An article journalist Jamal Jordan wrote in 2018 changed his life in unexpected ways.
Just months after starting his New York Times job – and soon after an intimate relationship ended – he began to reflect on love, being an LGBTQ person of color, and the relationship between those people. two things. He channeled that thinking – and his frustration with the lack of media representation of black and brown same-sex couples – in an article for the Times’ Pride section titled “Queer Love in Color.”
After the article was published, Jordan said, he received dozens of messages from LGBTQ couples of color around the world who wanted to share photos of their families. This overwhelming response led him on a deeper journey to document these underrepresented love stories, he said.
“People really wanted the world and I to know that a love like theirs exists,” said Jordan, who worked for NBC News before The Times. “I started to wonder what would happen if every queer little kid knew early on that black queer people could find love and could be like, ‘This could be me.’
For his book, also titled “Queer Love in Color,” Jordan traveled across the United States – from LGBTQ-friendly places like Miami and San Francisco to small southern towns like Chickasaw, Alabama. He also ventured to Canada and South Africa, where he interviewed several couples, including one of the two transgender people featured in his book, which debuted on Tuesday.
In Khayelitsha, Cape Town’s largest city, Jordan met Tee and his girlfriend, Sinoxolo. In the book, Tee remembers hearing the word “transgender” for the first time on an episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” as a child and realizing that the word described him. After his release, Tee’s family evicted him, leaving him homeless for years. He said he was eventually able to receive healthcare at South Africa’s only publicly funded gender affirmation clinic, which sparked his interest in activism. Through his activism, he met Sinoxolo in 2018.
“I never thought that a person like her, so beautiful and so intelligent, could ever look at me,” Tee said in the book. After finally finding the courage to talk to Sinoxolo, he said, she revealed that she “felt like [they] I should have done it a long time ago.
While fear, insecurity, and self-doubt are not unique to LGBTQ people, Jordan said, it’s a constant theme that runs throughout the book.
“Amisha and Neena are a lesbian couple I met in Chicago with a story I can’t read without crying,” he said. “They were both openly gay and best friends for 14 years before they hooked up on a romantic level. Amisha told me that as people of color we are often very regimented in our daily lives due to the amount of discrimination we encounter, but every day we face a moment that could change everything, so you assess the risk.
Amisha calls these moments “magical moments”, referring to the term coined by author Paulo Coelho in his book “By the Piedra River, I Sat and Cried”.
Amisha finally seized the moment and had the courage to call Neena and revealed her true feelings.
While Jordan hopes people will connect with every couple or family featured in the book on some level, he expects readers who didn’t grow up with positive examples of queer joy and love to do so. connect with older couples from the book.
“Mike and Phil are two black men, both in their sixties, who met in Detroit at church on Easter Sunday in 1967,” he explained. “When photographing them, they asked me to make sure to mention that they spent every night together for over 40 years.”
Jordan hopes to see photos of couples like Mike and Phil who are in love and reading their stories, will provide young readers with a visual to imagine what their own future love might look like.
“Straight kids have references to help them visualize a romantic future that they get from the media or even from their grandparents,” he said. “What do queer youth, especially those of color, turn to when the media seems to focus on our trauma?”
Carlos Guillermo Smith, who in 2016 became the first openly LGBTQ Latino elected to the Florida legislature, said in the book that he hopes he and his partner can be a source of inspiration.
“I have spoken to so many parents with young gay children who tell us that we give them hope that their children will be okay,” he said of his relationship with his partner, Jared. “Living our lives out loud, especially not just as an LGBTQ couple, but as two Hispanic men in a same-sex public relationship that is celebrated, I hope – I know – that has had an impact on them. youth.”
In addition to making sure that young LGBTQ readers who often feel invisible feel seen, Jordan hopes that “Queer Love in Color” will remind the larger LGBTQ community to be kinder to each other.
“We know we’ve come this far as an LGBTQ community when it comes to our safety, our rights and our resources,” he said. “But many older people I have met have told me that my generation actually missed the connected experience of their generation and how they created and found community out of necessity. As much as we appreciate the benefits of the work our elders did before us, I hope the LGBTQ community will remember that we are still all in the same boat and are nicer to each other.