Acceptance is a Luxury: Reflections on National Coming Out Day

National Coming Out Day 2020 featuring Freedom Oklahoma logo and original NCOD poster design by Keith Haring, 1988

National Coming Out Day 2020 featuring Freedom Oklahoma logo and original NCOD poster design by Keith Haring, 1988

Acceptance Is A Luxury
Tyrese Rice

Ninguna persona merece tus lágrimas, y quien se las merezca no te hará llorar.
- Gabriel García Márquez

When I was 16 years old I had the misfortune of being prematurely “outed” by, to this day, an unknown source. It evoked in my parents what I believed to be shame and disappointment. Such is the life of a teenaged queer kid in a black household in Oklahoma- to hold the fear of who you are closer to you than trust and security in your family. Outside of my home, I was proud to be Tyrese Rice, the first in my 2017 graduating class to come out, who was always unapologetically me. But when I came home, I was timid, afraid to show too much of myself and bring unwanted negativity into my personal spaces. I knew if I met my parents’ academic expectations I could excel and finally be accepted and adored in the eyes of my family.

And I met those expectations at first. I advanced in all my studies. By the time I was a senior I was able to fluently speak three languages, President of World Language Club, Vice President of AP Club, and the AP Spanish Student of the Year. I had won several championships in my school’s show choir competitions. I had even been accepted by over 15 colleges during my junior year. All for the sake of bragging rights that I was a prodigal son worth being proud of.

Of course, that all flew out the window when the part of my life I had tried to keep secret was revealed to my parents. The world is unkind to black people. The world is unkind to queer people. The world is very unkind to queer black people. I thought solace was only available from my family because of the old black belief that blood is always thicker than water. It put my entire childhood and early adulthood into perspective; acceptance is a luxury we cannot always afford, and frankly, I’ve decided to no longer chase it. 

Nearly five years later and I have rid myself of the desperation for approval and have begun to practice self-affirmation and personal love only. That has led me to catalyze all the aspects that make me, me. I can now proudly say that I am Tyrese, and I wouldn’t want to be anything or anyone else.

Tyrese Rice

Tyrese Rice

Tyrese Rice is a 20-year-old native Oklahoman. Through their young life, they have achieved several notable accomplishments, including becoming a certified translator and interpreter for Spanish-English and a translator for French-English. They work closely with CAIR-OK for advocacy for Muslim Americans and have begun working as well with Freedom Oklahoma, especially for the queer black community. Tyrese also has kickstarted their own halaqa (religious youth group) through the Yaqeen Islamic Institute. Some of Tyrese’s passions are civil services for marginalized communities, citizenship for immigrant families and advocacy for queer and trans youth.

Freedom Oklahoma