April 29, 2010 | by Joey DiGuglielmo
Queery: Aiyi’nah Ford

Editor’s note: “Queery: 20 Gay Questions” was a popular Washington Blade “getting to know you” feature since the section formerly known as “Out in DC” launched in February 2007. Now that the paper is returning to its former name, we’ve revived Queery and tweaked it with a few new questions.

Aiyi’nah Ford had always been interested in LGBT rights but her sense of duty and activism spiked last year when she and her girlfriend at the time, Torian Brown, were kicked out of Silver Spring’s Tastee Diner after embracing. The 25-year-old lesbian and native Washingtonian was incredulous and says the event was a wake-up call.

“The liberation goes beyond ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ DOMA, ENDA,” she says. “We have black gay youth who don’t have a place to live. I’m just not satisfied with our percentages. There are those of us who are pushing our plight but so many in the local black [LGBT] scene are invisible. I’ll be at a social event and they’re always there, but when it comes to leadership, it’s the same four or five people. We see ourselves on TV now, so we become comfortable but there are still instances of injustice happening all the time and we see from the lack of consequence that the justice system doesn’t see this as a problem at all.”

Ford’s activism manifests itself in multiple ways — she’s in several of the local activist groups but also gives socially conscious poetry readings at open mic nights and co-hosts a radio talk show online (www.blogtalkradio.com/listen-up) as her alter ego “SimplyNay,” a name she also uses during her poetry readings. Her lesbianism and activism have largely alienated her from her family but she has a support system of about five close friends she relies on. By day, Ford works in international finance but she says LGBT activism is her passion. She loves reading and giving dramatic monologues in her spare time. She also likes to hang out at Washington’s lesbian nightclubs, Lace and Phase One.

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I was outed at age 13 by a mental health professional. Hard is an understatement when it comes to that scenario.

Who’s your gay hero?
The nameless face in Unknown, USA who will never make a headline or receive a single check but fights for equality and claims their truth everyday.

What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Lace, where every night is ladies’ night.

Describe your dream wedding.
My dream wedding celebrates a marriage that isn’t held under this incrementalist, state-by-state approach to marriage equality.

What non-gay issue are you most passionate about?
The gentrification of the United States, particularly Washington, D.C.

What historical outcome would you change?
Can Michael Jackson get a do over?

What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
The first time I saw Sylvester James. He made me feel, mighty real!

On what do you insist?
I insist on having a role in the revolution and you should too!

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
You’d have to follow or friend me to find out. I’m like Victoria — I have secrets!

If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Not So Simple: A Memoir by SimplyNay”

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
I’d suspect foul play.

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
Depends on what day you ask me!

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
We must stop trying to speak for everyone and provide all-inclusive environments for everyone to speak for themselves. We seek empathy for our oppression but we are often times the oppressors.

What would you walk across hot coals for?
Full federal equality!

What gay stereotype annoys you most?
That gays conspire against heterosexuality. The only thing a straight woman can do for me is point me in the direction of the nearest employed, mentally sane, educated, lesbian (or help me fight for full federal equality).

What’s your favorite gay movie?
“Stranger Inside”

What’s the most overrated social custom?
Apologies. Very few are sincere.

What trophy or prize do you most covet?
I still have the report card where I was skipped from first to third grade. Does that make me a nerd?

What do you wish you’d known at 18?
Not to take life too seriously because I’ll never make it out alive anyway.

Why Washington?
Because I am one of the two born and raised Washingtonians left. But on a serious note, wherever I travel I return more and more in love with my hometown.

Joey DiGuglielmo is the Features Editor for the Washington Blade.

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