By: Amira Mensah, Development and Communications Associate
When asked what it means to be both Black and LGBTQ, HCN’s Executive Director Dr. April Y. Silas says, “Both confusing and funny, it’s like asking me what it’s like to inhale and exhale oxygen. If I had to choose one of them, inhale or exhale; which one would be which? I can’t separate them enough to even define them. It is the flesh, soul and the divine intention of me; to separate it enough to define it into words is a luxury I do not have.”
The intersecting identities of being both Black and LGBTQ are oftentimes forced to diverge. There are very few spaces where both identities are acknowledged and accepted.
“It's hard enough to endure life where you are seen as ‘other’, and a walking pathology. On a good day you're a tokenized expectation. We carry the same oppression within both communities. The expense of putting one part of ourselves out while tucking the other part away is death,” explains Dr. Silas when speaking of the challenges faced because of her intersecting identities.
For almost 30 years, Homeless Children’s Network has boldly created a space for Black and LGBTQ people in our community to show up in full, proudly and unapologetically. The space created by Dr. Silas is a space of healing, joy and strength which puts the intersectionality of Black and LGBTQ at the forefront. “Intersectionality for me is so essential, intersectionality gives permission for all of me to align,” said Dr. Silas.
HCN’s Ma’at program provides direct mental health services for Black LGBTQ children, youth and families. The Ma’at program, along with our Afri-centric youth leadership activities, work to heal trauma brought about by racism and homophobia.
Dr. Silas explains, “I am done with the idea of us being a supplemental or side conversation. My goal and vision for us is to hold the center of each other's attention, that every aspect of our universal self will occupy the center.”
This Black History Month HCN celebrates every avenue of the Black experience.