It isn't enough for us to be proud of who we are and from where we've come. At this point, it is expected of us considering how hard our ancestors fought for us to be able to live in acceptance of ourselves in all the glorious queerness we can muster.
I often think of James Baldwin and who he chose to be in the world of straight privileged folks —as a black gay man who had minimal advantage in some beliefs. If you asked James, he would say he hit the lottery. He walked with an air of importance. His opinion of himself as a queer person was louder than the spoken narrative of those like him. He embodied an audacity—a ballsy willingness to be all that his soul said he was despite any worldly evidence. One could argue, Baldwin thought he was better than his white heterosexual counterpart. In many ways, being gay was the fairy dust that made him remarkable, it was what qualified him as magical.
The idea that the very thing that most the world believed was an abomination to God is the thing that deems us closest to God. That the majesty of heaven lies in the souls of queer and trans people, which would explain why we are the most creative — creating forces on earth next to women bringing life into the world.
I founded this magazine almost 10 years ago after spending the day with Maya Angelou at her home in Winston-Salem, NC. My intention was driven by the mantle Dr. Angelou charged me with that day. If you didn't know, she was the best friend of James Baldwin, and when I mention his name, she smiled big like the sun. She then told me in the most dramatic way to tell them —my LGBTQ brother and sisters who I, at the time, had no connection to— that they are better than they think they are and to make them know it.
I was 21 years old at the time. Maya was the same age when she touched the hem of Langston Hughes, while in California, at a Jazz bar performing songs with her cousin. They took one photo together, at the time Langston was considered the people poet, Maya was pursuing singing. She would later be considered the people's poet in her time.
I left Dr. Angelou's home that day, wanting to know the brilliant person I saw reflected in her eyes when she looked at me. I wasn't a powerful, out and proud man at the time. I was a simple gifted boy, but leaving her home, I became more.
Today as you see me on the cover of my own magazine of almost 10 years, now stunningly digital. This is both a full circle moment and a historical one, as I am photographed throughout the home of the legendary father Langston Hughes —DBQ is the only queer publication based in Harlem, at the 100-year mark of the Harlem Renaissance and 50th anniversary of the Stonewall rebellion.
Be as outrageous as Marsha, Silvia, and Stormie were at the preface of Stonewall. Walk with the Mighty Real confidence of Sylvester, organize with strategic sorcery likes Bayard, and be as profoundly deliberate and unafraid as Audre was—be undeniable for loud is the level of beingness one chooses to conjure with this life energy they've been given. So for the sake of everyone who came before us, dying with hopes of becoming more than they were given a chance to be. We have been paid for. All of Creation lay and awaits the manifestation of us— the legendary children of God.
Pride season is dead. She drowned during the whitewashing, but parts of her were sold to mainstream hetero others for VIP access to our culture for monetary gain. All the token checks have been given out and deposited in the accounts of the best of us. Most of the brands we swear by that are stitched in the fabric touching the top of our spines have taken their rainbow flags down and have moved to their next scheduled campaign. It is now Loud season. Loud in the way we show up and speak up.
Oh, beloved, what I've come to know is that on our deepest level we are only made up of divine splendor and a butterfly riot of potential—it is only the lies of this world that have covered us in disbelief. The culture is itching for our edge of differences. It has been longing, thirsty for our wet ideas.
These 100 LGBTQ people of color are amongst the loudest beings in our community this year. Their contributions are irreversible to our culture. It has been my custom for several years now to give roses to a list of 100 to celebrate their marks made on me and our culture. I've thrown lavish showcases in years past from the National Black Theatre in the heart of Harlem to Carnegie Hall in the heart of New York City, all to ignite inspiration in the souls of our people.
This year I wanted to stir our spirits a different way. No lavish party or print issue of DBQ. Just a 100 breathtaking bouquets of roses. You will come to know these roses come with thorns, 14 to be exact, that should prick your spirit, hopefully, deep enough to awaken you. Our trans sisters are being beaten in front of our eyes, on our watch. And when we go to sleep, our sisters are being murdered, and our queer babies are taking their own lives because of the deep stinging visceral hate no longer hibernating in the deep corners of our world. Not only do we need to see and remember them, but we also need to be louder. We must BE LOUD As Fuck!
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