June 22 2017

Pride. It is the reflection of oneself you come to admire. It is a form of self love. For LGBTQ people of color loving ourselves in the face of the discrimination and violence we often face is an act of collective love. But if we are truly going to be free as people of color we must bind ourselves to each other. Our fates are intertwined. The real question is whether we will fight for each other as though we know it.

As the founder and member of the Brown Boi Project, we work every day to transform the way that communities of color talk about gender. We start by convening men (queer, transgender and straight) with masculine of center women to challenge them to be accountable for privilege and enlist their support in building this movement.

A daunting feat—we are pushing back against decades of lived experience and hundreds of years of social and cultural norms—with a five-day retreat. Yet every year there are bois who transform their lives with the awareness that comes from being in the circle. Still, there are so many queer and trans people of color living with broken models of gender and masculinity.

As someone who works on masculinity, I spend much of that time thinking about how women and femininity give our communities life. Listening to what solidarity looks like. How do I show up daily to be an ally, what resources do I have to move in the direction of feminine leadership. As someone who works with young men and masculine of center people I believe that our movement is in desperate need of solidarity and love of the feminine. We need to radically embrace the feminine energy which helps us to become stronger and more evolved as leaders, partners, family, and friends. If men and masculine of center people de-centered ourselves for a moment we would be able to see that our only hope of saving ourselves is to invest in women and girls of color.

For it has been the historical control of women and girls of color, their bodies, spirits, and minds, that has controlled our entire communities. We would not only take up this fight but build “the feminine” as a core tenant in all of our work with young men and bois. Not with some old skool gentility model of chivalry but with an honest and self-reflective lens that recognizes the only reason we are even here—is because of the love, generosity, and wisdom of women of color. That we must learn how to cultivate and circulate multiple masculinities—each of them valid and credible without negating each other; that we must stop denying trans and queer people of color entry into our communities and hearts because of fear; and that we cannot preach solidarity and power as people of color while silently denying the largest issues that impact women, girls, LGBT folks.

As Audre Lorde said, “There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” This month as we celebrate Pride, honor those who have paved the way for us we have the opportunity to put our values in practice. We can start by asking others what allyship looks like. Then move into action by embodying it. Change is made every day by people who step outside of their comfort zones, educate themselves on someone else’s fight and figure out how to be of use. Let’s use this month’s celebration as an opportunity to show up for each other. Then we can take pride in our collective reflection.

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