Growing up in a relatively conservative town, queerness and transness were one of many things that was often met with an intolerable attitude. I feel like my family was relatively open-minded people in some ways but it didn’t stop them from having some alarming pre-conditioned thoughts about other things.
And there wasn’t any readily available information on what a trans person was. I didn’t even hear the words “Non-binary” or “Neurodivergent” until I was well into my first years of college.
Formulating these ideas was difficult and I didn’t have much to refer to. The internal battles with myself to try to display even some small semblance of "normality" has been something I’ve dealt with for as long as I can remember.
But after forcing myself to try and fit into that box for so many years, one day I realized I was just so exhausted by hating myself. I couldn’t do it anymore.
I think that’s essentially when I came up with my alter ego “Velvetwavez.”
I didn’t feel like “That Bitch” overnight or anything but I just decided I was gonna be a different person from then on out. It’s been about 6+ years since that part of the journey began but every day I realize more and more that it wasn’t an alter ego I created.
Velvetwavez was entirely me just with all these questions to be answered.
Things to unlearn. Sexuality and gender to navigate through. And when you have several marginalized intersections - there is always trauma to heal from. To learn from. To try to turn into something conducive or to attempt to handle gracefully because you know the same people who hurt you likely won't have the tools to look inward enough to understand how they may be inflicting harm in the first place.
I grew up drawing and painting for fun. Sometimes I would write a really bad love song or letters I knew I would never send. Just expressing myself frankly to people can be one of the biggest hurdles but when I’m channeling that energy into making a song, it becomes sorta therapeutic for me knowing I can just lay it all out there.
And I can be sensitive or sexy or political and continue the process of understanding what it is that I’m made up of. I can write a song about something toxic or nasty or deeply introspective and it’s all me.
I’ve learned a lot about what my own love languages consist of. It took me so long to accept that people like me are deserving of love, but even longer to actually give it to myself because I didn't know what that even looked like.
How do you love yourself when the ones who are supposed to be your provider or your peers don't know how to love you either?
Being authentically, unapologetically, and unashamed of what sets me apart has been liberating. But simultaneously, it is a painful journey. And it should go without saying, but it's important that I acknowledge, I still hold a lot of privilege.
Some of us can walk around being projected upon by others in our society and still manage to live relatively happy lives. Like the assumptions made about me being a cis-hetero, monogamous woman keeps me safe in some instances. And as annoyingly untrue as the assumptions can be, it’s a privilege for me to even be able to address it.
To be loudly Black, brown, indigenous, queer, trans, femme, disabled, neurodivergent, fat, etc is as much beautiful as it can be dangerous.
But I do believe that once we've all acknowledged that, we can make even more meaningful strides in the direction of shaping a world that is truly for everyone.
Velvetwavez (born Nyalahrahsja Allen) is a Black queer non-binary artist, spoken word poet, singer and songwriter based in Sacramento, California. For more of their content, follow them on Instagram (@velvetwavez).
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