We’re consistently hungry and desperate for images of ourselves that others will see and acknowledge and hold as real and lovely. The myth that styling shows like June Ambrose’s sells is that by stepping into gender normative dress we will be seen. However, what I wonder, watching any queer youth step out in clothes their mama bought them to get a job so that their gender markers match what their potential employer wants to see—-is what is the cost? As a youth worker, and clinician, I have worked with young folks who have been so traumatized by the price of their truth, they have literally tried to cut it out of themselves. And as we all know, whether or not those cuts happen with a steel blade pressed against thigh or the words swallowed as some angry passer by screams out into the night—-those wounds stay open.
I have been struggling in writing this, because like many makeover shows, I want to end this blog with words that are completely uplifting. I want to finish with the story of CeCe McDonald not taking a plea deal because she could have faith in the criminal justice system, a story where nine years ago, fifteen year old Sakia Gunn told a man at 3 am that she was gay, and went back home to her mother, instead of being stabbed in the chest, and bleeding to death in the arms of her friend.
That’s not the ending we have. But maybe there is hope in this: that we are still here, still hoping and dreaming a world where our truth doesn’t rip us, but makes us greater and more beautiful than we can ever imagine. That we are made of flesh and go through our lives fierce in our truth and that the stories of Cece McDonald, Sakia Gunn and every other ancestor/breathing hero make us stronger in our love.
**Saida Agostini is a black queer poet, clinician and youth worker. She has released several chapbooks. Her latest, Hunger, was released in 2011. If you are interested in contacting Saida as a performer, please feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org