From an early age, Monet Umana, 23, was taught to be proud of her roots and identity. Raised in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, she was surrounded by family, friends, and role models who looked like her and understood the nuances of navigating the world as a Black woman.

But when she began to question her sexuality, Monet’s unapologetic pride was challenged. “All these parts of me were constantly being affirmed until I started to explore anything outside my Blackness and my womanhood,” Umana told LGBTQ Nation.

A voracious reader and self-described “child of the internet,” Umana took matters into her own hands, turning to books like Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me, and social media platforms like Tumblr to find like-minded people.