Black families and the holidays

Kwanzaa is a great ritual to incorporate representations of black LGBT life. AP photo.

by Mahkesha Hogg
LGBT Black Issues Columnist

One of the major keys in keeping the black family together is the holidays, which give us time to take a load off from the stresses of the world and to remind ourselves that family is the most valuable asset in our lives. It also gives a chance for black families to talk about racial and LGBT injustices in recent times.

Although great advances in equality have taken place, we should not forget that our LGBT black brothers and sisters experience more violence and discrimination than straight black people. Christmas is a great opportunity for the LGBT family members to share their experiences, challenges, and victories.

Kwanzaa is a great ritual to incorporate representations of black LGBT life. Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration, during Christmas, that includes African ceremonial rituals. These rituals include the lighting of the Kinara (a set of candles), African artifacts, and pictures of generations, food, and the use of the Swahili language.

My name “Mahkesha” is actually derived from the African Swahili language. ­

I feel that if a black family has an LGBT member, and they celebrate Kwanzaa, that they should incorporate items such as the rainbow flag in the Kwanzaa ceremony. It is important to note that not all African American families practice Kwanzaa, but LGBT values can still be celebrated during this happiest time of the year. What better time to share your life as a LGBT African American than during this time? What most of the family will find out is that the LGBT life is not much different than the straight life and commonalities can be discovered.

Many black LGBT people have chosen families who are not bonded by blood. These chosen families are important because only they can relate to the experience of being LGBT. In the culture of drag, there are drag families which consist of a drag Mother who guides a drag. There are also aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, and cousins who are male and female entertainers.

I am a Bio Queen (biologically born female) who performs the art of drag as Keche’ Paige. Even though I am a straight female, they have accepted me with open arms. My drag Mother is Lindsay Paige. Most of the Paige family members are black, but there a few are other ethnicities. We function as a real family and are supportive to each other in other ways besides drag.

I often see my drag family members, on Facebook, posting pictures of foods that they have prepared. We are planning to have a family holiday dinner soon and I can’t wait for the food and festivities! Bonding with family is what makes the holidays so fabulous! I am hopeful that black families will embrace their LGBT family members and find out that they have more commonalities than differences. Have a wonderful holiday season!

The Gayly - 12/23/2015 @ 12:03 p.m. CST