In this world I am many things. An activist/organizer, artist, musician, performer, one-liner poet. I also carry the roles of mother to my son (a budding teenager of a son), father to my pit bull, lover to my partners, family to my friends. Like all of us, complex and driven to express a multifaceted identity.
Activism in the age of crisis isn’t just relevant to today, or any particular crisis I’ll be sharing in this series. It’s intended to be for all of us, who are juggling multiple roles, fighting for our communities survival as well as our own.
My current crisis involves being the full-time caretaker for my mother. Over 5 years ago she was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian Cancer. It has been a tough road that has involved over 7 different types of chemotherapy, many hospitalizations, surgeries, and constant flow of medical needs that often times can become extremely overwhelming for all of us.
About 1 1/2 years ago I moved back to Illinois to help with my mothers needs. I knew it would be hard to adjust from living in the intentional community in North Carolina that I had called “Home” for 5 years. The truth is, moving back to my hometown after spending the past half-decade as a radical queer trans activist, was more than a frightening idea. This is the birthplace of my childhood nightmares, the school in which I came out and faced bullying in that I now send my son to. The home of 90% of my worst physical/emotional encounters & experience’s that I consider myself a survivor from.
It isn’t easy to say, but it’s f*cking real.
And now I’m here, trying to hold together a family, care for a mother (who’s a hell of a fighter), raise a teenage son, work a barely more than min. wage job, and still succeed at being an “active” activist.
Can I do it all?!?!? Well, I don’t know. Maybe not. I have already made and learned from (and am still learning from) my fair share of mistakes. I fear yet know the inevitability of making more mistakes in the future. Failure is always possible when you try, but always predictable when you don’t.
But in a year and a half, this activist launched a publishing press, published a book, redesigned the website, and continued to grow and build this organizations network and community resources.
It’s not because I’ve learned to harness the magical power of unicorns (like I’ve tried to convince most of my friends…), and it’s also not because of my sexy facial hair (I know my ego, and promise to try to keep it comically appropriate…).
Nothing that I have ever succeeded at has come without the help of another…
… and I feel confident because my community has empowered me to feel this way. That I know they will support me when I’m struggling, and hold me accountable when I’m working to create positive change.
I see how the same is true for my mother, as her community supports us through our struggles. And as we’ve watched each other fight, we’ve both developed a new mentality, one that’s made childhood nightmares seem surmountable, and surviving the impossible a way of life.