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Wanda Sykes talks kids, family and hitting the road Wanda Sykes
talks kids, family and
hitting the road
A punctual Wanda Sykes called 15 minutes early for her interview and ...

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Kasmiere and Safaria: Chosen family, chosen support
LGBTQ Youth Series from Windy City Times
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times
2013-01-02

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Kasmiere knows that she has to be present for her gay daughter no matter how tired she is. It's something her own mother taught her.

"She'll force me to pick up the phone like it's my real child," Kasmiere says. "She'll say, 'Nuh-uh, I didn't do that to you, say like I'm hungry, I'm tired, I just got off work.'"

Kasmiere also feels that responsibility. Safaria, 20, is her chosen gay daughter, a common relationship between LGBTQ young people and their mentors or closest peers. In reality, the two are nearly the same age, and they're best friends. They're also transgender.

The two met by chance a little over a year ago in Lakeview. Safaria was just starting to deal with her sexual orientation and gender identity when she spotted Kasmiere along Halsted Street.

"I said, 'Hey girl, dang, what's your tease?'" Safaria recalls. "And she said, 'Girl, I love your hair.' And I think, 'Oh girl, thank you.'"

The two were fast friends. Three weeks after that first meeting, Kasmiere told Safaria she wanted Safaria to be her gay child. Safaria said she wanted Kasmiere to be her gay mother in return.

They talk a lot about what they call life's most important things: clothes, shoes, jewelry and boys. They take turns reciting that list over and over, each giggling as they talk over each other. As is often the case, the pair finishes each other's sentences.

In a half empty church parking lot, Kasmiere helps Safaria change clothing and gender presentations. She arrived in baggy jeans, a sweatshirt and a baseball cap. Underneath it, she sports a leopard print one-piece. A short brown wig arrives from out of a book bag. A red velvet dress will also make an appearance. Safaria poses for a journalist's camera in each outfit, seemingly celebrating each different expression. She likes to have her picture taken, she says.

Safaria's biological mother doesn't accept her gender identity or sexual orientation, Safaria says. She still loves her mother, she notes, but having a gay mother gives her a different support system.

Last year, Safaria was almost mugged in Boystown, but Kasmiere came to her aid.

"She was coming down the street," Safaria remembers. "She was like, 'Nuh-uh, you all leave my daughter alone!'"

"I remember that," Kasmiere says. "That was so long ago."

It was a defining moment for Kasmiere.

"When you say you're someone's gay mom, you don't really know how much you care for that person until you see that person in trouble. Then, it's like momma bear," Kasmiere says. "I was so surprised, how immature my modes (sic) is sometimes. I was really responsible."

Kasmiere recognizes that not many people will understand her relationship with Safaria. A gay mom is not exactly a friend or a mom, she says. Gay moms tell their gay kids to be safer or to stop drinking or doing drugs. But in the case of Safaria and Kasmiere, the two are also peers with equal footing.

Kasmiere describes that relationship in a way she does many things—she talks about jewelry.

"You know how women is with diamonds?" she says. "Like they will do anything they is so obsessed with diamonds. That is how our relationship is. We is crazy over each other. We is best friends for life."


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