VISIBLE

The Rainbow Project

For Black History Month, Visible and The Blackprint collaborated on a multimedia project to highlight Black LGBTQ+ students at American University. We took inspiration from the iconic rainbow pride flag, which was created in 1978 by the late Gilbert Baker who sought to create symbolic unity within the queer community. Each color of the pride flag represents a different meaning: red = life, orange = healing, yellow = sunlight, green = nature, blue = harmony, violet = spirit, black = diversity, brown = inclusivity. We asked members of the Black and queer community at AU to express their interpretations of these colors and meanings through art or a series of questions. Click each color to see what they created and had to say! 

 
  • What emotions does the color red invoke when you see it?

When I think red, I feel love, passion, boldness and sensuality. It invokes a very warm feeling, almost embracing. 

 

  • What are things/activities that make you feel this color?

Definitely whenever I’m cosplaying a very bold character (like Yumeko Jabami!) or whenever I’m my most confident and feeling the most boisterous! I think red taps into the ‘fiery’ side of me and unlocks an added ‘umph’ to my persona. 


  • What does “life” mean to you?

Red very much gives life and passion! It screams passion which literally describes my feelings towards my cosplays. Cosplaying has truly become a passion of mine during the hum drum of quarantine, and I couldn’t be more grateful! Red also gives intensity for me. I think red is such a beautiful color and somewhat special as it cannot be created by mixing any colors (as are the other primary colors!), but I feel it describes my core and how my passions and feelings are intense and very special to me at least!

 

  • Why is it important to focus on and highlight Black wellness like all of these words that the rainbow represents year-round?

Because wellness is integral to self-care and love. It’s what brings us self-peace in a society that’s so rooted against us. Our wellness is what keeps us sane and try to check up on yourself and get the appropriate help where needed, if you can of course. 

 

  • What does intersectionality mean to you and why is it important to consider as a Black and LGBTQ+ person?

Intersectionality literally defines everyone’s everyday experiences and the ways they move in society as a response to such. It’s the multiple identities infused in one person and not as a series of identities. As a queer Black individual, it’s important to note the ways which the current systems in place can harm us on multiple levels due to our intersectionality. We must consistently guard ourselves from the weaponization of our physical bodies and the consequences of queerphobia simultaneously, enduring a very heavy burden to constantly be aware of. As a result, we are resilient, we are perseverant, and we will continue to push for what’s right which is the safety, liberty and wellness of all queer Black folk and consequently of all Black people. All of the pride and love to us! 



  • How do you think the Black community can improve upon inclusivity within our own community when it comes to LGBTQ+ acceptance?

Start by understanding Black intersectionality. I think one of the biggest issues is that some people view being Black and being LGBTQ+ are mutually exclusive. Black peoples are multifaceted, and we should learn to love one another without concerning ourselves about the decisions other people decide to make for themselves 

 

Natural Disasters Within the Mind

Emotions can be like wildfires

Their stream of orange and red spread flames across the mind

But this phenomenon isn’t foreign to you

Deep breaths, deep breaths

You’re familiar with fast-paced and free-ranging thoughts

You know how to slow their burning rage with the tool of control which you’ve sharpened and practiced

So when insecurity and doubt question your internal fortitude,

Affirmations will extinguish them

Ancestral guidance from those before you will heal their burns

But only if you let them

Deep breaths, deep breaths

Because what is fire when approached with vaporization?

What is doubt to inherent and unshakable excellence?

Insecurity to insurmountable preeminence?

As for the smoke that remains from such a natural disaster,

It rids with time

The head will clear

You will heal

I know this to be true

  • What emotions does the color yellow invoke when you see it?

The color yellow to me has always invoked emotions of joy, light, and strength. Regardless of the hue, yellow speaks volumes of encouragement to me. I always feel like the color yellow has both been a blanket of security and warmth for me and a cloak arming me to take on the world head-on.  When I look at it, it reminds me that the world is full of brightness and joy and that it can all be for me should I decide to take it on. 

 

  • What are things/activities that make you feel this color?

The list is endless! I feel the color yellow, and it almost engulfs my vision whenever I am able to create. I’ve been learning for a long time to call myself an artist, so whenever I dance, whenever I paint, whenever I take photographs, whenever I organize, whenever I bring life into the world through my creative outlets- the color yellow is present. It reminds me that there is joy and light in the work I am doing and encourages me to keep creating. 

 

  • What does sunlight mean to you? 

Yellow=Sunlight means exactly that. Yellow is sunlight. The color yellow to me has always made me think of sunflowers, my favorite flower. Sunflowers,  which always follow the sun and are guided by its light, gain their strength from its rays. That is how I feel the color yellow works, it follows the sun, follows its light, in order to gain its strength. 

 

  • Why is it important to focus on and highlight Black wellness like all of these words that the rainbow represents year-round?

It is important to focus on and highlight Black wellness year-round because too much of the time we have been desensitized of compassion and believe that Black trauma is the norm. We’ve used words like resilience and strong to describe Black mental health for years, but what that kind of language does is that it familiarizes everyone with thinking that “struggle” is necessary to find “peace”. When in actuality, we as Black people, and advocates for Black wellness don’t need to be strong, we don’t need to be resilient, what we need and deserve is love, support, and affirmations. I think these words that the rainbow represents do exactly that. Instead of focusing on the struggle, it provides us the peace and the narrative we need to experience Black wellness and in turn Black joy.

 

  • What does intersectionality mean to you and why is it important to consider as a Black and LGBTQ+ person?

Intersectionality to me means being able to be a multifaceted individual freely. Prior to being introduced to the term, I was conditioned to believe that communities were monolithic. Coming from a community that was predominantly Black, I was taught to believe that there was no room for another identity besides my race. I was taught that identities like my LGBTQ+ identity had to be in the background and that my queer identity couldn’t be part of my full being. This led me to be torn because I found myself juggling different versions of myself in one body, but none of them felt right, none of them felt like me. However, learning terms like intersectionality and using the philosophy behind Kimberlee Crenshaw and the Combahee River Collectives work taught me that as a Queer Black Woman, my identities are woven into each other. That the complexity of my identities need to be honored, nurtured, and celebrated. The word intersectionality tells me that I am a multifaceted being and that is the beauty of me and my community. That we are all complexed and can never be monolithic. Because at the end of the day, why would we want to be anything but multifaceted? 

 

  • How do you think the Black community can improve upon inclusivity within our own community when it comes to LGBTQ+ acceptance?

I think the Black community can improve upon inclusivity by first acknowledging their privilege when it comes to LGBTQ+ acceptance. The word horizontal hostility comes to mind, meaning that instead of infighting or factionalism amongst the Black community regarding the LGBTQ+ community, we need to work together to organize and aid the community. I think it is powerful to acknowledge the privilege of being able to decide whether or not there should be “acceptance” of LGBTQ+ identities. A group that has been marginalized and oppressed such as the Black community should be able to acknowledge and in turn come together to support subgroups such as the LGBTQ+ community, because injustice anywhere is injustice for all.

Cherries: a love letter

Sitting opposite each other

across the marble island

between us a 

shiny glass bowl full of cherries.

 

Sundays were meant to be lazy

so we sat for hours, talking

stemming the crimson fruit. 

 

Seeds dropping in the bowl

your laughter hung in the air

you loved stories, you loved me.

 

I picked up a soft cherry

it rolled easily between my fingers

my frown struck you

 

You offered a trade

“do you want mine?”

yours was shinier, darker, firmer

 

I did.

 

I bit into what was once yours

it was firm 

a tear fell down my cheek

 

You chuckled 

your smile wide 

“why are you crying?”

Because you love me.

Photo taken by Mike D'Hondt

This photo encapsulates diversity for me. It was taken in Berlin and the photographer, who was from Belgium, gave me this shirt to wear for part of the shoot. I had no idea at the time, but Paradise Garage (also known as Gay-rage) was a popular club in New York City in the 70s and 80s. So much of what we know today as House music began within those walls. Looking at photos from back then, you can see how beautifully diverse and queer everyone was. Sadly, so much of that period has been stolen away from us, as we think about the violence and disease that has been weaponized against underrepresented individuals.  

Shout out to the photo booth

These are my wonderful friends! We grew up on completely opposite sides of the US and wound up experiencing a pandemic in a foreign country together. We exhibit a myriad of levels of diversity: thought, sexuality, race, etc, and I think it is because of our differences that we have cultivated truly unconditional love for one another.

Shot by Totsshots

My Judy Booty (lol) I’m actually wearing all of her clothes here! Sadly, the pants didn’t make it in the photo. Judy was born in Bulgaria, but has also spent much of her life in LA; I can’t think of two more contrasting places. 

Shot by moi

This is Momo and Tati in Treptower Park in Berlin. Momo is from Senegal but has lived in Germany for some time. I think my favorite part about being in Berlin was seeing how diverse (and honestly Black) the city is. Berlin is also where I met Tati, my literal soulmate!

This song represents inclusivity to me because I feel like I am constantly thinking about myself and how I fit in this world. Due to things like social media and the constant digestion of information, it is hard to runaway from who I am and what I represent to other people. I feel as if everyday I’m hoping the world will radically change for people that look and feel just like me, hence the song lyrics. 

I wear my identity on my sleeve when I walk outside, and I do recognize how my masculinity is more digestible to people within the Black community. I think although my queerness isn’t fully accepted, I found that my proximity to masculinity has influenced the way people regard me (vs when I was femme).

My identity is complex, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I have been lucky enough to surround myself with the most amazing Black, Queer folks that make me forget about who I am in the world sometimes. The Black LGBTQ+ community is beautiful, colorful, and dynamic. We can represent all facets of life and the community holds too much beauty that it is confined to acceptance. And I look forward to the day that the world changes for every single one of us.

Visible Staff

Visible Staff

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