Black Queer Tarot Creator Wants Reality to be Beautiful for the Black LGBTQ+ Community

By: Christina Santi 

It can be hard to create in a world where parts of you are rejected. It’s a larger task to love those parts of one’s self that society at large may not accept. For Black Queer artists, creating in a world that can be harmful to both those identities is revolutionary. When one looks at the work of Kehinde Wiley or Mickalene Thomas, both openly part of the LGBTQ+ community, there is a softness and vibrancy to their depictions of Black life. The same vulnerability can be seen in the work of collage artist and art director Kendrick Daye. 

Enticed by his artwork, BNC spoke with Daye about Pride Month, Black Queer representation and creating the BLACK QUEER TAROT, a 78-card Tarot arcana deck that features members of the Black LGBTQ+ community.  

Born in Miami, Daye said he always wanted to be an artist. He began as a photographer before working on a pop art project that inspired him to begin collaging. Although the young artist did not feel he was your ideal Morehouse man, living in Atlanta helped enrich his want to showcase Black people in his art. After graduating from the HBCU, he relocated to Harlem, New York to continue being inspired by the culture found in America’s Black meccas.  

In the summer of 2020, Daye was looking to purchase a tarot deck for himself but was displeased with the lack of representation. He found most decks focused on white and/or cisgendered people. He decided to create his own deck. 

RELATED: Director Amira Shaunice Talks ‘Phase 6’ and Creating for the LGBTQ+ Community

In February 2021, the artist launched his BLACK QUEER TAROT deck on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo. He sought to create a deck that represented all parts of his identity, because he does not subscribe to the belief that one’s Blackness takes precedence over their queerness; a common debate that occurs within the community when it comes to discussing who deserves liberation first. Despite skewed histories, the answer is everyone should be free at the same time. 

“I love being Black and I love being queer. I can’t divorce that from myself,” Daye said. 

Black Queer Tarot

Black Queer Tarot by Kendrick Daye

Kendrick spent months researching and speaking to individuals within the tarot space before working on his deck. The project became a full circle moment for Kendrick, who photographed and created all the art for the tarot cards. One can see his ethereal and flamboyant collage work side-by-side with his photography with images of icons such as Audre Lorde and Marsha P. Johnson and transmodel Gia Love.  

He was deliberate in creating work that was a “fresh, inclusive take on the Tarot that imagines worlds where liberation and freedom are alive and well-connected bedfellows. Worlds where Black queer people are not just living— we’re thriving.” 

To date, the artist has raised $31,792 through his campaign, which is still going. The feat was surprising because as an artist, he rarely steps outside of his work. Daye, like most creators, make things they need first. Others seeing something within his work is just an added bonus.  

“I am always aim to present Black Queer people in this beautiful light,” the artist said. “Regardless of what situation is being presented there visually. I want it to look like they have this agency about them and I want them to look powerful.” 

 

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Daye’s deck coincides with people’s journey into spirituality. A poll released by Gallup earlier this year says that only 47% of American adults are members of a church, synagogue or mosque. It’s the first time in history that the number falls below the majority. The Harlem-based artist said he began tarot because as a gay man the Black church was not always welcoming to his identity.  

RELATED: Black Music Month & Pride 2021: Queer Musicians You Should Know

His hope for his deck is that he is making space for Black Queer people who feel isolated or shunned from church, religion or spirituality to see themselves within still.  

For both beginners and experienced tarot readers, there is the option to purchase a companion guidebook written by Justin Henry. The book features in-depth descriptions of Daye’s deck artwork, including the upright and reverse meanings of each card.  

While representation is a buzzword of sorts, Kendrick wants to continue creating for his communities and being inspired by the people around him doing the work in this continual fight for freedom. All that starts with him loving on himself first. 

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