Black, queer, and nerd?

     As the title suggests, I wanted to take some time to write about what my experiences have been like whilst being this interesting combination. This is going to be equal parts thoughtful introspection and whinging because I'm an adult and I can do both. I think. Forgive me if I ramble a bit, this my first ever blog post.

     To say that growing up was difficult due to these three would be a smidgen of an understatement. Hell, simply being one of these in this country is guaranteed hardship. I never really had a tribe to call my own. No matter where I went to, there was always something that made it inhospitable or just annoying.

     Being on the queer spectrum (I always think of the different Lantern Corps when I say that) is not very accepted in the black community. There's really no pussy footing around that fact. For reasons I don't feel like writing about, the church is a huge part of black existence. There's no running from it. Couple the religious dogma with the obscene amounts of toxic masculinity in black culture and BAM! You're instantly an outcast. Well meaning aunties who swear they're gonna pray that "demon of homosexuality" out of you (what are y'all thoughts on how this demon would look?), aggressive cousins/fathers/uncles who're gonna "man you up" and that judgmental grandma who refers to your significant other as "your little friend" make for an infuriating and painful time. Not to mention that any attempt to defend yourself with science or self-love is almost immediately turned into some selfish tirade about how you're hurting the family or you're responsible for the emasculation of the black man. It's almost hysterical that these same people wonder why the DL culture is still so real. Fortunately my experiences weren't as extreme as others have had to deal with. My mother is a child of the 80's and was fine with my sexuality. My dad...took time. His family is as problematic as they come in that regard and he had a lot to work through. He is definitely better now and was receptive when my little sister came out as bisexual (I'm so proud of you, sis). But I still experienced a veritable tidal wave of judgement and mistreatment from those who claimed to be family. I think the most insidious thing is when they try to make you feel horrible for being born the way you are. That is some next level sociopath shit and they reach for it so readily. It still stuns me how people who are so acutely aware of the injustices they face due a circumstance of birth are so quick to tear down queer kids using the same methods. Hello? You were literally just complaining about someone being fired for having natural hair but you quick to suggest queer people should be fired for being queer? Y'all. Really?
     Then there's being a nerd while black or "Blerd". the Blerd community has indeed come a long way. It used to be that you could only watch the most popular shounen anime and play the occasional video game. I am happy to say that the sphere has grown and includes so many more facets of nerdom. That being said, there is still some lingering judgement. In my experience, the judgement stems from the older generation. "You like comic books?" "You go to conventions?" Yes, yes I do. Now excuse me while I stunt on bitches with my RWBY cosplay (Ozpin has a really nice suit). You're still regarded as weird in some instances. I'm cantankerous as hell so the older generation questioning why I have four different cloaks doesn't bother me. But I imagine it does bother people who haven't gotten to the point of not giving one fuck, two fuck, red fuck, blue fuck. Having people judge you because of your interests (barring any extremes like shota and whatnot) is shitty. I remember feeling like I couldn't share my feelings on certain things because no one would understand me. "Nerds come in all colors!" I hear you cry and you are correct. But when you're part of a culture, you experience and interpret things a little differently and you wanna share that with those who ideally would understand. Case in point, Into the Spiderverse actually brought me to tears because we it was an amazing movie with not a shred of problematic representation. The story was not spectacularly original but the presentation was everything. Having everything from the soundtrack to the voice acting be so us was jaw dropping and gratifying. But saying all of that to a group who doesn't understand what it's like to not be represented wouldn't be received the same way. (Lowkey gripe, I wish the movie had more Latino culture put in there because it was kinda lacking, still a great movie though!).

     Being gay while black isn't...awful. It's just a bit tricky to navigate all the racism. Now before you start screeching "all queers matter", slow your roll. Being queer sucks for everyone, it's true. But just because you're queer, that doesn't mean you're not racist. Looking at you "it's not racist, it's just a preference" people. Being gay tends to co-op my being black in these queer spaces. While everyone can focus on the injustices faced by queer people, no one wants to talk about how those injustices are multiplied when you're black. Despite being instrumental in the formation of pride, drag, and vogue, we're largely overlooked or treated as a quaint annoyance. Then when we decide to create black spaces, they do what the heteros do and get offended. Instead of investigating and addressing the reasons why we feel underrepresented, they'd rather get angry. Seeing all of that made me very wary of queer spaces. Dating was no picnic either. Rampant body shaming aside, if I'm never referred to as chocolate again, it will be too soon. When I'm not the subject of fetish (not kink shaming other kinks, but making someone's ethnicity a sexual fixation is a bit much), I'm being rejected solely based on my looks. My peeps, men are beautiful. Period. Doesn't matter the ethnicity or size. Now before I continue, yes. I know that preference is a thing. But our likes and dislikes are a direct result of our upbringing and experiences. If you are writing off an entire ethnic group as "unattractive", it may behoove you to do some soul searching and figure out what in your upbringing and/or experiences caused you to feel that way. Also white gays, please stop saying you have a black woman inside you every time you think you're being sassy or a bitch. This is incredibly insulting to black women and it's not cute. At all.  But long story short, I always felt that my place in these spaces was to be "exotic" when in actuality, I'm necessary just like my fellow brothers and sisters and everyone in between (sorry for the lack of NB language, didn't even realize it).
     Nerd and gay totally go together. Just waiting for the community to catch up to that fact. Jokes aside, much like the Blerd community the queer community has become gradually more accepting of its nerd counterparts. Things like the Gaymer movement have been getting steadily more popular and widespread which opens the door for other avenues of nerdom. I was pleasantly surprised to see a HUGE number of queer cosplayers (yes I know that not all cosplayers are nerds, let me have this dammit) that are on Twitter and Instagram. We are really out here living our best lives and I'm here for it. This has been going hand in hand with our representation in nerd media steadily increasing and getting better. That being said, I don't think a nerd is going to be at the forefront of the queer community anytime soon. Now this is just my personal opinion, but I think a lot of queer folks get so wrapped up in defining themselves in their inherent queerness that they leave little room for anything else. What is inherent queerness, you ask? Not a fucking clue, but it sure as hell ain't what I'm doing. It kinda gets broken up into different facets, like fashion, drag, or flannel. My point is that people are still out here defining themselves with being queer and little else. Being queer is definitely a big part of us, but it isn't the only part. You're not just a queen, you're someone who enjoys fashion, clubbing, and pushing the envelope with your looks. Then again, maybe that's how they want to define themselves and I'm being ignorant. But I've always found that my queerness is simply a facet who I am. In fact, I tend to identify as a nerd more than I do as queer more often than not. I just find that it encompasses more of my interests and personality that the connotations that come with being queer. Maybe I'm just weird, if so meh. Either way, I still find that my nerdiness acts as a barrier for making connections. My partner and I often joke that we're failures at being gay because we don't have a lot in common with mainstream queer men. Videos games are cool guys, come on.

     I've talked about the Queer and Black communities, so how does the Nerd community stand up to the other two? Poorly. Extremely so. The thing to remember about nerds is that we are part of a fairly insular community. With that comes a breeding ground for some of the worst sorts of folks. It's not to say that the nerds are without merit, far from it. But there is no denying that they aren't best when you're different. Well, more different. Nerds often spend time on the internet or gaming via the internet. That level of anonymity coupled with not actually using the internet to research creates people who are just fine with saying anything they want (looking at you PewDiePie, there was no excuse for you to say it the first time, much less the second). They're just really fond of racial slurs. Why? No clue. I guess it's the allure of being able to get away with it with little consequence or maybe they just want people to feel as bad as they do. I could spend all day conjecturing, but that is for a different post. But the fact still remains that they love being racist and much like mainstream society, if a piece of media isn't aimed at certain demographic (y'all know who you are), they have a meltdown and call it unrealistic. Personally, I find bikini armor complimented with six inch pumps unrealistic, but I guess that's just me. But as the Blerd community grows along with our representation, it's clear that not everyone is excited about that or understanding. I've often been called the "token black guy" and I swear to whatever gods are out there if I'm offered another purple controller because I like "grape drank", I'm gonna nuke something from orbit. Now I'll admit, some folks honestly don't know better. To that I say PLEASE USE THE INTERNET AND DO SOME RESEARCH. I promise your sixth joke about fried chicken was not funny and I would much rather you focus on remembering mechanics. I just want my savage clear guys, that's all. Conventions aren't always grand either. Black cosplayers are constantly hounded to just do black characters, ignoring the five white Storms in the process. When they aren't policing our cosplays, they're policing our media. I literally played Tekken with a guy who complained because I wasn't  playing Eddy. My dude, no one likes playing against Eddy. Shush. My stories are tame compared to some of the stories other folks in the community have had to deal with and that is so sad. We're already a counter culture or sorts, why do we have to emulate society at all? I'm pretty sure i just opened a can of worms there so I'll move on.
     Being queer in the nerd community is...exhausting as hell. It's like being caught in a Mountain Dew fantasia of homophobia, repressed sexual urges, and bishie body pillows. I would really like to say that the nerd community is really open about sexuality. I would like to, but I can't in good conscience. It really breaks down to what nerdom you're in honestly. The anime nerdom is chock full of fujoshi and fudanshi so so queer men are accepted a little more (queer women aren't accepted per se, but they're objectified which leads to a limited tolerance and I feel ick even writing that). Gaming is still really for the straight guys. Women and queer men are consistently mocked, belittled, and excluded. I've even had instances where I was told I wasn't a real gaymer unless I performed fellatio on a "straight dude" (it hurt itself in its own confusion?). The gate keeping is so real and so unnecessary. Maybe they feel threatened, who knows?

     Well, that was a bit of downer wasn't it? All the groups are problematic and yet we're forced to stand beside these groups because if they go down, so do we. It's frustrating to be sure. There is a silver lining though. You're not alone. Cheesy, I know but hear me out. We aren't some sort of unfortunate unicorn (poor unfortunate unicorns~ ...nah, doesn't work). We are numerous and all going through similar things. We can form our own community. It's gonna piss off a bunch of people but then so do the best things in life. Point is, start reaching out. We're already on the internet. Cut into some of your raid time and see who's out there. They may need you. If being black, queer, and a nerd has taught us one thing, its that there is strength in unity.



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