In September 1969 in that basement apartment the tears would not stop. Tears flowed for minutes, hours, and days. Tears flowed down my cheeks as I wept and cried and cried out in that in that little apartment. I was alone and lonely. I was an outcast,a lezbo, bulldagger, and a dyke. I was a reject, and I was Black. Who else on the South Side of Chicago was like me? I was lonely and the tears would not stop. I wanted die, and just be gone away from everyone. I was in despair and wanted to take my own life. I wanted to end my life. I wanted to Not have been born.
If someone had told me that in that fall of 1969 that in the year 2009 I would be a guest at the White House, an invited guest of the president and First Lady, or that I would be surrounded by my GLBT colleagues and allies from across the country, I would have cried harder thinking that person was drunk, crazy or high on drugs.
I cried out of fear. I cried because I was alone and lonely and felt strongly there was no one else on the South Side of Chicago. I cried over the picture-perfect life I thought I would never have. I cried and wanted to die. I thought long and hard about what to do and how to do it. I headed off to drown myself in the cold waters of Lake Michigan.
I was afraid of what family and friends would say. I was afraid of not knowing how to be in the world. I was afraid of every derogatory word I had ever heard used to describe those who were gay. I was afraid of the unknown or of being known as a lesbian or a gay person. So I cried. I cried till my eyes swelled and I could cry and heave no more.
I cried because I was so alone, and I was so frightened by not knowing how to be in the world. I cried out of despair.
It was 1969, and there was NO gay paper, gay magazine [ just newsletters ] , gay website as there was no computer. There was NO gay center, or Chicago Black Gays and Lesbians group. There was NO HRC or Advocate. The words "gay culture" did not exist. I was a part of the dyke, bulldagger, queer community and I considered suicide for many days.
At that time there was nothing good in those words so how could there be good in me.
It would take a whole book to describe the incredible life that I have lived. The love that I never thought I would have I have a hundred fold. The things and gifts that I have been given bring tears to my eyes as I write this.
I realized as I cried in that fall of 1969 that somewhere there was someone else crying like me because he or she was gay or lesbian and I wanted to reach out to that person and say let's cry together.
At the age of 20 I had thought the word commitment was to family, and a job. As I began to think about it I realized that I needed a commitment to love myself and value me. As the tears stopped flowing I committed myself to beginning a love relationship with me. Loving myself for who I am.
I cried as I said to myself, "Vernita you are a beautiful Black, lesbian.' Since those days in 1969 to this fall day in 2010 I am committed to building our community. I am a part of creating a community where we all feel cared for and loved. I have a part to play as we all have parts to play. We need every voice and every young person to know that suicide is not an option.
Sadly, I know very well that in some places and spaces our communities of origin may not, and do not give us what we need so we must give it to ourselves. We must build and make the community that we need. We GLBT folks must create a community and a space where suicide is not an option whether old or young.
In 1969, I began by accenting the positive and letting the negative go. So like the James Brown song that said, "Say it Loud I am black and I am proud," I began to feel gay and proud. Now, 41 years later I don't have to wait for gay pride Sunday to be proud. I am proud every day. The loneliness that I once felt has been replaced by so much love. That despair replaced by so much caring. I have cared for so many and so many have cared for me. It has been an incredible journey since that fall of 1969.
We all have moments that we fear change. I have had plenty of those but suicide is not an option.
Growth and change are hard, but self love, and the love from family and friends and a community that I never thought I would have keeps my head up and keeps me moving from one life challenge to another.
IN THIS ISSUE [ LINK HERE OR FROM THIS ISSUE'S MAIN INDEX ]
www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php Anti-suicide project reflects on cases
www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php DePaul vigil remembers teen suicides
www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php by Kirk Williamson
www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php by Tracy Baim
www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php by Toni Weaver
www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php by Amy Pirtle
www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php by Bobby Pirtle
www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php by Eric Marcus
www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php by Alexandra Billings
www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php by Caleb's Story
www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php by Karlis Streips
www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php by John R. Cepek
www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php by Judy Shepard
www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php by Lee Lynch
www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php by Kristi Keorkunian
www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php by Joshua Plant
www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php by Chris Hill
www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php Trevor Project Chicago events
www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php Stopping Bullies in Illinois
www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php Mother of Slain Teen Gwen Araujo Addresses LGBT Youth Suicide by Sylvia Guerrero
www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php by Carl G. Streed Jr.
www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php by Thom Bierdz
www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php by Kit Duffy
www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php by Wancy Young Cho