Masculine NOT Manly, Vol. 2: Truth Be Told Studs Are Not in Competition With Men

When men think they can just put their hands on women's bodies without their permisison.

When men think they can just put their hands on women’s bodies without their permission. SMDH.

Some disrespectful idiot making fun of masculine women.

Some disrespectful idiot making fun of masculine women.

Some insecure idiot’s handiwork. SMDH.

Written by Bre Ukweli

To feel incompetent in your skin is a hell of a thing. I wonder if men are really intimidated by studs on a daily basis. I wonder if they cup their balls in the palm of their hands at the sound of my name because they really do feel that we are in competition with each other.

Why do these men puff their chests out like proud pigeons when they see us studs with our arms around a beautiful woman? When they approach our partners on the street, do they realize that a stud can and in fact does “love her like he can,” and for longer too, if you want to get into the facts.


She’s Not Focused on My Fake Dick

The way they blatantly disrespect masculine presenting women, constantly and consistently, is insane. They tend to bring us up in conversation as if they think about us over blunts, hen and coke cups and “ho talk.” I know men who say things like “if she want dick, why get a fake one?” Instead of realizing it’s not the dick she’s focused on.

I have a dick too and his name is King and together King and I boast seven orgasms in a two-hour session so bro, tell me again what makes you special? Cause King is store bought and came in a pretty clear jar? Oh sir … that’s fine, but the great thing about King is that there can always be predecessors to the throne. The fact is that I can and will be in control of the tools that I have available when I’m in the bedroom. There can be a short and fat Squire inside your girl Wednesday and a long, thick, Duke Of Pussy in your girl Friday but she will be only texting one lesbian, so don’t get comfortable.

Listen here, I am. Not in the. Mood. To go back and forth with you about my love for women and their love for me. Yes, I can love a woman like you can. No, you cannot watch. Yes, I can out fuck you. And yes, I could’ve gotten eight. Fuck you mean? You don’t know me.


Masculinity is So Fragile

Is real dick the only asset that you bring to the table? Like, that’s it? You can make a family and I can create one, but is your family that much greater than mine? Your son looks like your wife and your daughter looks like you. My son may look like me and my daughter might look like my wife, so where is the disparity?

Masculinity is so fragile that when “borrowed” (because apparently women just can’t be masculine) by women who love women, men begin to forget that there are codes to this. I’m not talking guy code or girl code; I’m talking about mutual RESPECT.

I pay my bills and take the trash out in my house just like you do. Don’t forget that in the world, there are not just alpha males but alpha females, alpha genderfluid people and alpha non-binary people, too.

I don’t hate men. I don’t know any lesbians that do, honestly, but you all sure as hell make it hard not to dislike you.

Bre  is a 24-year-old gender-fluid person living in South Florida. She is a shade connoisseur hopelessly chasing skylines, sunsets and social justice.

This Love Is Revolutionary: Reflecting on the Power of Black Queer Love

Janaya Khan and Patrisse Cullors

Black queer love is militant. Models: Activist Janaya Khan and her partner, Patrisse Cullors.

Written by Ashleigh Shackelford

Today, and everyday, I am thinking about what it means to engage in transformative, Black queer love.

Engaging in black queer love means not only surviving your own trauma, but holding the paralleled trauma of your partner and navigating the ways in which that trauma collides. In existing, navigating, and surviving as queer Black folks within a white supremacist patriarchy, it feels impossible to heal our own selves, yet alone offer healing to each other. In seeing each other, holding each other, and loving each other, we must engage in community practice and dialogue around what transformative love looks like beyond survival.

Revolutionary Black love is often praised within our organizing and activist spaces, yet rarely engaged in practice enough to garner understanding of how our mental health, political growth, and prospering are cultivated within our intimate partnerships.

Thriving often feels very distant from what we are readily able to gain access to. We find love in the small spaces we’ve carved and curated for ourselves, yet that love seems like the bare minimum at times. Queer Black love (whether it be platonic, romantic, intimate, etc.) is inherently a survival resource, but many of us are waiting for what’s next. Survival can often look like barely making it day to day, expecting the least amount of violence to be inflicted upon us, and engaging in intimacy with our partner in between said violence. We are often holding on to survival by a thread, and left wanting more.

I wait for the day my partner and I can find well-paying organizing jobs, less debt, stable housing, stable transportation, and less structural violence. I get through my days with my partner by hoping for the day we can thrive together rather than “just making it.” It feels like I’m suffocating all the time, so I dream about what it would feel like to breathe tomorrow.

What does revolutionary love look like when you’re both struggling to survive, struggling to heal, and struggling to live? What happens when looking at your partner is like looking in the mirror? To be with someone who hurts and carries trauma like you, and hides pain under smiles like you is the most powerful and heartbreaking thing in the world. Understanding that white supremacy has harmed us to the point that engaging with a partner’s paralleled pain feels more challenging than lying in bed with your oppressor, drains you of buoyancy. How can we stay afloat when unearthing our pain in partnership feels like drowning?

To embark upon this love is always more than just surviving. In wanting and needing transformative, revolutionary Black love, I want and need to thrive in real time. Thriving can seem like we’re asking for too much when finding someone who echoes your suffering also seems impossible. But in realizing this, I’ve challenged myself to think beyond ideas of impossibility that white supremacist capitalism has limited us to. We were never meant to survive. So being here, right now, is revolutionary. Finding someone to love who is struggling the same way you’re struggling is revolutionary. And this revolutionary act of loving is not just survival. It’s thriving, and that’s powerful.

How We Create Transformative Love

Pushing yourself and someone you love to grow and transform means you’re both shaping new worlds of emotional and mental justice. We are creators of the most important thing for human sustainability: transformative, accountable love. We hold each other responsible for the pain we inflict and the pain we project. We hold each other close despite the violent barriers in the way of our love, affection, and intimacy. We transform our understanding, our desires, and our abilities to show up for each other just by communicating what we’ve been taught to keep hidden. We engage, we analyze, we unlearn, we digest, we grow. We continue to evolve together, individually and collectively. Thriving sometimes feels far away because our proximity to liberation shifts every time our pain suffocates us. But even at our worst mental health state or most emotionally charged argument, we have access to some form of thriving.

Today, I laughed with my partner after a week of drifting apart towards our own individual trauma. Our laughter is thriving. It’s not enough to solely sustain health of our relationship, but those moments matter for our own survival and for the survival of our love. As hard as it is, we must challenge ourselves to value the thriving we have access to. It will vary and fluctuate. It can be limited. It may be sparingly or seldom. But those moments and tools exist somewhere. Sometimes thriving like spending your last $5 on convenience store snacks. Sometimes thriving exists in taking naps together, even if it’s only for 30 minutes in between your 9-to-5 jobs and an organizing meetings. Other times, our thriving looks like staying in our safe spaces where there’s no one to violate us. In these spaces, we can cherish each other, our time together, and our moments of flourish.

This Love Work Is Hard

In the words of Shan Davis, “This love work is hard.” It is a commitment to show up for each other. Sometimes we aren’t able to show up all the time. Sometimes we can only show up for our partners and not ourselves. Sometimes we can only be okay for our partner and ourselves when we take space from each other. It is a process of continuous transformative growth that sustains our ability to challenge systems of oppression and violence around us through the very strenuous, challenging act of revolutionary love.

It is through this act of transformative and revolutionary love, that we can unite together fully in our Blackness and queerness, and thrive.


Ashleigh Shackelford is a radical queer Black fat femme based in Richmond, VA. Ashleigh is a cultural producer, body positivity advocate, pop culture enthusiast, and a run-on sentence repeat offender. They are a community organizer at Black Action Now and the director of Free Figure Revolution. Find more posts at: This article was also published on

Don’t Put a Ring on It: Why I’m a Happy, Single, Black Lesbian

Being single is all about living life like it's golden.
Being single is all about living life like it's golden.

Being single is all about living life like it’s golden.

Written by Tammy C. Freeman

There is a lot of “advice” out there for us single women. And they all come to the same conclusion: If you’re single, your existence should be desperately dedicated to trying not to be.

According to those countless articles pushing advice designed to “help” you, and maybe even family and friends, single women are defective and in need of fixing.

Family, friends and even strangers will ask you about a significant other … often. If you indicate you don’t have one, you’ll get looks of pity or the unoriginal question “You’re so pretty, why not?” along with offers to “hook you up” and other such shenanigans.

This is no surprise because we live in a culture that subscribes to the archaic notion that a single woman has the ultimate goal of being partnered.

I’m a very happy single black lesbian. Every time I tell people this, they give me the side eye as if the words “happy” and “single” side by side are natural enemies.

The thought is I can’t possibly be happy AND single (and my reply to these folks is simply, “maybe YOU can’t”) and if I am happy about being single, what is wrong with me?

The fact that I’m successful and have a full and productive life according to my terms doesn’t mean anything to folks who think that my life is somehow less-than because I don’t have a partner.

I’ve even seen “that’s why you’re single” hurled at others as if it’s an insult, way too often.

Yes, I’m Still a Lesbian Even Without a Partner

To further exasperate this, for women who love women, there is this unspoken idea that if you’re not actively loving a woman, then somehow part of your identity is muted.  It’s as if who you love needs to be proven by who you’re loving right now.

My identity as a single queer-identified woman isn’t predicated on circumstance, it is absolute.

We fail single women by pushing this antiquated notion that our lives need to validated by having someone else in it. The fact is, I am amazing and awesome and my life is validated not because of who I am with (or not with), but because I am here.

No co-signer or significant other is needed to validate my existence on this earth. Further, women who identify as queer or lesbian don’t need a partner to verify their sexuality, sexual preference or any part of their being, you are who you are, single or partnered.

I’m Not a FixHer Upper

Advice articles are full of ideas on how to “fix” yourself up to attract a mate, advancing the flawed notion that you’re single because something is missing. Don’t believe the lies, there are lots of broken, messed up people in relationships. Being partnered isn’t an evolved state to ascend to. Nor does being single mean that something is wrong with you that requires fixing.

Being single is not about being in the meantime, it’s not about living life at the pause; it’s not saying that you haven’t “evolved” enough to be in a relationship. There is so much out there telling single women to fix this, do that, etc.

Here’s a radical idea, why not just be? Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t anything wrong with continuous improvement. I’m a huge fan of becoming a better me, but, that’s not about becoming a better me so that I can be “ready” for a relationship with someone else, I embrace becoming a better me for myself.

Your life, your identity, your awesomeness is absolute, not relative. 

There is also this notion that single women are living life in a “in the meantime phase.” I see too many single women who forgo home-ownership, traveling and doing all of the things they want to because they are holding space for someone who they have yet to meet.

Crazily enough society reinforces this idea of putting your life on hold until you meet someone. When I purchased my house, instead of congratulations, I got “Well, what if you meet someone?” When I started to travel extensively again, I was cautioned that I may be missing out on meeting someone because I’m always gone. Maybe these people mean well, but to advocate that women delay their dreams isn’t sound counsel.

My heart aches for single women who let these false paradigms hold them back. I refuse to pause my life for anyone.

A Recipe for Self Love

Live your life now. Stop waiting

So for my fellow singles, despite what society says, know that there is nothing wrong with you. You do not have to accept a flawed paradigm that judges women on their relationship status. In some aspects, being single can be threatening to others. Society as a whole is horrible at dealing with anyone who does not fit into a neat box of predefined expectations and norms. Women who are single by choice are, by default, nonconforming. And people, for many reasons, just don’t know how to deal with that. In this case, it’s not you; it’s them.

Moreover, don’t let other people who have no identity and feel empty without a relationship make you feel bad about being single and happy. These people are just projecting their insecurities on to you, reject it and remove yourself from people like that.

Go, live, be free, pursue your goals and dreams. There is nothing external that you need that you don’t already have within yourself. Want love? Be love. Want to travel to the beautiful beaches of Bali? Take yourself. Want to be treated like a queen? Treat yourself like a queen.

Learn to love yourself so fiercely, be so self-confident so that you don’t put yourself in bad situations where you are dishonored. Don’t stay where love is no longer being served out of fear being alone or because you labor under the false belief that you need validation from another.

Fill your life with love, joy and all the good things you want. Buy a home, buy two! Decorate it however you want. Travel the world. Wow and amaze yourself. Learn to love yourself–every flaw, every bump, every scar.  Learn to be alone and love your own company.

Being single does not make you less beautiful, amazing or worthy. Crown yourself, queen! Own every part of who you are. Create beautiful experiences that you will look back on with wonder and amazement. Conquer your fears and jump in with both feet into this thing called life, full of hope, love and gratitude.

Tammy, 35, is a serial entrepreneur, wine aficionado and world traveler. A burgeoning social economist, Tammy travels the world to locate women entrepreneurs in order to share their stories. She loves visiting beautiful places and creating beautiful spaces. She blogs about travel, great wine and home design on her blog

Masculine NOT Manly, Vol. 1: Deep Inside a Stud’s Mind

 No one asks what the butch/stud/dom perspective of the world is.

No one asks what the butch/stud/dom perspective of the world is. Model: Bee Walker. Photo courtesy of Boi Society.

Written by Bre Ukweli

Men are constantly weighing their own masculinity against mine. As if my clothes define my level of “almost manhood.” No one stepped up when a man threatened me in my own ‘safe’ space. No one notices the way they frown at me and talk to me as if my opinion of the world doesn’t matter. No one notices when people–even people in my own family–say, “well it’s a man thing, something only us alpha males understand,” as if I was trying to understand the way of men. As if I won’t always come up short in comparison.

I’m constantly weighing my appearance in foggy shower mirrors wondering if the reflection will ever feel sufficient for more than a moment at a time. As if I haven’t spent my entire existence trying to build this persona, trying to clothe it, to protect it from men grabbing me on the street. Trying to remind myself to not lower my eyes when a man walks past me on a street corner because I’m tired of feeling like I disgust everyone.

No one asks what the butch/stud/dom perspective of the world is. They only want to hear from our partners and the people who claim to love us in our own light.

No one asks how intensely hard it is walking into a new barbershop, no one asks what effect our partners’ sexual requests make on our psyche. No one asks how hard it is to grow up ME in a world of SHE and HEs.


Bre  is a 24-year-old gender-fluid person living in South Florida. She is a shade connoisseur hopelessly chasing skylines, sunsets and social justice.

Eight Years After Falling in Love With Her, My Wife Has Changed

Ayesha and Cicely model their healthy new bodies.
Cicely and Ayesha are healthier than ever.

Cicely and Ayesha have seen dramatic changes in their lives since they committed to eating better and exercising more.

Written by Ayesha Forte

I remember getting my gallbladder removed on December 25, 2010. It was a horribly painful experience, but it was the best Christmas gift I ever got. After that, I was determined to change my eating habits. My wife, Cicely, and I had been thinking about becoming vegetarians. After watching several documentaries that exposed the cruel environments that the animals lived in, that was it for us. We never looked back.

Changing our eating habits was merely part of the battle. Our ultimate goal was to completely change our lifestyle—mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

First we supported each other in quitting smoking then, we took it further and became vegetarians. About a year ago, we committed to working out between four and five days a week.

So, we definitely needed healthy meals to keep these bodies moving.


We come from a family of cooks so home cooking is extremely important to us! Since becoming vegetarians three years ago, I’ve taken over the kitchen. We cook together sometimes, but truly I enjoy cooking for my family and presenting to them what I made for them. This makes me feel like a proud mother and wife.


It Wasn’t a Special Occasion

A mix of Italian and Mexican vegetarian meal.

Ayesha loves cooking for her family. This is one of her favorite meals to cook.

I remember coming home after a 10-hour workday at our shop (Glory Crown Beauty & Barber Shop) and heading straight to the kitchen. I had just bought a new cookbook and I was super excited about preparing Baked Mexican Spinach Dip with Toasted French Bread and Black Bean Lasagna Rolls.


When I was done, I served my wife. We cuddled up on the couch in our PJs and just grubbed. Did I mention that we worked all day? For my first attempt, I did pretty good and she loved the meal! It wasn’t a special occasion, but it is one of my favorite memories.


Everything Has Changed

Ayesha and Cicely model their healthy new bodies.

Ayesha and Cicely are thrilled at the changes they’ve seen on a spiritual, mental and physical level.

Since we began our journey to health three years ago, everything has changed, from our immune systems to the people we have around us. When you’ve fought to keep your peace and positive energy, you become very selective about whom you allow in your circle.

With us being entrepreneurs, time is money, but our gym time is priceless. We know that no amount of money will ever give us peace of mind. The gym is our sanctuary.

We now embrace change and will continue to motivate each other to be the best versions of ourselves. In turn, it brought us closer to one another. When you look good you can’t help but feel good!


Advice on Embracing Healthy Change as a Couple

You have to find a balance, yin and yang. As a married couple, we have to be on the same page. Sometimes Cicely has to carry the heavier load that week to make sure things get done and vice versa on my end.

For other couples looking to make a change this year, our best advice is that you hold yourself and each other accountable.

You cannot say you’re going to make a lifestyle change and only halfway clean up your act! It’s not going to be easy but that’s what makes it more rewarding. Trust the journey and go hard or not at all. Mediocrity and success is all in your perception!



Cicely and Ayesha recently celebrated their eighth anniversary in November 2015. They live in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Dear Lesbian Love & Advice: I Need to Come Before My Woman’s Kids

black woman thinking

Every woman has a set of dating deal breakers. Know yours before getting involved with a woman and her children. Photo courtesy of Naked by Bria.

Dear Lesbian Love and Advice: I have tried several times to date mothers and it just hasn’t worked out for me. I have no kids so it’s hard for me because I’m used to not having to think about someone who depends on an adult. Being childless, I am selfish, at least that is what I am told. But why be angry with me because that is what I’m used to? I don’t like being last in my partner’s life.

I feel that if you invite someone to become a part of your life as your partner, be prepared to put that person and that relationship FIRST. Stop making that person wait on you while you’re busy doing 130 other things, including kids. I understand mothers have responsibilities to their kids and they must be taken care of. But I also feel it’s wrong to invite someone into your life and put them LAST. What was the point?

If you put me last, I will act out against you and your child. In my opinion, don’t bother getting in a relationship if you are really expecting that person to accept being last on your priority list because it makes no sense.

Dee’s Advice: I am a 49-year-old stud with no kids. Kids always come first. She just has to be more organized with her time. Why don’t you help her with some of her chores so she has less to do? I didn’t hear you say that you did that! I have dated a few women with kids and it was fun! I kept Friday nights as adult night and the other six days you do what needs to be done and have family time! It’s a lot of fun for me. I miss it sometimes.

The kids are all grown up and on their own now and it feels good to know that they love me and still keep in touch with me. And their memories are incredible. They remember everything I have done for them. So there is good in a family life. But as for you, don’t be in that family life. From what I am reading you are selfish and you can’t be that way when there are kids involved!

Johari’s Advice: I swear this had to be written by my ex!! I had no idea that there could be someone else in this world just as incredibly selfish and clueless! Our relationship is over and guess what? I AM STILL A MOTHER!

Monique’s Advice: I feel for you! My girlfriend has two teenagers. And if it wasn’t for the fact that I already invested 10 years with her, I would never do this again.

Regina’s Advice: I think it’s about time management. Some don’t know how. Some think spending time with their partner is taking away time from their kids. I don’t get that way of thinking. You have to make just as much time with your partner if you want the relationship to actually work.

Tomiko’s Advice: I’ve been dating my girlfriend for three years. I don’t have any kids; she has three. I never expect/expected to be put before her kids. Hell, I think about making sure they’re good before myself. I would never put my girl in that position. She wouldn’t go for it anyway.

I knew what I was getting into when we got together. I can’t love or want to be with her and not love and want to be with her kids. Those are my kids now. Their father is active and a big part of their lives, which in no way has an effect on my relationship with her. By all means do what you want.

But mothers deserve to be in loving relationships too without having to choose between her mate and kids.


Dear Lesbian Love and Advice  shares the most interesting questions and advice from The questions and responses have been reprinted with permission.

Calling My Black Lesbian Family To Get Healthy, Win Prizes

Written by Zamara Perri

Black women athletes working out

Seeing dedicated black lesbian athletes like Taylar Stallings’ (right) commitment to health is inspiring. Photo: Courtesy of TaylarMadeFitness.


My honey and I have always been interested in health and fitness. She has always been an athlete and is currently a yoga teacher. I’ve always loved learning about nutrition but had trouble putting it into practice. Once we started dating, we did nothing but cuddle and eat (find the proof here) and pack on the pounds.

In December, I decided something had to change! So I joined a gym and lucky for me, my honey joined too. We made the following health commitments:

  1. Exercise five days a week for at least 30 minutes each time.
  2. Drink a green smoothie every day.
  3. Eat less meat and dairy.
  4. Meditate at least 3 times a week.
  5. Get 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

We thought that some black lesbians (single and booed up) may want to join us too!

So, we are hosting a health challenge for our community with a giveaway every month.

We invite you to join us on our health journey! To participate in this giveaway, we are asking you to do the following:


  1. Register for the contest here.
  2. Check in with us on our Facebook giveaway page and share your pics and progress and answer our question of the month.
  3. Tell your other black lesbian friends about the giveaway using your link. (This will increase your chances of winning.)
  4. By registering you allow Black Lesbian Love Lab to share your pics and story with our readers.


Still not sure you want to join?

Here are some more benefits:

  1. Reduce your chances of getting heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure etc.
  2. More stamina in the bedroom (and everybody wants that, aaaaa’ight, ladies?)
  3. You look better in your clothes.
  4. You feel better and stronger.
  5. You’ll have the support of other awesome #blacklesbians cheering you on each week!


Register here to participate!

Seven Ways Black Lesbian Couples Can Dream Big

Desiree and Marisol's dream check list

The black lesbian couple that dreams together stays together.

Written by Desiree Brandon


Everybody has dreams. When I was a kid, I dreamed of being a neurologist who would moonlight as an opera singer on the weekends. And as every kid experiences, my dreams changed over the years, and I bet your dreams have changed too. As we ease into adulthood, we simply stop “dreaming” up big dreams. We start striving for things that are easy to attain. Dreaming big can become a lost art as an adult.


My big adult dream was to get married, but shortly after my wife and I got married this past September, I realized that I, too, had stopped dreaming big.


Sure, after 13 years together, we had obtained some of our early dreams as a couple: the house, the car, the 2 dogs and 2 cats, the micro farm with six chickens (all named after female rappers, naturally).

All of it had shaped up beautifully. But it wasn’t until my wife purchased a Square Swipe device (a digital credit card reader) did I realize that she had been paying close attention to my big dreams, even though I wasn’t. I have spent the better part of a year selling eggs from our chickens, making lotion bars, making candles and infusing oils. And now, I have a way to fully realize my micro business dream. It literally took her paying attention to what I wasn’t saying, in order for me to see what I was dreaming. This small dream has led to us start dreaming big together.

Dreaming big as a couple can do wonders for both people. To dream big as a couple, there are seven clear steps and things to consider:


  1. Make each other’s dreams your “couple” dreams. Simply put, make sure you both have dreams and goals on the list together. I am a very independent woman, but the dreams I choose to put on our “couple” list are handpicked because they are too hard for me to accomplish on my own. If you are always chasing a dream of your partner, you will never feel fully satisfied.
  2. Check in at least weekly. Choose which goals you are working on that month. Even if you aren’t working on the same goal, checking in will help you both to hold each other accountable. That can also help to make necessary adjustments. I find that date night is a great time to informally check in.
  3. Become “dream” partners! Take time to bounce ideas off of each other. My wife wasn’t afraid to take action and send off for a Square swiper because of the ideas I bounced off of her regularly.
  4. Realize that her support allows you the space for failure (and vice versa). The hardest part of taking a dream and putting it through the process to become a reality is the absolute fear of failure. If she loves you, your failure does not change how she feels. That support is BEYOND crucial.
  5. Write down your “dreams” as a plan! Type them in your Mac, write them down old school in a shared notebook, email them to each other, whatever floats your boat! But remember, an unwritten plan does not allow you both to work on the steps or help with accountability.
  6. Talk about your dream with others! I’m not saying to become that couple that obsessively spills everything, but you never know who could help your dream become reality. I have a friend who left the corporate world to open the only DJ school in town, and he couldn’t have done it without talking to others about his dream. Because he was relentless in sharing with others, he found a partner in the most famous DJ in town.
  7. Have at least three dreams that are on the list for fun! Ours, right now, consists of New Year’s Day 2017 in Argentina; a honeymoon in Mazatlan and Guadalajara, Mexico; and turning our fresh-produce charity into an official 501c3. These dreams have specific impact on our day to day and everything to do with our sanity.


Most people aren’t ready for their dreams to come true. But if your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough! What goals do you both have as a couple? How can you work on dreaming big together?