Queer Kentucky Feature: ‘As a Black person my life has always been a protest’

Phelix Crittenden

What does the word queer mean to you? 

Queer means to me, the ability to be whoever the fuck you want! Queer is limitless. Queer is captivating. Queer is bold & brave. Queer is fearless & unapologetic. Queer can be fabulous & dainty, or rough & rugged, or literally all of those things at the same time. Queer is the potential to reach your fullest self. Queer is FREEDOM! 

How do you identify?

I identify as a POPPIN’ ass bitch! 

What are your pronouns? Why are they important?

I don’t really have pronouns. I’m a woman. A trans woman – but I’m so much more than my physical being. I’m a dreamer, a lover, a thinker, a doer, a fighter, a rebel, a game changer! Pronouns aren’t important to me personally because it’s still a box I have to fit myself into in order to make someone else comfortable around me. Fuck your comfort level when it comes to my ever evolving identity. 

Why? Or why don’t you identify as anything at all?

See above. 

Where are you originally from and explain how was it growing up/living in Kentucky?

I’m from all over, but Kentucky is and will always be home! Well Louisville. Louisville is dope, it literally gives you small (and I mean real small) doses of everything. Big city ambitions, small town values. There’s enough hustle & bustle to keep you busy, but it’s still slow motion enough to make you sit back & smell the flowers. I love the community here. I grew up a missionary kid, so we were never in one place for too long. Louisville helped me find myself. I found my independence & tenacity in the West End. While I found my creativity & my experimental nature in the suburbs. I needed that type of melting pot to help mold me.

What would you say to any person struggling to come into their own identity?

KISS! Keep It Simple Stupid. Just be yourself, whatever that self maybe. Outta all the stats and planets in the galaxy. Outta all the birds in the sky, fish in the sea. Outta all the sperm that tried to race you to the finish, you made it! It’s such a disservice to not only your self but the universe to not live authentically.   Fuck what a hater says, it’s from a place of fear & jealous because they aren’t brave enough to be themselves. Also be thankful you didn’t land on Earth as a mother fucking roach bitch! 

How does your own identity run how you carry yourself? Or does it?

I’ve said it before I’ll say it again: As a Black person my life has always been a protest. As a Black trans person my life has always been in danger. I don’t take either of those intersections lightly. So I do nothing without intention. I carry myself with the confidence & passion of my ancestors. The audacity to be greater than they could ever imagine. I strive for perfection, but I also realize I am already that. 

What issues do you see in the queer community?

Elitism. White gays forget how they got here. The fact that they feel secure enough to ever disrespect a Black queer, especially a Black trans woman is damn near blasphemous. Being racist isn’t a dating preference, it’s just racist. Check your privileges. We also lack visibility for queers of color. We need our voices amplified. We’re out here & we’re dope! Now stop stealing our culture & pay us our homage. 

What do you think would solve those issues?

Loving actual Black people (queer or not) they way they love our culture. Stop putting us on as trends for your entertainment.

Do you feel excluded from the “mainstream” queer community? Why or why not?

I don’t feel excluded because I don’t want to be there. I make my own rules, I write my own ticket. The question is, does the mainstream queer community feel excluded from me. I’m not jumping through hoops, and I’m not begging for someone to respect me. I’m demanding & commanding it. 

Do you feel safe as a trans or nonbinary person?

I feel safe within myself yes, but I still know that the world is unsafe for me. Trans women are being assaulted, violated, & murdered everyday. The media turns a blind eye. They don’t know how to make their audiences feel comfortable with our stories. They don’t know how to humanize us. Objectified while being ostracized. Fetishized while being vilified. That’s a constant in a Black trans woman’s life. Men don’t know how to live us. People don’t know how to receive us. If the most neglected, disrespected, & unprotected person in America is the Black woman – imagine adding trans to that conversation. That being said I’m not your everyday average type tho, this wig pulls off & I pulls up if anyone ever feels the need to come out of a bag on me. 

Do you feel safe as a BIPOC trans or nonbinary person?

See above 

Who influenced the life you live now?

I tell anyone any chance I get, Mama Critt (my granny) is my all time favorite human. The most beautiful creole woman I’ve ever seen. Always dressed to the nines. Matching her jewelry to her clutch. Her shoes to her blouse. Always a nude lip (I do the same). She didn’t take any shit, & if you started some of your own, you better be ready! She was a double amputee below the knee & she marched into her doctors office demanding legs she could still rock her heels on. She walked in those heels (slow but steady) like a boss! I never saw her look down upon her self given her unfortunate circumstances, & that’s something I’ll always keep with me! She was perfect no matter what & she believed that. How dare I feel any different when I’m a direct descendant of that legacy. 

Black people please seek professional help from a doctor to find healing from all this generational trauma, we deserve that & own it to our ancestors.
Please feel free to add anything else. Your feature doesn’t have to be these questions. If you have any art, poems, songs, design, politics, or any other expression, feel free to display those and speak on them as your feature. It’s your feature, and it is up to you!