TW: murder, anti-LGBT violence, specifically: Gwen Araujo, Matthew Shepard, the Colonial Parkway victims, and Rebecca Wight.
There is quite a lot going on in October, so much so that I’m having trouble keeping up with posting about it all. This post is actually one of four I am trying to write for the blog. Several of my most recent posts have involved anniversary dates because I don’t have much else to write about at this time – this is the time of year where both projects hit a lull, though I am working on some things with the Stories Project and hope to change that soon.
October is National Anti-Bullying Month, and a few dedicated seniors from my school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, determined to “go out with a bang their last year” as one put it, are currently campaigning to hold an LGBT-specific presentation on bullying after the school claimed to take all forms of bullying seriously. This would be quite the noteworthy event at my school. They didn’t consult me (I’m the GSA president who knows exactly what her rights are but also knows how to talk to people who may not understand or be supportive, and many of the school administration fall into this category; I know how to be strategic about getting what I want) or even inform me that they intended to do this – they just took the initiative and did it. And told me after planning this without my knowledge that they’d want me to be one of the speakers. 😉 I’m extremely proud of them and impressed by their drive. They’re pushing for some of the things I’ve always wanted to do at that school but never done because I knew it would not realistically happen then. I’ll give updates as this develops.
On October 3, 2002, seventeen-year-old Gwen Araujo was killed after being outed as trans. We’re the same age now…which is so odd to me, that we’re the same age. When her story first came to my attention, I was young enough that seventeen still seemed far away, so much older and more grown than it really is, and it’s only now that I am that age that I realize just how young it is – for a while, I liked to think that being older somehow protected you from fear, and it’s only now that I’m able to see just how much it doesn’t. My thoughts are with her family this time of year.
October 6, 12
2013 marks the fifteenth anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s attack and death in Laramie – fifteen years since the national conversation about hate crimes and gay people in general was forever changed. And fifteen years later there’s still people trying to rewrite the story, trying to find some way it wasn’t a hate crime.
October 11 is National Coming Out Day, first established in 1988 to celebrate individuals who publicly identify as LGBT*. Every year, I want to share my coming out story for the occasion but am not sure which story to tell – the day I actually told the world I was gay is pretty unremarkable compared to some of the other ways I’ve had to come out to myself and others over the years (like “coming out” as a victim of violence earlier this year). I make sure to acknowledge on National Coming Out Day that no one should feel pressured to come out, particularly if it is unsafe for them to do so in their present situation.
Cathy Thomas and Becky Dowski were found on the Colonial Parkway this day in 1986, the first of eight victims whose deaths are collectively known as the Colonial Parkway Murders. Twenty-seven years later, we still don’t know who killed them or why. I realized that this year, Cathy has been gone as many years as she lived, and Becky has been gone for more years than she was alive…which is a surreal thought. Given the time of year, they’ve been on my mind a lot recently. I’m still not sure how to observe this date. I’d like to remember them in some way, but I’m not close to the actual investigative process (solving the cold case would probably be the most helpful to the families, after all), so I’m not sure what would be effective or meaningful.
It’s Rebecca Wight’s birthday, and she should be fifty-four. Sometimes it’s hard to fathom that she really is that much older than me, but it’s equally hard to believe that one day I’ll be older than her.