Black lesbian, entrepreneur talks queerness and representation

RaeShanda Lias-Lockhart, founder of All is Fair in Love and Fashion, is being featured on TLC’s say yes to the dress this Saturday. “After I got engaged in July of 2018, one of my bridesmaids suggested I apply to ‘Say Yes To The Dress,'” Johnson told The Courier Journal. “I almost didn’t bother because I thought they’d never pick me.”  A former teen mom, she had her first child when she was 13 years old, a member of the United States Army and a graduate of Kentucky State University, Johnson, a divorced mother of four, arrived in Louisville in 2011 broke and homeless. Read the full Courier Journal article here.

What do you identify as? Why? Or why don’t you identify as anything?
Black Lesbian Woman. I identify as those 3 things separately and together. I am treated differently based on those 3 things separately and together so it is important that I state them in that order.

What does the word Queer mean to you?
Queer means being unapologetically yourself. Showing up fully knowing and accepting who you are whether other accept it or not.

Where are you from and explain what it was like growing up/living in Kentucky?
I was born in Chicago, IL, raised in Fayette, MS. Going from a big city to a small rural town is a shocking experience. I now leave in Louisville, KY. Growing up in a small town I was so afraid to come out because of the stigma that had been placed on being gay. I knew in 2nd grade that I liked girls but suppressed those feelings until I was in college. Moving to and living in Kentucky I really found my true self. From Launching a 6 figure business to marrying my wife, I’ve never felt freedom like this before.

What would you say to anyone struggling to come into their own identity?
I would say STAND IN YOUR TRUTH! I lost so much time trying to fit this mold of what others wanted from me. Time that I can’t get back was spent worrying about what others thought of me. The moment I decided to live out loud everything shifted for the better.

How does your own identity run how you carry yourself? Or does it?
My identity doesn’t run how I carry myself. Many people assume that I’m straight and then upon finding out I’m married to woman they tend to shift the way they treat me but I will not ever change.

What issues do you see in the queer community?
I think the queer community is some what divided. I have seen racism in the community. It is still ran by white men that just happens to gay. There’s definitely a hierarchy in the LGBTQIA community.

What do you think would solve those issues?
Representation matters. Every queer person should be equally seen and heard in a community that many have fought and died for. We need to have a serious conversation about intersectionality and racism in the queer community. We can’t scream we want inclusivity from other communities if we can’t/won’t face the issues in our own

Do you feel excluded from the “mainstream” queer community? Why or why not?
Oh definitely. As a black woman who happens to also be gay, we’re not seen or represented much in mainstream queer community. Now our lingo and swag are taken and used by everyone in and out of the community be we are left lacking in representation.

Where do you feel “at your best” (safe, happy, fabulous, comfortable, etc)
I feel at my best when I helping others. I’m a huge women’s empowerment advocate. We can’t anywhere in this world without each other so it very important to lift others up along the way.

Who influenced the life you live now?
My mom influenced me to go for any and everything I want. She knew it wouldn’t just be handed to me so I had to want it bad enough to take it!

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