Black Community Spotlight: Shara Dae

i'm from philadelphia, pa

To reinforce the sometimes overlooked fact that there are black people in the LGBTQ community, and also that there are LGBTQ people in the black community, I’m From Driftwood’s very first Community Spotlight will feature stories from the black community all this week. We are also making a commitment to feature more stories of all people of color and different ethnicities beyond this week.

Shara told us a story about when she first learned the importance of identifying as a lesbian with pride, and how it almost immediately changed her life for the better. Continue Watching to watch Shara’s empowering story.

TRANSCRIPT:

My name is Shara Dae. I’m from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It’s pretty much where I spent most of my days, you know as a kid, as an adolescent. So, I’d like to tell you a story that kinda framed who I am as a person and gave me insight, better insight to who I wanted to be. So, I was very aware I was gay. And I’d already come out to a few friends, I was already out at school and things along those lines but I’d never had a girlfriend. But, I guess in the meantime I needed to get my strength, and power, and courage up. And conveniently, I was looking through the Daily News and the Daily News had a little spec about the Attic being hosted or created by Carrie Jacobs at the time. It was in Center City. I was already familiar with the city because I went to, you know, a local school. And it really was up in the attic of Voyage House on Lombard Street. So I had to climb up four flights of stairs. It was getting hotter and hotter with every flight. It was absolutely sweltering because it was the summertime. And I looked around and there were only four other kids and their roughly my age, 14 to 15 I think maybe one was a little older. And it was just a handful of us. And everything was so quiet, you know, and it was just like everyone’s going to hear me. Everyone’s going to hear me, my name. What am I going to say? And Carrie immediately said, “How do you identify?” And I went “Uhhh what does that mean? Identify? What do you  mean? Uhhh my name?” And she said, “No how do you identify? Are you gay, lesbian, bisexual.” And I was like Huh? Whayyda oh. Gay, bisexual, uhhhh”. And I kinda whispered “lesbian.” And I don’t know why the word was harder to say than gay but it was a lot harder to say than gay or bisexual. So I said,  “lesbian, gay.” And she just kneeled, she knelt by me very carefully and very gently and just said, “It’s really good to have pride in what you are. And when you say it, maybe, you know, project a little  bit more. Feel it. Feel pride in it.”  And I, at first, of course I said, “Oh, I’m lesbian.” You know, that moment. But walking home when the meeting was over, I met everyone, I really had to think about it. That night, I went to go see my girlfriend, not really girlfriend, soon to be possibly… Hmmm…I’ll tell you that later. So, as I walk in to talk to her, it was very quiet and we had just decided to kind of pull off into a corner by ourselves so her parents wouldn’t hear. I had my courage up and I felt a part of the community. And I thought, I’m you know I’m part of the gay community, I’m feeling stronger about who I am and I’m going to open up and offer this to her as well, and maybe this is something we can do together. And we sat down, we were comfortable, I was comfortable, she looked at me, we, you know, said that we proclaimed our love for one another. And I told her that I thought I was bisexual but I’m gay. And her mother came out, and I didn’t see her mother. So her mother actually listened to the entire conversation. And decided after that that I was a gay threat of some sort. I was the gay agenda and had now co-opted her daughter. So, I had no idea. I went off, you know, skipping off into my wonderful imagination of what we were now going to do now as a couple. And, when I got home, my neighbor called who was also a  mutual friend of Alice and myself. And she said, “You have to get over here. Everyone’s here. The whole neighborhood’s in the kitchen talking about how you told Alice that you were gay and that you wanted to be her girlfriend.” So the whole neighborhood was there, in the kitchen. And I was infuriated. I wasn’t nervous, I wasn’t scared. I was absolutely infuriated because I felt as though my rights had been, you know, trampled upon. My rights have been, you know, absolutely encroached upon by people who didn’t know me. People who only knew me from knowing Little Shara and they still thought it was okay to take who I was and make into something else. So I decided I was going to go speak for myself. I took that courage that, you know, Carrie helped me find, locate, and I went to the house, and I approached all of the adults in the kitchen, and asked them to look at me, and look at who I am, and let them know that they should be ashamed of themselves. If they have a question to ask me. I am a lesbian. And I am a proud lesbian. And that moment, I realized that being able to say that out loud. Being able to say that I was a lesbian, and to say it with pride and conviction and strength, and with a smile on my face. And I remember walking away and feeling as though I really did, I empowered myself, but I also took away their ability to then weaken me by defining who I was. And I understand why it was so important to go back and think about Carrie’s words and say it’s really important to have strength and pride and say who you are and identify with pride.

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