Photograph courtesy of University of Houston
Written by Ryan Nickerson
When you think about what it must be like being black and gay, hearing a black gay person talk is probably the best way to go about it.
The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion hosted Harrison Guy, the chair of Mayor Turner’s LGBTQ advisory board, to speak to students.
“The black community would like us to believe that black gay men just recently popped up like we came out of nowhere,” Guy said. “But I’m really glad I know better than that”.
Even though Guy grew up with a supportive family, he was heavily involved in church, and the trials of growing up black and gay did not evade him.
“I often get asked in [the LGBTQ] community where my perspective comes from and how did I get to this place of being so comfortable with who I am,” said Guy. “And the answer is, ‘I was raised by magic’.”
Guy, explained how black people are almost expected to have traumatic coming out stories, but he had a family that accepted him for who he was.
Guy faced hardship outside his household.
“I would be at home and just queen out and be myself, but I would go to school and there was a sort of dissonance because that wasn’t the way the other boys were acting,” Guy said.
Starting in elementary school, Guy had discipline problems because he would act out as a way to distract people from the fact that he didn’t fit in.
“I think you are acting this way because you are embarrassed about who you are at home, and you are trying to figure out how you can also be that person at school and still be safe,” said an elementary school teacher.
That same teacher then wrote a play with Guy being the lead character. He had a chance to dance and sing on stage and his peers started to see him for who he is.
That teacher was Guy’s first ally. He had other teachers who challenged him to be himself, like his sister who was nothing like Guy but still stood up for him in front of his high school bullies.
“I don’t know that I have completely figured it out, but I come to you still pretty broken,” Guy said. “But if I’m being honest with you, I’m not sure if I want to be fixed because I like the way I am.”
Guy brought the audience a story of self-love and acceptance, challenging others to do the same. A person doesn’t have to be part of the LGBTQ community to be inspired by Guy’s story about fitting in and finding one’s self in the midst of difficult circumstances.