Being LGBTQ at an HBCU
This weeks episode is one that is close to my heart. For a brief time, years ago, I went to Howard University School of Law in Washington, DC. Howard is a historically black university, event though I left after a year to pursue teaching, the city and the school remains a special stop in my queer journey. Washington, DC, was where I first started openly exploring my gender identity. The diversity of African Americans on campus and in the city was absolutely breathtaking. As I said in Episode 1, it is my emotional home. To this day, I go back to the city every few years to recharge my batteries. At the time, I was not ready to admit that I was trans, and that internal struggle was a big reason why I left law school. All that to say, HBCUS and Washington, DC are special to me.
This topic is important, because most of the queer college voices we hear today are from students at predominantly white universities. Black student voices need to be heard more. HBCUs have distinct identities and histories that embrace Black culture, and that culture hasn't always been welcoming to LGBTQ students. Slowly, the culture of these institutions are changing. Black women's colleges like Spelman and Bennett have altered their admissions policies to accept trans women. Morehouse College, an all male college has opened its doors to trans men. And recently, the Human Rights Campaign has began partnering with HBCUs to support and encourage more queer affirming policies. Change is happening at these institutions, and we need to hear from the students that are there, and that's why it was so refreshing to talk to Imani Bryant , a Howard University senior.
Imani is a political science major, president of CASCADE (the Howard student LGBTQ organization), and student activist that has centered their collegiate experience around fighting racial injustice, and building an inclusive queer community in Washington, D.C. I'm in awe of them, and I think you will be too. The thing I love about talking to Imani is their strong sense of determination and grounded sense of self. They know who they are and what they believe. When I was a college student twenty years ago (yikes!) I was still running from my true self. I'm inspired by the courage and activist spirit that envelops young queer leaders like Imani. To read more of their story, you can go to Black Women Radicals. And make sure you follow Imani on twitter @Imani_B123 and you can follow us at @So_QueeriesPod.
Photo courtesy of C.A.S.C.A.D.E.