Derek Guy, Kentucky by way of Atlanta, Georgia
What does the word queer mean to you? How do you identify? Why? Or why don’t you identify as anything at all?
Queer means that I am as fluid as the colors surrounding us. I identify as a queer transman and my identity grows with me and changes to match my heart. I believe that my life and my identity is a living document and I don’t believe that even queer is overlapping enough to encompass my identities but it’s the language that I have now that I feel fits the best.
Where are you originally from and explain how was it growing up/living in Kentucky?
I am originally from Atlanta, GA. Living in Kentucky has been the most demeaning, dehumanizing experience of my life. I never thought being black or being transgender was a negative thing until I have had the experiences I have had here in Kentucky. It’s an incredibly backwards state that has a way of showing the worst of itself over trivial things. I highly dislike living in this state but for now, it’s the only option my family has. Running for office in this state was the scariest and most disheartening thing I have ever done. I don’t think this state is safe for black transgender people to be out and open with their identity in this state.
What would you say to any person struggling to come into their own identity?
Find your people. They are out there and you can find a family that fits you and loves you no matter what. I believe for everyone there is someone and there is a group for everyone to belong to.
How does your own identity run how you carry yourself? Or does it?
I’m ever cautious and aware of how present my presence to others. I have noticed that I have gone from a woman who is timid, to a scary black man overnight and that is sometimes hard to deal with. I am often over cautious of how I speak, how I carry myself, how much of an imposition I am being to others. It’s hard to live in a world that hates the color of my skin, without knowing the man in this skin.
What issues do you see in the queer community?
The queer community is racist ASF. It’s the most disheartening and disgusting thing for there to be so much racism and transphobia in the lgbtq+ community. There is only safety in the lgbtq community if you are white. I often experience more racism and transphobia from white lgbtq people than any others in the community.
What do you think would solve those issues?
Getting rid of ignorant hierarchy and people acknowledging that once they have come for me, they will come for you.
Do you feel excluded from the “mainstream” queer community? Why or why not?
Yes because it’s often white transgender people or attractive transgender people. I often see black transgender men in any aspect mainstream queer community.
Where do you feel “at your best” (safe, happy, fabulous, comfortable, etc)
At home in the comfort of the people I know who do love me unconditionally.
Who influenced the life you live now?
My life is influenced by the people who are no longer with me in this world. I go on for those who can’t anymore. But I am also influenced by my son and the kids and women I work with every day. I work hard to be the best man I can be, and I work hard to be an example of positivity for them. I love my work and the kids and women I work with and they inspire me every day.