Trading in one Crown for Another
One of the most stressful decisions has been my title rank. I would say this outranks personal changes in my life – even my transitioning. Some have inquired asking why the change. Was being a queen too boring? Was it a burden? Did I not have a lot of followers in my community? Well, no, never, and mind your own business! Kidding. Shout out to all the queens of macro and micronations. Being a queen definitely is not as easy as it looks.
In the world of titles, Queens trump them all. (Actually, emperor is the highest rank. But you know what I mean.) We have long-established images of king and queens from history's pages. Louis XIV. Isabella of Castile. Henry VIII. Elizabeth II. And, of course, the fictional monarchs from books and films. No matter at what age, we all have perceptions of what queens and kings should look like.
Representation does matter. It’s possible to name five royals, but how many of them are black? Queer? Trans? This was something that bothered me in the back of my head at times. Could people take me with a seriousness for being a minority micro-monarch – and a trans one at that? The last thing I wanted was being labelled a scammer.
There may not be plenty of reigning monarchs of color, but there are many black prince and princesses. Sarah Culberson of Sierra Leone has a fascinated story which, to much surprise, is not yet a film. His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias chairs the Crown Council of Ethiopia. The Council preserves the legacy of the former ruling Imperial Family. It also promotes Ethiopian culture, causes, and history.
Prince Thierry Jean-Baptiste is head of the Imperial House of Soulouque. The dynasty’s founder, Faustin I, ruled Haiti in the mid-1800s. His Imperial Highness works on various projects to promote Haitian culture. No doubt, we share similar interests and ideals. Yet, there were questions whether if a prince - like other organizations - would consider projects with us if I proclaimed myself a queen. After several rounds of discussion, we decided to change Legialle from a Kingdom to a Principality.
Days and weeks went by and nothing was different than before. I continued enjoying my duties as much as I enjoyed other endeavors. Then I had my weekly Saturday brunch with my mother. A surprisng supporter of Legialle - and a member of the Council - we discussed her opposition to the change. Among her reasons was one that gave me pause for thought. Since when have I ever changed for acceptance? She explained that I’ve always went against society’s ‘norms’, so why start now? If other community leaders object to working with us, why not work independent of them? I've never let people doubt me for being black and trans, so why let them doubt me for being a royal? If, she said, the Prince chooses not to accept me on his missions, why can’t I start one?
I launched this project that goes against all norms - as so many others have done. Our first initiative, Flower City Queens, raised funds for LGBTQ homeless youth. And now we are preparing for the second edition. We are also coordinate Rochester’s first ‘dragutante’ ball in honor of the city’s drag city. Not to mention our scholarship named on behalf of my aunt – a transgender woman who set her own path. If organizations, groups or persons refuse to work with us because of my title, then, the issue lies with them.
I don’t have role models that look like me. So there are few black and brown royals around the world. It doesn't mean other role models haven't dealt with similar challenges. Or taken up causes for the greater good.
And just because there aren't any who have walked my path, doesn't mean I can't start a new one.