The “While Black” podcast continues to dive headfirst into all things Black and this includes exploring the diversity even within Blackness. In a recent episode, “My Life, My Love, My Way”, the show tackled what it means to be LGBTQ+ in the Black community. To help break down the topic, they brought in producer, influencer and content creator Lisa Cunningham, who also serves on the LGBTQ+ Advisory Board for Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
An Atlanta native, Cunningham got her start in the early years of the city’s hip-hop and music scene. She explained to the podcast that she was present during the memorable era of Kris Kross, TLC, Xscape and the record labels that backed them, like LaFace Records and So So Def. Although it was a memorable time for her as a young professional, Cunningham explained that she faced difficulties navigating the hyper-masculine music scene as a lesbian who wasn’t open about her sexuality. When asked why she concealed that aspect of her life, Cunningham explained, “If I felt like I was out, it would hinder my livelihood. Just that simple.”
Following what she referred to as “growing pains,” Cunningham eventually came into her full self and became more open about her identity as a lesbian. She’s now connecting the dots between the older generation and the younger generation when it comes to LGBTQ+ issues, something that was underscored during the episode when Cunningham first explains the words behind the acronym LGBTQ+. She went on to give her take on why LGBTQ+ issues can be a divisive topic even within the Black community. “For me, it is mostly rooted in religion,” Cunningham explained. “Religion is used to persecute, religion has been used to start wars.” She then goes into the history of equal rights movements and how religion has played a part in many setbacks.
The episode also touches on Cunningham’s experience as a lesbian who reads more masculine and how something as simple as going to the bathroom can be stressful. Considering the recent debate on gender-neutral bathrooms or allowing transgender people to use the bathroom that coincides with their gender identity, Cunningham brought up some important points. “When people are like ‘what is this big thing about a bathroom,’ all we wanna do…is just be,” she said.
You can check out the “My Life, My Love, My Way” episode below. In the meantime, be sure to subscribe to the “While Black” podcast to find discussions ranging from politics to careers to food and more, all in the context of living life while Black in America. To learn more about “While Black,” click here.