Black Joy

Live OUT LOUD | Black Joy – June 10, 2022

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I just realized something: June is the most festive month of the summer.

So many celebrations are packed into this month. We got Juneteenth, Pride Month, Father’s Day, Black Music Month ….Whew! I wish we all could take the whole month off to soak in summer vibes, socialize at the cookout and chill by the pool. So the next two newsletters will acknowledge the melanin magic present during some of these holidays.

Starting things off with the LGBTQ+ community. Now, y’all know we take, well, pride in the fact that the South has the largest population of LGBTQ+ adults. So it’s not so surprising that many LGBTQ+ families call the South home. Researchers believe socially conservative areas once caused people to come out later in life. So some LGBTQ+ parents may have had a child from a previous relationship before they were out. But as the social climate becomes more accepting, LGBTQ+ people start exploring other pathways towards parenthood, such as adoption, surrogacy and assisted reproductive technology.

So before we honor LGBTQ+ Families Day, which was on June 1st, consider forwarding this newsletter to your friends and fam.


Country living and community helped Makari embrace his true self as transgender dad.

He’s a native of Red Oak, Virginia, an unincorporated town where the WiFi functions more like dial-up. As such, the vast outdoors and family time are the greatest sources of entertainment for Makari and his 7-year-old daughter, Skylar. Makari has already taught Skylar his favorite pastime of fishing. They share a love of cowboy boots, line dancing and they even share a birthday, Nov. 12.

Makari, 29, said living life as a country boy and a #girldad has become everything to him, especially after navigating people’s negative opinions for most of his life.

“It’s taught me the free range of living your life and just being free,” Makari said. “If you don’t let people get in your head and tell you what to do, then I say you will really be living life down here in the South – the life that you want.”

His daughter’s love showed Makari the power of acceptance. Makari gave birth to Skylar in 2014, before he started transitioning. He was married to a man at that time, but not out of love because Makari believed he would lose his salvation if he started hormones.

“I was raised up in the church, and they were telling me all the time, ‘You’re gonna go to hell for this. You’re gonna go to hell for that. God ain’t going to forgive you.’” Makari said. “I got scared to live. The church gave me so much anxiety. I felt like I needed to date guy and force myself in the inside to like him.”

Makari left that relationship. But pregnancy was a depressing time for Makari because it intensified his gender dysphoria, the emotional distress one feels when their physical appearance doesn’t match their gender identity. He also suffered from postpartum depression, which made him feel disconnected from Skylar after she was born.

It wasn’t until Skylar started walking that the fog started to lift. Makari believed Skylar was going to wobble towards his girlfriend at the time who has been in Skylar’s life since she was two months old. But despite being distant emotionally, Skylar walked towards Makari, gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

“I cried. She stole my heart,” Makari said. “I got my act together and said, ‘That’s my baby.’”

Makari has watched his daughter’s compassion and intelligence bloom over the years. She is the type of child who offered her Easter gift to another kid because she thought they didn’t get anything for the holiday.

“She’s always thinking about other people more than herself,” Makari said. “That’s shocking to me at that age.”

When Makari decided to start his transitioning journey in May 2021, he didn’t want to leave Skylar in the dark. So he grabbed some ice cream, sat her down and gulped down the fear of rejection as he started educating her about his decision to start taking testosterone. To help answer Skylar’s question of how Makari was going to transition, they watched a YouTube video of another trans dad describing the process of taking testosterone in a child-friendly way.

“I broke it down to her like, ‘Your mom wants to be a dad. I’m really not comfortable in the body I am in,” Makari said. “She was like, ‘OK, well, I still love you and I will call you my dad.”

Makari made sure Skylar knew she didn’t have to call him dad if she didn’t want to, but Skylar wasn’t having it.

“She stopped me and said, ‘No, I’m going to call you my dad. That’s how I see you, so that’s what I’m going to do,” Makari said. “I was like, wow, this is coming from a six-year-old at the time. Some of these adults need to learn from her.”

Makari has officially been on testosterone for a little over a year now and it hasn’t shifted the way Makari and Skylar interact at all. In fact, she pokes fun about the physical changes she’s noticing, like his mustache and how deep his voice is getting. Meanwhile, other people in his life are struggling to acknowledge Makari’s pronouns. Some people have told him he is not a man.

Despite the ups and downs, Makari said he wouldn’t trade his new life for anything. He’s grateful for his blended family and plans to celebrate his second Father’s Day by eating food from the grill and drinking a cold brew. He hopes to inspire other trans people in the South to do one thing: Be unafraid to live out loud.

Empowerment for Black queer parents

If you’re a Black queer person looking for family building resources, my girl Mia Cooley, founder of xHood, has you covered with the Black Parent Pride Summit in Atlanta on June 25 and 26th. The weekend will be packed with workshops, panels and small groups focused on all things fertility and family building for Black LGBTQ+ parents, soon-to-be-parents or even folks who are curious about becoming parents. TikTok and Instagram-famous conscious parenting coach Destin Ann will be spreading knowledge about mindful parenting. One of the panels will call out the homophobia and transphobia Black queer people experience in reproductive spaces. There’s also a resource fair where attendants can access vendors and service providers who both support and make our families possible. Gender affirming doctors, therapists, sperm bank and cryobank providers, adoption agencies and other providers will also be on site. You can check out xHood website for a good breakdown of the summit.

Since this is Mia’s first time planning a summit for xHood, a rooftop party and boozy brunch is in the itinerary.

“I’m from New Orleans, so I can’t do anything without at least one party,” Mia laughed.

xHood is an expansion of a Facebook community group Mia created on Mother’s Day 2019 so Black LGBTQ+ parents can connect with each other and wouldn’t feel so alone. Since, she has received funding, resources and executive coaching from Facebook’s parent company, Meta, and has evolved the brand into a tech start up that will not only guide queer parents through the multiple decisions of family building, but also connect them to providers.

“My mission for xHood: It really become the safest, most successful and most secure way for Black and queer families to build and nurture their families” Mia said. “And I really, truly believe that we deserve a guide and tailored resources dedicated to our family building processes. So because it does not exist, I’m gonna build it.”

Enjoy your weekend by spreading the Black Joy!

Jonece Starr Dunigan

Jonece Starr Dunigan |

Jonece Starr Dunigan (She/her/hers) is a journalist who gives the microphone to communities that are often ignored by mainstream media. Guided by empathy, her reporting centers the stories, movement work and voices of Black, brown and queer people. Her writing strives to amplify and empower readers instead of exploiting them of their traumas.

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