Worldwide Visionaries is proud to spotlight the work of Deseree Fontenot, a student at the University of Southern California. In 2007, Deseree started a program called “Outreach”, which set out to create a tangible resource to connect High Schools and LGBT youth to GSA information and…
I’ve had librarians say to me, “People in my school don’t agree with homosexuality, so it’s difficult to have your book on the shelves.” Here’s the thing: Being gay is not an issue, it is an identity. It is not something that you can agree or disagree with. It is a fact, and must be defended and represented as a fact.
To use another part of my identity as an example: if someone said to me, “I’m sorry, but we can’t carry that book because it’s so Jewish and some people in my school don’t agree with Jewish culture,” I would protest until I reached my last gasp. Prohibiting gay books is just as abhorrent…
Discrimination is not a legitimate point of view. Silencing books silences the readers who need them most. And silencing these readers can have dire, tragic consequences. Never forget who these readers are. They are just as curious and anxious about life as any other teenager.
We may have never met, and I may never be blessed with the opportunity to meet you. But even though I may not know your name or recognize your face, I still want you to know that I love you. I want you to know that I appreciate you for who you are, as you are. It doesn’t matter to me if you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, heterosexual, or anything else in between. It doesn’t matter to me if you are cisgendered, bigendered, transgendered, queergendered, nongendered, or any other gender identity. It doesn’t matter to me if you are “settled” in your sexual and gender identity or if you are still questioning and searching or if you haven’t yet found the words to describe what you’re feeling. All that matters to me is that you are YOU.
I don’t love you based on what kind of clothes you wear, who you date, who you have sex with (or who you don’t), what your genitals are, what you call yourself, what gender pronoun you prefer, or what your haircut looks like. No—I love you for your kindness. I love you for your brilliance. I love you for your compassion and your drive and dedication. I love you for your confidence. I love you for your insecurities, for your fears and anxieties. I love you for your failures as much as for your successes. I love you for your imperfections. I love you for your beauty that defies stereotypes and standards. I love you for loving those around you. I love you for the days you know who you are, and for the days you don’t. I love you for your beautiful soul, for your vibrant spirit, for your individuality. I love you because you exist and because YOU deserve to be loved. I love you because you are you.
So when you are feeling lonely or isolated, remember you are loved. When you are feeling unwanted or judged or rejected, remember there is someone out there who loves you as you are, where you are. When you feel lost, remember there is someone who loves you in the midst of your confusion and who will walk with you as you make your way back to being “found.” When you are hurting, remember you are not alone and that there is someone waiting to kiss your boo-boos and help make it better. When you are feeling ashamed, remember there is someone who loves you unconditionally and unabashedly. When you feel like you don’t belong, remember you always have a place in someone’s heart.
It is okay to ask questions. It is okay to not know what words fit you best. It is okay to embrace the confusion and the questions and uncertainty and let yourself go with the flow. It is okay to feel like a “she” one day and a “ze” or a “he” or “just me” the next. It is okay to like “girls.” It is okay to like “boys.” It is okay to like no one at all or everyone at once. It is okay to paint your nails pink and lime green and call yourself “him/he.” It is okay to wear baggy pants and bow ties and call yourself “her/she.” It is okay to be whoever you want to be and to have people respect you for that. It is okay to LOVE YOURSELF as you are. You are perfect as you are in this moment, whatever that means, whatever that looks like, whatever you call it. Remember, there are people who already love you for you. <3
is getting to read whatever books I want—not books I have to read for any class or project. But books I legitimately want to read. And I get to read them at whatever pace I like. No pressure. :) In the past two weeks I have finished two substantial books that I have been wanting to read for awhile. I highly recommend them both. They are…
(For the Kindle version of the book, click here: Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption)
THE MEANING OF MATTHEW
Lunch today was the best thing ever. We ate at a place called “K.” The whole place is decorated with rainbow flags and LGBT pride photos and it was AMAZING. When we walked in, I was like “Wait…waaaaait…what is this? WHAT?? This is wonderful!!” I proceeded to take pictures of the photo displays and geek out over how much I loved the place…PLUS it was mostly Vegan, which made me uber happy as well. :) Many pictures included for you today, my loves!
Ali and I woke up at 5 AM for morning exercises again this morning. We did some sprints, power walking, and running. Once again, the humidity was incredible for that early in the morning. We spent about 45 minutes out and then went back to the hotel for our morning swim/laps. So refreshing. :) Breakfast was delicious, as always, and then I crashed for a nap that ended up being significantly longer than anticipated. :-D Ali went down by the pool and read. She eventually woke me up and we ventured out for lunch at the kick-ass gay-pride-filled restaurant, which just made my day. We also attempted to find the office for the bus company to book our bus tickets to Siem Reap and Sihanoukville for next week, but we got lost and it was hot and we were tired…so we hailed a tuk-tuk, went to Lucky Supermarket for some snacks for the room, and then walked back to the hotel. We spent the afternoon reading by the pool and swimming. At 5, we went to Wat Langka for our daily meditation and yoga session. It was beautiful this evening, and there was an incredible breeze wafting through the meditation room. Very peaceful and refreshing. :) I sent up several prayers for my friends, so let me know how those work out for you guys. ;-)
We have received several responses from some of the organizations we are wanting to meet with/interview/work with, so we are thrilled about that. We are currently setting up logistics and communicating with these groups about the best way we can help them (and learn from them). I am excited to get started on that.
This evening Ali and I decided to enjoy dinner at the hotel and play a few games of cards. It was a great way to end the evening. We are heading to bed now. Tomorrow is a new day with new adventures awaiting us. Can’t wait. :) That’s all for now, tumblr. <3