Nature’s Way

trans flagIt was out of the blue that an old friend called me to attend a talk by Janet Mock at Mile High Church in Lakewood the other night. I had little awareness or expectation of her or her celebrity which is often a good approach to an event. I was not familiar with Janet or her advocacy, but I became an instant fan. She spoke of growing up in the “middle way” of gender identification and how she was able at an early age to find the courage to claim for herself how she would identify.

janet mock

image- janet mock

It highlighted to me how often our expectations of each to accommodate our own uneasiness with the unknown of other’s self-discovery. We want to pigeon-hole so we don’t have too much room for questions. Maybe having questions leaves too much room for mistakes on our part. Janet actually spoke at length and eloquently about making room that provides safety for those among us (most of us really) as we find our identities.

I remember running as fast as I could from the madness that was my home. My mom was busy trying to secure her own stability and was struggling with that. I hated seeing her pain and felt responsible for it. I couldn’t bear that responsibility. I had already learned that running was a way to escape and be safe and I used that experience.

I was 16 and landed in Chicago. It was rough seas but I got seas legs quickly. I depended on the kindness of a drag queen named Danee who took me in and helped me turn 17 without losing too much of my innocence. I saw the “gay scene” of 1970’s Chicago from the show queen and street hustler perspective. Those were about the only doors that were open to a runaway teen during those days.

I have written about this before, but the evening with Janet Mock took me back to 70’s Chicago. Glitter Rock, Retro Art Deco, high-waist double-pleated baggies with 2 skinny disco belts, Man’s Country, Sally Rand, Wanda Lust, Felicia’s Baton Lounge, Chili Pepper, Jodi Lee, Carol’s Speakeasy. these were the chapters of my late teens.

And the chapters were rife with people living somewhere in the middle of gender identification. Black, white, Hispanic, male , female; many colors and flavors. It made sense that the rainbow flag became a representative symbol.

But what I did learn was respect. For my money, the wilder looking folks with the gender bending features were much kinder to a waif like me. The calmer more respectable business folks in our circles were the ones more likely to try to take advantage of me. And l became respectful of differences and grateful for authentic kindness. I survived those early years living on my own only through the kindness of strangers. I had no idea I would need the skills they taught me later on in my journey.

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“Nature’s Way”

Is nature’s way of telling you somethings wrong
It’s nature’s way of telling you in a song
It’s nature’s way of receiving you
It’s nature’s way of retrieving you
It’s nature’s way of telling you somethings wrong
It’s nature’s way of telling you on the breeze
It’s nature’s way of telling you – dying trees
It’s nature’s way of telling you to slow down
It’s nature’s way of telling you – look around
It’s nature’s way of finding you
It’s nature’s way of reminding you
It’s nature’s way of telling you somethings wrong