LGBTQ vendor/artist spotlight

Our Street Sense Media artists and vendors tell us what Pride means to them. From left to right, photos of Sybil Taylor and Kym Parker are by Athiyah Azeem. The rightmost photo is and is by Khadijah Chapman

A number of Street Sense Media vendors and artists identify as part of the LGBTQ community. Here are three who shared with us their experiences.

Sybil Taylor

Sybil Taylor, a Street Sense Media vendor selling Street Sense newspapers at D.C. Pride. Photo by Athiyah Azeem

Sybil Taylor was a young adult when she got into voguing — a dance born from queer Black and Latinx underground ballrooms in the ‘80s, which became a worldwide phenomenon through pop singer Madonna’s song, Vogue. Taylor’s gay friends would invite her to bars to vogue, offer free food and drinks and a place to stay when she was experiencing homelessness.

“They help me in any way they can help me,” Taylor said. “The gay community, they really love me.”

Although Taylor was integrated into D.C.’s queer community, the homophobia she experienced affected how open she was with her sexuality. She worked at the Ritz-Carlton hotel at Dupont Circle for six years, until management found out she was bisexual and fired her. For years, Taylor didn’t like to talk about her sexuality in fear of how people would treat her.

But as gay representation in the U.S. became more prominent over the years, Taylor felt more comfortable expressing herself. She attended the D.C. Pride Parade this year, wearing matching rainbow armbands, earrings, shoes and a necklace with a rainbow pendant.

“Right now I’m out, and I feel confident. These are all my friends,” Taylor said, as she gestured at other Pride attendees decked in rainbow regalia. “This means a lot to me.”

Taylor has been a vendor since 2008.

Kym Parker

Kym Parker, a Street Sense Media vendor sitting in the garden of the Church of Epiphany. Photo by Athiyah Azeem

When Kym Parker was 11, she showed a photograph of a man and a woman on a beach to her mother. Her mother asked her to pick which one she liked. Parker, who had been aware she was attracted to both men and women for about two years, said both. Eventually, Parker would come out as bisexual to her parents, who said they already knew and accepted her for who she was.

“My mother told me to always respect myself,” Parker said. “Never let anyone take advantage of you of anything you wouldn’t want to give out yourself.”

But seeing how the outside world treated LGBTQ people, Parker grew reticent of sharing her identity. She also doesn’t like how LGBTQ communities divide themselves across racial lines, and with labels like gay and bisexual. She prefers to think of LGBTQ people as one community united by God, she said.

While Parker doesn’t like attending D.C.‘s Pride festivities, as she finds them to be too political, she still identifies strongly with the concept of Pride.

“Be you, be happy, because you are already perfect,” Parker said. “To love oneself unconditionally is Pride to me.”

Parker has been a vendor since 2019.

 Khadijah Chapman

Khadijah Chapman, an artist who recently began participating in Street Sense Media’s art workshops. Photo courtesy of Khadijah Chapman

Khadijah Chapman joined Street Sense Media this year as an artist, and designed the cover of this newspaper. She drew it with the intention of including everyone in the LGBTQ community — especially intersex people who are underrepresented, and asexual people who typically find it hard to be accepted in the queer community.

“I wanted to add almost everyone that’s in the acronym,” Chapman said.

As a Black lesbian, Chapman finds it difficult to be herself in either Black or LGBTQ communities.

“So sometimes I feel kind of threatened, and I kind of tone it back a bit or just don’t mention my sexuality at all,” Chapman said. She says men have disrespected her sexuality, and continued to pursue her despite her expressed lack of interest.

Despite these struggles, Chapman still wishes to continue supporting the LGBTQ community across race, gender and other intersecting identities.

“Don’t be sad that you’re asexual, don’t be said that you’re intersex, don’t be sad that you’re gay,” Chapman said. “It’s not a curse. It’s just who you are.”

Chapman has been a Street Sense Media artist since 2022.

Issues |Civil Rights|Community|LGBTQ

Region |Washington DC

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