As we enter into this season of Eastertide, I pray that the stories of crucifixion that happen daily in our communities are not forgotten even as resurrection is made real. May we continue to hold these realities in tension throughout the year. For instance, on Easter Sunday we remembered Jesus’ friends who came to the tomb to care for his body and the trauma of its absence. However, the story of Crucifixion and execution by the State continues:
Baltimore’s transgender community mourns one of their own, slain by police
On the street early Friday, the women hustled for tricks as cars slowed for drivers to survey the scene. Shannen, one of the women working Charles Street, declined to share her last name. “None of us want to live like this,” she said. “But we learn lessons in life, and we die.”
“The women were just as interested in posing questions as answering them. Who claimed Hall’s body? What did her parents say? How many times was she shot? Why did the police have to shoot her?”
Most of all, they felt isolated from the normal ritual of grief as they mourned together on Charles Street.
Asked Buttacup, a tear running down her cheek, ‘Will she have a proper funeral?'”
On the Second Sunday of Easter, our lectionary text included the Parable of the Sower as it appears in Mark 4:1-9, which provides us with an opportunity to think critically about ourselves and our communities. “What kind of sower are you?”
Some of you have seen and heard this piece before, however, I wanted to offer it again and ask that we replace the word #homophobia with #transphobia in memory of too many trans sisters of color that have been killed this year.
Finally, it is also important to celebrate moments of resurrection (i.e. lived liberation) and being the Beloved Community. With this in mind, I was happy to work with Patrick Erwin last month on a news piece about LGBT youth finding safe space in Chicago:
A place at the table
The stories of many of the individuals that pass through the doors of The Crib, the BYC and the TransLife Center are not simply stories of homelessness, of a simple need with a simple solution. There are multiple factors that contribute to youth homelessness, including poverty, race, access to medical care and mental health resources.
Hooks said that the complexity and humanity of the people he serves isn’t always captured in the ongoing narrative about this issue and their lives. “What’s missing in the narrative is talking about the different layers that contribute to youth homelessness, especially youth of color and LGBT identified youth.”
A lack of family support can be an issue, but it’s not the only one.
“There’s a narrative currently that someone comes out of the closet to their non-supportive family, and they’re immediately ejected. And sure, that’s one story, and we see that happen often enough,” he said. “But we also see that young folks of color, LGBT youth of color, come out of the closet, and being accepted by family, but their larger community isn’t a safe place to be. We see this especially for transgender youth, for gender non-conforming and gender variant youth.”
Like many of the young faces that flock to Boystown, many of the city’s homeless youth come to what they see as the promised land.
“Young people are drawn to Lakeview, because of its welcoming reputation, the sense of community, the sense of being welcomed,” Hooks said. “There’s a perception that they’ll be welcomed into the neighborhood, and we know that’s not always the case.”
Since the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St., opened in 2007, police involvement in a number of conflicts in and around the Center, as well as a 2013 incident at The Crib involving a SWAT team, has some neighbors in those areas speaking out against those spaces.
The fact that many LGBT youth in those spaces are also people of color adds to the conflict, and a perception that the opposition is racially motivated, or a result of socioeconomic snobbery.
[alli], the youth minister at Wellington, said the Center on Halsted can be intimidating for youth seeking a safe space. “[The Center] isn’t always the most welcoming of spaces, with security guards and guns stationed at the front door.”
For the youth that [alli] supports and ministers to, their individual stories are more powerful than any generalization in the media.
“Last year we [helped host a] youth talent showcase to kick off the month of PRIDE, as well as a fashion show,” she said. “These projects came out of a desire [for youth] to show the neighborhood who they really are, an attempt to change the conversation regarding youth of color who are queer and trans and experiencing housing instability and homelessness.”
What did they want to say?“We aren’t criminals!” [alli] said, repeating their message. “We have so much to contribute to this community!”
I am so honored to be connected with so many artists, activists, and community organizers that support LGBTQ young folks experiencing homelessness, including my faith community (which houses the BYC), as well as, the fierce youth leaders who put on those Lakeview events last year. Together, we are making resurrection real in Chicago.
real T, alli