O'Shae's Echo: I Hope You Dance
O'Shae, you danced and you vogued with grace,
Your spirit vibrant, always a smile on your face,
In memory of you, we take up the call,
To dance and be free, for one and for all.
When fear's bitter chill tries to still our feet,
When voices of hate fill the street,
We'll remember your joy and your bold embrace,
We'll dance, O'Shae, and fill the empty space.
We'll dance for love, for those lost and found,
We'll dance for voices that strongly resound,
We'll dance for every heart that's been broken,
We'll dance for words that remain unspoken.
O'Shae, we dance, for you and for all,
We dance in the face of shadows that appall,
With each step, we challenge hate's grim trance,
In your name, O'Shae, in your name, we dance.
And for every boy who dares to twirl,
Who faces a bitter and cruel ass world,
I whisper this message to give you strength,
In this vast universe's immeasurable length:
When given the choice to sit it out or dance,
I hope, like O'Shae, you take that chance,
Each pirouette and each step you give grace,
Can light the world and create a beautiful space.
Despite the fear and despite the pain,
In spite of loss and in spite of gain,
I hope you dance, again and again,
Defy the world and shine bright from within
Your vogue, your dance, your black, your gay,
They matter now and they'll matter always,
When the shadows rise and hope seems far from glance,
I hope you smile, I hope you dare, I hope you dance.
The echoes of his laughter still linger in the dance studios he loved. His infectious energy is missed on the stages he adorned with his flamboyant charm and unmatched talent. A life that was full of love, laughter, and dreams was abruptly silenced. But the memories of O’Shae Sibley, the talented dancer and gay activist who was stabbed for merely voguing at a gas station, will live on in our hearts forever.
The tragedy of O'Shae Sibley illuminates a bitter truth that we've been grappling with for far too long: the dual fight of being black and LGBT in a world where the color of our skin and our sexual orientation are seen as transgressions. It's a constant war on two fronts: combatting white supremacy because we are black, and battling homophobia and transphobia within our own community because we are LGBT.
It's a heartbreaking paradox, this struggle for acceptance. On one hand, we strive to be seen, acknowledged, and respected by the wider society that still grapples with its own deeply-rooted racial biases. Yet, on the other, we yearn for acceptance and understanding within our own communities, where the fight is perhaps even more painful.
It's a terrifying tightrope we walk on. Black LGBT people are forced to suppress parts of their identity to navigate their way through a minefield of racial prejudice, religious intolerance, and inescapable homophobia. Being black and wearing a hoodie can get us killed like Trayvon Martin. Being black and gay voguing at a gas station can get us killed like O’Shae Sibley. We are trapped in a society that continuously compels us to choose between our race and our sexuality.
The conversation needs to change. The violence and hatred need to stop. It's not about the argument over pronouns, nor is it about gatekeeping womanhood. It's about the simple, basic right to exist and be ourselves without fear. The toxic rhetoric spewed by individuals like Jess Hilarious, creating divisions within our own community, only perpetuates harmful stereotypes, fostering an environment where lives are at risk.
In the midst of our collective celebration of black excellence, as we celebrate the phenomenal Renaissance album by Beyonce, it's crucial that we remember the harsh realities. Our celebration is stained by the blood of our brothers and sisters who are being murdered for being black and gay in public.
It's important to remember that being black and LGBT is not a threat to blackness. It is an integral and beautiful part of the black experience. This intersectionality doesn't detract from our blackness but enriches it. It’s time that we, as a community, acknowledge and honor this truth.
We must fight this fight together. We must be our brother’s keeper, sister’s keeper, they and them’s keeper. Because our strength lies in our unity, our diversity, and our acceptance of each other’s differences.
We are tired, yes. But we will not let our fatigue silence us. We will honor the memory of O’Shae Sibley and countless others by fighting for a world where being yourself doesn't get you killed. We will continue to dance, to vogue, and to live, not just for ourselves, but for those who no longer can.
In the words of Lee Ann Womack, "And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance." We will keep dancing, O'Shae. We promise. Your death will not be in vain, and we will dance until no more lives are cut short, until being black and LGBT is not a crime but a joy.