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Inviting In: Isaiah Wilson

#InvitigIn Requires Community

This notion of #InvitingIn is a very privileged conversation that many people may never feel they can engage in due to life’s circumstances. With the state of the world and the work of community empowerment that still remains a priority for Black and Brown America, I understand why one can feel this way. However, I am here to tell you that while you may be facing oppression or rejection in life, there is always hope and for me, that has been found in building my community of support.

For me as a Back gay man that has been afforded the privileges that enables me to thrive while living with HIV, I have a firsthand account of how embracing all of ones intersectional identities is a constant challenge. On one hand, you want to live life without regard to the respectability politics that rules too many of our spaces in and out of Black communities. However, to live “openly” in this manner as Black gay man is a risk that is hard to overcome. My process for dreaming beyond a life ruled by the fear of others knowing that I am gay or a person living with HIV was difficult. But I made it to the other side and conquered this fear only because of the support and prayers of a community vested in my success.

Community for me started with a family that showed me love and support for as long as I can remember. However, I never felt a sense of safety as a youth to ever share that I was struggling with coming to grips with my sexuality. It was not until college where I found myself through a community of chosen family that organically created spaces that affirmed all of the aspects of the man I was becoming. This community not only loved and supported me, but it gave me a tangible example of what it means to live in authenticity. Before leaving home for college, I had never seen an openly gay Black man who was in a committed partnership, raising a family, or even serving a God that loves and creates all people just as they are. These notions of possibilities for myself only came after I experienced Black men who were vulnerable to show me their struggles, fears, and dreams.

With life, you are guaranteed ups and downs, but I have been blessed with a supportive network that holds me accountable to be great by living in my truth. My community has been built over decades and comprises of both biological and chosen family that has allowed me the space to bloom in all of my authenticity. Authenticity means to live life intentionally without limitations or barriers to fulfilling your ultimate purpose. I am able to show up and own all of who I am in whatever space I encounter. I have the wisdom to know that I am worthy of love, and because of my purpose, no barrier will prevent me from owning who I am.

My story of finding community does not have to be yours, but we all must be proactive in finding those individuals that the universe places in our lives to bring out the best in us. Those individuals who have the heart to breathe positive energy into your world and receive the same from you in return. 

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.