Let the conversation begin.
In Honor of Gay Pride, A Hope Xchange Volunteer Sends a Heartfelt Message to Youth: Stay True to Yourself
Hope Xchange thanks Destiny DeJesus, our marketing and social media intern, for sharing what it takes to thrive as a gay Latina in the south. We love you girl!
When I hear the word pride four things come to mind.
First, I am proud to be a woman. Second, I am proud to be a lesbian woman. Third, I am proud to be a lesbian woman of color. Lastly, I am proud to be a lesbian woman of color from The Bronx.
Yup. That pretty much defines me. Whenever I get the chance to write an “About Me” bio these are the only things I hold on to dearly because in my eyes, these are the only things that no one can take from me.
A WTF Moment But I Did It Anyway
I was born and raised in The Bronx, New York and when I was 23, I moved to Dallas, Texas. Yeah, let that sink in. After 23 years of learning that walking at night with keys in my fist was normal or that the man on the train screaming “kill the gays” was just another crazy person, I finally decided that the south was my place to be. NOT!
To be honest, I wanted a challenge. I almost wanted someone to question me because I knew for a fact I’d be able to defend myself and my community. So, I decided to rent a truck and drive to Texas.
A part of me wants to say that my move to Dallas was random, but I had plans on leaving NYC long before I actually got up and left. Growing up in the busy city where everyone is free to be who they are was amazing. In fact, so amazing that I decided to take my pride to a whole new level and move to a place completely opposite of NYC.
As a lesbian and a woman of color, moving to the south was pretty much a “WTF?!” moment, but I did it anyway.
My Biggest Fear Was Being Latina and Lesbian
I feared living alone. I feared being a woman living alone. But the biggest fear I had was the fact that I am Latina and Lesbian. From what I had heard, the south is not only racist, homophobic, and sexist but then some. But, I decided to take a chance and live my true, authentic life in a red state with its own twisted pride.
I have to say, it’s been amazing so far. Of course, my guard is always up (thanks to NYC), but stepping out of my comfort zone and discovering that my community is strong, regardless of where I live, has truly been the most rewarding.
The Fight is Real and Our Struggle Continues
I want to send message to other queer youth. Stay true to yourself and live your life regardless of your surroundings. BUT, the New Yorker in me also wants to say, watch your back because unfortunately Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two-Spirit, Trans and Gender Non Conforming (LGBTSTGNC) People of Color Communities are targeted and hate crimes are real.
This is something that we’ve been fighting and our struggle continues.
Giving Back to our Community by Volunteering for Hope Xchange
The rate of suicide attempts is four times greater for LGB youth and two times greater for questioning youth than that of straight youth. This statistic is what brings me to Hope Xchange. As a queer, woman of color, I know how it feels to walk into a room and not feel welcomed. I want to use my life experience and professional skills to make sure that no other person, straight or gay has to feel alone.
Bringing hope to a situation is the first step, but actually touching someone's heart is another. My hope is that through my volunteerism, I can touch someone's heart and, in return, change the suicide statistics.