TW: Alludes to depression brought on by loss and violence.
Sometimes we draw up a list of topics we’re going to blog about and the muse just doesn’t strike on the day we were supposed to address one. When that happens, I’ve found that the best thing to do is to follow the direction I’m being led toward instead, because there’s usually a reason a particular topic isn’t resonating with me that day.
So for May 9, the first day of the Week of Action 2016, instead of talking about why we still do this even though there have been years where the Stories Project Team may well have been the only participants, I’m going to steal one of our themes from last year and focus on that instead: those who survive.
Every May for the past five years, the Stories Project Team has carved out a week to not only remember and reflect upon the stories of those who have been lost to anti-LGBT violence and suicide, but commit to action in their memories.
Every May for the past five years, focusing on these stories for eight weeks or more has forced us all to grapple with the understanding that we are statistics, too. We are victims and survivors – of many things, some of which are unique struggles faced by the LGBT community and some of which aren’t. Had things turned out just slightly differently, we could be part of a different statistic, and it could be our names on those lists instead. I’m not going to lie: that’s an extremely difficult thing to contend with, because the thought gives birth to questions which are not only “why did”s but “why should”s.
Why did we survive when others in our position didn’t?
Why should we have?
If you’re reading this today, I’m going to wager that you’re a survivor, too. Of something. Perhaps not the same things as us, but perhaps so. And I’m going to wager that as a survivor, it’s likely you’ve also experienced a point in your life where you’ve asked those questions, only to learn they have no good answers – certainly none that heal the hurt their presence creates in the first place.
For everyone who lives in the dance of contradictions that is the aftermath of loss and violence, we wanted to take this day to let you know we are with you.
We wanted to tell you that if you survived, we’re glad you did. Maybe it wasn’t for a reason. Maybe it doesn’t have to be. You continue to exist in the world, and that is reason enough.
We wanted to let you know that we support you in all of the ways you have survived up to this point. Whether you healed quickly or you carry some wounds which will never fully heal. Whether you struggle in the aftermath or whether you have thrived. Whether you regard yourself as a victim or survivor or both or neither. You matter, and your experience matters, and it doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s.
We wanted to tell you that the world is brighter with you in it and would be darker if you weren’t. I can’t promise that everything will be okay, or that someday you will no longer cry nor struggle – not to myself and not to any of you. I can promise, however, that we are loved, that the lives we lead are important, that there is still much to love in the world, and that we will find ways to make living worthwhile in spite of the days where the world feels like too much to bear.
This May, while we look back on the stories of hate, violence, and loss, let us stand together in love and solidarity and take care of each other. We have so much to grieve for, but we also have so much to appreciate, to be hopeful for, and to be happy about. Let us cry together for those we have lost and for those pieces of ourselves we have lost, and then, let us stand together and find reasons to go on, together.