by Mia McKenzie
I’ve said it before: it’s hard being a black woman in the world. It’s hard being any kind of black person. Any kind of brown person. Any kind of woman. Add queerness to the mix, and life becomes an amazing kind of struggle, one filled with enormous losses and small triumphs.
The triumphs, however small, are always significant. I’m not talking about huge social justice movements, but rather the smaller things that always spark those movements, the smaller things that keep those movements going. I’m talking about black women, domestic workers, refusing to give up their seats on buses in Montgomery, Alabama. Not just Rosa Parks, but all the women who refused to get up before her. Each of their actions was a small triumph. Even when they got arrested, which they did. Because the small triumph wasn’t in the outcome, but in the act of resistance itself.
During the Stonewall Riots of 1969, when some of Greenwich Village’s most marginalized queers—homeless youth, drag queens—fought back against police brutality, every brick thrown, every foot of ground held, was a small triumph. When the police grabbed folk singer Dave Van Ronk—who had heard the commotion from a bar two doors away from the Stonewall and come to help—he didn’t run. He wasn’t gay, but he had experienced police violence during antiwar demonstrations. He said: “As far as I was concerned, anybody who’d stand against the cops was all right with me, and that’s why I stayed in.” His fighting, his allyship, was a small triumph.
Alice Walker wrote that resistance is the secret of joy. I think this is true for people of color, for queers, for all of us whose lives are deemed less valuable in a hateful world run by evil people. Resistance comes in many, many forms. It comes in the throwing of bricks, but not only in the throwing of bricks. It comes, most often, in quieter, less media-worthy ways.
When I was a kid, I was forced to go to church on Sundays. Much of it was boring and terrible, and as soon as I was old enough to refuse to go, I did. Not all of it was terrible, though. One thing that was wonderful was that, always, at some point during the sermon, we would all be instructed by the pastor to turn to the person next to us and say, “God loves you and so do I.” All these years later, I don’t know about the God loves you part. But the And so do I was surely an act of resistance. The pastor knew—we all knew—that the world did not love us. We all knew that loving each other as hard as we could was how we survived in a world that wanted to kill us, and that made our love an act of defiance.
Little did the pastor know that the girl who recited elaborate bible verses so beautifully would grow up to be a radical, feminist, pussy-licking queer. Yet my love for my community is the same kind of love we promised each other in church every Sunday.
One morning, a couple of weeks ago, I awoke to a terrible pain in my shoulder. I injured it a few years ago and it gives me trouble ever since. This one morning, I needed to be at my computer, writing things for y’all, and I knew my shoulder wasn’t going to let me do it. So, I texted my friendly QTPOC massage therapist, Ana at Wild Seed Wellness, and asked if she could squeeze me in last minute. She did, and my shoulder, my whole body, was much happier for it. That was an act of resistance. On my part and hers. Her love for and investment in the wellness of queer people of color is an amazing act of resistance, and so is my investment in my own wellness.
I created this blog as an act of resistance. I created it as a way to reclaim the idea of dangerousness in a world that insists that as a black woman I am scary and aggressive and angry by default (I am angry, but it is not by default). I created this blog as a safe space for queer women of color who are tired of holding their tongues so as not to offend non-queer people of color, and white people, queer and not queer. And every time I post something here, something that is meant to inform or nurture my community, I get push-back from men and white people who want to tell me and all of us that we should shut the fuck up, that what we have to say has no value. I delete those comments so that the people I am creating safe space for don’t have to see them, don’t have to have yet another experience of being hated, because we get that enough everywhere else. But I know that hatred is there. I do this anyway. It is my every-day act of resistance.
For me, this blog is a small triumph. This blog is how I love my community, how all the writers featured here love ourselves and our people, of which, if you are reading this and recognizing your experience at all, you might be one. This entire endeavor is a love letter to you. It is my way, our way, of pushing back.
My childhood pastor was onto something. Turning to each other and naming our love is a radical and important act. Loving other queers, other people of color, and other queers of color especially, is an act of resistance. Loving us in all the ways I do, including fucking us, is about more than just sex or even friendship. The intentional act of loving other brown queers is about healing, in a world that says we are not worthy, that things like pleasure and care and security and unconditional love are not for us.
It’s not true, my loves, my lovers. They are for us. Give me your hand. Let me show you how much they are for us.
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Mia McKenzie is a writer and a smart, scrappy Philadelphian with a deep love of vegan pomegranate ice cream and fake fur collars. She is a black feminist and a freaking queer, facts that are often reflected in her writings, which have won her some awards and grants, such as the Astraea Foundation’s Writers Fund Award and the Leeway Foundation’s Transformation Award. She just finished a novel and has a short story forthcoming in The Kenyon Review. She is a nerd, and the creator of Black Girl Dangerous, a revolutionary blog.