Being Homeless Doesn’t Make Me Less

This isn’t the first time I have been homeless. In 2016, I was homeless for two days. I slept in a park in Chicago and the rest of the time was spent at a Starbucks. Thankfully I found a friend to stay with so I didn’t have to go to the homeless shelter. This time was different. I found myself in a situation that I had nowhere to go. Many times in my life I have been faced with homelessness but I was always able to find a way to escape being homeless. Now I’m 41 and don’t have the strength to fake it anymore. I’m tired of running and living without any stability, which is detrimental for someone living with a mental illness. Recently I looked back on the last fifteen years and realized that I had move twenty times, most of those were sudden and I had to scramble to find housing. Usually it meant running aka moving out of state. My twenties and thirties I tried desperately to escape the trauma of my past. I failed miserably. When my Mom died in 2012 everything came crashing down. I had no more energy to give trying to be someone I wasn’t and burying the pain deep inside.

So I had to deal with the pain. My Mom was the one person I had who was my champion and losing her made the world a much darker place. It wasn’t until a suicide attempt in 2013 that I started to take care of my mental health. I started to taking antidepressants and going to therapy regularly. This helped bring me out of the helpless dark pit I had been in but I still struggled greatly. The first two years after my Mom died I wasn’t sure I was going to make it, nor did I think I wanted to. A world without my Mom was unfathomable. The grief was raw and deep. I had never endured pain like that. Thankfully I was able to beat the beast and got to a point where I accepted my Mom’s death and was able to move forward from the pain.

I’ve tried hard the last two years to find alternative housing but for various reasons it hasn’t worked out. One roommate was a psycho and another ended up selling his house. I have had to move four times in that time period. This last time I just couldn’t take it anymore. While things had improved with my mental health I was still enduring severe bouts of depression. I’m talking about the deep, dark depression. I would do okay for weeks then I would get triggered, sending me into a dark spiral to the pits of hell. I started to become a wallflower. I hide in the corner of the place I stayed. I tried my best to stay out of the way of others. I would go weeks without talking to anyone other than my therapist. My weight had become uncontrollable. I was over 430 lbs and my mobility was horrible. I could barely walk a few feet without getting tired. I also couldn’t stand for very long. My quality life was horrible. I was alive but not living. I tolerated this for the last five years. Recently something changed within me and I’m not quite sure what caused it. I just woke up and said fuck this to hell. I deserve so much more.

For a good year I was drinking a two liter of Pepsi a day. It had been such a crutch for my anxiety and depression. Up until a month ago I was unwilling to stop drinking Pepsi at all. It felt impossible. I had decided that I would try to become more physically active. That I could manage doing a few steps at a time. On April 15th, I went to the Michigan Democratic Convention in Detroit. Doing something like this meant a lot of walking and I knew that I needed to prepare so the week prior I started to walk with a fabulous cane that my friend gave me. I was determined to get to Detroit, through an ice storm, to support a candidate that fought for those in need. I finally got there and while I was able to walk a bit farther but was still limited because of my mobility. Just walking to the area where the convention was held took a lot of me physically. So I sat most of the time. I sat as I saw the world flash by me. It was a great day and it really helped me put life in perspective.

It was also tough because I went from spending years by myself to being surrounded by a ton of people, that was also why I didn’t do much. I wanted to go to the LGBTQ caucus and vote for Dana Nessel. I did that and was exhausted so I just sat until it was time for the bus to leave. I left inspired seeing so many people step up to make a difference by running for office. I have always wanted to make a difference in this world. In the past I gave so much of myself that it would leave me empty. I use to think that making a difference meant going into service like being a therapist which meant giving up my artistic ability. One of the gifts the universe has given me. I have always been great at taking care of other people including being a fierce advocate for those in need. I was horrible at taking care of myself which just made my mental health even worse.

After 2012, I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t take care of myself, let alone anyone else. I had various attempts at embracing my art but I always gave up because I didn’t believe that I deserved it… nor did I think anyone wanted it. It wasn’t until 2015 when I made a 5ft tree out of eyewear material that I realized the impact that my art had on other people. Even though I was starting to feel better about myself I still struggled to live in a world that needed me. I would fall into these traps of trying to save the world, which meant neglecting my own world. I did so once again after the convention. I decided I was going to run for office, which meant putting my recovery on the shelf. It was really the first time I had ever felt that empowered. Something had clicked in me that I can’t explain. It was then that I deserved nothing but the best.

Overnight I went from not wanting to stop drinking Pepsi to doing so within a week. I also started to walk a lot more. On top of all of that I started to drink water and eat more healthier. Within weeks I started to notice drastic changes in my mobility. I could finally bend down and touch my toes. I hadn’t been able to do that in over five years. I also started to be able to go longer distances. It felt great to start taking care of myself again. My weight kept me from enjoying my 10 year niece. I couldn’t do much with her if it meant getting off the couch. I realized that I was setting a very bad example for my nieces and nephew. I didn’t want them to see me dying on that couch. My health had started to deteriorate lately from my blood pressure to having asthma. I had wasted so much time hiding in fear and I feel like I have this time clock that I need to beat. My fear is that I will die without doing what I was meant to do. I knew if I didn’t make some changes I would die before it was my time. So these factors also contributed to making a change. In December I had a cyst and have had an open wound since then. It’s been slow to heal because of my weight and that scared the crap out of me.

I started to be able to go outside to play with my niece. It was so rewarding and it gave me the courage to fight harder. Then once again I found myself in a situation where I had nowhere to go. I can’t explain the level of panic that goes through your body from having the ground fall from under your feet. I couldn’t endure that panic anymore. I had to do something about it. I finally realized that I deserved so much better. I was unwilling to tolerate anything bad. Since October of last year I realized that I needed to be hospitalized to get my mental health on check but I had put it off due to fear of being confined to a hospital and what it meant after I left… living in a homeless shelter. So I put it off until I couldn’t handle it anymore.

I had no choice but to take the leap I had been avoiding. I checked myself into the hospital and spent two weeks in a psychiatric program. One of the reasons that I wanted to make a change was that I missed being around people and doing fun things. I would see people share pictures and stories on Facebook about the fun things they were having with their friends. I wasn’t having any of that. I longed for friends again. Sure I had friends all over the country but no one in person to really spend time with.

Being hospitalized isn’t fun let alone being in a psych ward. You are stuck, with no way out. All the doors off the floor are locked, even the elevator you had to use a key card to operate. You are surrounded by a bunch of people you don’t know, some who have severe mental illness. One day I was awoken to the woman next to my room screaming at the top of her lungs. Each sentence made no sense and it was like she was talking to a room full of people. She was loud and violent. This went on for a good hour. Later that day she was talking like she was the devil and ended up having to be subdued and sent to the other side of psych ward for the worse cases. Another patient was extremely abrasive and confrontational. So much so that he had to have a tech with him at all times as he was unpredictable. I avoided him like the plague. He treated other patients horribly usually those who couldn’t stand up for themselves.

Overall most of the patients were amazing. It really opened my eyes about the world. It wasn’t my first time in a psych hospital. It was my fifth time. Each time was just as scary as the first. The last major hospitalization was in 2014 when I was living in Chicago. During that time I met a lot of wonderful people who I became friends with afterwards. A few I’m still friends with.

This time was no different. I really feel that I was meant to be at this hospital. Originally I wanted to go to another hospital that my therapist recommended but they wouldn’t take me because of my weight, which just added to shame of my weight. It’s so humiliating to be told that you’re too fat to be admitted to a hospital. Even the place I ended up had to give me a hospital bed because my weight. In the past, this would have led me into a spiral out of control but this time that didn’t happen. It just added fuel to the fire to fight. I kept drinking water and made sure to go to all the groups. It was the first time that I wanted the help because I realized I deserved to heal.

By the second week there was a small group formed. We spent many nights playing games and talking. It was like our own breakfast club. It was amazing. What was most amazing about the experience is I finally felt accepted for who I am inside, a transgender woman. About six months ago I came to the realization that I was trans. I had worked hard with my therapist to become more comfortable in my skin. Prior to being homeless I had decided to change my name to Drew and I had started to tell people.

One thing I struggled with was how I could have gone 41 years and not have known that I was trans. Looking back I now know there were many signs. I had always said that inside I was a woman with a male body. I had thought that was because I was a gay male but recently I realized that it was much deeper than sexual orientation. Working on my comic book Dragzilla, the story of a drag queen superhero who fights high kicks one high kick at a time, helped me to discover that I was trans. I had created this character not realizing that I was Dragzilla and the stories I were writing were my own. Dragzilla not only gave me purpose but she saved me… I saved me…

At first I wasn’t going to say anything about being trans in the hospital because of fear. I was afraid of how others would respond, especially patients. There is a lot of ignorance out there and I have seen how many treat trans people. I was put in a room with four men and something didn’t feel right. I was going to stay silent but I started to look at my hospital band and it listed me as a male. It got to a point where that m became so large and loud that I had to tell my doctor. You would think that we live in a time where medical professionals would be educated and empathic to being trans but that’s not the reality. So I was nervous. My last therapist made transphobic comments before I realized that I was trans. I stopped seeing her after that and now I have a wonderful therapist who has helped me embrace my transness.

The doctor right away asked if it would be okay if I got my own room. The staff also started to use female pronouns. They even asked if I had another name that I wanted to be called. I said yes but that I wasn’t ready to go by Drew because it would confuse the patients and I wasn’t sure I was ready for the rejection. It was until I realized once again I was living in fear of what others thought about me. I was changing who I am because of others so I told the staff that I wanted to be called Drew. I even changed the name on my door to Drew. I started to tell patients that I trusted, the breakfast club. They accepted me fully and I felt like I was on cloud nine. The first person embraced me from the start, she was amazing and totally fabulous. It was because of her that gave me the strength to start talking about being transgender openly. Everyone was so supportive and accepting.

All my life I have felt like no one saw me for who I really am. This was the first time that I was being seen for the fabulous, beautiful person I am. I finally was embracing who I was both inside and out. I didn’t have to hide anymore. I was free.

I really feel like the hospital prepared me for living in a homeless shelter. The hospital forced me to interact with strangers and be able to tolerate an uncomfortable situation. I was also walking a lot more, which definitely has made a difference being homeless. I have to walk everywhere. On Monday, I had to walk a mile to get to a place to spend the day, as the buses were closed due to the holiday. A month ago I couldn’t even go a few hundred feet.

The difference today is that I’m forced to walk because I have to take the bus if I want to do anything and staying in the day shelter all my time would drive me crazy. There is no comfort at all. It’s basically folding chairs and a room. Plus people are loud and there is only a few desks. My big issue with being homeless (outside of safety) is finding things to do during the day. You need to leave the night shelter by 7am and you’re not able to come back until 6pm. So that’s a lot of time to fill, especially in this heat.

When I first started walking before I was homeless it was controlled. I could choose how far and would stop when I was tired. Now I don’t have a choice and I am not able to take breaks like I did in the past. Previously I could take a day break to allow my body to rest. Lately I’ve pushed my body so far it’s tough to walk a few blocks. I hate that feeling you get when you are so exhausted and sore that you start to panic. It feels like a million miles away until you can rest. I can’t do this is a common thought. Though I push through, stopping as often as I need. The heat doesn’t help matters either.

I get so frustrated. I’m at the point where I want to do so much more than I can. I would like to be able to walk as far as I want without any pain or discomfort. I’m having to push through in order to leave the shelter today and it’s tough. Like today I wasn’t going to leave the day shelter because I had an appointment at 11am but the kitchen wasn’t really stocked. They had cereal but no milk. Yogurt but no spoons. Stale donuts and that was it. So I didn’t eat this morning. I wasn’t going to leave because my body needed a rest. I’m having trouble walking very far because of my thighs, they hurt when I move. I had two hours to kill before my appointment and I was starving. There is a Burger King a few blocks away and I dreaded the walk knowing how hard it would be and it was. There is such a sense of relief when you make it to your destination. BK even had lounge chairs so I got a cheap meal and relaxed for an hour. Thankfully there was a store across the street where I bought some Motrin and that helped get me home, which was a struggle.

The conditions of the day shelter are very minimal. I have been leaving each but tried to stay there after my appointment was done as I didn’t think I had the strength to do the walking needed to go to the library. That was until people again were being unbearable and I just had to leave. It was either my santity or my body and this time my sanity was the priority. If it hadn’t been for the Motrin I wouldn’t have been able to walk the four blocks needed. I’ve started to have charley horses and those are horrible. I hope my body holds on long enough until I can get through this patch.

It’s almost been a week of living in the homeless shelter and it definitely isn’t easy. It’s not as scary as I thought but it’s pretty miserable. You learn to go without many things and one big one is comfort. When you are with a home of your own you take for granted the luxuries given like a comfy couch, your own shower and being able to cook in your own kitchen. When you are homeless there are no comfy couches where you can watch tv from. There is no privacy when you take a shower and you have no control over the kitchen where you live.

I hear all the time that being homeless is a choice. That those living in shelters do so because they want to. Some would like to make it out to be this fun, luxurious lifestyle when that couldn’t be further from the truth. You go without a lot. The soup kitchens have very basic food and it’s very much like prison food. A prime example was today for breakfast as I already stated, this is nothing new. The shelter is understaffed and funded so they do what they can. Often times I skip the meals because there is nothing I will eat. They usually have lots of granola bars, sometimes sweets but not very much in terms of substance that will fill you up and keep you satisfied. A lot of times I stay hungry. Then I will splurge and buy fast food. I won’t be able to do that often on my minimal income I get from state disability of $200 a month. I’m already low on funds.

Being MTF trans I was hoping that the homeless shelter would be able to accomodate me by not being around men but that didn’t happen. Thankfully I have really started to transition, other than growing out my hair. So I can kind of blend in but it’s still tough. They acted like I could get seperate show time and that didn’t happen either. So I’m doing what I have to in order to survive. At first I worried about using the shower around men but now I just don’t care. I get in and out as fast as I can. I don’t have the energy to worry about it. I have enough on my plate already. This shelter does have seperate rooms so that helps. I still have to share it with a man but it could be a lot worse like the other shelters it’s all open bedding. So I’m looking at the blessings.

Some might see this as me not being grateful but that’s not true. I’m thankful for what I have but I believe it’s important that the general public is educated to know what it’s like both in removing the stigma and getting the help that the shelters and homeless need.

Like I said the biggest challenge is finding places to go during the day. Thankfully the library is close and I can get on their computers 3 hours a day. I can also use their table’s to work on my comic book. Though on weekends I have no choice but to go to the hospital cafeteria. One thing I have noticed is craving a regular life, having a purpose. Surviving isn’t a great purpose. Yes, I have my comic book but the homeless life leaves you with tunnel vision. Today I just couldn’t take being in the shelter and I bolted out the doors. I keep hoping that someone I know in the area will invite me over to hang out but that hasn’t happened. I have even put out hints on Facebook with no luck. Even with going to public places there is no privacy or a way to relax. There is no alone time. It’s one thing to be having fun with your friends it’s another thing to be out by yourself trying to relax.

I crave for connection but am very careful as I don’t know who to trust. Many people at the shelter keep to themselves. There are definitely groups that stick together and they’re usually loud and unpredictable. People are suspicious and that’s to be expected. There are all types here at the shelter and sometimes it’s tough to tell the difference. I hear people talk about being on parole and others just talking nonsense, and it makes me really nervous. Safety is a huge issue with being homeless. People are desperate and some are willing whatever they have to in order to get by. Sometimes people are just greedy. For example, at the kitchen the other day they had maybe 10 small cartons of chocolate milk. One woman got three and she tried to get a fourth.

The other day I ran into this woman in line for the kitchen. I almost wasn’t even going to go down to the kitchen but I thought I would see what they were having. MK was her name. She had short hair with a pink bow in it. She was wearing a tutu like shirt with some cute pattern on it. It was in the high 80’s and she had a faux fur scarf on. She was a mix of Hello Kitty and a club kid. I knew right away I was going to like her before I started talking to her. Once in a while they will have something substantial in regards to food. This time they had scraps of ham. I will admit that I’m rather picky and don’t like things like salad, etc… which is usually what they have. So whenever they have meat like this it’s a treat. For me, whenever I get something like that I will gobble it up like I haven’t eaten in weeks. I got a plate and started to sit down. At first I wasn’t going to sit next to her out of shyness but today I decided to sit down next to her.

Her personality matched her appearance. She was bubbly and full of life. MK reminded me a cross between Hello Kitty and a club kid. Her voice reminded me of Shirley Temple or Betty Boop. She was adorable and fabulous. It was very interesting sitting and talking to her. She noticed that I drank Crystal Light and started to give me tips on mixing different flavors. I told her that I was  trying to be more healthy and she said that she was diabetic so she understood. MK’s boyfriend was just as interesting. He had a goth look to him with face tattoos and piercings. His name was Kraven or something like that. They both live on the streets, I think in the woods. Both were in their early 20’s. MK talked about loving to cook and missing the ability to do so. It’s interesting to talk to the homeless and hear about their lives before. I hope to run into them again as they were interesting to talk to and was my first real connection with someone on the streets. Most people I can’t relate to because no one is as flamboyant as I am. MK was unique and special. I felt like I could be myself with her and I knew she wouldn’t judge me. That’s something I don’t get with the rest of the homeless population. I keep my transness to myself for the most part. I still wear my headband so I’m able to embrace who I am in a small way.

The last few days I have been feeling a bit down because the reality has set in. That this will be my life for a while. Just repeating day after day. Having to leave at 7am each morning and having to find a place to stay. A lot of the times I feel so alone and I cope with it the best I can. It still catches up to me occasionally. Lately I keep wanting to call my Mom. It’s the thought, I should call my Mom she will make feel better but then I realize that I can’t and that makes me sad. I had a dream last night about her where she died all over again. Usually there is a moment where she dies and comes back to life, only to die all over again. I feel those moments of grief all over again. It’s just as intense when it first happened in 2012. The rest of the day I’m left with this aching sorrow.

My Mom was the one person I had. Our relationship was complicated at times but I knew that she loved me. She was always there for me. I no longer have this relationship. The struggle with living with a mental illness is often times you isolate yourself. You get into your head that you don’t deserve love. So you push people away or you get your life so far off track that you find yourself with no friends. For me, I moved away from all my friends and a life I loved because I self destructed. Deep down inside I didn’t believe that I deserved all this love and support. I have struggled ever since.

After my Mom died, I went inward. I was living in a small city with little money and no car. Making friends was almost impossible especially if I wanted someone LGBTQ. I went almost five years of talking to very few people. I became almost a hermit. For weeks my therapist was really the only person I would talk to, at least in detail. If it weren’t for my visits with my niece I probably wouldn’t have any other substantial connection. The longer you isolate the harder it is to come out of it. I would have moments where I tried to venture out into the world but it always led to me getting spooked and I would head back down to the rabbit hole. When you are homeless you don’t have a hole to hide in, well I guess you could find a place in the woods but I don’t have what it takes for that.

Now that I’ve awoken I have this sense of urgency of needing to get my life together. Recently my health has deteriorated and it has scared me senseless. I have wasted too much time living in fear and hiding. There are no guarantees and I don’t want to die without leaving something behind. Now that I’m taking better care of my body it feels great. The upside of being homeless is the walking and that’s helping me to lose weight. I just have to get past this phase of pain. I went from not moving at all to walking daily at least a mile. Before May my days consisted of waking up in the couch I slept in and watching tv. Only getting up to eat and use the bathroom. So it’s definitely been a major adjustment. The motrin is definitely helping. Today it was easier to walk, though I was still in pain and discomfort. My biggest issue is my lower back because I carry a backpack. I’ve tried to lighten the load as much as possible but it’s still pretty heavy because I carry supplies for comic book. Eventually I will be able to walk with ease and be able to go longer distances. I can’t wait for that day.

Next week I can file for section 8 housing. You have to be homeless for 14 days before you can be put on the waitlist. The only way to get on the waitlist these days is to be homeless. The waitlist hasn’t been open to the public in years. I’ve checked off and on for five years and I haven’t seen it open once. Even with being homeless it can take anywhere from three months to a year to get your voucher. Once you have the voucher you can live anywhere in your county that takes the voucher and then you pay 30% of your income. A few people in the shelter had recently received theirs and both had to wait six months. So it could be a long haul for me. I’m struggling one week in and can’t imagine what I will be like in six months. I just hope that it doesn’t take this long.

There are a few complexes that are project based near the shelter, that have seperate waitlists. One in particular has had a lot of crime there. The local news station did a report about the crime a year ago. So that’s a concern of mine. I almost rather wait it out until I can get a voucher, so then I can choose where I live. There is an apartment complex that I applied for in early May that is promising. It’s in a fairly nice part of the city. The only issue is I need to find a doctor who will say that I’m disabled. My primary care physician isn’t able to sign it because of the health department. It’s against their policies to get involved. Ideally a psychiatrist would be able to fill out the HUD form but I can’t find one who takes Medicaid for my county.

This speaks volumes to our current system. So many people who are homeless have some sort of mental illness but because resources are slim people find themselves in bad shape. If you don’t treat mental illness it can cycle into other types of mental illness like psychosis. Many of the homeless are veterans who have PTSD. What is sad that my Community Mental Health (Lansing) covers three counties and their services are pitiful. You can only see their psychiatrists if you have what they consider a more serious mental illness like schizophrenia. They can afford a new four story building but they can’t offer psychiatry care to those with Medicaid. For someone with mental illness being seen by a psychiatrist is extremely important as you need the medicine management. I’m forced to get my medicine managed by my pcp, who is not equipped to properly adjust my medicine based off my needs. So I just get by. I have to be hospitalized in order to get my medicine back on track, when they start to not help me. It’s sad that is what it takes to get healthier.

People think that there is all this help for those who are poor but honestly there isn’t. The resources out there are maxed out. Most think if you become homeless that you can get help right away. That’s not the case. There is no offense in homelessness, only defense. I could very well be living in a homeless shelter for a good year and that’s no way to live but you must do whatever you have to survive.

All the shelters have time limits. The one I’m in now has a time limit of 30 days. It’s possible to get an extension but it’s minimal. So that means jumping from one shelter to the next. For me, that’s even more problematic because at least the one I’m at is more secure and safe being FTM transgender. The other shelters are open dorms with hundreds of bed all next to each other. There is a city mission that you can stay for 90 days but there is no where to hold your stuff so what you have you must carry around. Currently I can leave most of my stuff in my room and it’s for the most part secure as no one is allowed upstairs during day time hours. I just hope they can accommodate me for being trans because otherwise my life will get even more hectic.

On weekends there is no day shelter where I stay, nor is the kitchen open. So you must find alternative places to stay and eat. Which I usually do anyways but there is something about not having the day shelter that makes me feel panicky. I guess as basic as it is I know that it’s there. There’s this fear when you are out in public that you will be asked to leave because you’re seen as loitering. Even at the library I fear if I stay too long they will confront me and tell me to leave. This is especially true on Sundays when I usually go to the hospital cafeteria because the library is only open for a short period of time. I use my privilege to my benefit and know that there are some people who don’t have that luxury. Sometimes it’s easy to tell if someone is homeless. The problem with the length of time it takes to get housing is when people start to deteriorate. Six months down the road I’m sure I won’t look as put together as I am just one week in being homeless. Right now I carry most of my life in a bookbag and I can make myself look like a student but eventually people will notice if I come to a public place too often.

These are all the things that run through my head. Some are just in my head and others are real dangers/fears. I have days where I feel good and being homeless doesn’t feel as scary but then others where it just gets to me. Overall I am handing it pretty well. Recently I had a friend who messaged me about me being through a rough patch and at first I thought what rough patch. At first being homeless felt like the scariest thing ever but once I faced it the truth was it wasn’t scary at all. I mean at times it is but overall it’s just annoying and uncomfortable. Of all the things I have endured in my life enduring homelessness is minimal compared to the pain I faced in the past. I was able to survive my Mom dying, so this is nothing. Once I was able to move past the pain and grief of losing my Mom then nothing else will ever hurt me again, at least to that level of pain.

I don’t have time or energy to worry about stupid shit anymore. Like whether someone wants to be in my life or not. I use to let something like destroy me but now I just don’t have the time to hurt over it. I’m too busy trying to figure out how I’m going to eat or sleep, or just staying safe being on the streets. Figuring out how I will do my laundry and make it so I’m not dirty. I’m just trying to survive.

I have this new sense of strength. My will power has always been a struggle but lately it’s like the energizer bunny. I know where I’m going is so much better than were I have been. I’m finally learning to love and accept myself. I just have no more fucks to give and the few left over I’m shedding one by one. Others can judge me all they want. As RuPaul says, that’s not business. One day I will look back at this time as test of my strength. It will be proof that I can tackle any problem. That nothing is too big or scary for me to overcome. You can’t get much lower than living on the streets. I guess that’s part of where my resolve comes from. There’s great power in realizing that no one can kick you further down than already. Often times it was from your own doing.

For over ten years I have tolerated horrible things. I felt like I was less than and built a life where I was a pitiful, useless person. This was especially true the last five years. Losing my Mom knocked me to the ground and I stopped trying to get back up. So I accepted the fact that I was going to stay on the ground until I died. I stopped believing that I could get up. I also thought I deserved to be on the floor. The thing about misery is that you can only handle so much before something is done. You either end it all or you start fighting. This time I was closer than ever to giving it up but I had this mustard seed of fight left in me and as I pushed myself more the bigger I realized it was. Now I realize that my strength was always ginormous it was just covered by a ton of trash. These experiences are only adding to my strength and brilliance.

I can do anything I set my mind to. I deserve great things and will make them happen. You don’t realize how important independence is to your health until you lose it. That’s the difference about today is that I’m finally living life on my terms and I’m determined to do whatever it takes to take back my independence. I crave for the stability that comes with independence. I know some people in my life have judged me for my life choices, like going for disability but the thing is they haven’t had to endure the things I have had in life. They’ve not had to walk in my shows. They’ve also not been able to have the knowledge and experience of the twenty years of my adult life. They don’t see the patterns and broken record that I have been on. The years of instability due to my mental illness. I recently counted up the number times I have moved since 2016 and it was over 20 times. Most of them were similar situations like I am today but back then I had the strength to move to another city or state. I no longer can live that way.

I’m finally taking both my physical and mental health serious. I’m treating my depression, anxiety and PTSD like Diabetes. I know realize that I must manage my systems until I die. That means taking medicine and being in therapy for the rest of my life. A big part of why I can endure what I am today is from taking care of myself. I have always been horrible at doing that. Since 2013, I have been on medicine and in therapy. I have never stuck to anything that long. This is a huge accomplishment for me. It’s been five years that I have stuck to treatment and the only other time was a year and a half back in 2004. I use to wait for other people to validate both the pain and progress. Whenever I didn’t get that it would send me spirally back into the grief and sorrow. Now I realize that the only person I need it from is myself.

You will wait a lifetime for other people to treat you the way you deserve. I’ve learned you can’t make anyone like or love you. Either they do or they don’t. You shouldn’t have to convince people to be in your life. If you do what kind of relationship is that anyways? I want people in my life who embrace who I am and realize that I am a treasure. Friends who make an effort to be in my life and enjoy my company just as much as I enjoy theirs. I miss playing board games and laughing. Going out to dinner with friends and talking about life. Seeing the latest sci-fi/fantasy movie in the theater. Having small get togethers at my place, where I cook for others. I want the life I have always dreamed of but was too afraid to make it happen.

I’m going to embrace the gifts the universe has gave me and fulfill the legacy I was meant to achieve. I will make Dragzilla a success. I hope that she can save others like she did me. I really feel like that is something I was meant to do. I believe in my idea fully and feel it’s something that the world needs to hear. We still live in a world where this a lot of hate, especially towards those who are LGBTQ+. So many queer people don’t have anyone to look up to, many of them children. I know what it’s like to be treated less than because of who you are inside. That kind of trauma eats away at your soul. Growing up I didn’t have many people to look up to. So I turned to Superman and Wonder Woman. I know that Dragzilla has that power as well. Actually I do. A while ago I realized that I was Dragzilla. The stories I was telling were my own. I’m the superhero of my story.

I’m not powerless. I’m powerful. It’s the struggles and hardships that define my character. The trials and tribulations I endure are not flaws, they are strengths. These hardships and experiences have made me into the beautifully fabulous person I am today. My light is shining as bright as ever and I will no longer dim it because of the fears and wishes of others. It’s not helping anyone to be hiding my light. Overcoming homelessness will be just another part of my story. It will be a testament to my strength and resilience. So whatever life brings me I will persevere. I will persist regardless the size or strength the opponent is. I realize now that I can handle anything.

The following quote sums this all up.

Our Deepest Fear
By Marianne Williamson

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.

We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us;
It’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

 

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What it Feels Like to Be Gay

 

Have you ever been made to feel less because of who you are inside? The feeling that you’re not good enough for God’s love. It’s not simply that God doesn’t love you but that you deserve the pain inflicted upon you. That’s what it feels like to be gay.

Ever been denied service because you’re straight or gotten the crap beaten out of you because you kiss the opposite sex? Have you hid being straight to keep yourself safe? Were you ever pushed to tears because you’re seen as different, abnormal and strange? That’s what it feels like to be gay.

Has someone ever told you over and over again that you’re going to hell for being straight, to the point where you have recurring nightmares of going to hell? Did you ever lose your job because you’re straight? Were you denied housing based on the fact that you’re heterosexual?

That’s what it feels like to be gay. Many of us have lived this hell for a good portion of our lives. Hearing these states pass these harmful laws has reminded me of it all and I can’t help but feel ill. It makes me angry, furious actually. I feel so helpless wanting to do something to fix it and knowing that I can’t. Well not to the degree I want to help, like stopping these laws from passing.

Like how are states like North Carolina going to enforce these laws. Are bathrooms going to have attendants where you’re forced to show identification? There is no way to enforce these laws. Will anyone have the nerve to stop a trans woman from going into a woman’s room? This is where the law is dangerous. Laws like HB-2 give businesses and organizations the right to discriminate however they please. It doesn’t just stop at the bathroom. Anyone that is deemed as different could get told to leave. So if you’re a man who’s feminine or a woman who’s masculine you could be targeted even if you don’t identify as LGBT.

Republicans are just using this the bathroom issue as an excuse to do whatever they want. They can’t stop gays from getting married now so they’re desperate to control us however possible. It’s a gigantic slippery slope from restroom patrolling to denying service for being LGBT. Before you know it, medical staff will start denying us care.

This isn’t the first time a law like this was introduced. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that a Governor would sign a bill like this into law. I thought to myself businesses in other states made it clear that they’d pull out if a similar bill was passed in their states. Thankfully that woke each state’s Governor right up but sadly that didn’t happen with North Carolina. Now that HB-2 has passed it gives other states the confidence to follow suit, just like Mississippi has done.

HB-2 is legalized segregation. Plain and simple. Now businesses can turn away whoever they want. Are you a gay couple wanting to enjoy a nice weekend at the local B&B? Sorry you can’t because the owners don’t rent to faggots. It’s not just wedding cakes, so many aspects of life that we can be discriminated against.

One of the most harmful aspect of laws like HB-2 is the message it sends the world. It’s like throwing coals into a house already on fire. The message is that’s perfectly acceptable to hate another human being. Can you imagine what the LGBT citizens of North Carolina and Mississippi are going through now. They have to live in fear of being treated less. Like will this be the day I get told to leave a store?

Gay people struggle enough. When will the fear-mongering stop? These people are inflicting their fears onto others causing them to live in real fear. It’s like their chicken little screaming the sky is falling and then they pick up the stones on the ground to throw at us.

I have lived through religious persecution and it damages your soul. I was told over and over that I was going to hell to the point where I started believing it. Still to this day I’m very disconnected from my spirituality. That’s the true abomination, that these fear-mongers are taking away God’s love. They don’t have any right to it but that doesn’t stop them. Yes, we have marriage equality but these laws prove that for many life hasn’t gotten any better.

Just recently a gay man was in Miami on vacation with his partner. While out to dinner he was beat black and blue just for giving his boyfriend a simple kiss. His life was forever altered because of someone else’s hate. This happens more often that I’d like to think. Transgender people are killed at alarming rates and often times they’re forgotten. In 2015, at least 21 transgender people were murdered. During the first six months of 2015 there were more deaths than in the previous year. Teens are killing themselves are alarming rates for being bullied and being different. Laws like HB2 chip away at their already fragile self esteems. It sends the dangerous message that they’re not worthy. It get’s better is difficult to hear when you’re living in hell. Many of these children live in households full of hate to then look in the news that their state has passed a law confirming that they’re not worthy of love or life.

One of the issues with laws like HB2 is that it forces people look at how we view gender. There are these social norms of what it’s like to be a man and a woman. If you don’t fit that mold then you’re made to feel less. You’re seen as abnormal. Having to deal with something connected to gender forces people outside their comfort zone. I’ve read through various comments about transgender using public bathrooms and I see people freaking out. When in reality they’ve been sharing the bathroom with transgender people for a very long time. The excuse used for passing these laws are that they don’t want men sharing the restrooms with their wives and daughters. This law would actually force trans men to use a woman’s restroom based on their birth gender. Their worst nightmares will come true and there’s nothing that they can do because they wrote it into the law books.

Misogyny is so deeply woven into our society that when something doesn’t fit that mold it brings up a red flag. Like what’s so wrong with a boy who wants to play with a doll or a girl who wants to play with a truck. Who says a man can’t wear a dress or a woman a suit. It’s society that does. Many have this strict view on gender when in reality gender is a lot more fluid than anyone realizes. That’s why so many have a problem because we’re forcing them to face their fears and insecurities.

Now more than ever we need our allies. Hearing that the White House has made their restrooms gender inclusive has given me comfort. Obama is one of our biggest allies. In a world that’s shaky and unsure it helps to have such strong allies. These religious zealots are desperate and willing to do whatever necessary to keep their beliefs safe even if it means harming other people. That’s why it’s so important to vote to ensure that discrimination isn’t legalized. Eventually these laws will get overturned by the Supreme Court but for many they don’t have the time to wait. That’s the sad reality. So if you question why we have gay pride or why we need inclusive restrooms I hope that this posting will show you why.

That’s what it’s like to be gay…

The Meaning Behind Fat

So it’s no lie that I have major body image issues and have for some time. I think that most people who are overweight have endured their fair share of bullying in regards to their size. Whoever came up with the saying “Sticks and Stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you” obviously never was bullied or picked on.

Words are like tiny daggers that chip away at your outer shell into your core. Growing up “fat” I was often ostracized for being heavy. In elementary school there was this one bully who coined the nickname Twinkie for me. Another nickname in High School was Kubiak, who was this bully character from a television show. I hated being called Kubiak as I was nothing like the character. I was more like Mikey from the animated series Recess, who was a lover.

Growing up fat was used as a weapon, much more than an adjective and every time I was called fat it dug away at my self worth to the point where to this day anytime I hear that word it makes me cringe. I equate it as a negative. Even the definition of fat is degrading to me. Fat’s definition is having a large amount of excess flesh.

For those of you don’t know there are those in the gay community who love guys who are bigger, they are called chasers… guy’s who themselves are not obese who like guys that are. I’ve struggled even with that community because many of the chasers I have met just saw me for my body and not my heart. I posted on a social networking site for chubs (what we are called) and chasers that chasers should never use the word fat to describe a big person even if they don’t mean to degrade.

Instantly another bigger guy started to argue with me saying that basically I was wrong and that I shouldn’t post something like that on a site for big guys and the guys that love them. While I still don’t agree with anything he had to say it got me thinking about the word “fat” and the meaning behind it.

The guy argued it’s not the word itself but how it’s used and that I was perpetuating the problem of fat nonacceptance. He stated that he didn’t see the word “fat” as an insult. Which I get that not everyone will see it as an insult because it’s all based on personalities and experience. He further stated that “How can it be an insult if you love yourself the way you are?”

For me it’s about sensitivity and understanding. While using the word “fat may not be hurtful to all but there will be a good amount that associate the use of that word to a negative, so why use it? Sure everyone has to get to a point where words don’t hurt as much but that takes time. If you truly love someone for who they are inside and out, wouldn’t you do whatever possible to not hurt them?

I equated the use of “fat” to calling someone gay a “faggot” or someone who’s intellectually disabled the r word. These are all nicknames that are used to degrade and put down someone. I will admit that there are double meanings for the word fat unlike the “f” and “r” words. Like there’s fat in our diets it’s only when that word is used to describe someone who is overweight, even when it’s used a loving way, that could be hurtful to others.

Now I may be completely wrong and uber sensitive but I always try to be thoughtful of other’s feelings. I believe you still love yourself and not like a certain word. It’s understanding that not everyone is at the point in their life where they’ve healed their wounds from the use of fat and the many other degrading names used to put them down.

Joel Osteen’s Mixed Messages

So I have always felt indifferent when it came to Joel Osteen. My mother loved watching his sermons on television and why wouldn’t she with his positive, uplifting sermons of love but they always left me feeling less… knowing how he felt in regards to being gay. I’ve felt his message of love was only for those who weren’t gay.

Now it has come out that he believes that God accepts gay people and that they can get into heaven but he still compares homosexuality (his terms) to sins like negativity, pride, etc. These are all behaviors and actions that one could reasonably change unlike being gay which contrary to other’s beliefs being gay is something we are born with. I’ve always though why would a gay person chose a life full of ridicule, persecution and hate???

Now many of you might believe that Osteen is gay friendly, especially with hearing him say that God accepts gay people but what is important is to look past this message and listen to other many things he has and continues to say about gay people. Like for example gay people “aren’t God’s best.”

He can preach a message of love all he wants but it’s only if you ask God to forgive you for being gay… and then you will be worthy of God’s love… This is a very mixed message and one that can’t only but make you feel less if you’re gay.

In an interview with Pierce Morgan Joel Osteen stated that he would not marry a gay couple, as it went against what the bible taught. Osteen’s wife responded to Pierce asking her if she would attend a gay wedding in which she replied if she had the time.

There are some who are very vocal in their hate towards gay people and I’m not saying that Joel hates gay people but I do believe his message sends a wrong one into this world… especially to gay people. Indifference is just as harmful as hate.

While Joel Osteen is different from many pastors that preach intolerance and hate on the  pulpit, he still is saying similar things outside the church and in the public eye that other pastors preach about on the pulpit… he’s just less vocal and packages it a sugar coated candy shell.

Personally I don’t need man to tell me that God accepts me, nor do I need him to tell me that God loves me… I’ve lived most of my listening and believing man’s lies about God. I’m at the point now where I am learning to break way the hold that their lies had on me. It’s taken me over twenty years to come to this revelation. I still struggle daily with my beliefs and my spirituality, and while I don’t quite know what I believe in I do know what God is not… God is love… Being gay is not a sin… and those who believe otherwise are blinded by their ignorance and fear.

Joel Osteen and other’s like him are missing the point of Jesus’ message was. Jesus was the champion of the oppressed. He was killed for what other’s viewed to be like a sin. It is no different than how others treat the love gay people share. So many get caught up in the semantics of what two men or women share but what they miss is the bond has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with love.

With so many children growing up feeling less for being different, gay and straight, the true messengers of the world have a duty to life them up… not tear them down. While Joel Osteen doesn’t tear gay people down, he surely doesn’t life us up either! Gay youth are killing themselves because others lead them to believe they are bad and there is no way for them to survive in a world filled full of hate.

With the invention of the internet we are constantly inundated in messages, many of them very negative and harmful. You can hear a hundred positive message but it only takes one strong to tear you down. Gay youth grow up hearing others share their hate towards gay people and many of them go home to the same kind of hate. If you are constantly beat down eventually you learn to not get back up.

Joel Osteen could be the hand that helps these beautiful children up, yet he chooses to turn his back. When you have lived your life faced with hate, you get a clear understanding when someone is uncomfortable with someone being gay and how they feel deep inside. Yes some of his message is positive and some not so positive but for me it’s what he doesn’t say that gets me the most.

I look at it this way:

If Sin=Bad and Gay=Sin then Gay=Bad

No matter how you look at this formula there is no way to not feel bad about it because when you say that being gay is a sin, you are saying being gay is bad.

A sin is defined as an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law.

So therefor those that believe that being gay is a sin believe that it’s immoral and against divine law. How is that suppose to make me and anyone else who is gay feel good? Osteen believes gay people can get into heaven if we confess our sins and ask for forgiveness. You don’t have to hear him say this because in order to get into heaven you must ask for forgiveness, if you go by the teachings of christianity.

Why would God need us to ask for forgiveness when he made us this way? There evidence that being gay is a choice but there is in regards to being born that way.  All it does is make people feel less for something they can’t change.

It makes me sad that people like Osteen miss the mark. His message doesn’t apply to you if you’re gay and there’s anything anyone can do to convince me otherwise. Megachurches are big business and Osteen is a smart businessman. Until the day I hear Osteen change his views on being gay is a sin, I won’t change my views.

Pretty In Pink #RealEqualityWearsPink

So yesterday was pinkalicious success. There were people from all over the country who took to the streets in pink, including overseas! It was wonderful to see so many different walks of life come together to support and stand up against gay violence and hate. Yesterday showed to the world that we aren’t going to take this sitting down, that we have the numbers on our side. Even the mayor of Columbus, Michael B. Coleman, wore pink in support of our cause! As you can see by the sea of pink below we have a lot of pink support! Rock on. Let’s remember to continue this conversation and help to spread awareness that that everyone stays safe. Remember Love always conquers hate!!!

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Take To The Street in Pink Tonight Meet at 6pm at Southbend Tavern

“Hey Facebook Friends! I hope you can join me or send some positive energy out into the world starting at 6pm this Friday, June 14 as I “Step Out” against crimes against the LGBT community. I am walking a total of 5 miles, making four stops at the scenes of four hate crimes. It’s time to throw some positive karma back into our world and let the thugs know that we will FIGHT BACK!”

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I found this on the event PINK FRIDAY page and I wanted to share it to you because I think it’s important to make a statement!!!

At 6pm tonight in Columbus Mark Buckingham and friends will be walking from Southbend Tavern (126 East Moler, Columbus, Ohio 43207)!!!

It would be great to have a bunch of people in PINK walking the streets to STAND UP AGAINST GAY VIOLENCE AND HATE!!!