A ‘baby queer’ is a person who has recently discovered and/or embraced their queer identity.
Firstly this is not a coming out story. I say that because my close friends know that, even in my younger years, I never shied away from my admiration or curiosity for women. A gorgeous girl had to be pointed out on sight, followed by ten minutes of voiced awe. However, back then, I was still living in heteronormative denial.
There are certain things I believed were not possible for black people to be.
Growing up in an African Christian household there are certain things I believed were not possible for black people to be or experience. Suffering mental health issues, bad cooking and being gay were just but a few. Regularly on Sundays, at the (Nigerian) Pentecostal church we attended, the pastor always found ways to slip in the ‘flames of hell’ all gays would meet on judgement day. When I’d go to play my mum would beg and bribe me with makeup so I’d leave the ‘boyish’ attire and trainers alone, forever nagging me about closing my legs like a lady.
It wasn’t until I was nine walking through Lewisham shopping centre with mumsie, when a pretty girl in front of me caught my eye. It took about 15 seconds before I realised I’d been enjoying watching her bum. Then another 30 seconds before I realised I was irrationally nervous about getting caught in the act. I remember thinking:
‘ohshitwhatdoesthismean?Itcantmeananything.I’mblack,blackpeoplearentgay.ok.good’. But I already knew the truth.
My biggest fear was anyone thinking I was gay.
During my adolescence, defined by years of low self-esteem and private excitement over masturbation and shows like Sugar Rush, my biggest fear was anyone thinking I was gay: 1. When any girlfriend would harmlessly hold my hand in school; 2. When talking to the openly gay girls; 3. In the girls changing rooms; 4. At sleepovers and etc etc. You get the picture.
Directing your way through queer spaces when you’re new to the queer life is similar to being the new kid rocking up to school halfway through the academic year. Everyone has their cliques, their inside jokes and of course, experience has taught them all the unwritten and unspoken rules.
‘Is that friendly woman just friendly or is she flirting or is my roast just strong? Is she even gay? If I touch her arm or shoulder is that too much too soon?? I don’t wanna look like eager Bill.’
I mean, shit is hard and it can get messy (no pun intended). But I am kind, so welcome, welcome baby queers. Gather round as I explain the scene in London.
Welcome and celebrate yourself. You’ve accepted your sexual preferences.
Like, damn, go you for being brave enough to stop running and hiding from who you are. Go through with ya bad self for being honest about how you feel, yasssssss! You’ve almost reached your final form. Wow.
*Twerks so you don’t have to*
I know our whole lives heteronormativity has been spoon-fed to us in huge sugary dumps. Children’s toy ads, perfume ads, films, song lyrics, even colours have been gendered and so we, my babes, assimilated without even realising we were doing it. So please don’t feel guilty. Be shameless – you’ve already spent enough years feeling secretly ashamed.
Sexuality is fluid, ya dig?
The body wants what it wants. Sometimes getting dick*d down, sometimes resting on a bosom. Sexuality is fluid, ya dig?
Accepting who you are whether it be bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, whichever, is tough. Be 100 per cent comfortable with yourself first before you decide to slide out into the light and sing it from your bedroom window. Feeling self-conscious or putting yourself in danger – depending on your living situation – over a decision you’re supposed to be happy about is as dead as Yeezy’s fashion concepts (don’t @ me).
There will be times you feel awkward and out of place as fuck. Sometimes flirting will make you feel like someone is pouring hot wax down your back. Other times your tekkers will feel equal to Rihanna giving Drake one look. It personally took me months before I could flirt and close in successfully. Correctly deciphering whether a babe is interested is a talented skill, mostly because telling if another woman is queer is sometimes near enough impossible based on appearance alone.
It will happen when it happens.
If you’re yet to lock lips or hips with the same sex, your queerness is not negated, I assure you. Take it easy. It will happen when it happens and you will know what to do, maybe not perfectly at first. But just trust me, you’ll know.
Some people will ask you, ‘How can you say you like x when you’ve never even been with x before??’ then proceed to reduce your sexuality to a ‘phase’. It’s perfectly acceptable to tell them to swivel on a pineapple far away from you or something more of your own suiting.
Apps for gay/bi women and non-binary people do exist, and are helpful in pointing you in the direction to go and you can browse at your own pace but they’re pretty whack in general, specifically if you’re a brown/black woman wanting to date other brown/black women. There’s no app for that.
You can get lucky on occasion.
I use the HER app now and again; I’ve been on two dates that led nowhere sadly. You can get lucky on occasion though, or so I’ve heard. If you’re overseas? I travel! Hi there.
If there are better apps, send them my way. Seriously.
Nightlife and Events
Meeting women is always better done in the flesh, after all there’s energy to test, humour to try and attraction to assess.
The queer night scene in London has been poppin’
Over the last year or so the queer night scene in London has been poppin’ with nights like BBZ and Gay Garage holding it down. Met a babe at the BBZ launch, it was brief but the instant attraction was magnetic… Ah where is she??
One thing I should mention you’ll learn – probably the hard way – is that ‘safe spaces’ are not always safe. White people find ways to ruin any and everything – side eye to drunk men (who weren’t invited) fighting.
Hmph. With no further ado I give you the regular queer London Nights I know of, so far:
Pussy Palace: Voguer meets black cool meets hipster meets roadman plus everyone and their friend. My first (and so far only) time hitting up PP, at Hackney venue, Mangle, I felt both under and overdressed. And tired which is a shame. Everyone looked so good, I haven’t seen such a random mix of bodies so uninhibited since… Carnival… 2006? My mind told me to go through with the one and two, but my body said otherwise. Soon come, soon come.
Goldsnap: a new weekly gurlzzz night, every Thurssay at Dalston Superstore. If you’ve come to chill it might be too lit for you to be honest. Acrobatic wines, melanin and energy up to your eyebrows. That’s all I can say really. They’ve got a Pride special, so find out yourselves.
Magic Clit: Headed by BBC AZN Network, what happens at Magic Clit stays at Magic Clit, ayyyy *wines slow*. No pictures available. Keep your eyes peeled however, a saucy poster could appear at any moment.
BBZ: A monthly exhibition and tun up for black and brown queer babes set in Sarf LDN’s Buster Mantis. Mad family vibes, corner to corner filled with black girl magic and listen, when the South African house comes on, kai. Your feet aren’t ready for the work your legs will do. But I always go in, so don’t mind me.
It’s better if allies are invited by a brown babe but it’s one of my favourite nights out because local, duh.
Upcoming events and parties if you’re London bound this summer + Pride Parties:
Queer Picnic 2016
Saturday June 25 @ Burgess park, 12pm onwards for my BQOCs (baby queers of colours)
UK Black Pride 2016
Sunday June 26 @ Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, 12:00pm – 9pm
UK Black Pride After Party ‘Flawless v Bump’N’Grind’
Sunday June 26 @ Union Club, Vauxhall, 9pm – 5am
Goldpride – Pride Party
Saturday June 25 @ The Glory, 9pm – 3am
Breathless: The Strike A Pose After Party
Thursday June 30 @ Vogue Fabrics, 9pm
The Feminist Library
Saturday July 2 @ Westminster Bridge Road, 2pm – 10pm
New Queer Visions: We, They, She, He
Friday July 1 @ Miranda London, Ace Hotel, 6:30pm
HER Summer Party
Saturday July 23 @ STYX, 5pm – 12am
The Tuts Free Summer Party Video Premiere show
Wednesday July 6 @ DIY Space for London, 7.30pm – 11.30pm
Queer Vegan Disco
Saturday July 23 @ Wood Green, 8pm – 2am
Online community support
Below is a collection of articles, websites and social media pages to help you break into this new side of your life with ease.
STOP-Homophobia: offers information and support to all members of the LGBTQ.
LGBT Foundation: coming-out support and guides
Bi The Way
Stonewall (UK only)
Women section of Guardian online: every now and again a WOC says something I can agree with.
Online Dating: The Bisexual Conundrum
30 women discuss bisexualityY: ‘I’m not a former lesbian’
The Batty Mama
@femmeminem: for your educational feminist Twitter needs
Tumblrs : These gay/non-binary babes make me feel happy and warm and fuzzy inside. They will lead you to more.
If you know of more hit me up, I’m technically still a newbie myself.
I know it’s already been said but it needs to be repeated: live for yourself. Celebrate yourself. Don’t let anyone – family, friend, colleague – make you feel guilty for being who you are. Whether you love women, or men or both or you give no cares about gender, do you to the max.
Now go forth, and grow!