The year is 2003, I think. Maybe it’s 2002. I stand behind a wobbly wooden podium before my freshman English class. The prompt assigned to us was from an oratorical contest (which I would later go on to compete at the city level and lose, because I went over the time limit): “If I could change anything about the world, what would it be, and why?” Six or seven months prior, in the Summer of 2001, I had encountered Spirit in a new and powerful way; I had “given my life to Christ” at a Pentecostal church’s youth service. I was, as they say, on fire. Feeling only a little nervous, I took one last glance at the first line of my introduction, met the eyes of my peers, and began.
“If I could change anything about the world, I would make it illegal for homosexuals to marry and adopt children, and make abortion illegal.” I don’t remember my why.
I was a member of the church’s praise band and worship team. I had just sang my first solo. I was soon to teach the girl’s Sunday school class for an entire month on the book of James (still my favorite book of the Bible).
The year was 2002. Pat McCrory was the Mayor of the city of Charlotte, where I “gave my life to Christ”. I often heard church elders praising McCrory for “upholding the Word of God in our city”.
Four years later, in September of 2006, I woke up in bed next to my first female romantic partner.
Five months later, in February of 2007, I would make a phone call to my mother, and come out to her about this fact.
Four years after that, I would come out to myself as Genderqueer and Trans*.
Two years and a month after that, I would start taking Testosterone.
Three years after that I sit here, writing this blog post, reeling from the crescendo of violence and hatred coming from the Christian Right against women’s reproductive rights, People of Color, QTBLG* folks, low income folks, and veterans. Pat McCrory is the Governor of North Carolina.
How to even begin expressing what I am feeling? I have not always understood that racism and homophobia exists, or that I was/am an agent for these ideologies. It has only been in the last four years that I have understood that, even though I grew up dirt poor in the South, I still had white privilege. It has only been in the last four years that I have come to see how Capitalism keeps us all divided, fills us with lies about each other, exploits our magic and our bodies, and keeps us all poor and wanting.
In 2002, I felt my heart was open.
Something about seeing Pat McCrory’s face last night on a news story about this bill, and then scrolling past post after post of my Queer and Trans* family members who were present in the General Assembly yesterday, reading their grief, feeling the pain of people who carry in them generations of injustice, rent me asunder. In that chasm I saw myself. In that chasm all of time collapsed, and I was both that homophobic teenager from 2002 and that white person reading Peggy McIntosh. I saw Pat McCrory, and I saw myself. I saw my Queer and PoC family, and I saw myself.
RECALCULATING . . . There is no navigation available.
Suddenly, the world feels far away. The buildings and the suits and the societal “shoulds” have the sensation of virtual reality. Only people feel real; only people feel worth the effort.
Tonight I am joining with loved ones and comrades in Raleigh to protest the passing of HB2 and all it represents. The only thing that makes sense to my soul/body right now is to bring all of this complicated mess that is my person and stand in love with QTPOC and others who have been doing this work.
I don’t even know what else to say. I’m late for work. See y’all tonight.