always thought of queerness as magical, spiritual and non-negotiable; an embodiment, an innate power, a life with many lives in one lifetime. And while that is something beautiful to hold on to, my reality is that I am a black femme queer person that does not subscribe to heteronormative masculinity, in a structural homophobic society, that views all those things as lesser – those are my struggles first.

Being visibly queer has always put me in range of ridicule, harassment, sexual and physical violence; therefore, I have grown up experiencing time differently. My life has never mirrored a heteronormative timeline RE: Love, relationships, and sex, as much of my youth has been spent surviving and dealing with feelings of otherness, loneliness, and depression. Queer people generally do not have a long lifespan, and we are never given enough room or space to be and perform our sexuality and gender as we please. And even with all those weighing factors, we still do not owe heteronormative society comfort in exchange for validity and survival.

I have been a victim of hate-crime, sexually assaulted, the recipient of emotional and physical abuse and while all those experiences continue to shape me/influence my day-to-day living and haunt me, I am no longer waiting for this world to be fair towards me because it never will. My goal, having made it to my mid-twenties (an age bracket I never thought I would reach) has been to reclaim my life. To focus less on surviving and start living; doing what I can with what I have and taking everything that has been used against me and turning it into my own.

Growing up queer in a digital age has been both a blessing and one of many fights against censorship and queer erasure. It has given me a second puberty, a second entry into queerness going into it with power, a voice that is not shaken, and a platform to live truthfully while controlling my own narrative. Having access to information RE: queer history, discourse, sexual health, relationship dynamics, being exposed to art and academia centering queer people by queer people, has allowed me to have awareness and has opened me up to a world of limitless possibilities. I have also met and interacted with amazing queer people (through the internet) who continue to inspire me, share some of the same feelings and experiences that have made me feel less alone, affirmed and valid.

There is joy in being queer, and I am not interested in being palatable, sanitizing my identity/existence/lived experiences for the heteronormative gaze. It is their responsibility to work through the issues they have with queer people. And if we as a community are ever going to liberate ourselves, the conversation needs to move beyond sexual roles. We need to unpack issues like socio-economic dynamics, internalized homophobia, misogyny, criminalization of homosexuality, desirability politics, lack of diversity, abuse in queer friendships and relationships, and why representation never covers everyone on the spectrum.

We have so much work to do as individuals and as a community, but I take comfort in knowing we are the cornerstone of every movement, every century and we will never be forgotten in all our glory and complexities. Our work, impact, spirits and digital footprints transcend time. We have been here before. We have always been here, and we are no longer waiting for our turn to be heard.

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