LGBTQ are a group of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-gender or questioning their sexuality.
I remember the day my sister told me that she identified as lesbian. It had been the first time we saw each other in more than 15 years, and we were so excited about the reunion. But that excitement quickly turned to confusion when she introduced me to her girlfriend.
First of all, she was still married. Then I was confused because her girlfriend was way cuter than my sister (but I guess that's the goal of getting a bae). I had so many questions for her, and had no idea how I would ask her any of them around this beautiful, modelesque brown Barbie doll my sister called her “boo." My sister sensed my curiosity, so she graciously took me to a bar to help me sort through her announcement while we caught up.
I sort of pictured the floor dance to look like this
I hadn't known many gay women before my sister, so I had my sister give me a crash course on lesbian relationships. After answering some of my questions, the next thing I remember is her girlfriend hopping on the floor on all fours to dance when her favorite song was played. I don't know what she did on that floor, but I do know that men started throwing money at her.
My sister shook her head at her boo and said, “Oh, she's temporary. You know what it is." Meaning: her new girlfriend was just someone she was casually sleeping with.
Although my sister's (now old) flame was a great introduction to understanding that there weren't too many differences between lesbian and heterosexual relationships, I still didn't quite understand the subject. Fortunately, I had the privilege to serve with a number of lesbian women in the Navy. It was those women who helped me to understand that they are still a marginalized group.
This year, what they taught me about LGBTQ relationships hit home when this year I learned that I have a cousin who identifies as transexual, and another who was once bisexual. That's when I started to take a better look at how I conducted myself around people that are LGBTQ, and I quickly noticed that people can be very rude to them. Myself included.
I spoke with three lesbian women and a gay man. We talked about everything from religion, to what people typically get mistaken about people who identify as LGBTQ, and even why Caitlyn Jenner is not a hero in one of their eyes. See what they had to tell me in our chat session.
1. “Love the sinner, hate the sin."
After talking to TJ James, a woman who identifies as lesbian in the Houston area, she believes that many people who say this aren't saying it out of genuine love or respect.
“I'm just so frustrated with people feeling as though you're sinning [if you're lesbian]. They always tell me 'I don't condone what you do because it's a sin.' Stop it!"
I understand why this frustrates her. “Love the sinner, hate the sin" is the same phrase that some people repeat to welfare recipients, pot smokers, or unwed mothers. Without even knowing it, you may essentially be calling someone a “degenerate" when you use this phrase, so tread lightly when you say it.
2. “Why do you hate men?"
Lynn McCoy, who lives in the DMV area and identifies as lesbian, told me that this was one thing that bothered her about other people not understanding LGBTQ relationships.
I have to admit that when my sister told me she was lesbian, I thought she was doing it to get back at her husband because she hated him, and all men in general. She's my sister, so I can say that I am somewhat correct in my assumption. But Lynn made me realize that all lesbian women aren't like my crazy sister.
“[I really hate it when people] Assume that we hate men. That in order to love a woman, you must loathe men. That's ridiculous. I just like women, what's wrong with that?"
3. “But you haven't been with me."
I admit that if Serena Williams ever says that she identified as lesbian, I would encourage my husband to say this to her if we ever met, so she can be my sister-wife. (Please note that I'm not gay, but I'm definitely gay for her, because I want her to be my sister-wife.) But I learned from Krissya Sifontes-Vazquez, a professional pin up model who identifies as lesbian in the Los Angeles area, that this could be a really insulting phrase. She told me during our chat,
“I am attracted to females, and there is a reason for it...I always say to [men who say this to me], “Well why are you attracted to females? Are you in any shape or form attracted to males? Well that's exactly why I am attracted to females, so let's keep that in common. [laughs]"
4. “Caitlyn is a hero to some, but not for me."
I was personally happy when Caitlyn was finally able to live the life she's always wanted to live, while unintentionally empowering youth to be who they are as well. I also had this idea that all LGBTQ people were here for her big announcement. Turns out, I was wrong.
I spoke with Elijah Lowder, a man who identifies as gay in Cleveland, and he said that there are other of LGBTQ heroes out there that many people have seemed to have forgotten about.
"...As a gay male that has struggled with identity issues, friends that fell victim to illness, suicide, and murder, I do not find [Caitlyn] heroic. My personal hero was my best friend..She was murdered. She was the one who made me smile while in tears about her own predicaments. [Her name] Was Cece, and she was Transgender. When witnessing members of my community suffering with HIV/AIDS, I think to myself, “They are heroes!" Some could and could not change their outcome, but they fight that same battle that so many lost...I'm not bashing Caitlyn Jenner, but she's not my cup-of-Kermit."
5. We need to love each other more.
One thing they all said to me during my conversations with them is that they wished people would love more and judge less.
It broke my heart hearing that. In the past, I didn't know how to say anything around anyone who was LGBTQ. Looking back, I realized that I came across looking crass, when I didn't mean it at all that way. I know if I had that problem, others have had it as well.
"I look at everyone as equals, and I now view the world with love. If people in my circle, or around me, don't meet eye-to-eye with that simple concept, then I simply walk away, because there is no need for any type of negativity. I strongly believe that the band “The Beatles" were right [in their song] - 'All You Need Is Love! If we can all make that effort to keep the love, I feel that there wouldn't be so much hate in our world today."
I agree with her, or we should at the least keep insensitive remarks to ourselves. No one deserves to get the feelings hurt on purpose. Before I had the opportunity to ask Elijah why he thought so many people were rude toward those who identified as LGBTQ, he answered the question.
"Sometimes I feel the world is so negative. In all reality it's just not educated about things that [people who identify] as LGBTQ might find typical of our daily lives, or lifestyle. We need to thank one another daily, in an effort to become [someone else's] hero. We don't need to become a hero by murder or the ostracism of society."
A lot more love, and a little less “judgy". I can swing that.
Was there anything that you thought you understood about LGBTQ people, but got wrong? Please share, so that we can all understand, learn, and spread the love.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Many have wondered if one time is ever enough to see Queen Bey. Some argue yes. However, many of us on the opposite end of the spectrum, including myself, would disagree. Beyoncé's "Renaissance World Tour" is a universal yet varying experience for everyone who attends. In the words of Oprah Winfrey, the concert is "transcendent." For millennials, we have over two decades of her catalog that has served as the soundtrack for many of our lives and painted a personal portrait of our most coveted thoughts. Her music provides mental clarity and self-expression by serving as a universal language that has united fans from all walks of life through community, fashion, self-acceptance, and healing.
With a multi-layered approach to her artistry, just as she did on that winter day in December 2013 with the infamous digital drop of her self-titled album, she changed the game again on February 1, 2023, when she announced her world tour in support of Renaissance, her seventh studio album. Her cultural impact set the internet ablaze, with everyone trying to gather their coins, barter for presale codes, and figure out which cities to attend. The group chats were lit, and the Beyhive was stressed trying to get their hands on tickets.
Beyoncé's Renaissance tour stop in L.A.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
Unfortunately, I was in that number. As the concert dates passed by and the one in my city drawing near all roads led to disappointment. With time ticking on the day of the Miami show and less than two hours to spare, my wallet bit the bullet, and I purchased three last-minute tickets, costing roughly $700.00 a piece (including fees) for me, my 9-year-old and 16-year-old nieces in Section 121 at the Hard Rock Stadium. With 10 minutes before showtime, we eagerly awaited the Queen to take the stage. A sea of metallic fringes, cowboy hats, disco fans, and western boots were in full effect and filled the entire stadium.
Dontaira with her nieces at Beyoncé's Renaissance tour stop in Miami.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
As the lights dimmed, a flood of emotions instantly overtook my body. It continued with each note she belted, along with nearly 50,000 roaring fans. The reverberating sound of the music through the stadium transported me from one era of my life to the next. As a teen girl in her bedroom daydreaming about her first love to blossoming into an unapologetic Black woman who is still on a road of self-discovery while learning to lean into the power anthem of "You won't break my soul." For over two hours, and with each set, I felt joy, love, peace, and a commanderie with fellow concertgoers. It was therapeutic as I danced like no one was watching and sang as if I were alone in my bathroom mirror.
There were no bars held, and I realized at that moment, "Nobody can judge me but me." The "Renaissance World Tour" proved to be so vast, and my Black girl joy was re-invigorated. It was magnetic and liberating, and I had to attend again, but this time, I needed to be up close and personal; I needed to be on the floor. In the days that passed, I watched more social media clips in different cities and asked myself if I would really splurge again to attend another Renaissance show.
Beyoncé's Renaissance tour stop in Miami.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
After all, this would be my thirteenth time (maybe more because I lost count) seeing Beyoncé live, whether she was on tour with Destiny's Child, as a solo artist, or doing a live appearance. I contemplated for a while, but it worked itself out on its own. I was gifted two tickets and the next thing I knew, I was off to LA to attend another Renaissance show with floor seats at SoFi Stadium during Beyonce's 42nd birthday weekend! This time, things were different: no kids were allowed. It was adults only this go round.
Although the energy at the Miami and Los Angeles shows was empowering, infectious, and a celebration of life, happiness, and identity, they each provided their own unique experience. However, both concerts were what I needed for my well-being, leaving me with sore feet from dancing the night away, on vocal rest for the next few days from screaming at the top of my lungs, and on an indefinite high on life.
My introduction and love for Beyoncé began in 1996, while my older sister lived in Houston, TX, right before Bey hit the scene in 1998 with "No, No, No" as a budding R&B member. Her evolution twenty-seven years later as an international superstar and into womanhood has been an incredible journey to witness. As Mrs. Carter reminds each of us in the audience every night before the curtain closes, "I want you to remember this moment, where you're standing, who you came with, and take it with you. I hope you feel inspired."
I truly felt inspired, so thank you, Queen Bey. You awakened my inner child, and I will definitely remember these moments and take them with me.
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Feature image by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood