Wednesday, July 8, 2015

I Never Thought I'd Have A Coming Out Story

I have a habit of connecting things that don't necessarily belong together. As a theater director, I like to think this tendency is an asset: it allows me to connect the plays I direct to the world we inhabit. It's a joy to take words on a page and make them into a living, breathing environment.

But I'm not here to talk about my work, at least not this time. I'm talking about how this tendency to connect otherwise unconnected instances forces me to remain accountable to myself. I'm talking about how for the last few months I've been fighting a nagging voice in the back of mind, saying:

You need to come out.

I fight with this voice. I tell myself that my complex sexuality is not relevant to Mike Brown, or Kalief Browder, or Freddie Gray. I tell myself that there are better-suited warriors on the front lines of all of the issues. I tell myself that the world doesn't need another "Look at me because I know how you feel" post by a latecomer surfing in on a giant wave of heteronormative, cis privilege. Still the voice says:

You need to come out.

I rationalize that the people closest to me already know. That I'm not hiding in anyone's closet. That the people I love are aware and that no one is actually asking me to do anything. That I can keep shouting #BlackLivesMatter and do the work around #TellingOurStories and that will be enough. But,

I need to come out.

I need to come out because these disparate pieces of myself are connected. Because I can't argue for authentic representations of Black womanhood and not showcase my authentic Black women-ness as evidence. Because I talk a lot about things that matter to me, yet my silence in this space is noticeable. Because the women whose names we need to say are worth honoring not only as martyrs or innocents, but also as complex and whole beings whose stories were cut short by a system that failed to see them wholly. These women deserved better because they existed. Not because they were upstanding. Not because they were sane. Not because they were straight. Simply because they were.

Credit: The All-Nite Images / Wikimedia Commons / Flickr

I need to come out.

I need to come out because I'm scared to. Because not doing so makes me feel like a hypocrite. Because the intersection of Black and queer is a dangerous place to exist, and I've been able to stay artificially safe for too long. Because I've asked others to check their privilege and #ChallengeYourPerspective while resting comfortably behind a heteronormative shield. Because we have collectively gotten so comfortable with a monolithic view of Blackness and Black womanhood that other people will wear it as a costume to camouflage their own dysfunctions.

I am coming out.

I am polyamorous. I am queer. I am in a loving, committed relationship with both a woman and a man. The three of us are Black and proud and happy. And that matters because a part of me wants to bow down to respectability politics and keep my loves to myself. A part of me wants to stay safely in my lane by only telling the complex stories on stage. A part of me says I'm fighting on enough fronts, why do I need another? Then I remember that being "respectable" will not save me. It will not save any of us.

I am out.
I am Black.
I am woman.
I am poly.
I am queer.
I am visible.
I am loved.
I am free.

I have a habit of connecting things that don't necessarily belong together. None of the items in the list above are negated by any of the other items. The whole of my story is great because of its parts, not in spite of them. I see the tragedies of the world as connected to a narrative of suppressing people's full identities and I refuse to be complicit in growing the list of things Black people can't do, even though it keeps growing, by presenting a redacted version of my own truth.

I have come out.
And I'm not going back.

Credit: Ludovic Bertron / Wikimedia Commons / Flickr


  1. Be you, do you, and never be ashamed for the positive light it gives you to shine bright!

    1. Thank you for you kind words. It is much appreciated!

  2. Courtney,

    This is beautiful! I am so happy that you have found true happiness and your truest self. So many of us live in fear but I am glad you chose bravery. You are brave. You are loved. You are an inspiration.

    With love and support,

    1. Thank you! That is so beautiful of you to say.

  3. you keep doing you girl. the rest of the world will catch up.