“It gets better,” we say, pleading with LGBTQ youth to not kill themselves and to reject the silencing, shaming and bullying. What we are really saying is—simply and fiercely—we want you to stay alive. But in this time of extreme global instability, staying alive is sometimes a tremendous feat to accomplish, day in and day out. What inspires me to stay alive and to keep on keeping on, weary or not, are people like:
- Dr. DeRionne Pollard, the new President of Montgomery College, who has the courage and vision to be herself, and encourage others to do the same;
- Starhawk, the Neo-Pagan, eco-feminist activist, who teaches us to “tell a different story” about being alive in the world; and
- Victor Jara, the martyred Chilean folk artist, who demonstrated defiance in the face of hopelessness and rage and was memorialized in Holly Near’s lyrics:
The junta cut the fingers from Victor Jara’s hands
and said to the gentle poet ‘Play your guitar now if you can.’
But Victor kept on singing ‘til they shot his body down.
You can kill a man but not his song when it’s sung the whole world round.
Our moral imperative is to tell our own stories, to create different realities, to stay alive in this difficult time. As I’ve toured campuses around the country these past 20 years, speaking out for LGBTQ rights and liberation, I’ve loved watching the LGBTQ student movement grow. I’ve had the privilege of working with students, staff, and faculty on many campuses and participated in a variety of conference trainings, keynote addresses, and workshop facilitations on LGBT issues, sexuality, and spirituality. But during most of that time, I never expected to have my own classroom or to teach.
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