#PROFPRIDE: Learning to Embrace Myself

The front of Bunce Hall being lit up at night with rainbow colored lights

Today, from a member of our Rowan Blog team: “In honor of Pride Month, I wanted to share my own story in grappling with and understanding my sexuality.” 

Dealing with my sexuality has never been an easy task since it isn’t something that can be easily placed into one box. My identity in general intersects at multiple points that, until recently, have been viewed as separate entities.

I’m Black, which subjects me to racial discrimination; but I’m also a girl, which dips this racial discrimination/prejudice in a coat of misogyny known as misogynoir. However, I can acknowledge that in spite of the fact that I have experienced misogynoir throughout the duration of my life, I also experience privilege in that I have never and will never experience colorism which is something that my darker brothers and sisters have been subjected to for years that I, in spite of being a Black girl, will never know. These conflicting intersections of my racial identity have already complicated how I view myself and how the world views and  interacts with me sometimes leaves me confused. This confusion was only heightened when I fully embraced by bisexual identity. 

I’ve known I wasn’t straight ever since I was a child and always did my best to hide it knowing that people aren’t exactly accepting of people whose identities stray too far from the social norm. Growing up, I saw my other peers who were more open about their sexual identities be the targets of bullying and harassment, which only caused me to further retreat into myself and hide that part of my identity. In middle school, I was already a Black child in a predominantly white school whose mother couldn’t afford many of the same luxuries that my peers had, which made me an easy target. I knew that disclosing my sexual orientation would only make this harassment worse, and maybe there was a bit of privilege in that in some capacity. 

There is no way to look “gay,” “straight,” or anything else but people often associate certain characteristics with a person’s sexuality which is so ignorant but it was a part of growing up and something people (on all points of the spectrum) still actively do in their adult life. The fact that I didn’t have any of those perceived characteristics allowed for me to hide in plain sight and would continue to allow me to hide if I wasn’t no longer ashamed of my sexuality or the woman I’m becoming. It’s actually at Rowan University where I was able to get in front of a group of my classmates and openly say, “I’m bisexual” and not care what people think, and the response I got was very warm and welcoming. 

I won’t lie and say I now live a life without fear, but I do live a life where I care less about what people think. While my sexuality is no one’s business, it is also not something I’m ashamed of. If it comes up in conversation, then I have no problem disclosing it and, if anyone has a problem with it, then that’s not something that will weigh on me. In the words of Nicki Minaj, “I am who I am because I am who I am.” Take it or leave it. 

Girl in flannel shirt sitting on a rock and smiling.

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Story by:
Bianca Gray, senior English major

Photos by:
Stephanie Batista, junior music industry major

RJ Wentzell, senior exercise science major

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