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This gay college basketball player at Richmond started a club for Black LGBT students like her

Jaide Hinds-Clarke says embracing intersectionality is vital in her coming out journey.

Jaide Hinds-Clarke is a proud and out Black gay woman.
Spiders Athletics

Jaide Hinds-Clarke has spent many years of her life thinking about the intersectionality of her two identities as a Black woman and gay person. She’s written papers about her experiences, and even commissioned an independent study about the experiences of Black LGBTQ people as a whole.

Hinds-Clarke finds the crossroads to be unavoidable, and even though she’s always considered basketball to be her community, she felt an urge to reach out to other Black and Brown LGBTQ students at the University of Richmond. With the help of one of her good friends, she started Shades of Pride, an affinity group for LGBTQ students of color and their allies. It’s run through the university’s LGBTQ Campus Life center.

“That community wasn’t there,” Hinds-Clarke says. “I don’t think a lot of people fully understand what it means to have intersectional identities. It’s not something that’s talked about that much.”

As a teenager growing up in suburban New Jersey, Hinds-Clarke says she was a “social butterfly.” She starting coming out to her parents in her sophomore year of high school: first her mother, and then her father. The conversation with dad was a little more difficult, but in due time, he became supportive. While Hinds-Clarke did attend junior and senior prom, she opted to wear suits for the special occasions, flouting gender norms and uncomfortable blouses. Today, they laugh about it.

“We kind of subconsciously joke about how he struggled a little bit with it,” she says. “After coming out to him initially, he came around, and came and apologized to me at some point for how he reacted. Since then, he’s been very supportive.”

Hinds-Clarke says she recognizes her “out privilege,” and knows the coming out experience is not as seamless for everyone. She feels a responsibility to use her voice to help others who aren’t as fortunate.

Or, as she calls it: “walk in her power.”

“You have to recognize not everyone has had a positive experience, and not everyone feels comfortable,” she says. “What can you do to kind of walk in your power? That’s the verbiage I typically use. I feel like I’m able to walk in my power, so I should use my voice, and try to walk for people who aren’t able to do so yet. That’s been very important to me in navigating my own experience.”

Basketball is one of the platforms that allows Hinds-Clarke to use her voice, and she is grateful. She had an outstanding career at Richmond, scoring 1,130 career points — 17th in school history — and being named a 2020 A-10 All Conference honoree. As a forward, Hinds-Clarke was a force on the defensive end, finishing her career with the sixth-most blocks (72) in school history as well.

The experience of playing Division 1 basketball has connected Hinds-Clarke to so many young women whom she hopes to inspire. The court is her happy place.

“A lot of the times where I’ve felt most comfortable was on the court,” she says. “Having fans who are cheering for, because you’re wearing the No. 1 University of Richmond jersey, to me, nothing else matters. But also, at the same time, it’s important for fans to know who you are, and for them to know your backstory. That’s driven my passion. Just telling my story, so other people feel comfortable sharing about themselves.”

Jaide Hinds-Clarke scored 1,130 points in four seasons at Richmond.
Instagram

That’s not to say Hinds-Clarke doesn’t experience fear. A self-described Masculine identifying Black woman — she says she does most of her shopping in the men’s section — going into the women’s bathroom can create anxiety. She recalls one incident at a movie theater, when a woman walked out of the bathroom when she saw Hinds-Clarke washing her hands, only to quickly re-enter. Hinds-Clarke presumes she went back to double-check the gender sign.

As a Black woman driving, Hinds-Clarke says she also feels anxious behind the wheel. But she doesn’t want to let the fear paralyze her. She wants to live her life, and recognizing her intersecting identities is one of the most important parts.

Reading race and gender theorist Kimberlé Crenshaw, who first coined the term “intersectionality” in the late 1980s, was a life-changing moment for her.

“That was the first step,” she says. “I heard about intersectionality, and I was pretty intrigued. I was like, ‘Wow, this is explaining my experience.’ I finally felt like I had my hands on something and was analyzing my own experience. That was the first time I was like, ‘Wow, that all makes sense.’”

Hinds-Clarke says embracing intersectionality was a turning point in her journey as an out gay Black woman.
Photo provided

This year, Pride Month embodied the themes of intersectionality, taking place in concurrence with nationwide protests over racial injustice and police brutality against Black people. There was a March for Black Trans Lives in New York City; a Pride Black Lives Matter March in Chicago; and protest marches across the country.

Though Hinds-Clarke was disappointed the traditional Pride parties were canceled this year, she found June to be a valuable time for self-reflection, and an opportunity to learn even more about her communities.

“I logged on this morning to Google and to see Marsha P. Johnson with a beautiful colored background on Google. That’s maybe something I might’ve missed last year on June 30,” she says. “As much as our parades aren’t happening and different celebrations aren’t happening, I think there’s still a lot to celebrate about uplifting LGBTQ people of color and their voices.”

That’s also the legacy Hinds-Clarke hopes to leave at Richmond. Though she’s graduating, Shades of Pride will stay. Next fall, she’ll be attending graduate school at VCU in their Center for Sports Leadership.

Intersection is everywhere.

“I would tell the younger athletes, and younger people in general, to continue to be their authentic selves, whatever that means for them right now,” she says. “This is a journey. I think my overall message would be, just be your authentic self, and not let anybody dim your light.”

You can follow Jaide Hinds-Clarke on Instagram here.