When I hear Queer I think gay man or butch queen. A lady like myself doesn’t use that word to describe herself.
I can settle for words like TS or Trans woman but not Queer or tranny. I am from Louisville, Kentucky I was born at Norton Hospital. Growing up in Kentucky was very interesting. I was adopted at the age of five and I lived in a really good area of town and was fortunate to have nice things.
As a teen I was very androgynous and super feminine. Secretly, I always wanted to be a famous model. I would walk around with my nose in the air practicing my runway up the church aisle, neighborhood, sidewalks and wherever there was a crowd or a chance to turn someone’s head.
I was often times the smallest person in my class in school. I had an athletic body and smooth skin I never had much face or body hair. I was a cheerleader and a very good gymnast. I never gave my sexuality any thought but other people did. The world treated me like a girl for the most part. I was bullied for my skin color and femme ways all through school I dropped out of high school at 16 because I couldn’t focus. Dealing with my home life and being bullied was too much for me. I did obtain my GED at 18.
I always struggled with my spirituality sexuality and identity. I grew up in a very strict Pentecostal household. I thought I was going to hell until I was around 25. There came a point when decided I was going to live for me so I took my first hormone injection that I got from a friend. I started laser hair removal not long after I got breast implants. The first thing I wanted to do after getting my implants was do a nude shoot. So I did and things just went from there.
Being trans has been very eye opening and honestly I wish I would have done it sooner. My life has change so much for the better I was very mean and bitter before transitioning and I wanted to die young — now I want to live forever with out aging of course. I get a lot of support from my LGBTQ+ community.
I have always loved photography & modeling. I remember asking my adopted mom if I could be a model — she said no and I was devastated. I told my biological mom that one day I would go to Atlanta and pose nude and I was around 14. Well 14 years later, you can’t keep clothes on me.
I’ve always loved fashion but I love to be the naked body that is when I am most comfortable. When I am in front of the camera I feel sexy and powerful I think ‘wow I’m so lucky to do something I enjoy and to work with such awesome & creative people. My dream is becoming reality. My goal is to pose nude for a big campaign, be on the cover of magazines and billboards. I want to have a fancy manager — the whole bit. I want people to find beauty in my brown skin and trans body. I want them to see me as art and not a sex object. I want other brown trans girl to look at me and be proud.
What do you identify as? Why? Or why don’t you identify as anything?
I am a woman that loves women. My love for Women goes beyond the labels placed on me based on who I choose to be intimate with. My soul belongs to the Woman
I choose not to say that I identify as anything because regardless of who We feel we truly are, the outside world will always label you as They feel, not as you feel. So I rid myself of labels and live as I do. In Love.
What does the word Queer mean to you?
To me, Queer is Life. It’s just as important as me saying I’m an African American Woman, it’s not a label. It’s a way of life. It’s a bold ass statement in the face of the bs that asks us to hide.
Where are you from and explain what it was like growing up/living in Kentucky?
Born and raised in Louisville. There was nothing pretty about my upbringing. As a child in poverty I have to say the love from my stepmom over shadowed that we were poor or that I had a father on drugs and in and out of jail. I moved away at 16 to Alabama to escape the abuse at home, fell into abuse from my child’s father there, moved back to Kentucky at 19, from that point on I made a promise to live my life for me. I came out at 19 with a newborn baby, no place to live, no job at the time but I was free from abuse and starting to find a sense of self and had a purpose to be my strongest self for my daughter. I have to say I “grew up” in Alabama but the glow up definitely took its course in Louisville, Ky
What would you say to anyone struggling to come into their own identity?
Do not run from any insecurities or fears you have!!!!! God that is the worst shit ever taught, to not express that. If you find yourself in a space or around others that make you feel like you cannot be vulnerable Get Away!!! Those are natural emotions, and it’s not until we allow ourselves to fully feel it and speak it that we grow through it. People are going to judge you anyway, so why not just be who you want to be and sleep well with that. You’re not out here alone, speak out!!!!!
How does your own identity run how you carry yourself? Or does it?
Man!!!! It’s a testimony that no matter how down I’ve seen myself, I am one hell of a woman to not look like an ounce of it. It gives me that extra thought on my hard days, because we will experience them, that I am a beautiful healer, healing every day. It’s testament. Every day for me.
What issues do you see in the queer community?
Projection. Seeing someone living who they are now, happy with that, but because you walked a different path you are shaming another.
What do you think would solve those issues?
Self love really does show, you get a group of people together that are happy with themselves, they will always come together for the better. They can listen to a journey and see it for the outcome, without judgement. More self love will definitely make a difference, whether that be the openness about accepting therapy, promoting ones to speak out about hurt etc. we have to start the process of self love
Do you feel excluded from the “mainstream” queer community? Why or why not?
I did for a while because I chose to try dating men. But again, I was projecting my own insecurities. Once I started being more open about myself, people took to my story and journey more, I still catch a few side eyes here and there, but my journey has molded me, so I feel no need to overcompensate my gayness to make up for any time missed lol
Where do you feel “at your best” (safe, happy, fabulous, comfortable, etc)?
In my garden or in my work room making products for my newly started business. I’m a very spiritual woman ao when it comes to someone reaching out to me to help them on their spiritual journey, there’s that reassurance for me that I’m on my right path
Who influenced the life you live now?
The child molesters, physical abusers, the verbal abusers, the fake friends, toxic relationships etc Who influenced me to KEEP GOING: My mother Karen White. Raised 8 kids, went pedal to the medal with nursing school My step mom Vera Lewis Jackson, took me in as a baby and raised me like her very own daughter also killed the game in nursing My amazing headache of a daughter Keiana Patterson… gave me a reason to not only find love, but be love in every sense, all those years I was too afraid to fight for myself, to speak out against my abusers, she helped me find my voice and my fight! She is a out and proud lesbian that finished high school at the top of her class with honors, a basketball genius, a music genius and grind just like her mother. I know for a fact that all was capable because she had the support at home to be open and true to herself!
According to a Facebook post from the LGBT Center at University of Louisville, Dominique Jackson, Star of POSE & Author of The Transsexual from Tobago (Revised), will be the keynote speaker for the University of Louisville’s Pride Week.
This event is in partnership with the LGBT Center and Student Activities Board at UofL.
The event is Thursday, Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. at the UofL Activities Center.
Model, Actress, Author, Advocate and Activist Dominique Jackson was born on the smaller island of the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
At the age of 15, she moved to the US to escape traumatic situations. Jackson graduated in the 10th percentile of her class at Owings Mills High School before going on to attend Fayetteville State University and Morgan State University.
Enduring intolerance, discrimination and prejudice, Jackson left school and moved to New York City, where she became a member of The Underground House/Ball Community, the NYC LGBT Entertainment Circle and The Pageantry System – winning six crowns/titles while competing locally and nationally.
A leader in her community, Jackson has been awarded several accolades and was also inducted into the House and Ballroom Hall of Fame and deemed Iconic on February 27, 2016 at the NYC Ball Awards. In 2017, Jackson received the Legacy of Pride Award presented by Harlem Pride and received the first Bronx LGBT Leadership Award presented by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz JR and Allies LGBT PRIDE CELEBRATION. That same year, she was honored with the New York State Assembly Citation issued by Mark Gjonaj.
A fashion model since 2000, Jackson began her career at Brooklyn Fashion Week before moving onto Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. In 2011, she served as Mistress of Ceremonies in Solomon Harris’ take on the ballroom scene Newark Is Burning at NJPAC (Newark, NJ). Jackson is one of the resident models to Adrian Alicea Couture, Manuel Pelferes Couture and Angel Ayala Couture. She added Gypsy Sport by Rio Uribe and Stevie Boi to her runway accomplishments during 2016 Fall/Winter Fashion Week.
In 2014, Jackson released her autobiographical memoir The Transsexual from Tobago (Revised). Later that year, she starred in Carla Pridgen’s Incongruence produced by Ivy Theatre. In 2016, she starred in Oxygen Network’s GLAAD Award winning reality docu-series Strut, executive produced by Whoopi Goldberg and Tom Leonardis, and the short film T Times by Gabriel Torres.
Jackson has served on the Community Health Program Board at the Montefiore South Bronx Healthcare Clinic for the last two years.
by Arielle Clark, MBA (she/her/hers)
The Louisville LGBTQ+ scene is inundated with white, gay people and is steeped in alcohol culture.
There, I said it. And did I stutter? Insert shrug emoji here.
Louisville is my home. I was born in a Louisville hospital, raised in a Louisville home, and attended Louisville schools (and have the student loan debt to prove it).
Louisville is where I had my first crush on a woman, realized what “not being straight” is, and came in to my blackness via reading and rereading Audre Lorde.
Louisville is where I have fallen in love, had my heart broken, and cut off 10 inches of my hair as a result of a bad breakup.
Louisville is where I have planted my roots, grown, been pruned, and have blossomed into whom I am today — an out, loud, proud, queer, black woman.
As I’ve loved and learned and grown in this city, I’ve started to look around and go, “Goddamn, where can I hang out with some black, queer folks that isn’t centered on alcohol in my own hometown?”
As I wander through Louisville, trying to find my space, I make an internal list in my head as I drive down street after street or scour Google for sober, black, queer spots for women.
So far, I have come up empty. While there may be informal spaces for us (perhaps Safai? Maybe Wild Dog Rose when it had a physical space? I’m drawing a blank), there are no designated spaces for me, for us, the black, queer women, the chocolate chips floating in seemingly-endless bowls of milk that seem like oceans to us.
My sisters and I meet informally in majority-white spaces, on high alert as we hear people use African-American Vernacular English effortlessly while simultaneously telling each other that “All Lives Matter” and “if black people just listened to the police and did what they said, there wouldn’t be any problems.”
We rant about how Tinder, Bumble, and Her are full of people with Ru Paul’s Drag Race as their favorite show in their profiles and “no blacks” a few lines down.
We empathize with one another as we talk about how the white people we’ve slept with have said shit out the side of their necks like, “I’ve never been with a black girl” or “you’re my African queen” and “I don’t see color.”
When we finally relax enough to enjoy each others’ company despite being constantly critiqued by the white gaze, a white man comes up and proclaims, “Yas, queen! You are slaying that whole look. I am shook.”
We sigh, pay our checks, and leave.
As an out, queer, black woman, I long for a sober space that caters to us. I long for a space where we can come together and commiserate.
Right now, we are floating so far apart, drowning in milk, barely able to see one another as our heads bob up and down in the waves of whiteness and alcohol.
We’re trying to stay afloat while simultaneously being hunted as fetishes as sharks taking chunks of our culture to use as their own.
At the age of 27 (going on 28), I’ve had enough.
I cannot wait any longer for a space to appear, so I am making secret moves to create one. If y’all need me, I’ll be hustling to finally make a headquarters for us — a home in our hometown, a bowl full of chocolate chips melting together.
Check back in a year or so. I’m determined to make this happen. I don’t want to be drowning in a bowl of milk anymore; I’m lactose intolerant as it is. And alcohol makes my head hurt.
Stay strong out there, black, queer women. Our space is coming soon.
By Sarah Gardiner, Nanny Goat Books
Photo by: Camilla Jasis-Wallace
The first time I walked into Purrswaytions was on New Years Eve 2015.
I was supposed to be on my way to New York, but the flight was canceled and I was desperate for any sort of lesbian energy. Pulling out my phone, I googled the nearest queer bar, saw the word “dive” in the description, and knew I’d found my home for the night.
Stepping over the threshold was like stepping into a different Louisville than the one where I grew up. This Louisville was loud and glittery and very, very full of lesbians. Femmes and dykes, studs and chapsticks, queer women of every kind milled around the bar. Even more people gathered around pool tables in a room off to the side, and I could hear the unmistakable thump of a dance floor in the back.
Lesbian Heaven existed, and it was located in Germantown.
Since that night, Purrswaytions has become something of a home base for me and my queer life in Louisville. Some of my best friends have been made over beers at the rainbow lit bar, and I’ve had the joy of getting to know the lovely owners, Matt and Tina, who care more about their community than any other bar owners I’ve ever met. Over the 7+ years they have owned Purr, they’ve truly created a family of regulars who support one another and take care of each other in times of need. If someone is sick or in need of a little help, they have time and time again hosted fundraisers and benefits to bring the community together and lend whatever support they could spare.
I’ve traveled a lot, lived in major cities with queer scenes bigger than my younger, Kentucky-bred lesbian self could dream of. But none of these bars and none of these places have ever felt as welcoming as walking through the doors of Purrswaytions and being greeted on a first-name basis.
There are awesome people everywhere, and Louisville is lucky enough to have an abundance of queer-owned and queer-friendly spaces, but to make a community into a family you need to have a home. Purrswaytions is an underrated home in the Louisville queer community. Give it a chance—hell, give it a few—you just never know who you’re going to meet at such a queer staple. And, in the mean time, you’ll have the chance to support your local lesbian bar and hang around some truly lovely people.
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