In the midst of pervasive worldviews that readily dispose of young Black Queer individuals, we as a Black Queer community, more than ever, need to connect with one another. And while platforms like Jack’d were created to fill those gaps, one near forgotten platform still has a lot to offer: Tumblr.
I joined Tumblr over five years ago for the smut but stayed, for the cacophony of positive portrayals of Queer Black and brown bodies. These portrayals reject the tired sob stories the media feeds us.
One of the first instances I recall of communal empowerment on Tumblr came in the form of “Blackouts.” Once a month, Black Tumblr members posted selfies and pictures of themselves to reblog and hype each other up. The range of body types, gender expressions and forms of melanated homo love was unmatched by any other content I’ve seen on the likes of Twitter, Facebook or even Instagram. Coupled with Tumblr’s unpretentious vibe, negative comments were nonexistent, save for the occasional (and inevitable) “Why not a whiteout?” crowd.
Tumblr also made it easier to discover other Black Queer creatives and to explore their works. I learned about Kid Fury, for example, from the hilarious GIFs he would share on Tumblr long before his podcast, “The Read,” popped off with co-host Crissle. It was on Tumblr that I fell about in laughter with Miles Jae, the gender-bent, cosplaying media personality. It was on Tumblr that I first saw pictures of ballerina Aesha Ash, wandering Rochester in a tutu to inspire young women of color. Tumblr was where I first learned that fellow Jamaican Diane King was also a fellow gay. It was where I first heard Queer, Haitian mega producer/DJ Kaytranada’s remix of Janet Jackson’s “If” before I would follow him around North America to catch seven performances in two years.
The affirmations and life hacks I received from fellow Black Queer individuals on Tumblr, even indirectly, often salvaged my emotional state. Seeing Black Queer couples happily in love, subverting public narratives of Black on Black hate, was refreshing. These visuals, among others, were life-affirming. I learned how to loc my hair from a YouTube tutorial, how to take better care of my skin and even found a home workout regiment when I was too embarrassed to hit the gym. And in addition to all of this, Tumblr served as a vital information hub for the Ferguson riots when Twitter and Facebook mysteriously went down.
Tumblr is an invaluable place for fan art, for sharing music and for stewarding feelings of Black togetherness that usually only occur at the work watercooler after a new episode of Atlanta, Insecure or a new Beyonce album drop. I got to see sides of Black Queerness that would otherwise have been lost: James Baldwin in all his loving life glory, Ms. Jasmine Masters’ hilarious videos of candid rants and raves and simpler affirmations like finding out I was right for never finishing OITNB after they killed off Pouseey, the only happy Queer Black character who had a chance of avoiding the “Bury Your Gay” trope.
So, as we search for ways to connect, I offer this challenge to my Black Queer peers: look over Black Queer Excellence, a page I’ve curated on Tumblr to showcase just some of the gorgeous pictures, facts and displays of love that more Queer people of color should see–and indeed, probably all people–instead of stagnant news cycles that want to ignore the love we have to offer.
I’ve also included other pages to follow for inspiration and affirmation in your own time. And if you feel empowered, I encourage you to curate and share your own profiles to showcase your favorite looks, your Black same-sex love and anything else that feeds your soul. Let’s turn 2019 into the year we connect more than ever. Together, let’s reshape our narrative.
Other Tumblr sites: