“I ain’t ashamed
Well it’s dark in the closet
Now I’m out in the light
Proud of who I am
And my light is shining bright”
These are some Miss Gaye Adegbalola’s lyrics from “I ain’t ashamed.” Last night I was proud to be in her presence and mention these lyrics in her introduction. You’re probably thinking who is Miss Gaye Adegbalola? Well, she is one of the most incredible woman I ever met in life, period. Miss Gaye is a woman who fights for gay rights and civil rights and she gave an insightful and powerful lecture on the similarities and differences between these rights. Along with the lecture, the audience got to listen to some of her songs. Yes, she is also a musician! As of 2013, the blues star has 14 CDs and has won the prestigious Blues Music Award from the Blues Foundation. This woman combines her activism and her love of music and portrays a beautiful picture of the true fight for freedom.
Last night Miss Gaye discussed how gay rights and civil rights are similar, but how they are not the same at all. This statement confused me at first but as she continued in her words it began to make sense. As a queer woman of color it’s often hard to listen to stories that relate to my own, but everything she was speaking on just spoke to me, and I truly thank her for that. Some of the similarities she discussed are how both the LGBT community and Black Community have been seen as inferior based on deterolizing stereotypes. Miss Gaye states that she has been called every name in the book, from a Nigger to a Dyke ( though she fully embraces the term dyke and makes it her own. She states, “Yes I am an old black dyke.” With this Miss Gaye learns to empower herself through negativity which is another trait that I admire. Another similarity she discusses is the legalities of everything. In the past black and white couples could not get marry because of the differing races, but that was overruled, because marriage should be based on the premise of love and not race. Today the LGBT community is facing the same struggle with marriage just in a different context.
Another aspect that she talked about a lot was the aspect of religion. What I liked about her talking on the matter is that she brought up a perspective that I often don’t think about. Miss Gaye claims that the bible was the foundation that black people relied on during civil rights, but the bible hardly exists in the LGBT community and is often used to call us an abomination. In my life religion had always been important to my family members, but as I became older, I found it hard to relate to my family and faith. It’s hard going to a church and being told that you will not be accepted in God’s heart for who you love. With this being said it must be extremely hard for Queer People of Color to maintain those religious ties, frankly, I’ve given up. Miss Gaye says though this hate occurs in the churches she is a woman of God. She is also a woman of strong convention as she continues her lecture.
One of the differences that Miss Gaye talks about that really hit home is that you can’t hide being black, but at the same time you don’t have to tell your mother you’re black. Being LGBT you’re living the biggest lie and it is difficult to live your life knowing you have to be something different then what you are because of others hatred. Now these differences are obvious, but so real, and it made me reevaluate myself as a queer woman of color. This lecture is something I really needed and I believe that it started the discussion, a discussion that needs to continue! Bottom line, this was a lecture, that if you didn’t come, sorry to say it but you truly missed out. I hope that this speaker will spark more discussions about diversity on campus.