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All photos by Erin Davis for VOX ATL

Queer Black Girl Magic: We Exist and We’re Here to Stay [PHOTOS]

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As once said by controversial civil rights leader Malcolm X, “The most unprotected woman in America is the black woman.” And though criticized by modern feminists for sexist rhetoric, Malcolm did get one thing right — black women in America possess incredible vulnerabilities. However, within the enduring struggle for both black liberation and gender equality within the black community, one narrative that threatens to be erased completely- the battle for the visibility of queer black women, and the violence and discrimination they frequently face.

Identity and inequality are not simple checks in boxes for these individuals. Young queer black women live under layers of systemic oppression and exist at an intersection of identity that brings together the unique struggles of each community. They are infrequently the ones heard, or the ones uplifted or represented. Thus, it is not only important to give a platform to the stories of these unique individuals, but also to normalize the existence of feminine queer blackness. An investigation of identity, struggle, and perseverance through the lens of the queer black girl experience offers an intimate look into a community of individuals affected by a ‘“triple jeopardy” of societal otherization. Despite the perpetuated narratives of toxicity towards LGBTQ individuals within the black community, queer black girls possess a different type of strength, beauty, and magic that deserves to be celebrated. The ways this community of women overcomes adversity and displays excellence deserves recognition.

This visual celebration of queer black girls explores the diverse forms in which they display both their queerness and their Black Girl Magic as one. Within a larger movement of equality for individuals existing at the intersection of queerness and blackness, the voices of this generation create a dialogue circulating identity, race, and discrimination.

Chelsey Ellis, 20, Kennesaw State University

VOX ATL: What kind of obstacles have you overcome because of your identities?

Ellis: Sexuality, in general, is not taken seriously by straighter people because they question it — like you have to be gay or straight, and there’s no in between or other avenues. I find strength in other bisexual people I find, especially in the media.

VOX ATL: How are Queer Black Girls magical?

Ellis: We just are, in the way that we walk, in the way that we talk, the confidence that we have, the strength that we have to come out if we choose to. Everything about us is just magical in general.

 


 

Laura Dabriel, 19, Georgia State University

VOX ATL: How are you a part of something bigger by being apart of the Pride movement?

Laura Dabriel 19, Georgia State University: It makes you feel like you’re being yourself because you’re surrounded by people who go through the same struggles and they just want to make you feel loved. It makes you feel really good about yourself.

VOX ATL: Do you ever feel alienated from the black community because of your sexuality?

Dabriel Yes, sometimes. The black community is very old-fashioned, and so they’re very judgemental sometimes, especially with sexuality.

VOX ATL: How are Queer Black Girls magical?

Dabriel: People underestimate and look over us. They usually give the credit [for our work] to other people. By saying we’re magical, we’re finally getting credit, and being appreciated for who we are.


Imani Jennings, 19, Georgia State University

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VOX ATL: What unique obstacles do queer black women face?

Jennings Not being accepted almost anywhere, besides our community. Being white and gay is easier than being black and gay. It’s hard but we’re out here shining anyway.

VOX ATL: How are Queer Black Girls magical?

Jennings: Because we shine even more. We face more difficulties in comparison to straight black girls, and hopefully, the support we receive gets better.

 

 

 


Iyonna Johnson, 16, DeKalb School of the Arts

VOX ATL: What is your message to the queer black girls who are not out yet, and are afraid?

Johnson I would want them to know that it’s OK. Not everything is as big as it seems, and you’re going to get past this stage in your life where you feel trapped inside yourself and you don’t know where to go. It passes, and it gets better.

VOX ATL: How are queer black girls magical?

Johnson: We’re a different kind of magic. We’re weird and special and we have our own little corner of the world where we can just be ourselves.

VOX ATL: What are the unique struggles queer black women face?

Johnson There’s a lot of discrimination, as well as a lot of generalization about women in general, but with queer black women people assume we don’t exist, or it’s weird if you are. I’d love if we could get past that in the world.


Ayanna Haynes, 15, Decatur High School

VOX ATL: What are the unique struggles queer black women face?

Haynes: Being black is hard enough and being a woman is hard enough. But when you add being queer into that, it’s a lot harder.

VOX ATL: How are Queer Black Girls are magical?

Haynes: The queer community is beautiful, and so is the black community; and so, we’re extra special because we’re a part of both.

VOX ATL: What would you message be to the queer black girls who aren’t out because they’re afraid of not being accepted?

Haynes: It doesn’t matter what other people think about you. Living your truth is what’s going to make you really happy.

 


Khara Smith Russell, 17, Georgia Cyber Academy

VOX ATL: In what ways is it complicated to be both queer and a black woman??

Russell: Because of the way things were in history as well as religious views, that can cause conflict in the black community with LGBT views and existence. As a queer black woman,nine times out of 10 you’ll have someone in your family who you know is not accepting. You really have to push through, as its hard to be who you are.

VOX ATL: How are queer black girls are magical?

Russell: Queer black girls are super magical We just are, and that’s a fact. There’s something amazing about open-minded people in general, and so when we have open-minded black girls who are integrating themselves into greater communities like this, it really puts representation out there. We are just constantly doing great things, and that has to be magical.

VOX ATL: What would your message be to the queer black girls who aren’t out because they’re afraid of not being accepted?

Russell: To all the afraid queer black girls, everyone has their time. And so, if the time isn’t now for you, it’ll come. Eventually, you will be able to find yourself and put yourself out there in the world, because this is a new age. A lot of new stuff is happening for where we are headed, and it’s good to be progressive.


Lauren Swasey 16, Dekalb School of the Arts

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VOX ATL: Whys it it hard for queer black women to embrace who they are?

Swasey: There’s a lot of judgement, especially within African American families, because it’s just not something that they are used to. It’s very hard to be that person to step out of the box and be that person who’s different. Black families are very conservative. They don’t necessarily believe in that type of thing.

VOX ATL: What would your message be to the queer black girls who aren’t out because they’re afraid of not being accepted?

Swasey: Embrace who you are and learn to love yourself first, before anything else. Make sure you understand who you are, and continue to be yourself. Don’t worry about what other people have to say, because it’s about how you feel and how to want to present yourself.

VOX ATL: How are queer black girls magical?

Swasey: We all have such a positive energy in this community, and that’s so magical.


Amakou-Nick Whitten, 14, Maynard Holbrook Jackson High School

VOX ATL: What would your message be to the queer black girls who aren’t out because they’re afraid of not being accepted?

Whitten: Even if you feel that you can’t come out now, you’ll eventually find the courage, and when you do it’s worth it.

VOX ATL: How are queer black girls magical?

Whitten: We just are. We get to be ourselves, and we get to show our love to people just like us.

 

 

 

 


Lee Armour, 15, Emmanuel Jackson High School

VOX ATL: Do you ever feel alienated from the black community because of your sexuality?

Armour: Speaking from personal experience, when I came out to my mom, her response was like “You’re black. What do you have to do with that [lgbtq identity]. That’s for white people.’”

VOX ATL: How are queer black girls magical?

Armour: Just the way we express ourselves. We’re just so fierce. We don’t care. If we have something we want to flaunt, we’ll flaunt it. And I’m just like “yes ma’am!’

VOX ATL: What’s your message to the queer black girls who aren’t out because they’re afraid of not being accepted?

Armour: Even if you can’t come out to the people you want to, as long as you know who you are to yourself, and as long as you have that small group of people you can go to, that’s all that matters.


Taylor Dowdy 15, Decatur High School

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VOX ATL: How is his generation of queer black women ushering in change?

Dowdy: We [queer black women] are a minority even within this minority. Banding together and being strong empowers this movement.

VOX ATL: What’s your message be to the queer black girls who aren’t out because they’re afraid of not being accepted?

Dowdy: Don’t be scared. People should accept you for you. What’s most important is yourself, and your self-love.

 

 

 


Willa Dyer 16, Lee County High School

VOX ATL: What’s your message to the queer black girls who aren’t out because they’re afraid of not being accepted?

Dyer: Do what makes you happy. Don’t let what anyone else determine what you do with your life. If you are not supported by the people closest to you, move on, because they don’t truly care about you. Be happy, be yourself. You’ll never be happy if you haven’t accepted yourself.

 

 

 

 

 


Latonya Turner 21, Emory University

VOX ATL: How is this generation of queer black women ushering in that time of change?

Latonya Turner: We’re making a change because we’re finally admitting to being queer. In a lot of black families, it was called a phase or [it was] pushed away. But a lot of black people now, especially black women, are embracing it a lot more wholeheartedly. A lot more people in the world are embracing it.

VOX ATL: How are queer black women more vulnerable than ever in this current administration?

Turner: Because being black and being queer is like having so many strikes against you. It can be really hard. It’s like “you’re black, you’re queer, and you’re a woman,” all of these things nobody really understands or likes about you. It can be hard to get jobs and internships if you are very open about being black, queer and a woman.


Jaida Lane 24, Armstrong Graduate

VOX ATL: What’s your message to queer black girls who aren’t out because they’re afraid of not being accepted?

Jaida Lane: The minute you come out, life is going to get a million times better. You’re going to love yourself a billion times more than you did before.

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