I have been thinking a lot about the different intersecting identities I claim and the communities I belong to. For so long, I have felt compelled to divide up the pieces of myself. And others have seen me as compartmentalized, parts of a whole. Censored, and even silenced. I am the sparkly bellydancer, the third generation educator, the documentary filmmaker, the queer fat femme of African descent, the survivor, my mother’s daughter, the shy girl with uncontrollable giggles. I am all of these things and more, but seldom have these identities been fully integrated. I have lived with a disconnect. The me that surfaces often depends on which community I am with and where I am. One part of my identity quieted for the spotlight of another piece of myself. As we are building Your Body Raks, it has struck me that this work is encouraging me to be my whole self. I am at the intersection of myself. I no longer have to choose just one street to dance down. Now, I am shimmying with entire communities. I no longer have to choose between bellydancer or educator, bellydancer or queer, bellydancer or fat, bellydancer or my mother’s daughter. All of these pieces of myself intersect with Your Body Raks.
At our launch party last week and again when we receive e-mails, phone calls, and meet new people, I pause to observe the many intersecting communities who support us and want to dance with us. As we launch Your Body Raks, Tammy and I want to acknowledge and appreciate the different communities that we are a part of and that have shown support for us over the years. Thank you so much for your love. We love you back.
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