The first time I visited Diandra's social media page, I was drawn in by her authenticity. It was something about the way she presented herself and her passion in bold colors that connected with a freedom I also know. Immediately, I pressed the follow button because I knew for sure, what Diandra operates in as a queer person of color, was not given to her, she earned it; thus making her an advocate to not only keep our eyes on but to support.
Now... Diandra Marie
BABL: You possess such a big, beautiful personality, very outspoken and emerging into great influence. When the lights and cameras are off, who would you say Diandra Marie is?
D.M.: Well, thank you! I really appreciate that. Without the lights and camera, there is still a huge part of me who is the woman you see in videos and on social media. I’ve always been an outspoken person with a big personality, so it was a matter of showing that to the world. Outside of that though, there are plenty of other sides to me that aren’t always shown. On some days, I can be quite withdrawn and to myself as a way to escape being social all the time. I don’t always feel the need to go to parties and dance to have fun. I find solace in being able to grab a few wings, kick back, and watch Living Single on Hulu. I am also a spiritual person, so I spend some of my time involved in church and meditating on scripture. I’m pretty well-rounded and complex because I allow myself to be me, whether that’s having a super huge personality and dancing for the world to see, laying low and hanging out with my friends, or spending time with myself.
BABL: What brings you the most satisfaction for just being YOU?
D.M.: Allowing myself to be my true self is what brings me the most satisfaction. I went through most of my life trying to shapeshift into who everyone else wanted me to be, which left me never feeling good enough. After stepping into and embracing who I am, I realized that I was able to attract more people who authentically love and value me for who I am. That’s the part that I love most – being able to simply live my life truthfully and unapologetically.
BABL: Within recent years the LGBTQ+ community has deeply embraced the "no label" journey. How do you feel this has impacted the queer narrative? Do you feel there are any negative side effects to this movement?
D.M.: I think it is positive in my opinion. While I had to unlearn things that I was taught growing up, I think that not having a label can liberate people. How can we say “be yourself” and then box you in with labels at the same time? I am a firm believer in allowing people to be who they identify themselves to be. It is not anyone’s job to place a label on someone unless that person places a label on themselves. I think the only “negative” side effect is that we still have to get people on the same page. A lot of unlearning and relearning has to be done in order for us all to feel liberated as our true selves.
BABL: How do you identify?
D.M.: I identify as a Black lesbian, periodt lol. I know that I present as “masc of center,” but I definitely have plenty of feminine tendencies which I embrace and love about myself. No labels, remember? haha
BABL: Have you found the answer to "Why are you here?" Do you believe you have found your purpose? If so, what is it?
D.M.: Well, I definitely know I’m here to create. I have been creating since a young child and always had so many ideas growing up. I used to dance, act, rap, have my own internet radio show – and that was before I was 18. Now, I believe I’m refining that creativity to storytelling and creating content that resonates with people. I want to tell stories and shed light on people and events that don’t always get the opportunity. At the same time, I am open to that evolving over time. I allow my creativity to push me into new worlds and try new things so I can expand my palate.
BABL: I feel as if your advocacy within the community has a different flare to it; how would you describe your activism in the community?
D.M.: For me, it’s about educating people. There are a lot of people who “think” they know about the community and don’t allow their thoughts and views to progress as the community is progressing. Plus, I am a part of the LGBTQ+ community, so for me, there is a level of obligation to uplift and encourage my own. Being that there are plenty of people within the community who still feel isolated and unloved is more than enough for me to want to truly see and love them for who they are. I also think that’s a part of being an advocate – not only educating others but being an example so others can learn from me and do the same.
BABL: With your variety of events, which of them do you feel ignites the underline vision of your work the most?
D.M.: I definitely think Brunch Turnuhhh is an event that embodies my vision of what the world can look like. When I first saw the vision in my head, I saw my friends from all walks of life being able to come together to have a good time. Being that have friends that represent various communities (Queer, Christian, CIS/Hetero, Trans, GNC, etc), I want to show that we can coexist and that those characteristics that separate us don’t have to stop us from treating each other like human beings. At the same time, I put a heavy emphasis that this is a safe space for QTPOC (Queer/Trans People of Color) because we are looking for more of those spaces to be created for us. We aren’t used to many spaces where we know we’ll be safe, respected, and cared for. So for me, Brunch Turnuhhh not only embodies my vision but part of my purpose here on earth.
BABL: You've coined yourself as the next Oprah; why?
D.M.: Haha, I appreciate you for asking! I started calling myself the “Next Oprah” as a way of telling people what I want to do with my life and how far I can see my creativity and gifts taking me. Last March, I met Aja Naomi King (How To Get Away With Murder, The Birth Of A Nation) at the airport and based on our conversation, she mentioned how I could be like Oprah. It took me a while to even accept that let alone proclaim it to the world. Being that Oprah is a powerhouse mogul, I now see myself in the same light. It was a way to empower myself and my work while also letting everyone know how big my dreams are. As I grow and expand, I do see myself slowly phasing “Next Oprah” out of my everyday vocabulary because there’s only one Diandra Marie and I will continue to create my own lane outside of what everyone else is doing and what has already been done.
BABL: Your words, "...people don't allow themselves being jaded to [remember] they deserve real love." Can you break this down for it can forever and consistently be broke? (I love, Love Jones)
D.M.: I think when we’ve had a number of disappointments in the relationship or love department, we can get so jaded that we settle for things we don’t want. We do this because we’ve convinced ourselves that the mate we desire and dream of isn’t out there and ultimately make dating decisions that don’t align with those desires. For me, I’ve always been a “relationship person” (dating for the purpose of getting into a relationship) and a lot of people my age casually date or are in poly relationships. Since I couldn’t seem to find anyone who also wanted a relationship, I tried to convince myself I should be dating casually too. All that did was bring a ton of stress and heartache because I should’ve been staying true to myself in the first place. It took me a while to embrace that I still deserve the desires of my heart even though I’ve been romantically disappointed. Once I was able to do that and stand firm in the standards I set for the type of relationship I wanted, I found someone who makes me thankful that it didn’t work out with anyone else. So don’t give up on love! It’s out there if you continue to stay true to what you want and put in the work to make sure you’re ready for that person.
BABL: What would you say is the #1 cause of emotional traumas within the queer community?
D.M.: To me, it’s a lack of acceptance and love. There are a lot of hateful people in the world that go out of their way to marginalize, taunt, mistreat, disrespect, mis-gender, (and the list goes on) members of the queer community. Being on the receiving end, this treatment eats away at us, it makes us feel unloved, and more tragically, it can cause some of us to take our lives as a result. That’s why community is so important. So we can continue to spread the love and counteract the hate that we receive and feel on a regular basis.
BABL: You appear to be very liberated, has there been a time you were locked within the confines of mental or emotional cages? How did you free yourself?
D.M.: Absolutely! I honestly work on a daily basis to free myself of any trauma that is keeping me from being the best version of myself. Being diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) which, for me, stems from emotional trauma, there was a period of my life where it had more control over my life than I did. I was admitted to hospitals and started taking medication. I realized I needed to take myself and my recovery seriously if I wanted control of my life back. I admitted myself to a facility for those struggling with mental illness for 5 days and afterward completed an intensive outpatient program. It was an extremely difficult time for me, but I was given the tools and insight to change my perspective on life. I realized I’m worth being here and more importantly, God wants me here. Connecting with my Higher Power in 2015 and remaining connected plays a huge role in how I maintain peace even when my mind is filled with negative thoughts. Freeing myself is definitely a continuous practice that is crucial in remaining liberated and liberating parts of me that are still confined in cages.
BABL: At the end of the day, what does Diandra really want for the queer community?
D.M.: I want the queer community to feel liberated and loved regardless of where they identify on the spectrum. I feel that when we embrace and love who we are, we lead and live better lives. I believe every person in the queer community deserves to know what that feels like. I want to see us following our dreams and continuing to disrupt the status quo in ways I can’t even imagine. I want us to be leaders, organizers, educators, curators, facilitators as well as amazing husbands, wives, and partners. I want us to have it all because we deserve it all.
BABL: Your dance moves are uplifting... no matter what it brings a smile to my face... if love was a DM move... what would it look like. (it would be really cool to post it on your social media as well.)
-Aww, thank you! I’ll make a video for you 😊
Waiting on our video :-)
FOLLOW, LEARN, SUPPORT