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Your Passion, Not Your Pressure

When I started The FemmeBoi, my intention was to create a space for genderqueer and gender nonconforming folks of color to discuss the ways in which we exist from topics such as relationships, fashion, business, politics, expression, and more. This is where our duality and intersections met. The goal was to widen the lens and share our individual narratives in order to create more visibility for genderqueer folks of color. The FemmeBoi is not about just one boi. It wasn’t intended to be about me but when I started the blog, I only had myself as a writer and only had my images to use. At some point in the past year, I lost the willingness to share. Although I tried to take steps to expand, life and honestly myself kept getting in the way.

I started The FemmeBoi during a dark time in my life. I thought this blog was going to be the shovel to dig me up. I tried so hard to put my energy into writing but life kept being thrown my way. This time last year, I was stripped of everything I knew. My closest friendships in Chicago had ended, my relationship was ending, I was questioning where I was going to live, I was underweight, and my job embodied everything I hated about my career path. Nothing felt as if it was right. I couldn’t even eat. My therapist told me, “Just eat. Worry about if it’s good for you later.” I joke now about how much I eat because I finally have my appetite back.

I needed to start The FemmeBoi. I had talked about it so much, I felt ashamed I hadn’t produced it. It was supposed to be what saved my life. At least that’s what I thought. I thought, if I can just write. The world told me to carve out time to do the thing that I love and the rest would fall into place. If I could tell my story and share my light, I would get my light back. All these motivational speakers were telling me to stay at the day job and do the thing you’re passionate about in your free time. It didn’t work. I didn’t have it in me. I didn’t have the capacity to write. I didn’t have free time. I spent the time folks called “free”, attempting to refill my cup and replenish what I was giving away to everyone.

I replayed Iyanla Vanzant saying, “What’s in the cup is for me, what overflows is for you.” every evening. Still I couldn’t manage not emptying out my cup by the end of the next day. Here was this blog, I started it in the midst of drowning hoping it would be my float. I’m a little dramatic, I haven’t completely neglected my blog, I just had high hopes and a thoughtful and carefully laid out vision. So when life got in the way along the road, I took it hard. I heard those words “do the thing you love during your free time.” I didn’t feel this free time folks spoke of. The idea I needed to produce added more guilt and anxiety. My relationship with writing felt resentful because I couldn’t do it.

Somewhere in this past year, I decided to stop pressuring myself to produce when I was barely functioning and made the steps towards actually functioning. I focused on the areas in my life that need nurturing. I went to therapy. I ate food that tasted good. I sought friendships, I presumed them and nurtured those relationships. I put myself out there to find community and through that journey I found a new job that pours into me so I never feel empty. I love Affinity so much I never know when I’m working and when I’m living in passion.

The FemmeBoi has given me more than I gave it. It has opened doors and bridged connections I wouldn’t have made otherwise. I guess it did save my life. Not the way I thought it would, but the way I needed it to. I’m not going to tell you I’m going to write more in this next year. Even if I do, I can’t guarantee what I will write about. My therapist once asked me not to blog about what I was going through until I fully processed it, so here’s this past year fully processed.

My mantra: “There was no one like you, there is no one like you, and there will never be anyone like you. What is for you, will always be for you. You will never need to act out of character to get or keep anything or anyone. Your feel good frequency doesn’t mean you're happy, it means you are aware and embrace all of your emotions. Tend to you”

Last year I launched this blog because I needed to take the first step. There’s nothing I would take back from this first year. I don’t regret not writing. I don’t regret not taking photos. I do however regret not communicating with the forty plus individuals who submitted to be models. I was so grateful for them and I still am but in the same breath I was completely overwhelmed. When things change, I do hope to circle back to that project and bring you beautiful photos to fill this blog with images of amazing queer folks. In the meantime, I do hope you all will continue to support and welcome the amazing writers teaming with The FemmeBoi.

It’s Season 2!

What milestone in your life did you learn from?

Erma. Ishara (Standley) is a trans non-binary artist, writer, facilitator, and community organizer. They are the creator of The FemmeBoi a trans non-binary multimedia company creating affirming, entertaining, and educational content centering the lives of BIPOC creators. Ishara’s work focuses on creating content and community spaces centering diverse queer experiences. Ishara has facilitated gender education workshops for nationwide brands as well as consulting and coaching. They have worked with Chicago-based Black LGBTQ+ organization, Affinity Community Services, and currently work at a Black youth political education organization.

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