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.