I’m sitting here staring out the window at the major snowstorm that’s been blanketing the east coast today, and I’m thinking a lot about the person I was and how far I’ve come in the last eight years.
Eight years ago tomorrow (Feburary 11th) I was kicked out for the final time. I’d left my mothers home six months earlier and had been living with my dog trainer/coach/best friend, and then she found out that I was queer and my world collapsed. February 11th is the day that the rural dog show girl I’d been died, but February 11th is also the day the queer activist I would become was born. February 11th is a day both of mourning for what was lost, but also of celebration of survival and the life and family that I’ve built in the aftermath. Last year on the seventh anniversary I marked the day by debuting a new reading/performance called Stories of Cell(ve)s Replaced. This year the day feels very much connected to the release of Kicked Out.
I always say the hardest thing for me about being kicked out wasn’t about loosing people, but about loosing dogs. In fact, my piece in Kicked Out called “Shifting My Pack” is a whole lot about the loss of “my boys” as I call(ed) them because of who I am and who I love, and it’s about reaching a place where I have forgiven myself for leaving them
“did you know that a pack will fight to the death to protect one of its own? They will forgo escape routes to stay behind. They do not leave, no matter the pain. The ultimate trust. They will never give up until their bodies fail. Perhaps I was human after all. I’d saved myself, but failed my pack….”
The picture on the left was taken about two months before I left my mothers house at an outdoor dog agility trial, I’m holding my younger dog Flash, and got extremely damaged at some point over my years of moving. The picture on the right was taken about two weeks after I was kicked out that final time and was one of the times I was able to go and visit with my older dog Snickers.
I never could have imagined that eight years later I’d be sitting in Brooklyn, that I’d have a family and home of my own, and that my life would be so full and blessed with an extended kicked out family of others who have survived these same experiences. Eight years ago I was unable to imagine that there was a huge queer community out there waiting for me. I’ve been incredibly blessed. Statistically speaking I shouldn’t be where I am today. I got lucky. There was a whole community of activists, artists, and just regular queer people (who I consider activists even if they wouldn’t self identify that way) who cared for me, listened to me cry in the middle of the night, who showed me how to live an out and proud queer life. I owe them my life.