Virginia Woolf once said, “If you do not tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people." So this is where I begin the long arduous journey of sharing my truth. It is where the images I make and the reasons I have for making them come together. 



Reclaiming What's Important in This Election

This post is for the people who are tired. I am so tired. Tired of being mad and outraged…at something new…every day. Tired of judging and feeling judged.  Tired of feeling hurt, indignant and on some days, half crazy with grief over this madness.

At the end of this election, one person will have the power bestowed upon them by the highest office in the world. We can't change that but there is something more important we can change. We can refuse to give up the power to harden our hearts against each other. We can refuse to contribute the power of our cynicism, sarcasm and derision towards our neighbors. We can insist on looking for ways to see the humanity in each and every person, no matter what their opinion.

Believe me, I understand how challenging that is. I'm no pollyanna idealist. And I'm not saying you should give up your personal convictions. Have your convictions. And, after thorough vetting and research, vote your conscience. But we must find a way to return to that part of us that is kind, patient, respectful. Regardless of who occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the next four years, we all still have to live with each other.  We have to stand in line at the grocery store with each other. We have to sit across the table at Thanksgiving. So, what if we stop contributing to the vitriol in our own small corner of the universe? Resist the urge to share that nasty meme on Facebook. Resist the urge to write that brilliant but cruel comeback on someone else's post. Because all these little bits of meanness we spread matter. They contribute to building a world that I know none of us actually want.

What if we did have an uprising? But not just over economic policy, gun control or immigration. What if the uprising was "We will not let you make us crazy. We refuse to be the angry, scared people you are asking us to be. We refuse to spread more fear and anger in the world. Sit up there and make a mockery of this country on the world stage if you must, but we will not join you in this race to the bottom."

And with that off my chest, I'll share just a tiny fraction of the beautiful humans I've had the pleasure of meeting around the world the past couple of years. They remind me of who I am at my best and make me think bigger and better thoughts for our world.  

The Universality of Being Different

The first time I remember a painful awareness of being different was when my parents divorced. I was 9 years old, in a small, southern town. None of my friends had divorced parents. In my young mind, everyone had picture-perfect-Norman-Rockwell families…except for me. I was different. My Mom and Dad didn't live together anymore. Matter of fact, they "liked" other people. They couldn't both attend my birthday party when I turned 10, which was the biggest deal because turning double digits meant something. I went to great lengths to hide the details of this difference to my friends. I lied about why my Dad wasn't seen around the neighborhood anymore. I lied about why this other guy in a white corvette was being seen more and more at our house. I lied to delay the inevitable day that my being different became common knowledge. I didn't want them to think less of me. I didn't want to suffer the ridicule. I prayed on my knees, every night for years, that my family would become whole again. In part because I loved them. And in all honesty, in part because I wanted to not be different anymore.

Can't we all remember some moment, some set of circumstances, where we felt different and how painful it was? And can't that simple relatable experience be enough to open our hearts to every other ostracized soul in this world? Although I am not LGBTQ, my heart is broken wide open with compassion and outrage for what they have to deal with by being considered different in our society. We make different, very, very hard. We ridicule it. We demean it. We do everything we can to delegitimize it. We quote scripture as proof that the different will go to hell. We are simply not kind to different.

Perhaps the pinnacle of my 9 year old different came when a "friend" taunted me with it in front of a group. She had just found out my shameful secret. And with all the gleeful cruelty that kids can muster she stood up and sing-songed to everyone "Which one of these things is not like the other?!" I can still feel the heat in my cheeks and the desperate, adrenaline-fueled prayer I sent up of "Please, please, don't let her say it." 

She did say it. And I survived it. I lived another day to feel similar pains of being different on many more occasions. But most of those situations were of my own making. They existed largely, if not entirely, in my head and nowhere else. I cannot even imagine the torture of having my different debated and delegitimized in the media, in the courtroom and from behind the pulpit.

As I attend HB2 protests in Raleigh and see the bigoted signage and hear the hateful rhetoric, I marvel at anyone brave enough to stand up to that and fully be themselves in this world. Not just for a few months or years when you are 9, but every day forever. I'll never feel what it feels like to be LGBTQ, but I don't have to. Because I know what it feels like to be human and that's enough. I don’t have to feel what someone else feels to respect, honor and fight for their right to fully live it.