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I will survive… Mother Nature

Gravity dictates how high I can jump,
Rain promises me dark clouds,
The wind often seems to push against me,
The dirt and concrete prevent me from breaking to the core,

And still I love you mother nature

For the limits you have set for us WILL be realized…

The passion you command WILL guide me as gravity does soaring fowl
The effort you command WILL whether me as rain does rocks
The patience you command WILL liberate me as wind does withered leaves
The persistence you command WILL ground me as dirt does trees

I will always love you dearly

Acceptance

It’s a strong word that seems to hold a lot of weight these days.

Recently I came out to my grandmother about being Non-binary. Did she take it well? Not really. But I figured I’d been sitting on this secret for over a decade and since I live with her she deserves to know this piece of me. In the end she said, “You know what? I don’t care. You’re still Fallyn. You’re still my granddaughter.” And since then we didn’t really talk about it.
Until recently when she called me a girl over and over in a public diner and… Admittedly, I was getting a little uncomfortable. I don’t identify as a girl but I also didn’t want to start an argument over brunch. So I let it go.
While my grandmother may not fully understand these things, I know my friends support me. They acknowledge who I am and take it for what it is in stride! And I can’t thank them enough for that validation (even though I’d love to be able to help my grandmother process this more I know she won’t bite).

Are there situations when you didn’t feel accepted? Or like an outlier? But you managed to find the silver lining in it anyways? I’d love to know!

Acceptance

Check out this video:

https://www.facebook.com/InTheKnowByAOL/videos/1889711154664716/

I think this is a great way to get kids to accept everyone. The reality is, children are going to grow up going to school with classmates that are different than them in ANY which way. By allowing them to take part in such a story time, we allow them to acknowledge that everyone, no matter what differences they may have, is worthy of love, acceptance and respect.

What do you guys think about this???

National Disability Awareness Day 2018

Hi guys! Today (July 16th, 2018) is National Disability Awareness Day.
Disabilities come in all shapes and sizes; they affect people in a multitude of ways, and can be invisible or obvious.

The most difficult thing that I faced when being labeled as ‘disabled’ was my perception of my self and my ability. I had spent a great deal of my youth with large aspirations and goals, and believed I was capable of achieving them- however being told that I was unable to do certain things convinced me, I was truly incapable of “normalcy”. Now, in recovery, I am beginning to see myself in another light, I’m making friends with myself and the person I want to be, and I feel closer to happiness than I have in years. I’m grateful for the gift of self-reflection and the strength and will to change. And without the years I spent believing I was “less-than”, I would not have the incredible sense of empathy that I am so grateful to be able to use in my life.

If you or someone you love lives with a disability- today is your day. Recognize the strength you posses, congratulate yourself for the strides you make, and know you are capable and worthy of anything and everything.

What is the most difficult part of having a disability? What are you grateful? Has your disability given you any gifts?

What’s Wrong With Him?

The other day I was in one of my classes and while the professor was teaching her lecture, a student asked a question. The question was about the different types of  intravenous ports and other methods that are utilized for long-term treatments such as dialysis. This question led the professor to ask one of the other students in the class about his personal experience with the question being discussed, because he struggles with certain things and has first hand experience of what it is to deal with the certain medical equipment that was being discussed. While this student is sharing his first hand experience, another student who sits in front of me whispers in a not-so-soft tone- What’s wrong with him??? 

I feel like this statement wouldn’t have bothered other people as much as it bothered me. Nevertheless, it did bother me and I’m going to explain why. If we live in a society where something as randomly selective as having a medical condition can stir up a response such as “what’s wrong with you” then we are moving towards the world becoming worse rather than better. My classmate had no choice to have the health condition that he has to get long-term treatment for, he just happened to have it and now he has to strive to get better. Stating something like that about someone because of a medical condition is THE EXACT SAME THING as asking someone who has cancer “what’s wrong with them” which according to societal standards, is something no one should ever do-so why dare ask someone who has another medical condition the same question?

After thinking about that, I broadened my though horizon a little bit more. As someone in recovery from mental health challenges and who sees so much stigma surrounding us on a constant basis, why couldn’t we apply the “cancer patient” rule to EVERYONE with ANY condition? If we can CHOOSE to be nice and accepting to those who have cancer, why can’t we make the same CHOICE to accept, help, and validate those who have mental health conditions? I specifically emphasize on the words CHOICES because that’s really what it comes down to- us CHOOSING to judge someone based on the root of their struggles or not.

Just imagine a world in which acceptance was universal, no condition limited anyone from wanting to accomplish whatever they desired to be in life, and everyone, everywhere just felt safe enough to be who they truly desired to be. Asking someone what’s wrong with them isn’t the right question to ask. The question that we should be asking is “who do you want to be?”

Be Yourself no Matter what!

Check out this video:

https://www.facebook.com/60SecondDocs/videos/1457995130965275/

Always remember to do what you love, no matter what others may think about it.

Has there ever been anything you’ve wanted to do but have been fearful to do because of what other people may think of you???

Starbucks Social Acceptance Video!

Check out this video:
https://www.facebook.com/aimediaAUS/videos/10155397707374220/

This is soooo cool! Starbucks has become one of the places where everyone is accepted and treated equally. From having sign language as one of their ways of interacting with others, to hiring those who have mental health challenges, everyone should get like Starbucks and become more inclusive!

Detachment from Loved ones During Crisis

I don’t know if I am the only one who deals with this or feels this way, but sometimes when dealing with a family member and their emotional crisis I feel like I am more prone to judgement, less capable of compassion and acceptance. I do not know what makes me feel like I can be more accepting of a complete stranger through their moments of struggle than those closest to me, but at times I feel a very strong sense of detachment from those I love when they are in crisis. Is it because I think or know they are capable of so much more? But can they really do so much more or am I asking too much? I do not know if anyone else experiences anything similar, but any input would help a ton.

Transgender Awareness Month and True Colors

Guys!
Here are some events coming up that might interest you if you are in the Hartford or Fairfield County area:

Transgender Day of Remembrance: This honors the lives of our transgender brothers and sisters who have been lost to murder or suicide. 2016 has especially been a very tragic year, with record numbers of transgender victims of murder. This is a must for me, but of course if you are interested in going to the event, it will be held at Triangle Community Center (618 West Ave, Norwalk) this Sunday, November 20th. You will need to RSVP so feel free to do so here: http://www.ctpridecenter.org/tdor_2016.

Also, in Hartford, True Colors will be having a very important community discussion about advocating for yourself and others, in the new regime. The event is on Rainbow Friday, November 25th. RSVP to Melissa@ourtruecolors.org or join the the group any Friday night for free activities at 30 Arbor Street, Suite 201A, Hartford, CT beginning at 6:30.

"This is who I am!"

Is coming out as transgender (maybe bisexual or pan-sexual) in the LGBT community, coming out at all? Or is it just an affirmation of the trust that one has for the same community? Or just about a mixture of both?

A hint of reality: I’ve learnt that coming out as transgender to your gay friends can be just as nerve wrecking as coming out as gay to your straight friends.

“We are at a place now where more and more trans people want to come forward and say this is who I am.” Laverne Cox.

“I first had to come out as gay, then I could finally have the courage to say, yes I am really transgender.” Hearing that from a friend is breathtaking and I have had the privilege to to be among friends who are transgender and who have been able to come forward to their friends, families and community and say, “This is who I am.”

In perspective, one still faces an ordeal when coming out in the LGBT community, you never know what to expect, Its a journey of probabilities: acceptance or rejection. I can only imagine the thought process that it requires leading up to that moment when you boldly make that Facebook post or wear your first dress or suit before everyone.

That is inspiring!

The hardest part for me, and I have to admit, is getting use to the new pronouns. Having known a person for a very long time, it does take time before you can fully embrace that person’s new identity. But as I reflect on this, I realize that your friend (whomever he/she is) requires your enduring assurance to affirm their presence for whomever they are.
As humans, one way in which we remember names is by associating a person’s name with certain essence of their personality and as such navigating new identities can be difficult (that’s human) but when you get it right – it builds mutual trust and enduring relationships.

We can always remember that “Its the same person, but different pronouns.”

Taking from fictional Albus Dumbledore but just as real, “It doesn’t matter what someone was born but what they grow to become.”

Growing up, the concept of being transgender was especially foreign to me until I learnt about Laverne Cox, a few years later, that has changed. Today, it is just a part of who I am as my transgender friends – more so my brothers and sisters.

Recently, I came across one of my schoolmates from high school online, who transitioned a few years ago. For a Jamaican, or any nationality for that matter, it is revolutionary!
She is not only out to her family but to the country. She shared her story through her YouTube videos and though now living in New York, she is an active LGBT activist for LGBT youth throughout the country.

I reached out to her just to let her know how I feel about her passion and her response was just as heartwarming. These small moments are inspiring and the unprecedented opportunity to transcend social standards and expectations is incredible.

To see my friends come out on Facebook and luckily, the support that they receive proves so much about the spirit in our community. Sometimes there are hundreds of hugs and kisses just waiting to embrace you for simply saying the words:

“This is who I am!”

Like Leelah

I came across a poem that I wrote almost two years ago. It was about the Transgender teenager, Leela Alcorn who committed suicide in 2014. I realize that the profound effect that the tragedy had on me back then is still not gone.

When I learned about Leelah, I was not close to being out and I was in a place where I couldn’t scream enough to release the tension that was building up inside of me. I was hiding behind my pillow in my bedroom, in tears. The story was all over the news but I couldn’t talk to anyone about it.
Before she died she wrote a plea for change:

“…I have decided I’ve had enough. I’m never going to transition successfully, even when I move out. I’m never going to be happy with the way I look or sound. I’m never going to have enough friends to satisfy me… I’m never going to be happy. Either I live the rest of my life as a lonely man who wishes he were a woman or I live my life as a lonelier woman who hates herself. There’s no winning. There’s no way out. I’m sad enough already, I don’t need my life to get any worse. People say “it gets better” but that isn’t true in my case. It gets worse. Each day I get worse. That’s the gist of it, that’s why I feel like killing myself. Sorry if that’s not a good enough reason for you, it’s good enough for me…”

I remember wanting everyone to read it so badly and actually do something about the problems in society. There were websites created, social media pages and several vigils throughout the country… I thought it was the ultimate moment for change.

But what happened?

Good things but not enough!
Leelah’s Law became a huge breakthrough, it was primarily established to put an end to conversion Therapy. The president called for a ban on conversion therapy. One city (Cincinnati) was influenced by the cause and eventually banned the practice. But maybe a nationwide ban?

At least, that’s what I hoped had happened but almost two years later, It’s still just a painful reminder that an 18 years old teenager (Would’ve been) didn’t live to go to college.

It’s where I’m at now that makes me question how much change is really change. Surely not when we reflect on these numbers: according to speakforthem.org, suicide is the leading cause of death among Gay and Lesbian youth nationally. 30% of Gay youth attempt suicide near the age of 15. Gays and Lesbians are two to six times more likely to suicide than Heterosexuals. Almost half of the Gay and Lesbian teens state they have attempted suicide more than once.
People are still expressing those same sentiments as Leelah did but society is still a very harmful place.

I hate to generalize on the term ‘society’ because there are still good and great people and those in between but the complex nature of hate and intolerance is ubiquitous.

Today I express how I feel about this story and that feels like progress to me, compared to a time when I couldn’t but it only goes as far as we can freely express ourselves in words – there is a difference between political and social change. Politically we are advancing but social regression is the reason why Leelah died and our youth are still dying.

I posted the poem I wrote in December 2014 below… an expression of how far we still have to go:

Like Leelah

She gave her life for all of us
And she has easily made it into our memories
As we share the same pain and sorrows.

Leelah wants the world to care
And she wants to remind us that there is nothing to fear.
Like Leelah, we all tilt vulnerably like the world on its axis
And we are all affected, it is all our crises.

Though sometimes I wish sexuality and gender were like languages
And were limited in conversation to only those who could understand
I still wish for that world Where each one to another,
We could all lend a helpful hand.

Like Leelah we all wait for change
Waking up each morning, hoping someone else will set the stage.
But while sometimes a worthless wait,
Since quite often death befalls our fate
Quite truly, like Leelah’s
A martyr’s death is for a sake.

But while we still value life more
And for Leelah’s, our hearts pour
Never should a human’s life be lost to hate
Never should one’s life be subordinated for the sake of those who choose to discriminate.

And if diversity has to be taught in schools
Whatever necessary, society must be equipped with the right tools.
Like Leelah we all need not hide anymore.
despite the bigots hatred,
Our love needs to be planted in our hearts from the very core.

Long gone the time when women knew their place…
long gone the time when blacks and other minorities were society’s waste….
And the LGBT community is still deep inside the closet.

Its not the church’s job to judge
We are all humans
Each of us is an asset.
Time must be eroded of willful ignorance that spits resentment
And life be allowed purpose for life’s utmost fulfillment.

Leelah’s life is a calling for judgement
That ensures safety and survival
And the eradication of judgement that mows innocent lives to damnation.
And while we wait for the world to begin a peaceful start
Leelah lives on in a caring and loving heart.

The Prevalence of Violence and Mental Illness Among LGBT Youth

A recent study by the federal government’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey shows that LGBT Youth on average are more vulnerable to mental illness and violence. Surveys are not 100% accurate but the reality that lies behind these numbers are not surprising.

According to the data, more than 40 percent of these students reported that they had seriously considered suicide, and 29 percent had made attempts to do so in the year before they took the survey. It also shows that LGBT youth are using drugs at a larger rate than their straight peers.

Moreover, the report also implies that in schools and public spaces there is a deafening silence surrounding adolescent sexuality and gay-related victimization that acts as a barrier, preventing these youth from accessing treatment or getting help. Some cases may go untreated and in other cases there is a misunderstanding of the circumstances of mental illness among LGBT youth.

These numbers are basic indicators of some of the everyday events that ensues in the life of an LGBT youth. Being bullied, abused and assaulted at a young age; figuring out your identity; coming to the reality that you have to live with who you are; having to come out to family and friends; coming out and not being accepted; being kicked out of your home; going homeless; the uphill battle to finding a community; finding support and getting to a safe space.

Quite frankly, as a youth there are a plethora of challenges that comes with growing up but its even harder figuring out your sexuality and your identity. You find yourself in an abyss of misery, trying to figure out your place in society and legitimizing who you are.

Social norms have a way of dictating that you are not normal, you have to fight to get married, to get an education and to simply be recognized with basic human rights. And on the far side, as a youth growing up LGBT, you are looking at this as a test that you don’t want to face or at least a reality that you hope will change. But, in your own world, in your home, there is just no sympathy, no guidance and no set path that will help you to live through the daunting effects of trauma and irrecoverable rejection.

One important message from the report comes from the University of Pittsburgh school of Medicine, Dr. Miller, she said that self acceptance can begin at home. What if home was the place to have healthy relationships with relatives and where LGBT youth are able to talk about their sexuality and identity? And what if school was just another place to make friends and make the most of your academic experience without intimidation or fear. What if they didn’t have to come out?

Poor mental health is not human culture and it is definitely not LGBT culture – its the reality forced upon many to believe that they cannot seek help because they should be afraid to speak about who they are or what they are going through. Its the stigma that implies that you are weak or soft if you fall victim to mental illness. And its the reality that manifest itself in societies where LGBT youth are deprived of their basic human rights and dignity.

LGBT youth are vulnerable, they are at risk of violence and victimization, they are homeless, they are suicidal… this is not meant to be a distraction, these heartbreaking numbers are a call for Help!

Parallel Struggles!

One way or the other, judgement is judgement. And it’s not wise that we segregate ourselves from others on matters of religion and political views. Two very sensitive topics, but we are humans nonetheless.

Why would a gay person choose to be a conservative?

That’s pretty much their choice, their freedom and unless they are infringing on our rights, that’s their business.

The last time I had a conversation with another person on this topic, it was with another LGBT individual, who leans towards very conservative views. It’s a conversation that began out of admiration and curiosity from myself but openness and authenticity from the other person and it all ended in genuine respect.
Not many other LGBT individuals are fund of conservatives.

“We choose the things that chooses us.”

But there are always going to be people who are different.

Being gay is hard enough, being a gay conservative is added misery, therefore it does no good to further overburden someone because of their religious/political stance.

Not every conservative view is anti-LGBT!

A hard reality to admit and we wish it was never that case, but sometimes conservative ties are the only bonds holding some people and their families together.

With all that said, communities are stronger when they are inclusive.

Likewise, London Jordan shouldn’t have to think otherwise, but it’s still hard to be black and gay, and so I wouldn’t wish a double jeopardy for anyone.