Janet and KimEarly Sunday morning, after a long night of birthday festivities, I sleepily sat up in bed with my laptop nestled on top my flannel sheets.

A photo of my sister Charreah Jackson, ESSENCE’s relationships editor, at the Hot97 studio popped up on my Facebook newsfeed.

“Talking relationships and black women. Tune in 9 – 10 on Hot97,” the photo caption read.

I squealed with excitement. (You’d think it was me going on air in ten minutes.)

I quickly “liked” the photo and scrambled to open the Hot97 live stream link in a new browser.

There I was, an out Black lesbian, giddily tuning in to a titillating yet very straight can-Black-women-have-it-all-a-great-career-and-a-great-man conversation.

The advice went in one ear and out the other. But I hung onto every word out Charreah’s mouth.

Despite a few Facebook exchanges here and there, we hadn’t seen each other since my ESSENCE intern days. Beyond our initial bond over trading beauty secrets, she was my sister. And I was proud to witness her success and the trajectory of her whirlwind of a career.

It’s with this same excitement that I make sure to tune in whenever my sisters, Black lesbian power couple, Aisha and Danielle Moodie-Mills appear on Melissa Harris-Perry as policy and subject matter experts. Or cheer on my celebfriends and sistergirls-in-my-head from a distance: the Quvenzhane Wallis’s and Viola Davis’s of the world that continue to trailblaze, kick ass and take names. In their honor, I make sure to do a virtual fist bump or martini toast…depending on celebratory occasion, of course.

This sistership is something that mutually feeds. When you genuinely believe in it and intentionally practice it, it sustains you in amazing ways.

Earlier this week, I launched a fundraising campaign for my website ELIXHER, an award-winning online destination for Black lesbian, bi and trans (LBT) women. ELIXHER features content that lifts our spirits and tells our truths in an affirming, authentic and empowering way.

I created ELIXHER out of a void I witnessed working in media. I seldom found multidimensional representations of Black LBT women. The site features news, political commentary, profiles, pop culture and more. Since our launch in 2011, we’ve grown immensely thanks to community support and phenomenal Black warrior women and sisterfriends.

We’re excited to expand our digital platform and events as well as compensate our talented team of volunteer contributors. That’s why we’re raising $10,000 to make the website self-sustainable.

Our first major donor was my sisterfriend Janet Mock. Janet and I had worked at PEOPLE at the same time (I worked at PEOPLE Stylewatch while she did her thing at PEOPLE.com). We   would smile at each other in the hallways and make small talk in the kitchen. I was geeked to spot another brown girl in the office. (I was also geeked by her amazing fashion sense.) We didn’t know each other’s stories…yet.

It wasn’t until I began working in LGBT media advocacy and Janet shared her story about being transgender in Marie Claire that we were able to connect and form a bond that extended beyond anything I had anticipated.

I shared the Indiegogo fundraising video link with Janet via email (she makes a small but fabulous cameo) and within minutes she made a donation and tweeted the link to her followers.

Janet has always been one of those people who bring others up with her. And that’s what sistership is about.

That’s what Black women like Monica Roberts at TransGriot, my trans sister and advocate Ja’briel Walthour, the bois at the bklyn boihood community collective, and countless others practice daily.

Before you can ask for help, they move to action. Swiftly.

They recognize that your success is theirs. And that there is room for all of us brilliant and beautiful Black women up there.

Whether you’re straight, gay, trans, single, or married, we are our sisters’ keeper.

Support the sistership and support ELIXHER today.

I promise I will have your back when you need me. You don’t even have to ask.



Kimberley McLeod is a D.C.-based media strategist and LGBT advocate. She serves as the Director of Communications/Press Secretary at the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC). She is also the creator and editor of ELIXHER, a resource for multidimensional representations of Black LGBT women.

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