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Stereotyping from a Black Bisexual Woman

STEREOTYPING FROM A BLACK BISEXUAL WOMAN

THE INTERSECTIONALITY OF BEING A PART OF DIFFERENT MINORITY GROUPS

By Kamryn Bouyett

Being both the B in LGBTQ+ and a Black woman in America is a horror movie concept Jordan Peele could capitalize on. I will not harp on the struggles of each letter under our rainbow flag, instead, I will focus on the harmful stereotyping placed on bisexual Black women. Recently, I went on a date with someone I've been crushing on through Instagram. Until now, I’ve lacked clarity with my own sexuality. I was taught to believe that the “Adam and Eve” type of love is the only love you can have. Through bible camp sessions and talks of virginity with my mom, I grew up focused on my looks.

Most bible camps have the same agenda. They require all campers to leave their phones at home to help campers fully immerse themselves into the Bible without “worldly influences''. The space was only for prepubescent teens, those either entering middle school or about to start high school. Without our parents breathing down our neck, we had the ability to talk to anyone, eat whatever we wanted, and roam the campgrounds.

I always would feel uneasy when fun activities would turn into confession time. Confession time usually happens near the end of the week, right before we would go back home. Most kids would avoid it by not confessing at all while others, like me, would open up. Each camp session, I would either share within the group about my struggles or speak privately to my camp counselor afterwards. Once, I vented to my counselor about my experience of watching porn for the first time. While I was sobbing in guilt, she would try to comfort me with scripture and offer discipleship. The advice felt superficial because the ultimate goal was my baptism, rather than understanding.

To make it worse, my counselor was both my age at the time and Black. It was hurtful that she never warned or reassured me about our shared experience as Black women. I needed someone to tell me it was normal to be curious and explain to me the difference between a performance and real love. Coming back home was hard. I stayed away from conversations about attraction to the opposite sex. Personally, growing up with “loving” judgment slowly made me hate a piece of myself I had never thought to question. For most individuals, it's traumatizing looking back at how much your childhood has affected you. During my childhood, I could not just be a girl to society.

I still feel insecure correcting someone on my pronouns; I know it's because of the masculinization and sexualization of Black women. I cannot tell you how many times people have asked me if I was bi and wanted a threesome. I know others can understand that this question is not a compliment.

Stereotyping has turned my friendships into dust. In one instance, they did not understand that joking about whether I would be eating watermelon for lunch was a microaggression. My Black peers from the suburbs can relate to the constant anti-Blackness coming from both your community and society. A past Tinder date told me that I was not Black after I told him I was into alternative music. He too, was Black. Speaking to Black people and non-Black people alike, stereotyping Black women is ignoring our complexities as a human being. I do like Tame Impala; I don’t know how to twerk, and I love the way that I choose to live. It’s not healthy to attribute the likes and dislikes of a person based on your assumptions. It leads to a division of a demographic competing for acceptance. There is no “true” Black person or woman. It's hard knowing you want to fight stereotypes, but the only solution presented is avoiding your own identity. I’ve had to cling onto smaller Black communities on school campuses and social media to obtain a larger family.

Last year, I joined the National Association of Black Journalists on campus, Long Beach Chapter with three other Black women. Revitalizing the club has connected me with other Black women who want to educate and diversify the newsroom. Each Tuesday was so fun: discussing current events, journalism ethics and validating each other's experiences. It's unfortunate that I will never feel excited learning about my family tree. Growing up in southern California, I had no extended family. All I had for my family during the holidays were my parents and my younger brother, no gay uncles or stoner grandmas. My brother and I suffered in silence through lectures on what Christmas was “really” about.

In the Black community, homophobia is a large issue that no one talks about, especially families who go to church and follow the rules of their religion without compassion. It's one thing to follow your beliefs; it's another when you impede on another person's beliefs. Pushing your religion onto anyone who is not interested is not right. They say it's a battle with sin. It feels like a battle with myself. A battle between what I want and what the world wants.

For me, anxiety comes with this battle. I often get stuck in a trance thinking about what people will say if they know the truth. Will they stay in my life? Will they ever speak to me again?

I’m thankful I still have a place to call home; many Black women do not because they have been cut off from their communities due to same--sex attraction. Something unchangeable. Something that makes them, them. Right now, it's a privilege to feel safe while living as your true self, but it should be normalized in all family dynamics.

We must start now by dismantling this idea of the typical Black or bisexual person. With humility, we can accept others' sense of self with respect, instead of judgment. Why would anyone judge someone's life when we’ll both be six feet under the same dirt?