I want to tell you about my family, my circle of friends, the loves of my life. They are one and the same. I want to tell you how they make the world a better place. I want to tell you how proud of them I am that they’ve done their best to remain the kindest, funniest, sweetest beings on the planet in the face of open hate, the threat of ostracization, and death.
When I was 16, I was blessed to spend two transformative weeks in a small town in El Salvador. The Tamarindos of Chalatenango welcomed us, fed us, and opened their homes to us. We planted trees together and made pupusas in the hot sun as a team. We danced at a Wailers concert and on a beach of black sand. But it was in the moments of quiet, the instances where we sat in silence and cried together as we listened to the stories of death during the civil war. The amount of family and friends lost, the disconnection and the heartache experienced during that time. I felt for the very first time in my life, connected to humans I wasn’t related to. I felt the call to do what I could to help everyone be okay. The beautiful humans from Chalate built a town and huddled together for survival decades ago. Today, they live as a community, working together to ensure everyone thrives.
Those lessons, those brief moments, guide me today. Those memories fueled my desire to expand my circle of friends, of family. Today as I write these words, I am grateful. Many times, I’ve said I want everyone to be okay. What I meant was that I want everyone to be free.
I’m Black, queer, trans, and a bunch of other things that cause unease, disdain, and very vocal hate. Even as I carry the hope of the younger generations by just being me, even as I live with the disappointment of a few that saw me grow up into everything they’re uncomfortable with. Even though their voices occasionally seep into my mind as I’m washing dishes or watching the news. I move through this profoundly wounded world, occupied with profoundly wounded people acting out their hurt with grace and love. I remain gentle and steadfast. And this is down to the people that love me.
I’m grateful I know people that sit in discomfort when having a conversation about white privilege or homophobia or transphobia. When I tell them I’m scared or angry because there are some days I don’t feel safe to walk outside in the body that I inhabit, that I love, that they love, no one turns away or minimizes my reality. When my loves tell me that they see me when I stammer or struggle to explain, they see me through my tears so heavy I can’t speak, they see past the lies I’ve told myself because I was scared or no one told me any differently…whew, y’all. My vulnerability is a strength. My strength encourages compassion. My being vulnerable allows them to do the same. And if we can be that for each other, to practice it constantly, the easier it is to walk in love and service in the world.
That is care. That is love. That changes the world.
Part of my practice includes the Seven Homecomings. And one of the homecomings refers to guides or mentors, beings that love you and want the best for you. Earlier this year, when I needed the most strength and courage, I called upon them to be there with me, and they were. And afterward, I continued to receive the love. I am lucky. And I am grateful.
I need you to know that this is, in part, a love letter to my friends and family. My existence is a love letter to them. My fight for them and you is a love letter. My prayer, my hope is for all of us to collect and expand our circles of love and support. That we include beings that aren’t just human. We walk together in service and respect to the lands that take care of us, which nourish us. May this be a seed. Like the tamarind trees of El Salvador planted at the scene of so much loss and hurt, may this flourish and bear fruit.