Shamir, Dua Saleh, and More on Their Black LGBTQ+ Joy

Shamir, Dua Saleh, and More on Their Black LGBTQ+ Joy

For LGBTQ+ people, claiming space for ourselves and our passions in a cisnormative, heteronormative world is an act of revolution. That’s why Logo is continuing Claiming Space, a roundtable series where we pass the mic to a group of LGBTQ+ people we admire to amplify their perspectives.
In honor of Black History Month, Logo asked six inspiring Black LGBTQ+ artists and activists – from singer-songwriter and Sex Education breakout star Dua Saleh to trailblazing GLSEN Executive Director Melanie Willingham-Jaggers – to share what Black queer joy means to them. Find their poignant, personal answers below.
Dua Saleh
Actor and singer-songwriter
Black queer joy in its sincerest form is an expression of the radiance that’s true to our essence. An essence that imbues love/history. It surges out into the world through laughter, sacred adornment rituals, creative inventiveness, and celebration of our core being. It’s not a rumination of emotion that’s calculated or stringent. It’s a delineation from materialism and commodification, directly fighting the taxonomy that arranges our bodies/creativity to be sold and erased. We feel delight in ways that are freest and truest to our humanity, honoring paths Black queer ancestors paved for us and allowing room to imagine bountiful futures.
For me, joy emerges from gender-affirming beautification like binders, unique chains, and gender-resistant makeup traditions inherited from ancestors. Joy also emerges in the art that I create, like my recent Crossover EP. I integrate my existence as a Black trans person into songwriting and executive production. I honor our learned history and my lived reality. You can hear lyrical references to ballroom culture, my love for Black American (queer) house music, and how I’m inspired by different Afrodiasporic club music, like rave reimagined by queer South Africans. An example of a song you can listen to is my single “fitt (with Amaarae),” another queer Black artist. I celebrate my truth and find glee in the midst of society’s constant social decay. I find joy through honesty. It’s not just self-actualization, but informed by the vast knowledge that Blackness offers. It blooms and satisfies my needs.
Karinda Dobbins
Writer and comedian
When I told my mom that I was performing at a lesbian festival in the middle of the woods, I fully expected her to be like, “I will catch your next show.” She said, “I’m coming.” Then I thought back to all the time I spent worrying about what she would say when I told her I was a lesbian. I can’t get that time back. The joy of embracing all that I am could have come sooner – that was a lesson. I took it as the universe telling me to always embrace who I am. I know that I won’t be fully accepted by some people and some institutions but living my life in an authentic way more than makes up for those who choose not to experience my gloriousness. They are missing out. When I walk into my house and my girlfriend is there and we sit on our couch binge watching our favorite show, that is joy. When I laugh all night with close lesbian friends as we play cards and talk-trash about playing cards while munching on gluten-free cheesecake, that is joy. When I go on stage with the freedom to talk about my experiences as a mother, a Black woman in tech, and a Black lesbian who doesn’t want a pet, that is joy. There are many Black LGBTQ+ trailblazers whose lives gave me the audacity to pull up to joy and say, “We gonna ride until the wheels fall off!”
Hope Giselle
Author, artist, and activist
Black LGBTQ+ joy for me is being able to be my full and authentic self while also being able to express all the things that are a part of my culture. That means being able to talk about the things that make me happy – like my grandma’s cooking or my grandfather swinging me around until I fell and scrapped my knee – while also talking about the nuances of what it means to enjoy being a Black trans woman in America, no matter how hard it is. Black LGBTQ+ joy for me means being able to go to both the cookout and the queer clubs and feel right at home. It means being able to celebrate my natural hair while also celebrating the fact that I am a Beyonc’e stan beyond stereotypes and so much more. My intersectionality helps to make me who I am, and that is my joy.
Damez
Rapper, singer-songwriter, and creative director
Black queer joy means being revolutionary, being resilient, being beyond strong, being warriors. I feel like we’re just some of the strongest human beings on the planet – the things that we have to endure, and then to be able to prevail and use those obstacles as catalysts to evolve, share community, and just make the world a better place. Like I said, it’s resilient. It’s phenomenal. It’s groundbreaking. It’s beautiful. And I’m honored to be able to say loudly and proudly that I represent black queer joy.
Melanie Willingham-Jaggers
Activist and executive director of GLSEN
Black queer joy is possible when I understand that all parts of myself are deserving and worthy of love and inclusion. And when I leave no part of my identity and experience out as I fight for justice with, for, and beyond my community. Black queer joy emboldens me in the face of systemic barriers that try to block Black queer folks from celebrating ourselves, living freely, and participating fully in the world around us. Black queer joy is what’s possible when we have communities that have what they need to thrive – that’s safety, but it’s also affirmation.
Thriving is about ending white supremacist and state-sanctioned violence, but we need to think bigger still and create beloved communities where we individually and collectively have all that we need to live healthy and fulfilling lives. That starts with making sure that our systems – all of them – serve and support the needs and honor the humanity of those utilizing them – all of them. At GLSEN, for us this means building K-12 schools to ensure that every learner thrives.
Every young Black queer person deserves to be themselves and to experience joy, without harassment, and with celebration. That’s why I’m so excited to be the first Black queer executive director of GLSEN, and have the opportunity to partner with young Black and Indigenous LGBTQ+ students to push for a world where we are all supported and can reach our full potential, no matter our race, sexual orientation, gender, neurologic or disability status.
Shamir
Singer-songwriter
Black queer joy, I think it means freedom. Black queer joy is a rarity in a world that suppresses it. So, any time there’s a space, a moment, or an arena where Black queer joy can be cultivated, that is so beautiful. It feels like freedom. It feels like a place outside of this world.
Laganja Estranja, Amit Paley, and More Share Their Coming Out Wisdom
For LGBTQ+ people, claiming space for ourselves and our passions in a cisnormative, heteronormative world is an act of revolution. That’s why Logo is continuing Claiming Space, a roundtable series where we pass the mic to a group of LGBTQ+ people we admire to amplify their perspectives.
In honor of Black History Month, Logo asked six inspiring Black LGBTQ+ artists and activists – from singer-songwriter and Sex Education breakout star Dua Saleh to trailblazing GLSEN Executive Director Melanie Willingham-Jaggers – to share what Black queer joy means to them. Find their poignant, personal answers below.
Dua Saleh
Actor and singer-songwriter
Black queer joy in its sincerest form is an expression of the radiance that’s true to our essence. An essence that imbues love/history. It surges out into the world through laughter, sacred adornment rituals, creative inventiveness, and celebration of our core being. It’s not a rumination of emotion that’s calculated or stringent. It’s a delineation from materialism and commodification, directly fighting the taxonomy that arranges our bodies/creativity to be sold and erased. We feel delight in ways that are freest and truest to our humanity, honoring paths Black queer ancestors paved for us and allowing room to imagine bountiful futures.
For me, joy emerges from gender-affirming beautification like binders, unique chains, and gender-resistant makeup traditions inherited from ancestors. Joy also emerges in the art that I create, like my recent Crossover EP. I integrate my existence as a Black trans person into songwriting and executive production. I honor our learned history and my lived reality. You can hear lyrical references to ballroom culture, my love for Black American (queer) house music, and how I’m inspired by different Afrodiasporic club music, like rave reimagined by queer South Africans. An example of a song you can listen to is my single “fitt (with Amaarae),” another queer Black artist. I celebrate my truth and find glee in the midst of society’s constant social decay. I find joy through honesty. It’s not just self-actualization, but informed by the vast knowledge that Blackness offers. It blooms and satisfies my needs.
Karinda Dobbins
Writer and comedian
When I told my mom that I was performing at a lesbian festival in the middle of the woods, I fully expected her to be like, “I will catch your next show.” She said, “I’m coming.” Then I thought back to all the time I spent worrying about what she would say when I told her I was a lesbian. I can’t get that time back. The joy of embracing all that I am could have come sooner – that was a lesson. I took it as the universe telling me to always embrace who I am. I know that I won’t be fully accepted by some people and some institutions but living my life in an authentic way more than makes up for those who choose not to experience my gloriousness. They are missing out. When I walk into my house and my girlfriend is there and we sit on our couch binge watching our favorite show, that is joy. When I laugh all night with close lesbian friends as we play cards and talk-trash about playing cards while munching on gluten-free cheesecake, that is joy. When I go on stage with the freedom to talk about my experiences as a mother, a Black woman in tech, and a Black lesbian who doesn’t want a pet, that is joy. There are many Black LGBTQ+ trailblazers whose lives gave me the audacity to pull up to joy and say, “We gonna ride until the wheels fall off!”
Hope Giselle
Author, artist, and activist
Black LGBTQ+ joy for me is being able to be my full and authentic self while also being able to express all the things that are a part of my culture. That means being able to talk about the things that make me happy – like my grandma’s cooking or my grandfather swinging me around until I fell and scrapped my knee – while also talking about the nuances of what it means to enjoy being a Black trans woman in America, no matter how hard it is. Black LGBTQ+ joy for me means being able to go to both the cookout and the queer clubs and feel right at home. It means being able to celebrate my natural hair while also celebrating the fact that I am a Beyonc’e stan beyond stereotypes and so much more. My intersectionality helps to make me who I am, and that is my joy.
Damez
Rapper, singer-songwriter, and creative director
Black queer joy means being revolutionary, being resilient, being beyond strong, being warriors. I feel like we’re just some of the strongest human beings on the planet – the things that we have to endure, and then to be able to prevail and use those obstacles as catalysts to evolve, share community, and just make the world a better place. Like I said, it’s resilient. It’s phenomenal. It’s groundbreaking. It’s beautiful. And I’m honored to be able to say loudly and proudly that I represent black queer joy.
Melanie Willingham-Jaggers
Activist and executive director of GLSEN
Black queer joy is possible when I understand that all parts of myself are deserving and worthy of love and inclusion. And when I leave no part of my identity and experience out as I fight for justice with, for, and beyond my community. Black queer joy emboldens me in the face of systemic barriers that try to block Black queer folks from celebrating ourselves, living freely, and participating fully in the world around us. Black queer joy is what’s possible when we have communities that have what they need to thrive – that’s safety, but it’s also affirmation.
Thriving is about ending white supremacist and state-sanctioned violence, but we need to think bigger still and create beloved communities where we individually and collectively have all that we need to live healthy and fulfilling lives. That starts with making sure that our systems – all of them – serve and support the needs and honor the humanity of those utilizing them – all of them. At GLSEN, for us this means building K-12 schools to ensure that every learner thrives.
Every young Black queer person deserves to be themselves and to experience joy, without harassment, and with celebration. That’s why I’m so excited to be the first Black queer executive director of GLSEN, and have the opportunity to partner with young Black and Indigenous LGBTQ+ students to push for a world where we are all supported and can reach our full potential, no matter our race, sexual orientation, gender, neurologic or disability status.
Shamir
Singer-songwriter
Black queer joy, I think it means freedom. Black queer joy is a rarity in a world that suppresses it. So, any time there’s a space, a moment, or an arena where Black queer joy can be cultivated, that is so beautiful. It feels like freedom. It feels like a place outside of this world.
Laganja Estranja, Amit Paley, and More Share Their Coming Out Wisdom

Source:http://www.newnownext.com/shamir-dua-saleh-hope-giselle-black-queer-joy/02/2022/

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