So many of today’s younger queer folks have been courageous in their expression, unapologetically themselves, all while holding older folks accountable to the world we’re leaving behind. As they boldly lead movements and carry the torch toward a liberated future, it’s up to us to support, honor, and affirm them on the arduous path ahead. In honor of their brilliance and tenacity, this issue of The Tea features Black queer young people’s voices from all over the country. Read on and enjoy—and be sure to follow them and continue to support their work and/or another Black queer young person in your life!
My name is Leeusian Wade. I’m a 22-year-old Black trans man who loves music, my dog, and my family. I became a trans and mental-health advocate after being diagnosed with schizophrenia and seeing the stigma that surrounded mental health, race, and gender. To express myself and make room for change, I write and produce music and host podcasts that talk about the stigma around living with schizophrenia, and educate people about the transgender experience. My hobbies include reading graphic novels, exercising, making/listening to music, and spending time with my dog.
The first episode of the Black Trans Men Talk Podcast is a conversation that I had with my dad about his perspective of me being trans a month after he was released from prison. We conversed about support and advice that he has for other parents of trans children.
Episode 1 of the Living With Psychosis Podcast is a conversation with peers from a support group for students living with psychosis. We discuss externalized stigma and internalized stigma that we face while living with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. We take a close look at how the media portrays people living with mental illnesses and what we can do to break the stigma.
I am a 23-year-old Black queer, nonbinary New Orleanian creative Sagittarius weirdo, performer, writer, poet, visual artist, and the newest Co-Director of LOUD Queer Youth Theater. I am an anarchist connoisseur of the arts and an active advocate for social justice and giving back to the community. I perform, create, and support art that pushes a catalyst of equality, liberation, and free thinking.
This is a poem about finding joy and liberation while navigating the transition into adulthood. What does it mean to find joy in the dark and then share it as you become more autonomous and comfortable with yourself? This is a deeply personal piece, as I explore what the answer to that question could possibly be.
I remember when I was a little girl I sat by the window, when I was unable to
I listened as the breeze softly sang its lullaby
As the frog’s, and the cricket’s, and the duck’s, and the owl’s voices deepened its melody
I craned my head up through the window, as much as I could to gaze up at the sky
And I smiled at the beauty of the moon hanging in the air suspended as the sun peeked over the horizon
I listened, as the wind is more insistent and urges the leaves on the trees to contribute to her song
I listened, as my very own window frame was added to the orchestra
So the air was filled with whistles and rustles, and soft knocking and chirps, and croaking and quacks
It was a captivating song, so captivating that I stood up as quietly as I could
As quiet as a mouse to not wake my sister
I grabbed my stuffed animal and danced to nature’s song until my feet were sore and my eyes were heavy
I remember when I wasn’t quite little, but not yet big
Sitting on the back porch when I couldn’t sleep
And when I sat on the back porch I remembered, sitting by the window
I remembered how much I wanted to dance in the grass
To the grand symphony
Of whistles and rustles, and soft knocking and chirps, and croaking and quacks
So I dance in the moonlight
Past and through the jungle gym I never played in, under the tree I never claimed, on the grass I didn’t dare lay my bare feet on
But I dared that night
I stumbled on the things my eyes couldn’t see, and my feet couldn’t feel
All while the stars sparkled, and the moon waltzed with my shadows
I danced to nature’s song until my body glistened, and my breath can no longer keep up with my movements
And fell asleep on the grass between the jungle gym and the tree
I remember the day I realized I am a fully autonomous human being
I was sitting on my balcony, Bywater New Orleans, sipping tea as I often now do when I can’t sleep
Overlooking the city and the passer-byers and the cars slowly passing
A memory flits past of a tiny me looking out of a window with longing
That memory melts into another one of a young me awkward and stumbling through a yard
I see a smile and I hear laughter
And I cry
It’s very early morning now
The streets have been empty for a while
And I can hear a song swelling around me
It reminds me of…It reminds me of
The frogs, and the crickets, and the ducks, and the owls
Of whistles and rustles, and of soft knocking and chirps, and croaking and quacks
I abruptly race off the balcony and down the stairs, barefoot and determined onto the street
I dance until the crickets are replaced by birds, the owls are replaced by roosters and the moon is replaced by the sun
Out of breath and happy, I call my sister
I don’t know why we haven’t talked in ages
We exchange our hellos, hers is pleasantly surprised and warm
Mine probably sounds frantic, there’s a long pause and she starts to say something but I interrupt unable to contain my excitement
“Hey, have you ever danced in the moonlight?”
“Falyn, I’m serious”
She laughs a little more
“I remember when you were little, Theresa
When I was 16 and you were 7, you would get out of bed in the middle of the night and dance
You would try to be soooooo quiet, but you never really were
I thought it was weird, but endearing
Every time after you were done, you’d nestle as close as you could to my back
After you’d doze off, I’d tell you I loved you
And that I wish my spirit was free enough to dance with you”
She said she’s glad that little Theresa still shines in grown-up Ross
And I laughed and we cried as we remembered together
Follow their organization, LOUD Queer Youth Theatre, here
I love to draw and make music. Making art is a way to let my thoughts and feelings flow without anyone judging me. I play the piano and the violin. In art class last year, we learned about something called a zentangle, and I like drawing them a lot. A zentangle, which is a kind of artwork, is a bunch of patterns that are put into perspective. I view the world differently than other people; this piece is based on how my mind feels on the inside, very busy and lopsided, in a good way. Making art is a way to let my mind flow at its own pace. My piece features various patterns and shapes that represent many different things; it is made to look busy so that the viewer doesn’t want to look away.
Nico is a trans lesbian, photographer, and multimedia artist committed to love, global liberation, Afrofuturism, and joy. He centers this in his art and practice, and explores these themes with the viewer and co-artist as they bring vision to life. Below are two collages accompanied with pieces of his writing (which is also transcribed below).
i swallow the cottontail seed in the wind. let it build up in me like something fleshy getting bigger and bigger. the minds eye races and i find myself at the start again. color me violet with the way we must surrender. tie my hands up on each post like we’ve done this before too. will it all be undone? a gutteral groan escapes from my chest like any other breath. i claw at my cheeks in case they reveal something to me that my mouth cant. i look directly into the sun and let the branches tangle with my arms. one more groan… one more breath.. these horrors cannot be this endless. so ill tell myself they arent until it all ends for the last time
one shout at the rising dawn and its enough to unravel time itself. you recite your beaded prayers and clasp your hands hoping theyll save you. and they will… until then the stars reset and string out timelines we’ve never seen before. a wizard drops the sun into his pot to begin another day and ill be here howling at the moon, because something in me will always crave more (happy full moon my loves, stay safe)
washed up tide… i run back to what i know. there are three cheers that resound
and bounce off of nothingness. i had to bury half of me to become less of what i
was and more of who i love. i hear the echos of it bounce off the walls of my
throat. my mouth sits wide open in gaping horror. petrified till it bursts open
in flame and a thousand and one paper roses fall out of it.
have you forgiven urself or have you left it up to me to do? spirit wrap me tightly in these oiled down candles. and when they are lit let me become something different
i must find self through these uncomfortable truths. where does the illusion
begin and the veil end? i hide in questions and vagueness, and nothing comes out
from the other side. i look in the mirror, and nothing looks back. 70 eyes blink
at once in their slowness. a spider spins its web. the birds give their
and life goes on without me, but the art of it stays. they tell me the last one standing will always be the poetry of it all. so i rest my hand lightly on yours in quiet submission. in whispers of what more must be missing that wont leave my tongue. i let it run loops around the light that rests on your cheek and ill let this be what it was meant to.
Check out Nico’s Linktree for more here
Growing up, I’ve always loved all forms of art. Once I learned about climate change, I was determined to utilize my creative passions to engage, educate, and mobilize individuals toward climate action. After graduating from Florida International University with a BA in Sustainability and the Environment, I’ve strengthened my skills in creative climate education through my current fellowship at Sustain the Culture, as a cultural organizer. Currently, my role consists of creating artistic events that educate, inspire, and mobilize Black Miamians toward environmental justice and environmental liberation. As I continue to strengthen my skills in utilizing creative methods to teach individuals about climate change, I enjoy incorporating mindfulness and authenticity into our unique yet collective path toward sustainability.
My submission includes photos and poems from a workshop/beach cleanup I hosted a few weeks ago at the Historic Virginia Key Beach (HVKB), the first Black beach established for Black Miamians in the 1940s. Considering the rich history of the HVKB and the beautiful ecology of South Florida, I decided to host an interactive educational workshop titled I See You In a New Lens. Participants had the opportunity to learn about the beach’s history and ecology, clean it up, then reflect on the new knowledge they gained from the event, as well as their feelings, through photography and poetry. My photo reflects the pure joy in the moment of being present in my first workshop, and my poem reflects the aftermath of reflecting on my current path of following my dreams that came to life at this event.
Check out Taina’s website for more of their work here
In each issue of The Tea, we feature our favorite reads, music, and things we love to watch from the Black LGBTQIA+ community! Here are our youth-inspired picks for this month:
“A thought-provoking and haunting novel about a creature that escapes from an artist’s canvas, whose talent is sniffing out monsters in a world that claims they don’t exist anymore. Perfect for fans of Akata Witch and Shadowshaper.
There are no monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. Jam and her best friend, Redemption, have grown up with this lesson all their life. But when Jam meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colors and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster—and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption’s house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also uncover the truth, and the answer to the question How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?
In their riveting and timely young adult debut, acclaimed novelist Akwaeke Emezi asks difficult questions about what choices you can make when the society around you is in denial.”
Source: Good Reads
Check out this youth-inspired official music video for “Oversized Sweater,” by
From their album Homo Anxietatem, out now via Kill Rock Stars!
Thanks so much to everyone who submitted to be featured, as well as those who referred your loved ones and helped us spread the word for this month’s Special Edition: Youth Issue of The Tea! We appreciate you for making this possible. If you didn’t get a chance to participate but would like to share your work and/or contribute to The Tea in the future, please email email@example.com