To The Face That Stares Back At Me

Dear Me and Those Like Me,

Here I stand, looking in the mirror at the face that stares back at me. A face I had once hated and despised, a face that had caused me such Internal war and self-inflicted aguish. A dark-skinned, melanin-filled face that I had desperately wished was light skinned  and “attractive.”

Born of a white father and a Black mother you would assume that I’d appear biracial and be light-skinned, especially considering that both of my parents are on opposite sides of the color spectrum. Instead I came out as the chocolatey male that you see before you. I always remember feeling like my skin color was a mistake, like somehow the universe and God had wronged me. That didn't help when it came to my Queer identity in a world of white gays™ who dominated a homogenized sense of truth and claims about dark skinned guys not being desirable, where the only desirable people of color were the light-skin variants among us. (Of course, we know this stems from slavery and Black bodies that were closest to the European ideal, those appearing closest to white skin, being seen as attractive.)

These ideas I had about being wronged by the world (my words at the time) because “I had the wrong skin” and “should've been mixed,” just further added to my own unchecked internalized colorism and anti-Blackness, they contributed to my internal self-hatred of my skin color and all the horrible stereotypes that many of us hear about our own people. Having not been raised around Black people, I had no representations or role models to disprove them. Have no fear--this only continued for my four years of high school and up until my first day of college.

“Great now I have to go to this Black class, probably full of ghetto, loud, ratchet, uneducated kids.” These were the last words I uttered to myself as I looked in the mirror before leaving home to my first class of the day. When I eventually arrived to class in my 6-inch Lolita heel-esc booties (for the first time ever, I might add), every one of my preconceived and unchecked stereotypes and biases about Black people were immediately destroyed. They were not a negative construct of ghetto, loud, ratchet or uneducated in the ways society had taught me to view them.

I began questioning what else had society taught me that may also just be lies? What else had society taught me that were just unchecked biases? This brought me to one of the most important realizations of my internal struggle: seeing that I was not born the “wrong color” but that my Black was beautiful and in fact divine.

Here I stand looking in the mirror at the face that stares back at me. A face that I have come to love and embrace as the sun kissed beauty it is. Proud and Black.

I can't talk about self-enlightenment in terms of my own Blackness without touching on how the same European beauty standard that had been the lifelong oppressor toward my race, was the same oppressor in the image of what a gay person was supposed to look like. Why? Because the only narrative I could ever find was that of the white gays™. Overexposure of that particular experience left no room for others to share their varied experiences. Where was my source of empowerment, something to show me I wasn't alone?

With such a pervasive oppressor like that I had to naturally seek out other media where I could find my tribe, those that looked like me, and experienced the world in the same ways I had. Through this ever present hunt for representation I was able to create my own healing, and where I didn't see that representation, I became that representation. I came to find beautiful representation through these other media platforms, especially on Twitter with hashtags like #BlackQueersBreakTheInternet and #BlackTomgirl and finding sites like efniks.com. It was in finding my digital communities that I was able to see the true beauty of my people, the true beauty of myself, and find role models and icons who looked like me--different from the Tyler Oakleys, Ellens, and Caitlyn Jenners in constant rotation.

Here I stand looking in the mirror at the face that stares back at me. A face that I have come to love and embrace as the sun kissed beauty it is. Proud, Black, and gay.

When it comes to my identity as a transfemme GNC it's still a challenge to find my representation, especially whenever listicles of the “top ten genderfluid [fill in the blank]” GNC or Femme style icons, or “Femme Instagrammers you need to follow” are always white gays™ . This portion of my story is still writing itself, but I think in these cases I become my own representation, and have come to love my style, and love myself, in the larger picture. I have come to arrive at a place in my life where I truly love myself and can identify that the European beauty standards that once stood on my neck and tried to steal my life, light, and joy no longer live here.

So now here I stand looking in the mirror at the face that stares back at me, and truly see me for the first time. I have come to love and embrace the beauty it is, as a Proud, Black, Gay, Fierce, Femme, Gender-Fluid force to be reckoned with.

Signed,

A Fierce Femme

 

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