Posted Friday 25 February 2022
This month is so important as it's an opportunity to celebrate LGBT History, people, and their contributions to culture. I wanted to share my journey as a Black, Queer, Christian and I hope that by telling my story, others will be able to relate and know there are other people like them too.
Coming out and Coming Home
Up until 2019 I had never really fully ‘come out' or engaged with the LGBT+ community and when I did, I often found myself in White-dominated spaces which, I felt, didn't appreciated or understood my experience. I think part of me was ashamed, scared, and I didn't know what it meant to be queer. I never really had anyone who I could talk to about my experiences. On a whim, I came across the Stonewall 'BAME Young Campaigners' retreat and applied. A few days before I left to go on the retreat I came out to my family. It was a very difficult and upsetting experience for me. I was very fortunate to attend the retreat soon after.
It was one of the most transformative experiences of my life, and a moment I will continue to cherish.
It was one of the first times I had met queer people of colour en mass. It was so exciting to see that people who look liked me and were queer existed. Most importantly, for the first time in my life I was able to be the most authentic version of myself, it was so liberating.
To be Tamara, before being Black or Queer, was such a new and restful experience, and I couldn't believe that this was how other people got to experience life. This new family and friends helped me to see that I am enough and that I didn't have to hide parts of my identity for people to love me and accept me. As result of feeling so inspired and fearless I accidently outed myself to everyone on my Instagram by posting the picture below, but luckily I received so much love from my friends and those around me for it.
My advice to anyone who feels like they don't fit within normal LGBT+ spaces is that there are spaces for you and people who look like you and are experiencing the same thing as you. Find those spaces that make you feel at home and allow you to feel validated, affirmed, loved, and inspired.
Decolonising the mind: finding peace with my religion and myself - Decolonising partnership with Yahlnaaw
Last year, University of Westminster ran a session on a decolonising partnership which was led by Yahlnaaw from Skidegate, Haida Gwaii in this land we now call Canada. Yahlnaaw is from an indigenous tribe called the Haida and took us through the journey of her nation and her life. It was extremely moving.
In particular, I loved hearing about the process of her undertaking her thesis which was about reviving and capturing her nations language. She found that engaging with her language, land, people, and ways of thinking were liberating for her. It was so powerful to hear her talk about her internalised transphobia that she had gained from living in this colonial framework and how that all started to shatter by putting these issues and other issues into her Haida framework.
The fact that in her nations framework they already had trans people and they were accepted gave her so much peace. In her nation, queer people just exist without necessarily needing labels they are just allowed to be. I thought was so powerful. I felt what really hit me and my own experience of being queer and black is that I buy into frameworks such as organised Christianity and western notions of beauty that do not serve me and all I can do is suffer at the hands of these framework.
That conversation really forced me to change how I see my faith, through uncovering the true framework/message of the bible through my own study, my religion became a liberating for me. I learned I served a God who says I am good, I am enough, I am loved because he knew exactly who I was when he made me.
That understanding brought me so much peace and strengthened my faith. I was so happy to be able to reconcile who I was and my religion. Now I can stand strong in my faith and answer back when people misuse religion against me. It's been powerful to have not only the wisdom teachings but the tools to reshape my ways of thinking about myself in relation to the world. It feels powerful and transformative. I think for a lot of us finding ways of knowing and being that allows us to reconnect with ourselves, others, and the world around us would be so valuable and would bring us so much peace.
I hope this blog offers you hope and new ways forward! As my dear friend once beautifully said "You are what happens when light refracts through a prism".