by Princess Harmony
BGD’s Crush of the Month is a feature where we choose the most swoon-worthy and inspirational QTPoC whose work and flair has left us inspired and blushing. Then we interview them so our amazing readers can join us in crushing, fanning, and absolutely swooning over these amazing QTs.
This month’s crush is Shay Akil McLean, a Black, genderqueer trans man hailing from Illinois! Shay is a writer, public speaker, sociologist, and political educator who founded D.A.T.T., Decolonize All The Things, a website focused on social criticism, activism, and theory. Last year, he was moved to start the D.A.T.T. Freedom School, which features key writings about capitalism, socialism, and the cishet patriarchy. It’s evident in his writings, speeches, and work that he’s dedicated to the real hard work of liberation.
Has it gotten hot in here, or is it just us? Without further ado, here’s Shay!
Princess: Okay, first of all: President Donald Fucking Trump. (I still can’t get used to that.) Did you ever expect that we’d seriously be talking about our first reality TV star president?
Shay: To be honest with you, I’m not surprised at him getting elected because that’s a reflection of America’s history as a settler colony and the fact that white supremacist racism, xenophobia, patriarchy, ableism, and meritocracy are central to American values, not an aberration from them. Trump and those who support him are as normal as they come. When I consider his politics, I’m not surprised he managed to appeal to the bigotry white folks didn’t really hide but when you think about the context of a reality TV star and mediocre unqualified bigot becoming president it sounds like a parody of sorts, like a horrible comedy sketch.
Princess: I imagine that nobody is more prepared than you, at least on a theoretical level, to resist his rule. What are your plans to resist him now and for the future?
Shay: Honestly, what I am ready for is to continue to organize colonized peoples. I’m ready to share what I know with other community members, help people learn how to recognize the role of systemic inequality in their lives, and work with them to strategize against it. For me, Trump isn’t a boogeyman or the end all be all. It doesn’t make sense to make him the boogeyman for a system of domination that is over 500 years in the making. He isn’t special. So I will resist his overt white nationalism in ways that I have had to work against the liberal flavor of the not so different blueberry flavored capitalism the Democratic Party has been serving marginalized folks for years as well.
My main plans are expanding my political education work to start doing teach ins and workshops in the local community where I go to school. I’ve done this work before back at home where I originally designed the curriculum for the Uhuru Freedom School that I designed alongside some other organizers and we ran that program in the hood, fed kids, taught history to them and to their parents, and gave them space to transform the ways they engage with one another. That work still needs to be done. So I’m just trying to expand that and get more resources and summaries up on my website. This is a time for me to double down on the work I’ve already been doing & give folks a direction to go in, a place to start rather than leaving them to the despair that is left in the absence of the inaccessible American dream.
Princess: Let’s turn a bit towards your love life. What’s your love life like? Are you seeing anyone right now? If you are, what’s your partner like?
Shay: I’m single. My love life is pretty much non-existent as of now because of school, work & organizing. And to be honest people only slide in my DMs to ask for homework help lol soon as somebody give a bookish bear a shot and the feeling is mutual, I’m all there.
Princess: A lot of people have an ideal partner. What would your ideal partner be like? Do you like em tall? Feminine? 420 friendly?
Shay: Ideal partner? Person of color, feminine, passionate about whatever work they do (community, professional, etc.), 420 friendly, someone who understands the work that I do and maybe can do community work with. Somebody who can tolerate how much of a nerd I am and I’m 6 foot 1, so I can get stuff off the top shelf on my own so I don’t discriminate height wise lol.
Princess: What role do your politics play in love? Do you require that your partners or potential partners share your politics? Could you date, for example, a libertarian?
Shay: Politics plays a big role. #NoSettlers #NoCapitalists I can’t trust someone’s claim to love me when they don’t share the same basic principles about human rights, access to resources, and a general historical context for the very forces that are part of shaping my life. A major requirement for me is being on the same page with my partner when it comes to political principles. So dating a libertarian goes into the hell naw to the naw naw section.
Princess: Could you share with us the most important lesson you’ve learned from any of your relationships?
Shay: The most important lesson I feel I’ve learned thus far is that under no circumstance does love possess. Relationships are about choosing each day to commit yourself to sustaining a particular relation with another person(s). I used to be one of those people who thought that love was enough to sustain a relationship and while love is important, it’s definitely not enough.
Princess: For our last question, let’s go with something fun! Do you watch The Walking Dead? Isn’t Negan just the cutest?
Shay: Y’all gonna probably think I’m whack for not watching Walking Dead but I’m pretty sure I’m like 4 seasons behind so I have no idea what’s going on but everybody’s talking about Negan & all I know is I like his weapon of choice for a zombie apocalypse lol.
Princess Harmony is an afrolatin trans girl who speaks in the language of fire. She’s also unapologetic weeb trash that likes anime, video games, and visual novels. Go figure! <3