This time last year I was dating a white woman. We were together for over a year. She never made me feel weird about race and always did her best to check herself. Yet somehow, after Trump was elected, this was no longer enough. Suddenly, the power dynamic between us was mirroring the power dynamic between me and the rest of white America. I am not sure if it was because I was finally, opening my eyes to who was in front of me or because suddenly my confidence as a queer Brown woman in white America had crumbled beneath my feet.
Earlier this year, I ended an exclusive relationship, which eventually allowed me to love the people around me with a more open heart. It came effortlessly, as though the exclusivity had me bound together, and suddenly I was released from that binding situation. The release allowed me to expand on the number of ties I wanted to hold on to. I took this time to wonder what the difference was between each relationship I was establishing. What makes one person more important than another, if I already love them in some capacity? I always dreaded having to choose one person over another, especially if the two people mean equally as much to me. People are not competitions. Everyone has something to offer. Everyone is special. Why should I have to choose? I want to love everyone. So, I decided, I’ll allow myself to love everyone.
This did not come so easily for me. I couldn’t wake up and decide to love everyone in a non-hierarchical way. After all, I grew up not ever telling my parents that I love them. We hardly hugged. Feelings were never discussed in my family. On holidays, like Christmas and New Years, it was weird to hug my siblings because we’d never done so before. We hugged a grand total of twice a year. So when I went out into the world was shown affection from friends and lovers, I found myself overwhelmed with emotions that I could not express. I felt urges to hug someone but I would remembering what I was taught at home, always stopped me from showing affection. This was not okay. Though touching people is (and should be) a consensual interaction, I can respect that some people don’t like being too touchy. I now know that I enjoy touching people.
I was taught to always be tough and was shamed out of crying. It was not okay to cry. Crying was a selfish act. I can’t blame my family for this; it had to do with machismo culture. Machismo teaches us that we must be tough and never question the authority of our fathers and brothers. We either live in fear or we have to be tough all the time. It was not okay to be soft or to allow feelings to effortlessly melt inside of me.
This was not right. This was not the way my Brown was meant to love. My Brown wants to feel everything. It wants to give and receive. It needs to, as its main source of energy, just like the earth. I knew that this culture of toughness was not a product of my Brown. Going back to the power imbalance I mentioned before, it is easy to get fooled into thinking that the world around you does not love you. But this is not the case at all. This starts from unlearning what we were taught. As someone who grew up without physical contact, it was important to unlearn the way my family interacts and to understand that my own cultural background is flawed. I was not raised in a perfect environment, and I should expect myself to take time to acknowledge this and to unlearn it. If I am still not totally okay with physical contact, this does not mean that I don’t like it. Likewise, if I am sometimes open to physical contact, it shouldn't be assumed that I will always welcome it.
I am learning that I enjoy the freedom to love the people around me with all the energy that I can offer. I love this sense of freedom. I feel that each time I unlearn something (see Decolonizing Love Part I), I decolonize and step further into my queer identity. The more I decolonize, the queerer I get. The way I am learning to love starts here. I am not done learning.