The Skin I’m In
By: Sharron Fincher, Guest Author
When asked to write this blog post I was a little apprehensive. My apprehension was more about what I should talk about versus not having anything to talk about. Over the past few weeks I have had many conversations as well as experiences about a common topic. This will be a reflection of those experiences which not only affect me, but many others like me.
One thing that has remained constant in my life is the challenges I face because of the skin I’m in. I would like to take a deeper look and really think about whether my experiences are challenges or moments of empowerment. Before I compare the two I would like to talk about my actual experiences.
I have always been looked at as different and for a while I thought that was because I was uncomfortable with myself. I was uncomfortable because I was not living the life that I desired to live. I was not embracing my sexuality. The reason was the fear of loss and disappointing those I loved. After years of guilt, loss, self-evaluation, and learning about and forgiving myself, I was finally able to embrace and love my true being. Now, I do so unapologetically and surround myself with those who love me and appreciate me for the person that I am. The road to get to that point is a long and hard road but once you get there you definitely appreciate your journey.
Now that I’m here and very secure in my skin I have time to slow down and pay attention to things that I failed to notice before. When I describe myself, I say that I am a sister, mother, aunt, and friend. I am caring, giving, compassionate, kind, gentle and fair. I am African-American; I like to give back to the community, be involved in the community, and work with victims of violence and children. I love to cook, listen to music, admire art, smoke cigars, travel, and plan. I am finally comfortable in my own skin. This has allowed me to represent myself in a way that is totally comfortable to me. In addition to all the previously mentioned things, I am also a masculine appearing lesbian. I am a lesbian who chooses to wear men’s clothing.
Many embrace me because they have taken the time to get to know me, but there are few who have an issue with me based solely off my outward appearance, without even having a conversation. I have no problem with people choosing not to deal with me but it becomes an issue when verbal harassment and physical threats occur. I often wonder what about me causes so much anger and rage from people who I’ve never met before. What about me causes one to become so belligerent and hateful without even having a conversation with me? As part of my process of self-discovery, I’ve come to the realization that everyone’s problem with me has nothing to do with me and everything to do with them.
Growing up in a house with a homophobic parent, I’ve heard terrible things and because of the way it made me feel I chose to distance myself. I’ve heard on countless occasions when speaking to parents of homosexual and or bisexual children that they (the parents) worry about the challenges their child may face because of their sexual preference and/or identity. The truth is that in several cases parents cause more harm than others in the world. Losing the support and love of a parent can be one of the most detrimental events that could happen to a person, especially one who is already combating a world that is usually unaccepting of them. We all want the best for our children but there comes a time when we must trust that what we taught our children will be implemented in their lives. Rather than punish them for not being exactly who we want them to be, it would be better to support the people they are. That means to love and support them as well as allow them to be comfortable in their skin. It is their life after all. Besides, I’m sure very few of us turned out to be exactly who our parents wanted us to be.
I realize that I may face adversity for the rest of my life but because of my growth and my experiences I am able to be a voice for those who are not able to speak up for themselves. I was previously asked the question: “Are your experiences challenges or moments of empowerment?” I believe the answer to the question is that it is both. My challenges have turned into moments of empowerment. Life is not about the problems we face but the ways in which we grow from them. I would not be who I am without my life’s challenges and even though things may be difficult at times, I am stronger and wiser. Today, I wouldn’t change anything because in a world where disrespect and self-doubt is common, I have learned to love me and surround myself with those who feel the same and for this I am strong. More importantly, I am grateful and humble.
About Sharron Fincher
Sharron Fincher was born and raised in Detroit. She is a graduate of Detroit Public Schools and attended Wayne State University’s Social Work program. Sharron continues to strive for diversity and inclusion in the city of Detroit. She is a community activist and leader in propelling the LGBTQ community forward. She is a member of the Detroit Police Department LGBTQ Action Team. Sharron is the Program Facilitator for the Woman2Woman program at LGBT Detroit. She is also the National Executive Director of Alpha Psi Kappa Fraternity, Incorporated. Her favorite quote is “Every Saint has a past and every Sinner has a future.” She believes that it is very important to enjoy life and try to change a life for the better as often as possible. Equality and dignity are quintessential to Sharron’s life’s mission to end oppression and fight against injustice.