Austin Higgs is self-described as a black, biracial, genderqueer, gay visionary from below the poverty line. Born and raised all over Richmond, VA, Austin had very little in the way of privilege. Growing up extremely poor, most of his childhood was spent moving around from home-to-home (or more accurately hotel-to-hotel) and trying to reconcile himself with the world he lived in.
As an interracial person, Austin sees himself as being simultaneously Black, White, and biracial while also being none of them singularly at any time. The political concept of race has always been an object of confusion for Austin. He remembers learning about different races as colors in the rainbow. The question of “But if black and white make grey, why am I brown?” would plague five-year-old Austin endlessly. Consequently she soon embarked on this journey of discovering race, as we all do. What he learned about race was less-than-enchanting and also that she had another layer impacting them. It was not until recently that Austin realized that he/she/they was struggling with the effects of not only his race, but her gender identity.
Fast-forward a bit, Austin is a fully realized (though fluid) member of the Trans* community and loving their life in a way they never knew they could. While also performing as a drag queen in Richmond, Austin is currently a champion of diversity and inclusion in his professional roles at VCU. He strives to leverage his multiple identities, to make his community safer, stronger, and more beautiful than he found it.
This post is part of a partnership between GayRVA and Diversity Richmond to feature honoree’s of Diversity’s first LGBTQ+ Black History Month series. Honorees were asked to share their stories in their own words. We’ll be posting more honorees as the month continues. Photo provided by Harron Fells
Ryland was born in Richmond, VA. He graduated cum laude from Benedictine High School and matriculated through Wake Forest University where he became a devoted “Demon Deacon” and president of the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity. Upon college graduation, Ryland entered the U.S. Army serving for four years as a Quartermaster. He later began a career [...]