An Ode To The Queer Black Teen

by Matt Tucker

Design by Domenick FiniDecember 1 2023

​Pick a struggle they say as you toss and turn figuring out which brand of oppression to sway

Don’t be gay, the first thing you hear in the bounds of your own head

Stumbling over your words, in time you begin to face a sort of dread

Wake in the morning and it’s code switching, mattress kicking,

solid instinct fighting just to begin to get out of your own head 

fight back against the power of all the words that you would like to leave unsaid

The eyes of the enemy staring you down, reaching into your soul and 

waiting for a change in pace, the gay face

Sweat bullets shooting down your back as you walk down the hallway 

hoping no one can see through you and find out the true you

Locker room whispers that you made up in your head 

because your secret is not well kept. 

You hope your friends will have swept it under this 

fictitious rug but you fear the giant tug

You watch over your shoulder as the boy you like is taking off his shirt, 

you put in the extra effort not to look

You are afraid of the secret being discovered because you weren’t subtle enough

to cover your tracks and you weren’t good enough to act like nothing could go wrong

You walk to and from class with a new kind of sass. 

The hidden secret of the world type of sass. 

The don’t mess with me, I don’t know who I am kind of sass. 

The one who is still cowering behind a mask kind of sass. 

Your friends are familiar with the sass from class because they know you, 

you were just the last to class kind of sass.

You end your day okay. 

You fit in for now

play the sport that is adored by crowds and hordes of fifty or more. 

You run and tackle, 

bait and tackle, 

run from the sun, 

running from no one. 

You are expected to shine like your bloodline. 

You were wasting your time in line trying to become anything out of the line. 

You never understood the way that life could twist and shake until the day you come away 

knowing that things are never as okay as you would like to say.

You hold yourself higher as you cower and hide under a new blue tracksuit 

you swear it makes you better at the game, but really it makes you feel like yourself 

Your parents feel like they know the real you, 

they gave you life and times

they feel like they own the lines of which you write your story 

but the worst thing about you is the truth that you hide

Can you ever show your true self to the ones that want to know? 

Will you ever be a person you love? 

Will you ever be able to know more and be more and have more and see more?

To be a queer in the black community is to have unanswered questions. 

It is to fight against oppression from forces that are separate. 

It is to help yourself to secrets and hope that you will keep them

It is hating yourself endlessly because the world you see and live in does not show you people like you, 

but people who can’t like you, 

won’t like you, 

can’t take you,

try to break you 

want to make you more like them 

The whole of you ends where they begin

so who are you if you’re just like them?