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Dear Blackqueer Student: A Pride Month Letter and Reflection 

Dear Blackqueer Student, 

I got a hold of some truth on this journey; I am sure it is partial, yet it pertains to us, and I believe you should know. This truth is not the typical rhetoric of lies wrapped in subject matter, and I do not mean to alarm you with any of it. But as much as we illuminate “the way,” we must also give sound warning. 

Before I get there, a little about the energy that speaks to you in this letter. My journey as an educator commenced in 2008, and I remember seeing you because I remember who I was in high school, the “out-gay girl.” With that came many challenges, not just for me, but for my Black Christian family and my peers who decided to call me friend. Though we did have access to the language back in the late ’90s, we all were coming to terms with the phrase, love is love and what that looked like for us. Nonetheless, when I saw you, I could not speak to you because, by the time I entered the classroom as a teacher of record, I was full of fear, cloaked in shame, and definitely not communicating, in a healthy way, with the queer parts of myself. I was programmed for survival; therefore, I obliged the binary request of wearing clothing that looked the part because my pronouns are she/her but made me uncomfortable because I was wearing a costume — I am a masculine woman. 

Since the first day of my teaching post at an alternative school, I left the classroom a few times, some with and some without notice. Life kept happening to me because I did not possess the skills to create possibilities within the full range of my humanness. Who I am, a queer, non-binary woman, never entirely merged neatly with being a Black educator. And there is history in that. Sides of me were at war, a war that kept me running in opposite directions of myself while trying to be a part of the r/evolution for young Black minds.

During my own schooling experience, I had no models of being “Blackqueer,” and an intellectual to hold tight to, so I lost my grip more times than I would have liked. The treasonous robbery of our history, misremembering, and crafting illegitimate narratives about our legacy is not the crime they say, it’s the teaching of the truth that’s preposterous. Remain diligent, child, about protecting your mind, which is your whole body and the magnetic field around it. 

Amid the battles, I was praised for my students achieving high test scores, cultivating transformative relationships, and engaging lessons that intentionally connected the student to the content; earning me teacher of the year, most outstanding educator, subject-level lead, and many more accolades that remained lip service printed on cardstock. The discourse around those moments of congratulatory praise was constant chastising to let my hair grow long and to wear dresses, again. Those who desired my skills in positions of change also required me to gender politic. If I was going to have a significant impact in the profession, it could not be achieved as a visibly Blackqueer, masculine-forward woman, being Black was the criterion. Therefore, every time it became too much harm to heal to teach well, I left these predominantly Black and brown schools. Two times to be exact. 

So now I tell you, being Black doesn’t save you from the damnation of theocracy in school buildings. Being Black while also being queer can get you in trouble — bullied by students, teachers, and administrators. Wrestling within unsafe spaces such as schools while excelling academically and not falling victim to the traps set for Black bodies in U.S education policies can be exhausting, but you should know you are not alone, and you can do this… to be Blackqueer and an intellectual force to be reckoned with. I can confirm that many of us have survived and are building healing, loving educational spaces with you in mind, following the steps of Blackqueer brilliance that came before us. 

I remained hopeful and now experiencing the moment you accept and stand tall in your fullness without shame or fear, your authentic personhood will be your greatest teaching strategy for a decolonized, abolitionist, and liberatory pedagogy and praxis. We are thinking of you, specifically, Blackqueer student. Whether you are in the classroom to be an educator, the preparer of educators, or an education technology engineer, your power to move our world closer to love and freedom is in your knowing that there is no separation of thy self in this work. Who you are, must fully show up to the call and you must answer as whole as possible. 

Blackqueer and PROUD,  

ParKer Bryant 


“Blackqueer,” one word, a key concept theorized by scholars such as Durell Callier, Tim’m T. West, Ashon Crawley, and more, which intertwines Blackness and queerness, challenging traditional boundaries and norms within both racial and sexual identities. These identities are not separate but interwoven, influencing each other in profound ways.  

Groundings and Further Readings: 

Callier, D. M. (2018). Still, nobody mean more: Engaging black feminist pedagogies on questions of the citizen and human in anti-blackqueer times. Curriculum Inquiry, 48(1), 16-34. https://doi.org/10.1080/03626784.2017.1409594 

Crawley, A. T. (2020, September 22). Ashon T. Crawley. Los Angeles Review of Books. https://lareviewofbooks.org/contributor/ashon-t-crawley/ 

Hill, D. C. (2014). A vulnerable disclosure: Dangerous negotiations of race and identity in the classroom. Journal of Pedagogy (Warsaw), 5(2), 161-181. https://doi.org/10.2478/jped-2014-0008 

Morrison, T. (2020a, November 13). Toni Morrison on trauma, survival, and finding meaning. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xvJYrSsXPA 

White, E. C. (2012). Foreword. In D. W. Carbado, D. A. McBride, & D. Weise (Eds.), *Black like us: A century of lesbian, gay, and bisexual African American fiction* (2nd ed., p. xiv). Cleis Press. 

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