IT IS A COMBINATION of my slight social anxiety, my lack of proper hydration, and the fact that there is an open bar, but it is 3:30 in the afternoon and I am drinking rosé like it is water.
- (“The sun is shining. We drink rosé.” I silently congratulate myself for being able to remember one bit of advice given to me during my first week here. I cannot remember who said it. I cannot remember if it was said in French or English. My cheeks are burning now.)
I am at the opening cocktail party for a LGBT film festival in Marseille, France. I have been separated from the two friends I arrived with. I begin to get lightheaded. I am in a gallery. The walls are all white. The people are all white. I wonder what it would be like to paint the walls with wine. Red wine, not rosé.
An a capella group is performing. I hear them before I see them. They are singing Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.” It is the only song of hers I enjoy.
An older woman smiles at me. I have seen her once at a bar. We shared a beer because she was black like me and I think we talked about Obama and how young I looked and if it was sunny back where I came from in the States. She is old enough to be my mother.
I have a lot I want to tell her. I want to say that I have only been here for a few weeks and I am happy here I think. I want to tell her that sometimes I miss home but it confuses me because I don’t know what I mean when I say I miss home. I want to interrupt the a capella group and say that I have flown a million miles away and dammit I want to talk about what it means to be black and queer and a woman and kind of broke in a room full of rich white gay men.
Instead I am silent. The group is still singing. The song is longer than I remember it to be. I feel the ticket for the film that starts in approximately 11 minutes in my pocket. It is a film about a blond woman and a brunette woman who fall in love. I make a mental note to re-watch all the films with queer women of color. Sometimes it is nice to see yourself reflected on screen too.
I follow the eyes of the older woman. Our eyes are directed to the lead singer. He is black like us.
The older woman kisses me on the cheek and smiles and fluffs my fro, it feels like a hymn, it feels like a prayer, and I weep.
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Sam White enjoys writing, youth development, and growing out her fro. You can find her tweeting or running The Curved Road, a collective for LGBTQ people of color who travel. She is an AmeriCorps alum, currently teaching English in Marseille, France, and hopes to use all the random knowledge she's collected over the years to win big on Jeopardy one day.