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Gender Diaries: Christinna O

As the world continues to push against gender constructs, the conversation around how people are identifying themselves is constantly evolving. Each week, Milk will feature a guest editor writing about their specific relationship with gender and, often, where it intersects with fashion. This week, we feature 19yearold Philadelphia-based R&B singer and spoken word poet Christinna O, who just released her new track “Shelter” this week. 

There is nothing like finally coming home to yourself, through a “yes,” through a “It’s okay,” through an “I love you.”

As an artist, I had to completely unravel in my truth before I could offer this world anything. My music and writings could not find themselves alive, if the creator wasn’t fully present. When I’m on stage spitting a new poem, I bring all of me on stage. When I lay the hook of a track down for the first time, you must hear my every fiber.

Who I am in words, sound, love and identity has always been. Before I asked myself for acceptance, before I asked others for acceptance, and before any rejection. I have always been me, and that’s always been the plan.

I am a singer, songwriter and poet. I was born and raised where the palm trees and beaches reside. Miami, Fl is place that holds some of the most beautiful unapologetic, unprecedented spirits and spaces I have ever encountered in my short time. Miami has open arms. Growing up, I felt the great expectations for  “Chrissy”. From family to friends I’ve been completely aware of my support system in the expression found in my art. I was also aware of the expectations that surrounds who I exist to be as a woman – a human. I stand Black, I stand bisexual, I stand women. Not all of this will be accepted but, it will always be.

With having my own stance in faith and what I’ve been taught, I found myself aggressively courting the natural livings of myself: my appearance, sexual orientation, and my utter being. From middle school till the end of my high school running, I denied. This was a denial of my becoming. I believed that there was no allowance for me to be, as I have come. The denial felt like a blindspot in my heart and soul.

My biggest interruption in acceptance was my communal doctrine while growing up. I believed for the longest that I could not find the blessings of God, if I was attracted to men and women. I believed I could not be in grace if I didn’t abide by all that “a woman should be..”. My blackness and queerness have painted two different targets on my back. Both the world and the church have different ways in rejecting the dichotomy of identity. These were my first rejections and disapproval of my being. Growing up in a Christian household I was surrounded by communities that condemned queerness as well as identities that do not fit a conservative mold. Unlearning the demands of the mold has been the hardest yet  most imperative effort in my growth.

I do not know how to talk about all of this yet. I am still finding the words to define myself for myself.

If not for my own peace, I must be all of what honesty asks of me, for the life of my art. When I spit a new poem, I am shedding my thickest skin. When I create a new song, I undress in a new way. I choose to stand bare in order for my art to be effective. I want people to believe me when they hear me. All the artist and figures that have inspired me have showed me one thing: Their greatness is tethered to their truth.

As the artist, as the human, find me tethered to my truth.

Images courtesy of Shabnam Ferdowsi

Stay tuned to Milk for more Gender Diaries and see our previous installments here.  

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