Damn, It Feels Good to Be Me — QWOC Pride

In the short blurb beneath my Facebook profile picture, I have a line quoted from Tracy Chapman’s song, “Fast Car.” It reads: “Me,myself, I got nothing to prove.” I chose the line because it embodies how I know I want to feel all the time – like myself. I want to feel as if I can always just be me, regardless of anyone else’s standards or expectations.

Unfortunately, the truth of the matter, of course, is that I don’t always feel that way. In fact, most of the time, I’m fighting to prove to other people that I have nothing to prove, whether it’s in defense of my race, my sexuality, or my endless love for Sailor Moon. And, after a while, it becomes less of a fight to prove I have nothing to prove and more of just a fight – period. In my desire to be free and limitless, I become limited – because I’m always on defense. I’m always finding some news article that proves my theory of why people in general tend to suck. I’m always anticipating an offensive comment or action to counter -comment on or take action against. I can write ten different blogs about how, basically, we have the right to be who we are and how anyone who disagrees can just shove it.

But, at what point do we get to stop defending our right to be ourselves, and start enjoying our right to be ourselves? At one point do I stop proving to people that I love who I am and start actually experiencing that love?

Well, pride was a good time to start — I remembered how much I love being a queer woman of color. I love being me and I love living my life. That’s why I fight for the right to live it. When someone asks me about my love life or what I did Saturday night and they seem generally unfazed by my lovely queerness, I’m not psyched because they’re “political allies” and they may, in some small way, understand my struggle – although that is a bonus. I’m excited because I get to talk about the beautiful woman I met or tell them about the cute old couple I saw dancing their asses off at a queer party I went to. I’m excited because, when you love something, you can’t help but talk about it, and, when they ask, I get to talk about who I am and what I’m doing with my life. I get to feel like a whole person, who has activities, and knows people.

I know we’re all out here fighting for something or being a part of some struggle, even if the struggle isn’t visible to everyone. But as you sweat, bleed, cry, and crawl – as you go through your day to day life, shoving roadblocks out of the way and forging your own path – remember what you’re doing it for. We’re not doing it for some vague sense of accomplishment, or community, or even “equality.” Remember, we’re fighting because we love what we’re fighting for — ourselves.

I think there’s a misconception, sometimes, about racial and sexual minorities. Even the most well-meaning ally can mistakenly assume that, in a perfect world, we wish we could be straight and white too and, since we’re not, we’re fighting to at least have the same benefits. We’re “working with what we were given.”

Truly, there are some people for which that statement is true. But make no mistake – it does not suck to be a minority in any sense of the word. It sucks to be treated as if you were “less than” and it sucks that, often times, the minority status is what leads to this sort of treatment. But I love being black. I love being gay. I love women and I love loving women.

For those of you who missed PRIDE last week, particularly OPTIONZ and ROOTS – I’ll let it slide this once. You were busy, your Aunt Sally from Nova Scotia came to town, you were hiding from the IRS – I get it. But next time, if you get the chance, come out. (Literally.) There is no feeling more beautiful than realizing how happy you are with yourself and when I was out there on the dance floor with so many queer people of color – people like myself and yet so diverse and multifaceted – I felt truly, genuinely happy. When I go out with the QWOC+ organizers and volunteers or with my close friends and we get to laugh and talk loudly about queer things – because we are queer – and laugh and talk loudly about our cultures – because these are our cultures – I’m happy.

This week, when you’re out there fighting the man, your boss, your Evangelist grandparents, or your best-but-still-frustratingly-offensive friends, remember to take a break, take a breath, and recognize: “Damn, it feels good to be me.” Because if you don’t – well then what are you fighting for?

  • -MMW

    What a fantastic and refreshingly down to earth post. You remind us, as queer women of color, that we often get so bogged down in the day-to-day that we forget to celebrate who we are. PRIDE is all about celebrating who we are, and I think for queer women of color, it's not just our queerness that we show pride in. For me, pride in my blackness and queerness are linked, and that's why it was amazing to celebrate PRIDE with other queers of color. I continue to appreciate the work that QWOC+ Boston does and the spaces it provides for queer women of color to come together and to continually take stock of our driving force.

  • http://www.about-tracy-chapman.net Tracy Chapman

    Love that quote by Tracy Chapman you have on your Facebook profile !

  • Lisa M

    Thank you for the reminder to stay grounded within ourselves and truly embrace and be present in the moments we have that are full of so much light, love, and laughter.

  • APinto

    I think of the idea "divide and conquer". Often times it seems we are in a fight to defend bits and pieces of ourselves and at that point we have lost the battle. Always bring your whole self to the forefront. But more importantly like you said Erika its not about proving you love yourself, its about showing yourself that you love yourself. 🙂

    Go Erika!

  • Asha

    This was fantastic, Erika. I really liked it a lot. I can't wait to come to more QWOC events with you and our Texas ally friend when I get back to Boston in the fall. It truly is a beautiful thing. 🙂

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10300615 Yarimee Gutierrez

    This is my favorite post so far 🙂 "Even the most well-meaning ally can mistakenly assume that… we wish we could be straight and white too…We’re “working with what we were given.”
    So true!! Enough so we even begin to doubt ourselves….but it's great to have your words as a reminder! Thank you for this intuitive, honest post. Is it cheesy to say I feel proud? Cause I do. You are a beautiful writer. Keep it coming! 🙂

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10300615 Yarimee Gutierrez

    Umm….and I love Sailor Moon too!!

  • http://www.zarachiron.com Zara Chiron

    "There is no feeling more beautiful than realizing how happy you are with yourself and when I was out there on the dance floor with so many queer people of color – people like myself and yet so diverse and multifaceted – I felt truly, genuinely happy. "
    Bless you Miss Erika. And a huge thank you to qwoc+ for creating a space and energy where people (living in this twisted world) can feel that way 🙂 I am so proud to be an ally of the queer community (worldwide) and I implore you all to please bear with allies like me whenever we do slip up due to our hetero-privilege; our hearts are with you even if our minds find it hard to keep up. Life is meant to be fully lived and thoroughly enjoyed-thank you for reminding us all of that Erika.

  • Nathalie

    Thanks for bringing such a huge smile to my face this morning, Erika. I agree with Yari, my favorite thus far, very honest and empowering. Keep it up!

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/spectraspeaks Spectra

    I love this post for precisely it's conclusion — sometimes we just gotta time-out from fighting, ranting, being angry and just enjoy and truly celebrate each other. Your last few posts touched on subjects (of struggle) so many of us could relate to, and it felt reeeally good to be reminded (and remind others) that it's pretty freaking awesome to be a qwoc. Hey wait, I'm getting a vision of T-shirts during QWOC Week… inspired by this post!