Montyy • Podcaster at Comfortably Excluded

Montyy is an unapologetic queer black woman from Richmond, Virginia, who shares her self discovery journey via her podcast, Comfortably Excluded. Additionally, she’s a passionate communicator, dedicated to developing community, bridging cultural gaps, and mental health. Montyy has lived in many places. Throughout her travels, she’s found connecting with others an easy part of social engagement. That is, until two years ago, when she moved to Denver. For the first time, she was challenged to discover who she really is.

Montyy is hilarious. We had an amazing conversation, like old friends. Among other things, we discussed racialization and agreed there’s a lot more to who we are outside of our circumstances or stereotypes. She graciously shared some of her work with me which highlights Denver’s black history. When I asked Montyy to describe Denver in one word, she replied, “Growth.”

What does it mean to be Montyy?

Right now, it means to be free. It means to not subscribe to the box that society says I have to fit in. Being free enough to say no and stand by it. I am free to go after the things that I want in life and not count myself out because I’m the only black female face in the crowd. I am free to do whatever I want.

What does it mean to you to be black?

To be me is a word that hasn’t even been invented yet. There exists so much strength and pain in being black, and if you aren’t black, you will never understand it. It’s unfathomable. It is to be evolutionary. It is to just be.

What’s the difference between Richmond Montyy and Denver Montyy?

In Denver, I am more militant and constantly talking because Denver needs it. If we aren’t continually shaking the table and making our voices heard, nothing is going to change. In the DMV, the black population is much larger, so there are more voices.

What does it mean to you to be black in Denver?

I’ve always understood my blackness because I’ve never lived in places where I was visibly the minority until Denver. Moving to Denver and seeing how small the [black] community is here pushed me to connect with my blackness on a whole different level that I didn’t even know existed. There was space to grow, and connections with other black people became precious and notable. Being black in Denver can be lonely at times, but it puts you in a place where you appreciate your culture, heritage, and ability to survive in very white spaces. Denver itself doesn’t mean a whole lot to me, but the self-discovery, the people I’ve met, and the community I’m building is what nurtures my blackness.

Tell me about “blackness.” What does the word mean to you?

When I say my blackness, it is absolutely mine. The definition of blackness does not exist because we span. We are a spectrum. We are all over the place. In Denver, I’ve been isolated, so I was forced to get to know who I am. That’s one thing about this place that I appreciate.

I thought I already knew who I was in my blackness and all the inner workings of me. But because I felt I needed to be a certain type of black, there were a lot of things about myself that I was hiding. I went for so long, thinking I needed to stay in these boxes and lanes. Living here has allowed me to get in touch with my blackness, which is funny to me. I’ve been in spaces where I would typically retreat into myself. Today, I no longer make myself uncomfortable to make others comfortable.

Tell me about the power of authenticity?

Authenticity is very new for me, and it’s powerful. It is not something we’re taught to do — express our feelings and opinions. Being authentic is also a blessing and a curse because we live in a society where we want real, but not too real.

What do you love most about living in Denver?

Weed’s legal and the mountains are enchanting.

How have your experiences in Denver shaped you?

It has made me a stronger and more confident person.