Back In the Closet
*Trigger Warning* This brave post from one of our scholarship recipients contains language that may be triggering to some. We applaud them for their courage to share. Please use discretion. We encourage you to have your support system in place and utilize your safe places and people.
There have been so many times in my life where I felt unsafe, so I thought a lot about the atmosphere and culture when considering a college. A smaller college for my anxiety, in a city somewhere, in a place where I wouldn't fulfill the diversity quota on the college brochures for my dark skin, and a college that pushed me academically.
Ultimately I ended up choosing a very prestigious Historically Black College or University (HBCU) in one of the biggest cities in the United States. With my HBCU only admitting less than 600 of the almost 10,000 people that applied, I know this academic space filled with beautiful intelligent (mostly) minorities is a cherished privilege. At my college, I feel affirmed in my femininity with very little mansplaining (yay!), affirmed in my blackness (yay!), and there are resources available to help me succeed (yay yay!!)
The one thing that completely skipped my mind in this college selection process, somehow, was my sexuality. Coming into an environment with so many other people disadvantaged in our society I just assumed that the queers would be welcome. So when my black, female, 1st generation immigrant roommate blurted out the word “faggot” one day at the kitchen table in reference to her professor, I was shocked.
The orange juice coughed up and out of my nose, my stomach tightened, and my vision went dark. Did I just hear what I think I heard? I literally froze and waited to see what my other roommates would do. My roommates didn't miss a beat, immediately trying to outdo each other with stories of the most problematic LGBTQ+ people in their lives. That's right everyone, my roommates are homophobic.
My mind raced thinking about all of the research and planning I did before ending up here. How... How did I miss something so big? Furthermore, how is this happening in a room of people who are constantly treated as less than because of the color of their skin? My roommates come in varying shades of black who could be stopped by the police and killed in an escalated situation with a cop without a second thought. Yet they sat there making a minority inside of a minority. They can point to a black, queer person and say to the world that at least the cis-gendered, straight black people fit into this white male dominated society more than... that. This is, in turn, makes a new bottom to our society, so they as black people feel more accepted by a society which will never truly accept them.
I want to say I was the queer person who stood up at that kitchen table of homophobia giving a speech reading them all to filth, sashaying away and riding off into the sunset with Janelle Monáe in a haze of rainbows. We all know that's not how this story is ending. I kept my eyes low while I quietly finished my breakfast and then quickly excused myself. Because at the end of the day in addition to being a queer black woman, I'm also a low income disabled black queer woman. If I came out to my roommates how quickly would they kick me out? If I told them off for being very homophobic how quickly would I have to find another place to live in a gentrifying city with sky rocketing rent prices?
I barely have enough to cover rent, tuition, medical bills and regular bills; definitely not enough to also cover a security deposit, moving fees and travel expenses to find another place to live. There is no family at home who accepts me for who I am and can financially help me escape this catastrophic situation. It's all on me; I'm all I’ve got. I understand that more than ever, now as I type this alone in my room trying to avoid anything other than pleasantries with my roommates for the foreseeable future. Six years after officially coming out I'm now back in the closet in my own home. I glance to the wall where a small purple, blue and pink card on my vision board says, ‘Bisexual Pride’. I feel like a lonely caged animal.