I identify as a black or African American  woman. I also identify as queer, meaning other than expected. It does not mean that I prefer one genitalia over the other. It took a while to liberate my thinking to this point. I was sewn tightly within the confines of black and white, right and wrong, this or that, partly due to my southern upbringing but also because I didn’t know (or understand) any other options. The idea of “otherness” is one that has been a long time coming but now that we meet and embrace one another, I am free from the necessity to be defined. I choose what labels I wear and I don’t owe anyone an explanation for them. No one.

Neither do you.

As people come into my life I make a choice to share who I am with that person. They are welcomed to agree, disagree, challenge me, disapprove, or to have any other reaction they see fit. Welcoming someone into my life isn’t about me seeking their approval. It is me inviting them in to share energy and stories. They have the right to turn down the invitation or to stay for hors d’oeuvres then leave.

It’s unsettling to challenge what you have been taught or what is comfortable for you. It’s the reason many of us forego happiness to be comfortable. Happiness takes a leap. Some of us just never build up the nerve to let go of the ledge.

I haven’t jumped yet. I’m still working on not looking down. However, my proclamation to myself that I am allowed to define who I am and to demand that others respect it, regardless of their approval is a step forward.

You don’t need permission to be who you are. And if you have been convinced otherwise, give yourself permission right now to be free.

The time is now to take charge of the rest of your life. It’s not a sprint. Take everyday to sculpt the life you want. Brick by brick. Piece by piece.

You can call me Dew. Nice to meet you.

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