Clarke stays true to himself

Photo courtesy: Chazriq Clarke’s Instagram: @ala.chazam

Students at Florida A&M often test their strength to succeed. However, Chazriq Clarke has made his reign at FAMU unforgettable.

Clarke, a graduating student, served as FAMU’s King of Orange and Green and was part of with many student organizations.

Living in the limelight at FAMU and as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, Clarke was often judged by his sexuality.

During his time at Florida A&M, he grew to love modern fashion, performing arts, social influencing and activism.

However, along with popularity and trials during his reign as KOG, the road wasn’t always smooth.

“It’s disheartening, I was not going to run based on my sexuality. Transitioning into my junior year, I was kind of finding myself. I was becoming more feminine. I wouldn’t say gayer, I would say more Chaz,” Clarke said.

“There was a point when I considered if running for KOG still a thing for me. People were encouraging me to continue. I ran and won, even after that it didn’t feel like I truly won because there were people commenting and made me feel like I shouldn’t have run,” he added.

Clarke was raised in a Christian household, forbidding him to find love interest in the same sex. After coming out to his family members, he said they weren’t too accepting, especially Clarke’s father who he no longer speaks to.

Photo courtesy: Chazriq Clarke’s Instagram: @ala.chazam

“Overall, my coming out story to me pushed me to want to do better. At the end of the day no one is going to be there for you sometimes, even if it’s your family. My family is very religious, so it was a whole rollercoaster. It was always “no what are you doing” and that’s not what we raised you on, we feel like we failed.”

As a double minority, Clarke often used his voice to stride forward with passion for African-Americans and the LGBTQIA+ community.

With the Florida Gov. DeSantis  signing the “Don’t Say Gay” bill earlier this month, prohibiting teachers from discussing or gender identity in elementary-school classrooms. Clarke believes now is the time to advocate against those opposed to LGBTQIA+ rights.

Jazmine Runyon, a friend of Clarke, has always noticed his resilience throughout his reign as KOG.

“I personally feel like he handled his reign great with him coming out. He always stayed true to himself. Now he did say there were times when people did talk about him but most of the time, he blocked the negative out and still ran an amazing reign. I think he was the first King of Orange and Green to be open in his position,” Runyon said.

Clarke said, “You should authentically love who you want, openly.”