Meet Kelli

Name and Location

Kelli Barnes from St. Louis

How old were you when you “came out”?

I came out when I was 21 or 22 years old

How old were you when you knew that you were attracted to the same sex?

I realized that I was attracted to the same sex when I was in high school.

How did your family react?

I had a mix of reactions from my family.  My mother is religious and is not accepting of her daughter being a lesbian.  We have had many disagreements and even periods of time where we were not talking because she was struggling with how to deal with it.  At this point she is better; I wouldn’t say she accepts it, but she tolerates it.  Hopefully we will get to the point where she accepts me completely.  I have some aunts that were very accepting…they had questions, but there was no judgment.

Do you label yourself?

If by label, you mean “femme” “stud” or “aggressive”, I would say yes.  I consider myself to be femme.

What is one misconception about the LBGTQ “Lifestyle” that you want to get rid of?

One misconception that I would get rid of, especially among lesbian relationships, is that someone has to be the “man” of the relationship.  I personally do not feel that heterosexual constraints should be placed on a lesbian relationship.  The implication that a woman has to play the role of man suggests that a lesbian relationship is somehow incomplete without a masculine presence.  This misconception shows how much people need to learn about the dynamics of a lesbian or any other LGBTQ relationship.

How can you help the LGBTQ Youth?

I feel that by being out and visible I am helping LGBTQ youth.  The more they see us being proud of who we are, they will realize they have nothing to be ashamed of.

Do you think that you were born gay?

I don’t know if I was born gay or not.  I believe that some people are, but I’m not sure if that applies to me.

How do you feel about religion being the basis of homosexuality bashing?

I feel that people who use religion to justify bashing or discriminating against homosexuals don’t know anything about God.  I believe that God created all of us in His divine image and therefore we all worthy of His love.  People use religion to justify the oppression of the minority because of fear and ignorance.  Until those people release that fear and ignorance they will continue to hide behind bible scriptures to make themselves feel valid in their hate.  It is my humble opinion that God does not want any of His children to be treated unfairly, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Do you have children? If yes, how do you “successfully” parent being LGBTQ?

I have a son.  My success as a parent really doesn’t have anything to do with me being a lesbian.  I’m trying to make sure that my son grows up to be respectful of himself and others, to have integrity and morals, to value his education, and to be a proud African American young man.  I would parent the same exact way if I were straight.

How do you make sure that you are being positive?

Being positive can be a struggle.  Going through stressful times can sometimes make keeping a positive attitude difficult.  However, I try to be mindful of my blessings and remind myself that valleys in my life are always an opportunity for growth. 

Where can we find you on the web?

You can find me on twitter @Boho_Radical


Meet LaChelle

Name and location: LaChelle, Minneapolis, MN

How old were you when you thought about committing suicide?

I was about 15 years old when the thoughts started. I went through a long sporadic period of severe depression in my teens.

Did you go through with your thinking?

No. I never actually attempted suicide.

Did you have a suicide plan? If yes, what was it?

Not necessarily. There would be times I would think to myself that I should just do it. Most times I would think of just slitting my wrists and sitting in a bathtub. I never thought about writing a note or anything like that.

What was the reason you wanted to commit suicide?

I believe that once you enter adolescence you fully gain consciousness of yourself and you become aware of who you are. You may not fully know yourself but emotionally you begin to be very aware of your feelings and your surroundings.  At the time my mother was on drugs and my father was absent like he had always been. Now, I could say those factors at that time were the sole reasons I had begun to think of suicide but I believe the issue was far more deep rooted and as mentioned before I only became conscious of my emotional issues when I entered adolescence. My mother being on drugs was not a new development; I just finally became fully aware that she was. She had been in and out of rehab from 1989 (the year after I was born) up until a few years ago and she has been sober ever since (which I am so grateful for). I never saw my mom do the drugs, she made it a point to keep that image of her away from me. The problem was that when a person is on drugs, the relationship they have with that drug is more important than any other relationship. Simply put, physically and monetarily my mother was always there for me but emotionally she was not, she just did not have the strength. I was not your stereotypical child of a drug addict. I never was in foster care or in the care of random people & relatives, I never went without food or clothing, I never had to deal with the embarrassment of everyone knowing my mother was a drug addict; it was pretty much hidden from the outside world. I can say now that I am so grateful for that and even impressed that my mother manage to take such good care of me while succumbing to her illness. What tainted me and caused me emotional pain for so many years was the lack of nurturing. I did not have story time with my mom, she didn’t come to my conferences, and I didn’t get in trouble if I had a bad grade. She missed out on soccer games, choir concerts and that type of thing. Sometimes she did make an effort but they always tended to be passive. It was hard seeing kids with moms that were so enthusiastic about what they had going on and my mom just seemed like she could care less. It was like no one took an interest to me. My mom would go to work, come home, cook me dinner and go into her room or watch TV for the remainder of the night. There was no togetherness in the household. On top of that, my sister was 11 years older than me and living outside of the home raising her own child at a young age, so growing up for me was very lonely. I did not feel important or that I was special. I was spoiled and showered with toys and nice clothes to compensate for the lack of emotional care. Another factor had to be the absence of my father and the amount of damage he did when he was there. He was always in and out of my life; it all depended on my mom’s willingness to be with him. He was abusive, he abused my mother for several years and he did not care who saw him do it. I have very vivid and frightening memories of him beating her.  In a sense, those early childhood memories made me who I am because I was not fully able to develop into a person before I was exposed to those kinds of things. Getting back to the point, in my teenage years I went through a huge insecure “why doesn’t anybody love me?” phase. That lack of nurturing and hostile environment had me seeking love in others rather than looking for love in myself first; I didn’t know any better. Negative emotions really fueled me at the time. I hated my mom, my dad, myself, my life. I thought that everything that happened was my fault. I was always in trouble at school for fighting because I knew there would be no consequences at home; my mother did not care. My mom had to go back to rehab while I was in high school and I basically lived alone while she was away. We ended up losing our house and having to move into an apartment; I had to live with my older sister and at my aunt’s house a few times. I was unstable in pretty much any way you could think of. I felt like I was a burden, like everyone’s life would be so much better if I was not there. It was a very dark time for me. I hated the way I looked. I thought that I was ugly and stupid. I mutilated myself by cutting which was partly a release and partly a punishment for being who I was. I remember being frustrated with myself for not having the courage to just do it. All the while no one had the slightest idea what was going on in my head and that I woke up wanting to die every day. There was a huge amount of shame living inside of me. I was ashamed of my mother, my father, my depression and myself for even being born. I was the only child of the 3 my parents conceived that survived child birth; I used to think “why didn’t I die like the rest of them?”

Are you thankful that you did not succeed?

Yes.  100% thankful. I wouldn’t be able to share my story with others. Moreover, I would have died not even realizing how great of a person I am. I’ve been blessed with so many gifts and so many wonderful people that I thank God for everyday. It’s truly amazing to me.

Have you gotten therapy to help you with your past suicidal thoughts?

I never went to therapy. The thoughts were all very internal. I would share thoughts with a boyfriend (who had severe emotional issues as well) but never family or close friends, I didn’t want them to judge me and label me as crazy. I think being a Black woman in general it’s hard to be able to discuss your emotions and feelings without being branded as an “Angry Black Woman”. I’ve been vulnerable with people in the past who just used it against me later as a way to judge me and that hurts a lot. If you cannot be vulnerable with people who claim to love you then who can you be vulnerable with?

If you could say something to your younger self, what would it be?

It gets better. The things you are going through do not make you any less worthy or special than the next person. Your struggles will make you stronger and eventually you will grow from them, learn and maybe even inspire someone else who is going through the same thing that you are now. You are smart you are beautiful you have so much to give. You don’t need the validation of anyone to know this, not your parents, your friends, a guy or anyone else. Hold your head high.

Have you talked to your family and friends about your past suicide thoughts and/or attempts?

I have not. In my family, it is really hard to speak on all of our pain because there are still some unresolved issues as far as people being able to get over things that happened. Things have definitely gotten better. My mom and I are closer now which is a huge accomplishment but I know there are still some scars left that each and every one of us is battling with each day. I just focus on finding peace individually. The past is the past. I would not change it for anything because it made me who I am now.

How can you help youth who are feeling suicidal, have tried to commit suicide, and did not succeed?

Let them know that they are not alone. Even if there is no one in their life to show them love or help them feel special there is someone who loves them unconditionally and that is God. If you’re feeling weak, pray. That is truly what got me through everything. Sure, I could have called a suicide intervention line and gotten some help but what people can’t do that God can is give you peace of mind. ALWAYS have faith in God, no matter how low you are feeling. If you have faith that things will get better then they WILL get better.

What is your mind frame now?

Right now I am happy with my life. It’s not perfect by any means. I get lonely, I get stressed and overwhelmed. I’m working on goals to better myself, emotionally, financially, etc. but I’m still content and at peace with my life. There’s nothing more that I want or need to make me feel happy or at peace, anything extra is just a bonus. There are still some emotional struggles I find myself battling every now and again but as of now I’m just focusing on nurturing this newfound peace of mind so I can live my life as positively and happily as possible.

How is your self-worth and self-esteem?

They are great. Overcoming those obstacles and seeing my mom go through some of the things she did really helped shape them. In addition to that I have been hurt by plenty of people and that also showed me what I do and do not want and how I would like to be treated. There are things I know I will never stand for because of what I went through in the past.

Anything else you want to tell us?

If you’re going through something and you feel alone, know that you are not. Someone has seen your struggle and that someone overcame it, you can too. Don’t compare your life to others; you’ll never be happy. If you have an idea of what you think life should be like, dead it; there is no way to determine how life is really supposed to be. Once you realize that life is not perfect, it will start feeling like it is. Accept and embrace your struggles, if you don’t they will become who you are. Learn as you go, learn as your grow.

Where can we find you on the web?

http://www.theeclectanista.tumblr.com

 

 

 


Meet Alix B Golden

Alix B. Golden, Atlanta, GA

1. What is your passion in life? My passion in life is writing. It’s the one thing I can always remember doing from the time I was a small child up to today. It’s something I would/am doing without any type of monetary reward. I do it because simply the act of writing makes me feel good.

2. What is your current job? My job as a Product Expert for a software and web design firm keeps the bills paid. I am secretly a techie nerd, so it’s a great fit for me.

3. Do you own your own business? If so, what is the name and the mission? I’m not sure I would call what I do a business. I have two websites, abrowngirl.com and ibleedinkmagazine.com. It’s never been my goal to make money with either site, but that will change in the future.

4. Did you have any fears when first starting your business? When I started my blog (abrowngirl.com), my fear was that no one would read.

5. Did you have any insecurities when first starting your own business? I didn’t think that I would be embraced by other brown girls like me. Honestly, I didn’t know there were other brown girls like me out there. I didn’t know that so many people could identify with my life.

6. Describe your brand in one word. Intimate. When I read things that have been written by others about A Brown Girl, there is a common theme of my readers feeling as though I was having a conversation with them, like we were just sitting around having girl talk. It’s my intimate express of myself to the world.

7. Do you have any past failures that you can tell what you did to learn from them? Anybody with the smallest amount of success has had failures. There is nothing I can say I did specifically to learn from them, it’s just not in my nature to accept any type of failure. If there is something I want to do, just because I couldn’t get it right on the first try doesn’t mean that I will just sit down and never try again. I will always continue to move forward no matter what comes my way.

8. Who are your target consumers? Would you want to change this? When I initially started writing, my target was black lesbians. It wasn’t until after I started writing that I realized that somethings cross the boundaries of race and sexual orientation. Everyone knows what it’s like to fall in love, to fall out of love, to experience pain/loss/happiness/success. My target hasn’t changed and will never change, but my writing now reflects an awareness that no matter who I may target, I can’t control who I attract.

9. What inspires you? I am inspired by stories. I enjoy having conversations with people and hearing their stories. While someone’s story may be completely different from yours on the surface, there is always something there that you can identifiable. That’s what inspires me.

10. Who inspires you? My favorite writer of all time, Toni Morrison. Her words make me feel .

11. What is always at the back of your mind? My responsibility to the community. My responsibility is to share and expose stories, mine and others to help bridge the gaps within our community and between other communities.

12. What do you want to change about your job or career right now? I work with clients on a regular basis. There are times when I feel as though I don’t have enough time to spend with them to make a real impact on their day to day. I’d love to have the flexibility to give them more of me.

13. What advice do you have for others? If there is something you want to do, don’t think about if you should or shouldn’t do it. Just make the decision to do it and figure the rest of it out later. Don’t give yourself the opportunity to talk yourself out of it.

14. How do you motivate yourself? I know what I want to accomplish. I stay focused on my goal.

15. Did you have any obstacles that you overcame to get to where you are now? Of course, but doesn’t everybody?

16. Where can we find you on the web? abrowngirl.com, ibleedinkmagazine.com, facebook.com/alixbgolden, twitter.com/abrowngirl


NO MORE DRAMA..

Source

Yesterday I failed.

I failed at ignoring drama and ignorance.

It would be easy to blame the other parties but I  HAD the control to ignore or answer.

I chose to answer.

I am mad at myself for choosing to do so.

 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=em328ua_Lo8&ob=av2e]

 

When you know yourself it is important to trust yourself to do the right things and at times we do not do that.  We say naw, I can handle it knowing fully that we cannot. I know who I am and people who chose to think that they know me can continue to do so.  I know that I have to get away from negativity and STAY away from it. Not just when it benefits me. No… Once you fall into the trap of negativity it is hard to get out until it is too late. That is what happened to me.   Hurt people spew hurt. And the truth of the matter when it comes to some past relationships I am hurt.

Questions I have had to ask myself over the past day:

WHY am I still hurt?

Why am I wanting to carry and hold on to this hurt?

Why I am I choosing to continue to go back and forth?

If I am over it then I am over it, someone saying something should mean NOTHING.

When words are spoken in a direct way to get you riled up think before you react and speak. I am a firm believer that actions speak louder than words and my actions are out on display.  I am human, I know how I am (sensitive as ever) and I know when I should log off on the internet instead of spewing back the hate.

Yesterday “Black Girls Rock” aired and I was on a high from the positivity flowing but then I saw some negative and went the other way and forgot all about the positive vibes and energy I’d been in all day.

How does that make me look?

I say to myself and you who is reading… if you feel yourself going a direction you KNOW that you should not be going STOP. DROP. and LOG OFF.

There is nothing more embarrassing than reading your reactions to what you could have ignored the previous night.

Don’t let this be you.

This is the LAST time that this will be me..

 


Meet Tiffani

Tiffani

What is your passion in life? My deepest passion is to live my life as freely as possible to help others do the same. I love to inspire my peers!

What is your current job? I have an online talk show, EmbraceLifeRadio.com! I also work with an AMAZING company (Body By Vi) to help attack the fastest growing disease in the country, obesity.

Do you own your own business? If so, what is the name and the mission? My company name is Embrace Life Media, LLC. The mission is to help my peers b/n ages 17-39 to overcome obstacles in life and always embrace life with ambition.

Did you have any fears when first starting your business? No fears.

Did you have any insecurities when first starting your own business? No real insecurities. I sometimes get nervous but I embrace being nervous. It means I’m thriving and I’m alive.

Describe your brand in one word. Inspiration

Do you have any past failures that you can tell what you did to learn from them? Not so much failures. Maybe trial and errors, which is the only way you learn.

Who are your target consumers? Would you want to change this? Male and Females b/n 17-39.

What inspires you? Knowing that I’m only going to live once.

Who inspires you? Eurie Jabar, Dani Johnson, Oprah, Rachel Jackson, Mashonda

What is always at the back of your mind? Making it out of the hood for my people

What do you want to change about your job or career right now? Nothing

What advice do you have for others? To always go after what makes them happy no matter what ANYONE says or feels about it.

How do you motivate yourself? Listen to music. Pray. Imagine. Always stay tuned into positivity!

Where can we find you on the web? www.twitter.com/EmbraceUrLife


Complete Review “No Secrets, No Lies”

No Secrets No Lies: How Black Families Can Health from Sexual Abuse  Author Robin D. Stone

I recently did a post about this book and I was half-way through reading, you can read the beginning here.

I have had this in my draft for the past two weeks because I was afraid. I would be lying if I said that others words didn’t hurt me. THEY DO.  I do the best I can at protecting my mind but sometimes the negativity gets through.

This book was and IS GREAT for anyone but especially someone who was molested, raped, or assaulted as a child .

This book is why I changed my research paper topic because I want to read more about how others have dealt with being sexually assaulted, raped, molested as well.  As I read this book I saw that I had a lot in common with the respondents and even the writer Robin D. Stone. She went through interviews and even talked to perpetrators who committed these crimes against children at the time.  I also, was a child when I was molested by three different people and I saw myself in just about every woman AND one of the men she talked to.

If you are someone who was molested, raped, or assaulted as a child or adult I suggest you going to the library to read this book because she goes into detail on how to get healed.  I never knew that some people use dance or art as a way to heal.  I have only known about therapy and writing which are the two methods I have been using. I want to start using dancing as a way to heal also.  When you are a young child and you are being touched you like the feeling but in the back of your mind you know you shouldn’t…you start to feel dirty and grow up thinking that you and your body is dirty.  I thought this as well.

I am just starting to REALLY loving my body and what I see. I used to hate looking in the mirror because then I would imagine what the “men” used to do to me and then I would start crying and then I would get pissed. Make no mistake..I have always loved looking in the mirror but I avoided my eyes, I would not look into my eyes because I was afraid of what I would see.

Stone has eight chapters… breaks the chapters down on how you can help yourself as well and how others can help family members. Remember though, you are responsible for your own health. She has provided plenty of resources for and how to get healed.  She gives tips on how to forgive and you know that you must forgive for YOURSELF not the other person. The person that molested, raped, or assaulted you most likely is not thinking about you…but you are worrying yourself to death over what happened. That is not true healing, it’s putting a band-aid on a wound that will soon come off once it gets old.

If you really want to heal please find someone to help you..

Some types of healing include dance, drawing, group therapy, individual therapy, family therapy, music, writing, praying, spiritual counselors and etc. One of the statements that she said that is sticking with me is how you go about choosing who you want to help you.  If you do not feel a connection with someone end the services and keep it moving.

It is no secret that I have been in and out of therapy my whole life, but NOW I am truly healing because the spiritual counselor who is helping me heal happens to be a perfect match for myself and what I need at the moment.  She does not sit across from me judging or try to pretend that she knows exactly how I felt during the lows of my life.  She uses different methods that requires me to REALLY think and be ready for healing.  She would give me assignments and I would be mad at the time but then I would be hugging and thanking her the next time I saw her.  So if you too have been affected in any way and you are still holding on to the hurt…..

PLEASE I beg of you.

GET HELP..

When you go through life holding on to the past you are holding and keeping yourself in the past.  I no longer choose to hold myself back from the blessings that I will receive. I face my problems head on. I am no longer embarrassed by having to get help or advice from others. We could all stand for some one on one healing action.

Thank you for reading. Feel free to leave a comment on how you decide to heal.  Until next time.