Keep this Resolution

When will we start to realize that the youth are the ones who will take us forward? When will we stop and think about the weight of our words, and the ramifications that they have when we as adults preach and push on young minds? Minds that are flourishing and being molded daily. Minds that turn on the news and see uniforms killing their peers. Minds that see news headlines that question a persons very being for being something that does not fit the “norm”.

Today I have finally broken down. 2014 has been a year of civil rights being stricken away from the harmless. Whether at the hands of another, or by the words of another.

We have left another year behind that will aid statistics. Numbers of black youth killed by police, numbers of black trans* women being killed at the hands of bigots. Numbers on numbers that will go into reports, that will go into student papers, into blogs, into newspapers. But these people are not numbers, they are humans.

Maybe this year has hit me especially hard, because I fall into so many of the groups that have been attacked the most, yet seen the least justice. I watched as police were acquitted left at right for killing my brothers. I watched as my transgender family lost more and more members, while the media stayed silent and biased. I heard woman after woman come forward with stories of abuse and rape. I heard voices speak over them. Over all of them. Trying to silence minorities as history has done again and again.

How dare we.

How dare we look at someone who has been victimized, who has seen their humanity ripped from their very soul, and tell them to get over it. Tell them that it gets better. How can we? It doesn’t get better when people remain silent and let these people become statistics.

What is the point of being alive if you do not speak up for the dead? What is the point of breathing if you are using your breathe to spread hate. Or worse nothing at all. Silence is to me as repulsive as racism, homophobia, violence…the list goes on and on. Not the silence of victims, no their silence is understood. The silence of those who have the power to make change – it’s that silence that repulses me. It makes me sick to my stomach.

Youth. You young powerful roots of revolution. You matter. God dammit, do not let anyone tell you that your worth is actually worthless. We are not blessed by geography. We are not all bless by privilege. How can a young black trans* teenager relate to gloss and glimmer of an out person in the media? Do you not remember being young? The influence our peers and our parents played in our lives? Do you remember? That feeling that you were 100% alone in this world? That no one understood you? Now imagine you also felt trapped in the wrong body. Imagine that you were stop and frisked while your white classmates happily swiped their Metrocards.

I can not wrap my head around a parents ability to ostracize their own child. But because I know it to be true. I instead think of how we can make that child know their purpose and their worth to this world. When suicide becomes the path for more people than living does we have a massive problem. When black youth feel like they need guns to protect themselves from cops, we have a massive problem.

Adults, be mentors. Your words? They matter. If they reach one kid, or millions; there is a chance you have saved a life. That life is the most precious thing in the world. We can not continue to go on this way. We can not let another year go by with statistics. We must do the work and have the conversations that amount to change.

This year has truly been a fine example of the amount of work America must do in the future. From race relations, to dealing with mental illness, to LGBTQ rights – highlighting transgender youth and trans* people of color. It isn’t enough to call our country broken. The statement falls flat. Our country is a scale that has not known balance since it’s creation. The scale aided by drug wars, race wars, homophobia, classism, and lack of humanity and understanding for those suffering with mental illness has tipped so far on one side that I fear the hope of nationwide balance may never come. Which is why it is so important for groups to gather, discuss, rally, and make change in their communities. The first steps of revolution come from seeds being planted all over. We must act like bees taking carrying pollen from flower to flower. Eventually as a whole we can cover an entire garden, but first we have to attack our first flower. We have to look at our peers as friends and confidants. We have to learn from our past, and understand how certain systems work. Why they are broken, and make clear resolutions about how to change them. I refuse to watch police officers protest a mayor in 2015. I refuse to watch more young black men killed and left to be statistics. Story after story floods the Internet about LGBTQ youth committing suicide because all of their hope has been taken away. Can you imagine having so much of you taken away, that you would rather not be here at all? To actually be convinced that your life was accidental. To feel like you were a mistake. We have to on all sides EMPOWER our youth. Our young girls, our young black men, our LGBTQ community. If you’ve made it this far in life you owe it to a kid to show them that they can too. For each of us walking there are tens more in the ground. Don’t let another young mind become dust in the wind. Resolve to bring resolve into someone else’s life. Resolve to speak out against inequality. Resolve to make someone else uncomfortable at the expense of making somebody else’s light shine brighter. Resolve to make change. As small as you might think your action is, that action combined with the actions of those around you will be the spark that lights a fire. A fire that will burn everything that once was down, and allow us to build this country as it has never been built before. With love.


A Closet is No Place for a Queen or a King

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.
Come out.