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"Hello! I am a white lady and I recently started dating a really wonderful, intelligent, and kind mixed-race lady. I like her SO much but I've noticed that I have no idea how to talk about race/feel a little guarded around her because I'm so worried I'll say something offensive without realizing it. How can I be the best possible ally to her and learn to just fully be myself in this new relationship?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Kai Davis as a part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions.

Kai Says:

Firstly, your primary goal is on point. You definitely want to be yourself in any interracial relationship, platonic or not. I can’t even begin to tell you how irksome it is when a white person tries too hard to relate. The human experience is enough to create connections and there’s never any need to erase identities, even your own.

Also, as a white person, the best thing you can do in conversations about race is to listen more than you talk. People of color are silenced too much in their every day lives. Avoid talking over your partner at all cost. That’s not to say that you should never speak on anything racial ever. You have to open yourself up to the possibility of being wrong. Let your partner know that she can check you if you ever say anything offensive. That’s the only way you’ll be able to learn and grow from it. I have several white friends who have said subtly racist comments and I’ve checked them on it. And the reason we are still friends is because they took a second, reflected, let me explain why what they said was wrong, apologized, and never made the same mistake again.

I think if anyone understands how a group of people can become poisoned with a hateful mindset, it’s people of color. We’ve watched our families and communities succumb to the racist ideas of the white worldview until the point where we see our people hate themselves. I personally, as a queer woman of color, had a lot of obstacles to overcome before I could begin to understand how power works in this world. You have obstacles too. The only difference is that you benefit from the power structure that you must learn to understand.

That brings me to my last point. You must read read read. You can’t rely on your partner to teach you because it’s very likely that any racial knowledge that she possesses wasn’t handed to her. There are plenty of resources on the internet, in libraries, and in films that can help you gain enough information to not be so nervous during discussions about race.

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"I feel so mixed up. I don’t know if I’m lesbian or bisexual (currently out as lesbian), and even though I’m open, I still feel a significant amount of internalized homophobia that keeps me from being 100% happy. Other queer women make me uneasy, and depictions of lesbians/lesbian sex in media (even indie stuff) leaves me with this weird disgust and anxiety. I love my gf and having sex with her, and I’m an activist. But I still find myself depressed that I’m not straight. I don’t know what to do."

-Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Kai Davis as a part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions

Kai Says:

It seems to me like you are experiencing a lot of different conflicts right now in regards to your sexuality, and that is completely normal and understandable. Identity and orientation are complicated, and no one’s experience is exactly the same. The first conflict you mentioned, about whether or not you’re lesbian or bisexual, could be causing you some anxiety because of the labels themselves, rather than the feelings attached to them. Both identities are often left up to interpretation, and the definitions of these identities vary from person to person, so do not burden yourself with the task of trying to fit into a box. Sexuality is supposed to be confusing because there is nothing concrete about something so fluid. Perhaps on some days you feel more like a lesbian, and on other days you feel more bisexual. I too used to find it hard to place myself within any particular orientation; however I found a solution. I began to identify as queer. It allowed me the freedom to move through different queer identities without feeling guilty about the fact that I hadn’t found my “place” yet. It also allowed me to assign myself a label, which in all honesty is sometimes very satisfying despite the whole “I don’t subscribe to labels” thing becoming so popular. (Not subscribing to labels is also perfectly fine.)

I also think it is fairly normal to be uncomfortable with queer identities because we are constantly told that they are unnatural or wrong. All marginalized groups have internalized hateful messages in one form or another. It is a good thing that you are self-aware and involving yourself in activism. I think that the more you read and watch queer centered books, films, articles, etc, the more comfortable you will become with your identity. Heterosexuality is heavily normalized (duh HeteroNORMAtivity) so anything outside of that specific box may feel undesirable or foreign or unnerving. It might take some getting used to at first. I remember when I was first coming into myself, queer media (especially films or TV) was very confusing and unsettling, despite the fact that I had already begun accepting my queer identity. However, after a while it started to become intriguing and even exciting in the sense that I was able to see myself in the characters and story lines. Yet you must remember that this is a process and not an easy one. You have to unlearn all of the stigmas you were taught about queerness so that you can love yourself properly. It’s worth it. Don’t worry.

Also, try your best to form a safe circle of like-minded individuals. Cut-off anyone that makes you feel bad about yourself and your sexuality. If there is even the tiniest inkling that you have to conceal part of yourself around a person, then don’t allow them in your space.

In my opinion, becoming comfortable with who you are is one part knowledge and two parts positive energy. Loving yourself is a constant journey. There is no clear-cut answer. The best thing you can do is become familiar with people, art, and literature that don’t make you feel so alone.

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"How do I get creative? I just really wanna DO something, but I’m usually pretty clueless. I always end up dreaming about love instead of making myself useful. I’m determined to stop ths behaviour, but I was wondering if you have any concrete tips how to get, like… new ideas!"

- Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Kai Davis as a part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions

Kai Says:

While I can’t tell you or teach you how to create new ideas, I can teach you to recognize them when they happen. I think that most people, including yourself, are under the impression that every kind of creative inspiration must be a gleaming beacon of profundity and wisdom. There is absolutely nothing wrong with dreaming about love. Love permeates through life in ways we cannot even fathom. There is value in exploring its vastness. Anything that makes us aware of ourselves, of others, the world around us, or even the spiritual word is useful and important art. There is no right or wrong way to be creative. Whatever ideas you find yourself thinking about, no matter what it is, can be interpreted as divine signals to explore those ideas through art.

You must also let go of “newness.” There is no new idea, especially when it comes to art because art is humanity and our collective consciousness allows us to sometimes think and feel with the same hearts and minds. Every idea you have or I have has been thought of and executed before in a million different ways. That alone should be inspiring, not discouraging. Because now you have the opportunity to make us see something familiar in a unique way. And if you find yourself thinking about the same thing over and over, writing the same poem, drawing the same picture, do not feel disheartened. There are some things that I’ve written about many many times, because some things are always relevant. And some things just need to be written or drawn or sung about a thousand times because this is how we have to cleanse. “New” is just a bright shiny word. We should never dwell on it too long.

If you want some concrete tips, I can tell you what I do to keep the juices flowing:

1.      Stream of consciousness free writing. Sometimes you have thoughts in your head that are too stiff or quiet. I recommend writing everything and I do mean everything that comes to your mind for a few minutes each day. That means you don’t stop to think about what you’re writing, you don’t stop to process it and you definitely don’t erase, backspace, or scratch out anything. You’ll find thoughts and ideas you’ve been unconsciously ignoring. This exercise is like consciousness yoga.

2.      Write down funny or interesting things you hear people say in conversation, in songs, on tv, on the radio, etc. We are often inspired in quick bursts and before we can turn that inspiration into art, it leaves are minds. Keeping a log of thought provoking things you hear day to day can be a great resource.

3.      Just do it. Yeah I know, easier said than done. But honestly, sometimes creating is like ripping off a bandaid. You have to do it with confidence, quickness, and courage or the process is a lot more painful. Whenever I’m writing a collaboration poem with my friends sometimes we find ourselves writing notes and ideas for days for fear of not having a quality poem once we start. But then we always have to remind ourselves, that if we don’t just do it, we will have accomplished nothing.

I really hope this helps.

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"How do I deal with racist LGBT members? I feel like its not talked about enough, but there are a lot of racist undertones in gay movies, clubs/parties, and more. It becomes a little too much when you see a group of white gays try to “channel” sassy black women. I’ve even been cast out of groups because of my skin color. Marginalized groups discriminating against other people is an example of pure hypocrisy."

- Question submitted by youdefineyourownbeauty and answered by Kai Davis as a part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions

Kai Says:

Firstly I feel that it is necessary to discard the idea that white gay people are that much different than white people in general. Racism is going to manifest amongst a dominant culture and being marginalized in one aspect of one’s life does not negate his or her privilege in another. The only difference with racism in the queer community is how it reveals itself, which I think you touched on in your question.

Dealing with and confronting racists is an extremely difficult task for a person of color. It is often nearly impossible to affect change because their racism is both a weapon and a shield. They will refuse to listen to you because of your color. You will automatically be seen as militant, combative, or even plain stupid. Because of this shield, there is no introspection, there is no dialogue, and there is no change. I still haven’t found a way to deal with that issue. It can become extremely frustrating to know that your feelings and the feelings of all people of color are valid and you still have that validity denied.

As people of color, we often try to make our opinions palatable for white people. I don’t think you should do that. Oppression has subdued us enough and I don’t think our liberation will come from that same silence. Almost all of the knowledge and information that is readily accessible has been filtered through the white worldview. Yes, that means that even much of the race theory we study in high school and college is watered down so that it can be easily digested. And based on what you’ve mentioned in your question, it hasn’t helped race relations much, even amongst marginalized groups.

Confrontation, aggressiveness, and assertiveness might chip away at the iceberg and it might not. The bigger fight is not allowing yourself to be silenced. People don’t like being called racists, because then they must acknowledge it, and when they acknowledge it they are expected to change their actions, thereby disrupting the status quo. The disruption of the status quo is the last thing a person in power wants to do. Backlash is inevitable when it comes to confronting bigots, but you are not here to make them comfortable. Confront them in a way that placates your soul. Confront them in a way that liberates your heart because even if they haven’t changed for the better, you have.

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