Kenneth Maurice PassPost submitted by Kenneth Maurice Pass, a North Carolina native and a junior at Morehouse College studying psychology and public health. He is a Resident Advisor for the Office of Housing and Residential Life, the president of Safe Space, Morehouse College’s gay-straight alliance and student advocacy organization, as well as an undergraduate research fellow, health policy intern, and leadership fellow.

As a black, gender non-conformative, gay youth who grew up in a town that was conservative in its perceptions on being black, gay, and gender fluid, I have a history of oppression living at the juncture of all these identities.

Now that I am attending a college that has had a history of heterosexism and conservatism towards gender expression -- an environment that mirrors that of my hometown -- I have been confronted with the struggle of living an authentic life. Nevertheless, amongst these struggles I have found my ancestral validation and myself.

Being able to reach back into my history and visit the time periods of Bayard Rustin, James Baldwin, Essex Hemphill, and Audre Lorde, I have found a greater appreciation for the intersectionality of all of my identities. Their struggles are my struggles and I am their living legacy.

They, along with a vast amount of other social justice leaders, have paved the way for this country to have conversations surrounding the marginalization of black, sexual and gender queer identifying persons and how we can empower a people and build community where there once was none. I can look at the black history of my grandmother who was able to operate effectively in spaces that were male dominated and find myself.

All of these stories—these personal narratives—no matter how big or small, have come together in my life and have helped me to emerge into the leader and person that I am today.

Black History Month is more than just a month to celebrate our past, present and future but it is a time for the community to recognize that we have a rich presence in this universe and because we stand on the shoulders of so many great mothers, fathers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, preachers, social justice activists, and scholars, we can accomplish so much more than our realities and minds can conceive.

Be empowered and push towards liberation, happy Black History Month.

Stay tuned to HRC Blog throughout the month for more from our Black History Month blog series, featuring a cadre of African-American LGBT leaders. This February we honor those who have paved a way for us all as we continue our work toward justice and equality together.

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