"The seeds we plant will grow to be a field of flowers, a sanctuary — a forest filled with love and endless wonder"
CW: racist violence, anti-queer violence, anti-trans violence, death, incarceration
I've been putting of writing this piece because it's very hard, but I want to because I want to express it.
I recently learned about a string of murders that happened between 2010-2017 of queer brown men in Toronto. I was shocked. Reading these words from the article, "Many of these murdered men were brown – refugees and immigrants from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey. Thick lashes and beards, dark eyes look out from photos of the victims in the media" were all I could get through from the Kajol article. These men were murdered by an older white man who was allegedly their former lover. He was brought under suspicion after a white man went missing.
The brutality and grotesqueness of the murders overwhelms me with grief.
I can't help but think back to my younger self and the precarity of being a young, isolated, queer or trans BIPOC person. I am protected in many ways at least some of these men weren't and others aren't, by my citizenship status, by the fact that I have family and friends here who check in on me, by my access to resources and yet, that alone does not always provide protection.
Now, I currently am and currently feel safe, but I'm not sure I always was...
I'm brought back to my experience in Bali, witnessing the exploitation of "otherness" by mainly white, rich cis gay tourists, not only in Indonesia but across the world in places that are non-European, were formerly colonized, or are poorer. If someone goes missing or is violated, will anyone with political or state power care? I don't know that answer.
I think of the stories of the young Black queer men who are lured by rich white men and drugged with crystal meth.
This is hard to write.
I also think of Brandon Bernard who was just executed; his beautiful life ended by the state. He deserved to live and be set free. Looking over his pictures and his legacy, and those he left behind, I cried.
[Sign on to the Breathe Act which calls for abolishment of the death penalty]
I think of the living too.... like Kyan, a singer-songwriter-producer of whom I'm a fan, who's personal stories I recently heard of anti-Black racism he shared on his instagram.
And my friend Emani, a leader, artist, and visionary who is during amazing and powerful work to uplift and protect Black trans women. Check out her instagram to learn more about her work and how to support it.
I know from the resilience of my own life and those of my chosen family that when we're isolated and alienated — we are unsafe because we best keep one another safe. All of us, together. We support one another in all ways.
Like I sing in my song "Endless Wonder," we build our sanctuaries through our connection to one another.
As queer and trans people, we will disagree, we will do harm to one another that must be repaired and reconciled, we may not always be in harmony, but we build beautiful families. And those must be honored and protected, not just because they're sacred and beautiful, but because they help us stay alive and thrive.