Honoring My Queens
Updated: Nov 19, 2020
Most of what I understand about existing in my space as a Black man, I learned from the teaching and experience of Black women. My truth is that they helped shape me, and I don't say that to discredit what I’ve learned from Black men either. I grew up in a matriarchal family, my parents divorced early (Dad had some struggles with drug abuse and fidelity but he turned his life around 🙏🏾), and I happened to inherit the blessing of being loved on by Black women most of my life. They're where I've always felt the most love and been extended the most grace. I learned a lot about responsibility and accountability growing up around my grandmother and great-grandmother. Watching my mom raise two kids while putting herself through school taught me resilience, and I understand what true honesty looks like because of my sister. I saw duality in these women—the ability to hold space for being both vulnerable and reasonable; both the nurturer and protector. I owe a large part of who I am to the women in my family.
Sharing my truth
Coming out to my mom and sister was one of hardest things I’ve ever done. My biggest fears were rejection and disappointment. Will they be proud of my bravery or condemn my identity? I mean, we were a church going family after all so the rules of religion weren't lost on me. (My mom was always more of an advocate for having an intimate, spiritual relationship with the experience of God, but still). It was a heavy conversation that yielded a lot of tears, realizations, and unpacking years of projecting that I never even knew I was participating in. I’ll never forget my sister’s words, so poignant yet so earnest: “I’m just so sorry that we did something to make you feel you had to hide who you are from us, and shut us out like the rest of the world. We love you, Orlando.” But it was those words in that moment that I found myself back in my safe space. I realized my fears had everything to do with me. I was judging them because I had been judging myself for so long, allowing my own thoughts and trauma and secrets to complicate our relationship. Looking back now, I'm grateful. It was the first of many conversations that helped move me and my family into a space of healing.
Black women are the blessing God knew this world needed. Through them I understand unconditional love in a real way. Love that holds you accountable and tells you things you need to hear even when you don't want to hear it. Love that sustains and keeps you lifted. I feel full knowing that my mom and sister pray for me fervently everyday, and it’s the kind of prayer that I know God honors because I feel the energy all around me. I approach my life with so much more purpose because of the women in my life. And it's not out of obligation, but more so with the intention to honor them by building a legacy that reflects transparency, integrity and humility. A legacy that says I am more than what the world may think of me. I'm expansive, I take up space in many ways, and my kingship is rooted in honoring my queens.