A Different Light: Standing in the Sun

My name is Angelique Young. I am a trans drag queen, activist, entrepreneur, travel enthusiast and major supporter of our entire community – and now, I’m also a freelance columnist for Watermark.

I’ve always been told that I should broaden my horizons and share my thoughts with the world, so I consider this a first step of sorts. I hope it allows me to share my voice, thoughts and at times, controversial ideas, presenting my perspective of what’s going on both in my life and in the world.

I hope to shed A Different Light on and bring topics to the table that are not being discussed.

As a trans woman, my journey of self-discovery and owning my feelings, thoughts and experiences has been a difficult one at times. But through every dark moment I have always found a silver-lining that allowed me to overcome my obstacles; these hardships and instances have given me the chance to become the woman I am today and stand in the sun.

You are probably wondering what that means. It means different things to different people but to me, it means standing in your truth unapologetically. It means that I cast no shadows save for the ones that are visible, which are there for all to see. I hope that with this column I can help others do the same, and perhaps even create a space where people can be unafraid to love themselves and embrace who they are.

With that being said, I want to talk about the state of the LGBTQIA+ community. It seems to me that despite the condition of the world we are in, we’re more torn apart than ever before. That’s also true here in Tampa Bay, where we are dealing with multiple instances of division, passive actions and turning blind eyes or wearing rose colored glasses with one another.

In finding out who we are, we seem to have forgotten that we are all on the same team. Disagreements and differences of opinion between members of our community have become wars of inclusion, by way of exclusion.

In trying to create more spaces that introduce us to new visions of the future, we are disowning and disrespecting the originators and trailblazers that have come before us. So many members of our community seem to only come together once a year for our Pride events and then run our own separate ways, retreating to our blanket labels and groups for comfort.

We need to do better and truly show up as much as possible. It’s something I learned myself earlier this year when I became a part of my local Pride committee.

I initially did so out of outrage, mad about words used by a former board member who I considered a friend. Their take on drag was unexpected and hurt, but to that person I say thank you. That fumble was a catalyst that has given me a platform on multiple outlets to correct misinformation and help others learn how harmful that way of thinking can be.

I have no hard feelings towards the individual and wish them the best, and I’m thankful that their words made me step up to see what exactly was happening. I was shocked to find that the amount of work, effort and commitment to creating a Pride event was far more than I had imagined.

It made me realize that I had been ignoring what was happening, blindly trusting those around me to do the right thing. To take the right actions on my behalf. But it also made me realize that since no one doing that work looked like me, no one could possibly represent me.

It made me realize I was a part of the problem, so I had to make sure I became a part of the solution. I’m proud to say that it seems like most of the community is doing the same thing.

Many of us may feel like it isn’t our job to get our hands dirty, or perhaps like we don’t have a right to. Some may not even know how to begin. But if we truly want change, growth, equality and acceptance, we must put ourselves on the ground floor. We must come together and choose to learn about the changes in the world.

I challenge every reader to get involved with their local community. To step out of their comfort zones and become the role model you seek, the face you want to see and voice you want to hear. It’s time to stop passing the buck, pretending like our votes don’t matter or pretending we can’t make a difference. We can.

Help create the events you wish you could attend and be a part of. Closed mouths don’t get fed – and I don’t know about you, but I am tired of being hungry. This year I’m going to eat every chance I get, and I hope you do the same.

Angelique Young is a transgender activist, entertainer and entrepreneur with a master’s in psychology. She currently hosts Sickoning Sundays at Showbar Ybor while maintaining her business and more @DNCNDiva on Instagram.

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