This was so good. Thank you for sharing all the nuances associated with the complexities of life. Having worked with this population over the years my heart went out to Chanel and the other young trans students noted in your piece. For gay and questioning Blacks in the South, Atlanta is the coming out Mecca, a sacred place, a brutal place, a place that can be both a blessing and a curse.
I remember your piece when it was written. I had a lot of friends who had gone to Morehouse. Esteemed leaders understandably upset about the tarnished reputation that came from airing our dirty laundry. I also worked for a sexual assault center as well as an HIV/AIDS org. It was an interesting time watching Black folks react to queer family folk being the focus. My feelings were split. I was glad you did the piece. So many of your young people get discarded by family when they come out. The disturbing trend, the assaults committed and the abuse were all things I’d seen and heard on a daily basis in my line of work.
But my only question was why go someplace where they knew they wouldn’t be wanted/accepted? There were thousands of public and private colleges and universities nationally that would have gladly accepted them for who they were. Instead, they enrolled in an institution they knew was for me and wanted them to change. It equated it to me asking the Chinese restaurant to prepare my chicken the Chick-Fil-A does — instead of just going to Chick-Fil-A to get what I wanted, the way I wanted.
I think that was my biggest problem with the entire piece. I wouldn’t go to a segregated VFW if I knew they didn’t like or admit Blacks, but that’s just me. I don’t go where I’m not wanted, and I do my research before I go anyplace. Maybe that’s something we should be teaching young people. Sometimes trying to fit in is simply bad for your physical and mental health. We need to not only create welcoming spaces for trans family members, but we also must teach them how to protect themselves. Some fights are unnecessary. Some spaces aren’t safe.
In any event, thanks so much for sharing the backstory a decade later. It’s nice that you and Chanel have been able to make peace with the entire situation. I think we are all trying to understand the evolution of humanity a little better.