When I started writing this blog post the horrific shooting at Orlando Pulse hadn't yet happened. I was writing about the amazing time we had at the 15th Philadelphia Trans Health Conference. I talked about the people we met and the community we were a part of for three wonderful days. I talked about the celebratory nature of the conference and how inspiring it was to see trans people from all walks of life being out and proud and happy.
Then I woke up to read the news that 50 of members of our LGBTQ+ community had been brutally murdered while celebrating their Pride. They were dancing and creating community in a space that was supposed to be safe. A space that generations of queer people had fought to achieve. A Pride that had started in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn as a protest and as riots against police brutality. And a Pride that had evolved into celebration. A Pride that I admit, I had come to take for granted. Reading this news, thinking about the predominantly Latinx queer community that was a target of this violence, I found myself unable to write about the good time I had, about the pride I felt and about the inspiration I get from seeing a whole generation of young queers who are so unabashedly out.
I just started writing to help me process what had happened and what I was feeling. In writing, I realized that I needed to write to remind myself, and as an explanation to others, why The Venture Out Project and other queer spaces and groups exist. People sometimes ask why we need trans and queer spaces. This is why. We need them because despite the progress that has been made, despite the fact that even trans and queer folks sometimes take Pride celebrations for granted, we cannot assume our safety. We need our community. We need to support and love one another and we need a community to hold us up when times are hard. As a former soccer player of mine wrote so eloquently, "Unlike the aftermath of hate directed at people because of their skin color or religion, I do not share this previously unfamiliar feeling with my cis-gender, straight family. That fact – that for most LGBTQ people, we do not share something so core to who we are with our families – makes the safety and solidarity of the LGBTQ community so profoundly important. " (Katie Kraschel)
And so I look to my queer and trans community. I look to the Venture Out Project to help me through this. To provide me a space to be with my community. I hope you have a community and a place where you can feel safe and be vulnerable and share your true self. I thank the people in my life, in my family, at The Venture Out Project, at Camp Aranu'tiq, at Philly Trans Health, and those who stood and stand at the vigils this week. Thank you for being visible and helping me be visible.