Being black and non-binary is beautiful

International Non-Binary People's Day is July 14.

by Mahkesha Hogg
LGBT+ Black Issues Columnist

Some call it androgyny. Some call it genderqueer. The professional term is non-binary which is a term used for people who do not identify as female or male. They may display traits of both genders at the same time or a different gender from one day to the next.

July 14th is International Non-Binary day and as with all LGBT+ issues, the black community at large and some within the black LGBT+ community have a hard time embracing the idea.

I have had conversations with black people about gender identity and they seem to relate it towards sexual orientation. So, I usually start from there, explaining that sexual orientation is separate from gender identity. Then I break down the different genders.

I had a cisgender black straight female friend of mine say, “So we have to understand that people are not only gay or trans but they also feel genderless?

I replied, “Well it’s not that they feel genderless. They just do not want to be categorized solely as male or female.” She understood better then.

I started thinking to myself why are people so concerned about the way females or males appear anyway? Okay so it all starts with the fact that cisgender hetero males have always dominated the conversation on what is appropriate attire for each gender. Some of it is religion related and some of it is so that the men can feel comfortable around “men who dress like or look like men” and “women who dress like or look like women.”

If cisgender hetero men are around a man who wears nail polish or makeup, they feel awkward because they are normally supposed to be attracted to those things and they do not know how to place their feelings. With the black community those feelings are incredibly indoctrinated.

In most cases parents want their daughters to dress and act in ultra-feminine ways. The same is the case with their sons – they want them to be ultra-masculine. It has to do with them wanting what they consider an easy life. They do not want people to make fun of their child for being different.

But why do we have to conform to what societal standards are? After all, the way people express their gender identity is not hurting anyone.

A good example of someone who presented himself in a non-binary way is the late entertainer Prince. Did he get a pass for combining women and men’s clothing because he had a deep voice? To most a deep voice is considered very masculine. Or was it because he was a great musician? He was straight and had he been gay the black community may have shunned him.

I really think it just comes down to people wanting to keep others in a box so that they can stereotype them in their minds as to how this person will behave. To not fit into a box is threatening. Non-binary individuals should not have to explain to people why they dress in a certain way. If it is normal to them then it is normal.

In the black LGBT+ community, many people that I have spoken to have said that they could not date someone who did not present themselves in a masculine or feminine way. Many masculine gay black males have expressed not wanting to date someone who does drag even if that person lives and dresses as male for the fear of being considered pansexual (people who are attracted to the soul, not the appearance).

Some black lesbians who are studs (masculine dress) will not date another stud and the same goes for black femmes (feminine dress). Non-binary people have no desire to feel more feminine or masculine. Nor do they owe anyone an explanation of why they feel comfortable being non-binary.

Just do your best to be non-biased, non-judgmental and non-bigoted.

Copyright 2017 The Gayly – July 14, 2017 @ 1 p.m.