rights

‘Ban conversion therapy Kentucky’ Executive Director’s call to action

For me the word queer is liberating. Growing up in Southern Indiana, where there was minimal support for LGBTQ people, I didn’t know what supportive LGBTQ spaces looked like.

Moving to Louisville, Kentucky, I started coming into my queer identity and learning how my other identities influence the way I exist in various spaces. For myself, the queer community has given me purpose.

Being involved in activism and fighting for the queer community is a passion of mine.

I am heading a project to make conversion therapy illegal for minors in Kentucky. Hearing the horror stories from survivors of conversion therapy, we wanted to take action to show queer kids that someone is fighting for them. No one should have to experience this torture and should be able to be happy and celebrate who they are.

Though we have made significant strides as a community in the United States– our fight is far from over. In addition to the work we have ahead of us as a country, we as community have so much work to do.

I believe that Queer people and all people will never truly experience liberation until we as a community actively address the oppression that still exists in queer spaces.

We will not truly be a community until we fully support queer folks who are black and brown, undocumented queer folks, our queer folks with disabilities, queer folks of all body types, as well as many other identities that intersect with queerness.

I am excited for the progress that will come with future generations — it seems that today’s youth are more caring and unapologetic in their queer identities than ever before.

Gay Gratitude, reflection on addiction and coming out

I would’ve loved the word “Queer” over the other words used to describe me when I was growing up.

It was not an acceptable thing in the 90’s to be gay in Louisville, Ky. I was sick, depressed, and full of fear my whole life.

I knew I was attracted to men as far as I can remember. My earliest memory was when I was four. I had a crush and it was not a woman. Paralyzed by fear I hid side by side with a girlfriend thinking I was fooling folks. What I didn’t know is that you’d have to be deaf or blind NOT to know and thats even questionable. I’ve always be an effeminate male and it brought discrimination, hate and cruelty from a lot of people.

My brother had my back my whole life and I’m so grateful for him. My Uncle Kenny and David accepted me even though they knew I was not like other people. So the word “Queer” and its definition may ring true. I refer to myself as Two-spirited and in the Native American culture it is a gift to walk this path. I’m at peace with who I am and I’m not any better or worse than any other creature walking our earth.

My Gay “Bible” if you will is called “The Velvet Rage” Overcoming the Pain of Growing up Gay in a Straight Mans World by Alan Downs Ph. d.

This book had a major impact on my life. It was written in 2008 & I came out in 1996. I say that to say this:

I spent twelve years of my life drowning myself in drugs and alcohol. I was drinking and drugging just so I could accept myself and it didn’t work. Coming up for air while living in New York City, I found a community of men just like me. These men loved me until I learned to accept myself. I learned to walk with confidence, self esteem and acceptance. I knew that not everyone agreed with my lifestyle but there is nothing I can do to change who I am. I would not have chosen a life of discrimination, hate, and a hell of a gay bashing in my twenties — It was time to tie up my boot straps and walk into the person that creator intended me to be.

I want anyone coming up in our community to know that you are the only you! You need to know that “YOU MATTER” and you are the only person that can serve the purpose you were brought here to do. Take risks, jump with no net, walk in faith not fear, and don’t get stuck in the box of “I can’t” — that only leads to could have, would have, and should have.

I’d like to share this poem by Marianne Williamson one of the best spiritualist of our time:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

I don’t speak on behalf of our whole community. I’ve learned that starts discussions, opinions and controversies. I can talk about my own experience and I struggled with something for years. I had internal homophobia for years, and I was afraid of my own people. This kept me feeling separate, different and alone within my own community.

I was harder on my own kind and myself. It didn’t matter what others were saying because I was opinionated, stuck in being right and political on what I thought. What I know today is we love each other where we’re at. Everyone deserves their process because that process creates magnificent human beings into voices for the ones that are coming up behind them. Shared experience and loads of hope create more and more pathways to standing together for what matters most and thats rights for everyone not a separation based on sexuality.

QKY Writer Jordan takes on Appalachia

Queerness to me is the ability to talk about a marginalized identity across several cultural lines, it leaves room for identities outside of colonial standards and binaries, even for those of us who don’t have the words in our ancestral languages to talk about them. My identity continues to evolve as I come to understand myself, I’ve pretty much always known that I’m bisexual, more recently I’ve come to recognize that I’m non-binary. Through my journey to reclaim my identity I feel kinship to the Pan Indigenous role of being Two Spirit. Hopefully, as I reclaim more of my history I will be able to find what role my peoples would have had for me before colonization displaced some of my ancestors from here and enslaved those from Africa.

I use those terms because it’s kinda the easiest to convey where I stand, I always had these feeling I just lacked the ability to articulate what I’ve felt.

My sense of self is constantly evolving as I learn more, but I really didn’t think about my sexuality and gender identity until recently. I was kinda busy surviving and recovering from alotta childhood trauma. I’ve always had a very supportive Dad, so like that helps a lot. That part of my family is very pro Queer, and frankly anyone who’s known me for any period of time isn’t surprised when I come out to them. Anybody who is, wasn’t paying attention or way too uncomfortable with themselves to recognize, that’s their problem. For me and most people who really know me, this is not a surprise.

I feel very protective over younger people especially younger queer people. If anybody is mean to you or you don’t have any support, just know, I’m your big sib now.

Find me on social media, we can talk, I’m the much eldest of four kids so I got some experience. You don’t have to have sharp teeth or tongues, embrace whoever you are, if you are gentle, don’t worry people like me got your back.  Even if you aren’t sure what your identity is. You deserve room to figure that out. I hope that anybody who hasn’t found the space to come out yet can find people to become their true family. My advice to them is to take their time, I’m taking mine, there’s no rush, stay safe, and when you buck wild once you do come out, use protection haha.

I hope that when little queer kiddos and young people see me they see the badass I’ve grown into. I five feet tall and full of fury, I love without restriction, space is created around me, because as I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to demand it. BIPOC, especially women and femmes are told we aren’t allowed to do that. I want create space where we can. I’m clearing the way cause I want to be a good ancestor.  My identity as I see it, is carried on the shoulders of the people who came before me, to do less than them wouldn’t suit me. When I was younger and didn’t understand myself, I tried to make myself less, shrink inward, I was born with these broad shoulders, it’s time to grow into them. That means I gotta draw some fire for those who have less privileged than myself, I’m not rising up without bringin the whole hood with me. The first fear I had to conquer was the one of myself and my own strength. People say they hear me before they see me, that used to embarrass me, now I say “Good. You had warning then.”

Things got better for me in my early 20s when I realized that there are many other Black and Brown queer people to be inspired by. Being marginalized within a marginalized community was very confusing to me for years, learning about and understanding intersection helped me out a lot. As far as solving problems in the queer community, basically I take my privileges of being lighter skinned than other Black folks, not being visible genderqueer, having a college education (for some reason people take you more seriously, which is nonsense) and stop bullshit in its tracks. All the time, not only when visibly marginalized people are around, hasn’t made me a ton of friends, but people understand I’m serious business, and humanization of people is serious business. People’s lives and safety aren’t a game to me. My ferocity is inspired by a deep and abiding love for people.

I’m kind of a rambler, I spent a large part of my childhood in central and north east Ohio. I’ve lived in South Dakota, Arizona, and a van as it travelled the country. Recently my partner got a job at a university here, a lot of my mom’s family is from the Ohio part of Appalachia so I was excited to come have this experience, adventures are always good. It’s only been a few weeks so I’m not sure how I feel so far. Last year post graduating college, I shaved my head, got back on reclaiming my Indigeny, took a break from pretty much everything. I let myself mourn things, my lost and miserable childhood, family members who died before their time, pain I had never had the room to articulate. I went to counseling to learn how to control my anger and to direct it into better things.  It’s a new start for me on the other end of these here mountains and I’m ready.

 

 

 

 

 

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