we started out by swapping stories about our experiences of homophobia and other gender crap. as we talked, i recorded some of the words they used on little bits of paper: hate, fear, ignorance, hope, protection, rights, courage.
by the time our conversation started drawing to a close an hour later, we had dozens of words on little slips of paper. i spread them out on a big double-table so they were all visible, and the youth arranged and rearranged them on the table (magnetic poetry style) until they found word combos that inspired them or until the words formed statements they agreed with. some of them made it onto the banner.
it was really cool to watch them interact with the words and get excited about finding ways to talk about hate and love. it reminded me how essential it is to have words to use that accurately reflect experience. i loved seeing how making those connection between words and experience freed up brain space that had, before, been occupied by silence or question marks. such a beautiful thing.
i don't plan on becoming a parent, but i love being a mentor. at a certain point, it becomes a moral necessity to go back for the kids who are living the kinds of things you lived and offer them a leg up.
feels good and right to be there for them. to help mend the harm they face and encourage them and listen.