Queerness in Art: Navigating the Electric & Otherworldly

The greater central Florida area, along with its myriad of local bookshops and literary events, offers an outlet for those times when a reader wants to step beyond the little voice in their head. Aural literature is a live experience that is oftentimes performative, utilizing other forms of media to present the work in a way intended for more than just solitary reading. (aural)ando is a series of interviews with local literary organizers and active zine curators who work to showcase this growing niche of aural and performative literature; along with works from performers past and present. The Hidden Continent is a soon-to-be-quarterly queer literary reading series that focuses solely on queer voices, marginalized both politically and within creative spaces. Although socially alienated, queer folks are not alien.

An “excerpt” from The Hidden Continent

Black & Queer: Outcry for the Black Ear
by Amber Norman

Being Black and queer is a lonely existence…

I can take the White man’s bullets any day. Marginalization in a racist society is like child’s play in this day and age. But I’m more concerned with the knives of my kin, as they have always seemed to cut deeper than skin. The same black skin as yours, Blackness that runs to our core. We go back scores. Remember? All the way back to slavery’s shores, when our skin became our original sin—and salvation. The only hope we used to have was within each other. Remember? We have led movements, been bonded by blood, steered crusades and cultures, and been crucified just for the color of our skin. We have cried tears of damning determination, desperate to define ourselves, and claim our righteousness—our humanity. Because we are worthy. Remember?

“Just don’t be gay.”

At least that’s what the Preacher says. Profess disparaging sentiments from the pulpit. He picks out verses and uses them out of context to support that my behavior is inappropriate. I used to be your “Sista”, until I started loving the wrong gender. Now my Blackness is an issue. My place at the Sunday Dinner table has been reissued. Compromised. You banished me to the back pew of church house and told me to hide.

“Don’t let the gay one out. We like to keep our shame to ourselves, contained in the closet and condemned in private.”

Silence. And sermons. You yell at the top of your lungs, speak in tongues, and command the demons to loosen their hold. You pressure me to repent, and declare that I must be delivered from sin just so I can look like the poster child for “ex gay” ministries. And when your spiritual insults don’t work, just ignore me. Act like my feelings are irrelevant, and keep praying for me a God-fearing husband.

I used to think the Black community was a safe haven—protection from the denigration of main stream society. But the rejection I feel from my own cultural family has become such a familiar mentality. So full of misunderstanding and a misplacement of power, it makes me wonder, do all Black Lives really matter? Or does it only matter when it makes you comfortable? Should I live a lie and deny my right to be authentic? Should I parade a cover up boyfriend because his dick makes more sense? He would exempt me from questions. All the while, the woman I’ve been living with is introduced as my friend.

It seems my sexuality has become my mother’s shame—a failure in her parenting. I am her dignity and disappointment. Disillusioned to my development as a unique character and blinded by denial, she sacrifices affection for avoidance. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” is the unspoken rule in our family. But the only real failure is the opposition to unveil the truth. She misuses her maternity to deny my humanity. She smiles across the table, and pretends that my happiness is a figment of my imagination. Or that I just haven’t found the right guy yet. And she probably wouldn’t fret if I just stayed single and died, lonely and distracted. Anything is better than being attracted to my spiritual counterpart that may have the same parts as me. Because that shit doesn’t play well at the church picnic in the park, or the country club. The sad truth is, my wedding pictures will never make it to the wall in her office.

I don’t want compassion or tolerance. And please stop praying for me out of pity, or dismissing my insight as ignorant or perverted. I just want to be seen. Mom. Dad. Uncle. Aunt. Usher. Deacon. Preacher. Black People. See me. My humanity. Love me beyond the institutions that build walls to separate you from me. Taste the salt in every tear that falls because you fail to evolve. And this homophobia is not exclusively a Black problem, but it’s your rejection that I hold above them all. Because without you, I cannot be a complete me. And your inability to recognize my intersectionality is heartbreaking. Because contrary to what you think, I’m still Black in all my lesbian glory.