Sakhara Johnson: Celebrating LGBTQ+ Pride Part 2

June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month! Project Sleep is proud to highlight insights from LGBTQ+ members of our community throughout the month of June.

Meet Sakhara Johnson:

Sakhara is basking in the Virgin Island sun at the beach as she smiles for a photo. She is wearing a yellow one piece swimsuit with black lettering. She is covered in tattoos, wears clip-on sunglasses over her prescription lenses and studded earrings.
Basking in the Virgin Islands sun

Hi Sakhara! Please tell us about yourself.

I am a NYC native living in Philadelphia. I have a deep love for food, art, music, traveling, technology, and making memories. I love spending time with my family, listening to audiobooks, binge-watching crime and comedy shows, and engaging in self-care, i.e. meditation, sleep, and embracing Oneself authentically. I proudly identify as a pro-Black queen lesbian who happens to be disabled (although I never let that hinder my growth).

What is your sleep disorder? At what age were you diagnosed?

I have narcolepsy with cataplexy. I was diagnosed in 2015 at the age of 26.

In your experience, are there similarities and/or differences between living with a sleep disorder and identifying as LGBTQ+?

Yes, I believe identifying as LGBTQ+ and living with a sleep disorder go hand in hand. I identified as queer way before my narcolepsy diagnosis. With both identities, I spent a lifetime battling internally with feelings of low self-esteem, self-doubt, and insecurity and was consistently concerned with others’ opinions of me. It took me years to learn to stand firmly in my own truth, power, and pride as a black queer person with narcolepsy. In learning to be myself authentically and unapologetically, I was able to find continuous support and community.

Sakhara Johnson wearing custom designed Chuck Taylors
Sakhara is sporting her very own unique custom designed Chuck Taylors. These Chucks have black and white roses with an orange trim along the sides and gold eyelets on one side and blue and pink flowers on the other. The laces are glitter styled and the inside of the chucks are green army camouflage.

What does Pride Month mean to you?

Pride Month for me is a wonderful time of celebration! A time for me to marvel in awe at the progress we have made as an LGBTQ+ community. I unapologetically embrace my African ancestry as well as my queerness.

What advice would you give someone who is earlier in their journey in the sleep and/or LGBTQ+ community?

Be true to who you are! Love yourself first! And don’t be afraid to reach out. As a community, we welcome and embrace individuals of all backgrounds.

Thank you, Sakhara, for sharing your voice! Visit Wake Up Narcolepsy’s website to learn about and register for their LGBTQIA online support group.

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