TW: mentions of abuse, transmisogyny.
If you’ve followed the Stories Project for very long, you know that many of our efforts focus on those who are no longer with us. We reach back ten, twenty, thirty years into the past and forge connections over memories and legacies. We take well-known names whose rich and complex lives have been reduced to their violent ends and we seek out the stories which remind readers every one was a human being before they became defined only as a hate crime victim. We’re the last people who would deny how important it is to reflect on the past in order to create change in the present.
However, we remind ourselves from time to time that it’s important not to become so fixated on those who have passed that we don’t pay attention to the needs of the members of our community who are still alive. Financial support is just one of many ways we can accomplish this, but it is one of the most tangible with the most immediate effects.
With that said, the Stories Project Team is awarding an emergency grant in the amount of $1500 to Aurora J., a lesbian genderfluid artist, poet, and photographer who needs to leave a situation which is becoming increasingly abusive and dangerous. Aurora describes herself as a “lover of arts, music, fantasy, imagination, creativity, poetry, [and] nature,” frequently thanks those in her life who are kind to her for existing, and has expressed a desire to give back to the community through books and art once she is in a better situation.
Her mental health and safety are in danger as long as she remains in her current environment. She faces emotional abuse from the family she lives with, and her physical and mental disabilities along with the job discrimination she has faced since coming out as transgender have prevented her from being able to support herself. She has additionally faced violence and her life has been threatened. After watching some of her story unfold on social media, we reached out to her and her long-distance girlfriend Patricia and offered to cover the remaining amount she would need to feel comfortable moving elsewhere.
This post exists not as a reason for us to pat ourselves on the backs, but as a form of public accountability. We chose to do this as the Stories Project, and when we attach the name of our project to certain actions and promises, we believe it’s important that people feel they can trust us to follow through. Transparency is something we owe to all of the people who have supported us over the years and all of the people who have trusted us with their stories. By making this public, we are leaving a record affirming that we offered this. If we would for some reason fail to deliver on a promise, there would be no way anyone could argue we never promised anything to begin with. Though we would never pledge to do something we knew we couldn’t deliver, we will always be willing to state publicly what we offer in private.
We can’t do anything now for the people whose lives we remember somberly each year, but we can all work to create a world worthy of their memories. For Alice and myself, this involves taking care of the members of our community who are still here and helping them meet their needs as necessary. We wish Aurora and Patricia all the best moving forward and we hope this grant proves useful to them in their endeavors.