News Miami Bureau Lecture focuses on African American, Caribbean LGBTQ communities

Lecture focuses on African American, Caribbean LGBTQ communities

Charlene Désir presents LGBTQ lecture at the NSU Art Museum in Fort Lauderdale. Photo by Sayona Khandwalla.

A presentation about the African American and Caribbean LGBTQ communities was held at the NSU Art Museum in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday afternoon.

The presentation by Charlene Désir was called “A Sense of Pride” and focused on the historical, social and spiritual understanding of the African American and Caribbean LGBTQ experience. Désir earned her doctorate degree in Criminal Justics from Harvard University and is now a professor of Psychology at Nova Southeastern University.

Desir discussed slavery and its connections to homophobia, spirituality and intelligence of queer and trans folk, and queer relationships to slavery.

“There are ceremonies in Haiti where we have trans women as part of the ceremony. There are even some indigenous beliefs that will not begin until a non-binary person shows up,” she said.

She spoke about Haitian slavery and black indigenous religion because, she said, she wanted to focus on Haiti as a case study and said she could not talk about every country in the Caribbean within the hour.

Jamila Rowe attended the lecture, she said, because she wanted to meet people in the same situation as she is.

“It really is hard being gay and not being understood, especially in a black community. I feel like it’s different for us because of our color and how much more judgment there is because of that,” Rowe said.  

Sebastian Perez, the education curator of the event, said about 20 people attended.

“We wanted to have an event like this for Pride Month,” Perez said. June is LGBT Pride Month to commemorate the Stonewall riots in New York in June 1969 that touched off the gay rights movement.

“We will also hold an event on June 18 that includes a discussion about the plurality of gender and identity,” Perez said. “A Sense of Pride” is a program series at NSU Art Museum for the LGBTQ community, Perez said.

Desir noted that the highest spiritual teachers in history have often been people of nonconforming identities.

“How do we hold this masculinity and femininity in balance without looking at body parts,” Désir said. “Who told you that this means that? Who came up with the paradigm that masculinity and femininity is what it is, when you have come from two genders and you can vibrate at any time and any point and with any energy that exists within you.”