As I left Ohio, I looked down at my three new keys. Two storage units and a P.O. Box.
Tab you are without a home. To say that I am homeless does not mean I do not have a place to stay. As many of you know, I am teaching at a summer program in Michigan. While here I am subletting someone’s apartment.
But this is not my home. It is temporary. It is filled with another person’s stuff. This stuff includes lots of religious iconography. I sleep underneath a cross.
I am a girl without a home.
In the next week I will begin a search for housing in Ohio. This will certainly be my last year. Three years longer than I initially anticipated.
The place I find will be comfortable but not a home. It will be temporary. I will resist putting too many things like pictures around the house. I will know that shortly I will be leaving. I will not get too comfortable or attached. The place will not be my home.
For the first time in three years, I face the reality of moving into a space alone. Of being the one person responsible for the upkeep and whatever love that will enter the house. I won’t have to share a bathroom or compromise.
As thrilling as this should be, I am also dealing with anger. I do not want to have to do this alone.
The writing of this is steeped in privilege. I do not fear not having a place to sleep at night. I have the money to pay a deposit on whatever residence I decide to lease. I do not fear not being able to afford utilities or any essentials.
I am aware that while homeless LGBT youth represents 7% of the youth population, they account for 40% of the homeless youth.
That for many queer kids in this country finding a safe place to rest their head each and every night is a struggle.
“They are always getting kicked out the house. They never have homes.” This was one of the many reasons I told myself I did not like being around lesbians as a teen. They just seem to have so much drama. It is always easier to look at the LGBT youth as the problem and not the society we live in.
They are children without homes.
I have been in community and in relationships with adults who were kicked out of their homes as a child for being queer. That kind of pain never really heals. When she tells me about her 16-year old self being called a dyke. Her mother throwing plates at her and her brother assaulting her per their mother’s request because she was dating a girl- my heart breaks. Knowing her story is one that is too common.
Many years have passed, yet her greatest fear remains being homeless.
She is a girl without home.
She was a girl I try to be home for. To give a home to.
But I was also just a girl without a home.
“I cannot go home as who I am It seems. Unredeemed by what blood? Unsaved by what grace? Unnatural by whose standard?”
A young male poet performs this in Marlon Riggs’ 1995 documentary on Black identity Black is….Black Aint. This poem introduces the section where sexuality, religion, and Blackness are explored.
This poem always resonates with me. People often ask me when I will go home again. They mean to my hometown. They mean to my father’s church. They mean to my parent’s house.
Some days I respond not anytime soon. Other days I tell them I do not have a home.
No one ever talks about the queer kids who grow up to be queer adults. Who come into their adultness and their queerness away from their family and the community they grew up in. No one ever talks about the pieces of themselves they are encouraged to hide- explicitly and implicitly in order to be welcomed home. No one talks about the parents who might never overtly demonize your queerness with words, yet their actions creates the same results. The attention and favor they bestow on the performances of heteronormativity present in their other children produces just as much pain. Pain that is often hard to put in words because no one ever beats you up, no one ever calls you a dyke. They just pretend that aspects of you and your life do not exist.
Home denotes a place of safety, of care and permanence.
I am a girl without a home.