Basil here! This is sort of a double whammy of a blog post. It’s July 3, 2017 and we are all currently sitting in the kitchen of Sara’s house in Jacksonville. Sara is a part of Girls Rock Jacksonville and I was connected to her through my short-term housemate, Micah, in Charleston who runs The Carolina Youth Action Project and Girls Rock Charleston… and Girls Rock Charleston was originally formed by my oldest friend Emily (who introduced me to Micah)! SMALL SOUTHERN QUEER WORLD.
Anyhow! We love it here and I love Sara’s Libra-realness with a cancer moon and she immediately reminded me of Micah who is a Libra with a Scorpio moon. Ya’ll got the feels and the softness down. I basically felt at home instantly. OH and I have my own room to sleep in. I love my road crew, but dang.. space is nice!!
Today we did two interviews in Jacksonville after a butt kicking day yesterday. Both interviews today were awesome. Arji was also a poet and we exchanged poems!! They were so lovely to meet.
The remainder of this post is a reflection from all three of us from the very powerful, heart breaking, inspiring, and sometimes picturesque events of the past two days:
Yesterday started very early as we drove from Ft. Lauderdale to Orlando. First, we met Jordyn who I have a big crush on now. I have a tendency to fall for girls who are hilarious. So. She’s taken by Tomas though. ;) They made us a delicious lunch!
After that we met with Celeste. They were just a gem. So, kind and thoughtful. We met in the park of downtown Orlando and I felt really at ease interviewing them.
Next, we went to Pulse. I’ve visited many sad memorial type things before. I have been to the Holocaust museum, the 9/11 memorial, been to many funerals, lost friends to over doses and suicides. I didn’t expect to be as deeply impacted by Pulse as I was. I couldn’t hold back tears. At one point, I couldn’t even stand up. It was a really hot day in Orlando but it felt hotter than any other part of Orlando right there in that spot. As if God was shining a bright sweltering spotlight for the world to see and saying, “Hey y’all come feel what hate and hurt feels like and maybe you can stop killing each other!” I was drenched in sweat and re-living the fear that was bred on that night a little over a year ago. I could legitimately connect with so many of the sprits around me. The land there is insanely heavy and the pain still feels fresh. I wrote, “Rest in power ya’ll, while the rest of us keep on fighting for you. Rest.” I tried to step away from everyone for a minute to regain my balance. My team met me where I was sitting, in front of bullet holes on the side of the building, and before leaving, we all held hands, and I said a prayer that I love. “God, I offer myself to Thee -to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!”
Basically, I was asking a higher power to help me walk away from our trauma and issues, that are small in comparison to the tragedy at Pulse, in order to keep helping others.
I drove us to Jacksonville but could not return to my body for nearly 45 mins. I tried listening to familiar music like St. Vincent and David Bowie to come back, but to no avail. However, Dolly Parton grounded me and I slowly recovered before meeting with Drew and his family.
My interview with Drew was healing. He’s 16 and so ambitious. He is ready to take over the world I believe he can. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to have ended our journey to Jacksonville. The beach and Drew’s family was really therapeutic too.
Tomorrow we are off and headed to Georgia.
I feel the word Pulse in a new way. I get it - it’s a vasculature, a circulatory system, something that bleeds red, a life force - it’s something both shared and individual. For us queers, it feels shared more often than not. As with any marginalized communities, we carry each other through difficulty. We overcome through the power of queer family and the force of many voices.
At Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, we saw bullet holes that penetrated all the way through the cement of the back wall of the building. I guess we were standing in their trajectory, but in a different time and a different place, so our lives and bodies could go on. It was a shock to my system to feel all the life that ended there, and to deeply miss each person who was murdered on that night. It feels like family, yanked away without warning. Thousands of people have written messages of love on the memorial that stands there now, and we added ours.
With many beautiful trans and gender non-conforming people at our backs, and many ahead, we headed off to our interview with Drew - a trans 16-year-old who wants to be president one day. And I think - All we can do is keep moving towards life.
My heart started to beat faster and faster as I felt my pulse strengthen driving through the underpass. Suddenly, there we were parking in front of the now memorialized nightclub. Stepping out of the car I was hit with a wave of emotions in which I could hear people screaming, I could feel the slow movement of folks dancing, music thumping as if it was playing today, and then people being hit. My brain went to a place between people crying and people passing flirty giggles in the air as if they were playing a game of catch. Overcome with sensation, I thought to myself ‘They might have tried to silence us through death but I can still hear your voices, see your faces, feel your vibration in the air. We won't let them forget, no worries, we won’t. For you are the hands that push our passions. The lyrics to the song we sing to heal the land. Through your sacrifices you summons us all to the light, change the world through our lives. We won’t let fear and hate dictate our time here on earth but we will let love penetrate the essence our existence eternally.”
I began to pray silently.
We held hands, picked up pieces of beautiful marble that had molded in the mud.
The day was full.
Earlier in the day, we enjoyed lunch with Jordyn and her family. She said her and her husband had been together 18 years. You could feel their devotion to one another. I was so adorable to experience strong love after 18 years.
We ended the day on the beach.. which I think was much needed after our pause at Pules. The greatest thing happens while I was snapping shots of the guys on the beach with their shirts off. This lady was passing by with her boyfriend notice their scares. She got so excited! Hugged everybody and congratulated them. The moment was epic and I was so excited that I caught that moment in time. That never happens but this the type of organic love we are manifesting on this trip. This is the type of love we want to see displayed ours here in the world.
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