A Plea from Your Friend Who is Trying to Celebrate a Marginalized Aspect of Their Identity That You Don’t Share

It seems like lately whenever I try to celebrate some aspect of my identity that happens to be marginalized, someone from a less marginalized group wants to ask why I’m not celebrating them too. I work on a project highlighting the unsung people of color and white women who built the Old West and white dudes ask why they aren’t represented. I ask for works from people of marginalized genders and dudes ask what about them. I say Black Lives Matter white people ask don’t I mean all lives. When I say listen to Black Women or white women ask if is mean all women or Black men ask if I mean all Black people. I have a positive slogan that doesn’t target any other group in any way put on a shirt and I get asked “what about [identity I’m clearly not]? Where’s the thing that celebrates that?”

Naomi Campbell saying "I do love you, but really?"

It took a long time for me to find and build the intersections that make up my identity.

Cis Woman

Grace Jones flirting (from "Boomerang")

I’m not trans. I’m 98% sure of that. I have no desire to be male at least. Had I been born 5 or 10 years later, I might have embraced non binary or genderqueer but none of those terms were available when I was still questioning. So Cis Woman.

Butch Cis Woman

Jada Pinkett, Queen Latifah, Vivica A. Fox, and Kimberly Elise sitting on a roof laughing (from Set it Off)

Roughhoused with the boys, mowed lawns instead of babysitting, worked on plumbing and cars and home repairs, hated wearing dresses or skirts 90% of the time. I occasionally dress up to the nines in full makeup and tiara and huge floofy skirt (with pocket because fuck not having a place for my phone) but day to day it’s jeans and men’s cargo shorts. I’ve never been what society considers feminine. I’m nearly six feet tall and well past 200. Until Fenty made a splash finding makeup in my shade consistently was nigh impossible. (And yes, I tried Fashion Fair and it was ashy af on me). I tried straightening my hair for decades before embracing my natural coils. I talk too loud and murder strut instead of taking dainty steps and have the shoulders of a linebacker. Tomboy. Butch. Those were the terms lobbed at me that I glommed on to. So Butch Cis Woman with a totally performative Hard Femme Evil Queen alter ego.

Biromantic Butch Cis Woman

Black women hugging

Not gay. Not dyke. Not Lesbian. I’ve always liked boys and girls. Huge crush on pretty much the entire cast of Conan the Destroyer at a formative age (but also Optimus Prime…) Could have ended up with a wife as easily as with a husband. So Bi, because the Pan flag’s color scheme doesn’t do it for me and because bi was what was available when I was more questioning. Pan works equally as well because my attractions are all over the place. Lately I’ve embraced biromantic over bisexual though because I realize most of my attractions are aesthetic and not really causing actual pants feels but I like the relationship aspects without sex. Long talks, cuddles, and dates with no strings attached? Yes please. So Biromantic Butch Cis Woman.

Black Biromantic Butch Cis Woman

Casey Cott giving Black Power fist salute (from Riverdale).

Black. No question. Person of Color sure but specifically Black. Not African American. That implies I have a connection to Africa that doesn’t exist outside of the knowledge that my ancestors were stolen from somewhere on the continent and the hunger to know more about what we lost as a result. There are many who have memories of Africa or family with those memories but me and mine don’t. That and African American negates the rich differences between parts of Africa. No one says European American. Why are entire other continents’ inhabitants lumped together while white people get to have the specificity of their ancestors birthplaces? So Black. No matter what some people might say about my interests or taste in music or lack of dancing ability. Always have been, always will be. There was a time in my life when I wished I could change it but like many other things, I’ve come to terms with it and what it means to and for me. So Black Biromantic Butch Cis Woman.

All of these are things I had to struggle to accept and define for myself. My Black is not everyone’s Black. My Woman is not everyone’s woman. My cis is probably not everyone’s cis. Bi means something specific to me as does butch which may or may not be what everyone else means 100% of the time. But they’re MY identity.

Serena Williams being a boss

Which isn’t to say that everything is set in stone. I have words now that I didn’t have 30 or even 5 years ago. But some things became central to my understanding of myself years ago and they aren’t often celebrated except inside groups of others who share that facet.

Natasha Rothwell saying "You know what that is? Growth" (from Insecure)

Which is why it hurts so much when I do celebrate some part of myself and the immediate response is “what about [thing I’m not]?” from people, especially those I considered friends. I’ve been shit on enough by society for being a woman. I’ve been shit on enough by society for being Black. I’ve been shit on enough by society for being Butch. I’ve been shit on enough by society for being Bi. If I’m choosing to not hide something about me and celebrate it instead, just let it be about what I’m celebrating for a change.

Ava DuVernay saying "Thank You"