On September 23rd 1989 two young parents took home a baby from Texas. Everything was new. And every day would prove to be a challenge. See even though much has changed in our country, when two white Jews adopt a black baby, people will voice their opinions. And they will voice them loudly. Looking back 24 years later, I see how my adoption provided me with the tools to deal with the homophobia and transphobia I would come to face.
On this day, today, a day of celebration for LGBTQ folks and their allies October 11th 2013; this national day of coming out I feel comfort and pride in coming out again.That baby that came home from Texas, that baby girl named Nina, would one day grow up to be a trans* individual named Ryley.
Ryley like Nina would have to hear much of the same things. The same insults, the same ignorance. The same stares of questioning, the whispers of judgement and sometimes even hate. But Ryley much like Nina refuses to let society leave them with a hateful internal dialougue. There will always be allies. For every jackass that mutters anything at you, there is another beautiful stranger that will stand up for you. Who when you least expect them to, will knock you off your feet with their acceptance.
My past is…my past is like the rings of a tree. It will stay with me forever, carved into my trunk of a body. And on those rings lay the friends who have never let me go. The ex’s who have become friends. The friends who have become family.
That is what I love the most about the gay community. The family. What happens when you lose your parents? When you lose the life you’ve always known? Because you were born choosing to love the hard way. Hard because society hasn’t caught up yet. Right because, love is never wrong. It can hurt, it can knock you down, but love should never be pushed back because someone else tells you that who you are choosing to love is wrong. You are the only one who can decide who you want to give your heart to, and hopefully that person wants to give theirs back to you. Two hearts. Two bodies. Multiple limbs. Tied up and tangled together.
You can gain a family. You can grow one. You can choose these amazing beautiful people who will get you. That is beauty. That is love. That is so many absolutely gorgeous things. You will find love. You will find it in unexpected places. You will find solidarity just as often as you will find hate. Heads or tails.
No matter how hard life gets. No matter how alone or empty you may feel. Remember that every summer a hundred PRIDE parades happen. Every night a drag queen takes the stage, and not always in a big city. Sometimes in a dive bar, in a town just like your hometown. Hell it might be your hometown. Every day people go to work at LGBT centers, and non profits, to fight for your rights and protect you. The love is there. The fight is there. The mainstream is just that, it will always be in your face because it demands all of the attention. That is not your mainstream. You are above that and you are more than that. It might be harder to see those in the trenches but they are there. And they are fighting just as hard.
I don’t really live with regret, but the one thing I do wish is that I could have come out to my mom. She died before I had the chance to tell her who I was. I wish that I could tell her about all of the girls I’ve loved. About the ones who have broken my heart; the ones whose hearts I’ve broken. I wish that at all the Pride’s I’ve marched in, she was marching alongside me. In theory she always has. Her picture has been in my pocket for years. Every journey I take she takes with me. I never got to tell her that I wasn’t actually interested in the boys I pretended to like in middle school. I don’t know much about heaven, I don’t know if it exists, or if when we die we linger. But my mom always told me that she believed that after death we never really leave. She promised me when I was a kid, when I would have panic attacks based on what felt like an inconsolable fear; the fear of death, of being left alone. She would hold me and she would say: Your life will feel like forever, and I will be here forever, and after forever is over, another forever will start. She told me that she would never leave. And even though she is physically not here. She is here. Inside of me. And mom, I’m ok. And gay. And a million other things. Maybe one day, in some way, we can talk about it.
Whenever I move I do so with plastic bags. Boxes are too hard to come by, and too hard to maneuver. And when you’re done with them they just become excess, they become trash, they take up spaces even when they aren’t filled with your belongings. Boxes have no place in my life. For too long I tried to place myself in box after box. Never really feeling like one fit. If a label suits you, when you find one that suits you: embrace it. But don’t spend your life searching for one. Nothing is concrete. Nothing. What inspires you one day will bore you the next. Exhaust yourself with your passions, in them your will find your labels, who you are.
Exercise your voice often and freely.