My name is Makayla Glenn and I’m a 20-year-old gay black woman. I was honored to be asked to write a blog about what is means to be black and gay for Pinnacle. I struggled with finding the perfect topic for this blog. I wanted to talk about some of the racist encounters I’ve had, like trying out a new massage chair in the Brookstone store before getting kicked out of the chair for being under 18 (even though I was over and showed them my ID); while a 12-year-old-ish white kid proceeded to take my chair without being questioned. I thought about sharing what it’s like to go from a completely diverse hometown and high school, to a majority-white, borderline homophobic school where MAGA hats and tapestries are all over campus. I also thought about using this opportunity to share more information about what is happening in our world right now regarding Black Lives Matter and Pride Month.
So now I’m sitting here with a half-filled page of the typical stories that I share with and most other black gay people. So, I decided to do a Q&A of the most searched questions and questions people often ask me.
Here’s my perspective:
Why are people gay?
Some people say you’re born this way, some say it’s learned. I say I like girls better than guys.
Is being LGBT a mental disorder?
Uhhh, no. It’s not like “I’m gay, I must be sick.” Being gay isn’t a state of mind either. It’s knowing in your heart that you like people of the same gender as you. However, being a member of the LBGTQ+ has challenges within itself which can be linked to depression and deteriorating mental health from not being accepted to being bullied. I have mental health challenges myself, but it’s not from being gay. (I have the most amazing support system.)
How do I know if I’m gay if I’m not sexually active?
You don’t need to be sexually active to feel how who you feel attracted to. Being gay is about your own journey, not the journey you share sexually with another person.
Do schools teach about sexual orientation?
Not any school I’ve attended. Maybe this is why people are uneducated and homophobic…?
Are you sure about your orientation?
Man, I’m tired of being asked this question… Yes, I am sure and most LGBT members are positive about their orientation. FYI… You should avoid asking someone if they're sure when they finally decide to come out to you. It takes a lot of courage to come out to people as LGBT+, so questioning their decision will make them feel like they made a wrong decision, judged, or not accepted.
How is your relationship with your parents?
My parents are my world. I wouldn’t be the STRONG BLACK WOMAN I am today without them. The acceptance my parents have for me is overwhelming to say the least.
What’s the difference between gay/lesbian?
Gay is the general term used for homosexuality and commonly used when a man is attracted to other men. Lesbian is the term used when a woman is attracted to other women. For example, I’m lesbian.
Have you ever faced discrimination for being gay?
Constantly. Sometimes when I use a public bathroom, there have been times where I’ve been physically redirected to the men’s bathroom and not allowed to use the women’s room. I’ve been reported to my local gym by elderly women when I walk into the locker room to change or shower after my workout. I’ve even had people tell me straight up, “You’re in the wrong bathroom.” Those are just bathroom-related stories. Never mind the times where teammates left the room to change because I was in there, people asking why I’m wearing a tuxedo as a woman (which is a gender norm within itself) and even having short hair because I look like a boy.
All in all, I think it’s important to be aware and accepting of the people who decide to come out as LGBT+. Being gay in a straight world is hard already. People are homophobic, judgmental and don’t care about how you feel if it’s not important to their own life. So every day, I choose to live my life freely and proud of the gay woman I am today and I encourage everyone to live freely too!
Here are some links I'm loving right now:
Pinnacle Partnerships thanks Makayla for sharing her insights and experiences as a Black Gay Woman.
We proudly support the LGBTQIA+ Community, the Black Lives Matters movement and all its Allies.
If you are experiencing a mental health challenge related to your sexual identity or race, click here for support.