psa. if we’re mutuals, we’re automatically friends. u don’t need to say things like “sorry to bother” or “sorry im annoying” bc ur not. ur my friend. u can come to me for anything. u need help? im here. wanna chat? hmu. just wanna gush abt your muse? go for it. we’re friends. ily.
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i was just starting my day at my new job. it was right after my brother died and just as my boyfriend was recovering from surgery. so, i had just dropped jaydon off for school and when i am work, i take off my mom hat, my daughter hat, my wife. i’m like, from 9-5, don’t call me! - unless it’s an emergency of course.
it was about 8.30am when i hear my phone go off. it’s a text message from jaydon. it read “oh yeah, by the way, i’m gay.” i’m looking at my phone like “is this happening now?” my first thought was that i wanted to hug him, love on him and tell him i love him. i wanted to tell him how brave he is. i texted him, “i love you. are you ok? i love you.” i’m like “wow, that took so much bravery. i’m so proud of you.”
as soon as i turned 14, i spent that entire year figuring stuff out. i knew that my mother was not going to be NOT accepting but i just didn’t know how to approach it. i had never said it out loud.
it was the summer before high school and i was like i need to come out because i’m not going to be closeted in high school, i wanna be myself.
i told my sister in march 2018 after we saw “love, simon.” i told my mother may 15, 2018.
that morning i woke up and was like “i’m gonna tell her today.” she was at work and i couldn’t wait until she got home. so i thought it was easier to tell her through text so she could read when she was alone. i remember her texting back, “i love you and are you ok?” that was because in middle school, i was teased a lot. my mother and i have always been close. she is even more protective now.
when i got the steps of the school, i told my friends that i came out to my mother and started to cry. i felt free.
jessica & jaydon
interviewed & photographed by: louie a. ortiz-fonseca
note from louie: i grew up with jessica. she was always one of the most supportive friends i had. on the day jaydon came out to her, she called me to celebrate. i am so proud to know her and now work in partnership with jaydon in national lgbtq organizing. for other coming out stories from lgbtq youth, go check out @mystoryoutloud. happy national coming out day!
Affirming a transgender student’s gender by using pronouns that align with their gender identity has been shown to improve mental health outcomes. We’re dedicating today to uplifting the need for normalizing the usage of pronouns and a report on transgender students’ intersectional health disparities. Hit the link below for more information.
When you’re living with HIV, finding community can be hard. When you do, sometimes having HIV is the only common factor. When you do come across a group of people who look like you, around your age, had similar familial backgrounds, history, traditions, traumas and triumphs, you finally feel like you have a space where you belong. The Gran Varones Project is that space for me. Belonging to a group of folks with similar diverse identities, intersections, and outlooks is crucial to my survival. Being able to uplift, empower and encourage each other in ways we aren’t able to find outside of our space is what our community does best.
Carlos, He/They (right)
Los Ángeles, CA
Gran Varones Fellow
This year National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day turns 17, the same age as the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, and the same age as me when I began my journey through houselessness to Southern abolitionist organizing and building communities with other Poz folks. I recognize that the medications I take to suppress my viral load emerge out of environmentally and physiologically costly mining around the world. Yet, neither viruses nor ICE can recognize the intimacies that make health possible and it is in that lack of recognition that we can forge new healthier assemblages with each other and flourish.
Gran Varones Fellow
interviewed & photographed by: gran varones
chi chi devayne, who dazzled and charmed the world as part of the season 8 cohort of “rupaul’s drag race” passed away on august 20th, 2020 from complications of pneumonia. chi chi was just 34 years old.
born on september 24, 1985, her drag name “chi chi” was inspired by john leguizamo’s character “chi chi rodriguez” from the 1995 film “to wong foo, thanks for everything! julie newmar.” the devayne surname is from the devayne drag family of shreveport.
chi chi’s passion for drag was ignited on halloween night 2010 when she dressed in drag for the first time and won a talent show at the only queer club in shreveport performing “bullet proof” by la roux. during a 2019 appearance on the “hot glue and rhinestone” podcast, chi chi shared that dominating the friday night talent show for several weeks, she was added the club’s saturday night drag line-up.
after quitting two jobs and her drag gig in shreveport, chi chi joined the cast of season 8 drag race and quickly became a fan favorite. she cemented her place in “drag race” history after her now legendary performance of jennifer holiday’s “and i am telling you.” chi chi placed fourth and returned to the “drag race” stage two years later as part of season 3 of “all stars.”
in 2018, chi chi was diagnosed with scleroderma, a rare autoimmune condition that affects the body by hardening connective tissue. last month she as hospitalized for suspected kidney failure related to scleroderma. a few days ago, chi chi updated fans via instagram video messages sharing that she was battling pneumonia, “keep me in your prayers. i’ll be back soon.”
RIP chi chi. thank you for everything!
in 2007, two years after the launch of youtube, a video of the late great moi renee performing their now legendary underground house song “miss honey” was uploaded bestowing a blessing that the world desperately needed but did not and still does not deserve.
moi renee was born in jamaica before moving to new york city in the late 1970s. by the early 1990s, moi renee was studying dance at alvin ailey while also quickly becoming a fixture in the new york queer club scene. moi renee’s vibrant camp style and drag made them one of the most popular performers and personalities at the now-defunct club shelter.
in 1992 moi renee released “miss honey” which was produced by franklin fuentes. the track is now categorized as a ballroom track but during its initial release was considered a “bitch track” – an early subgenre of house music. other bitch tracks include franklin fuentes’ “tyler moore mary” (1995), ralphie rosario’s “la puta” (1995), junior vasquez’s “if madonna calls” (1996) and one of the early baltimore house jams frank ski’s “tony’s bitch track.” (1992).
“miss honey” garnered attention at the queer club level and landed moi renee a now legendary appearance on the public access gay cable network’s talk show hosted sybil bruncheon. backed by two dancers, moi renee serves the gurls perfection in a black catsuit and neon green bouffant wig with matching lipstick.
moi renee did not live long to witness the mass celebration of their performance of“miss honey.” moi renee died in 1997. “miss honey” has since been remixed numerous times with a new generation of queer party goers shouting as they dance, “i know you hear me calling you, miss honey!”
there once existed a black queer man who used the art of mixing songs to transform a converted parking garage into an oasis for black, brown and queer folks who were committed to surviving together – on the dance floor.
the paradise garage, located on 84 king street in manhattan, opened its doors in 1978 quickly became the temple where legions of followers came to listen to larry levan move them through a ministry of sound.
born on july 20, 1954 in new york city, larry levan was an eccentric and expressive teen who dyed his hair orange decades before it was a norm in the punk community. after experiencing bullying from classmates, larry dropped out of school and found community in the black ballroom community in the late 1960’s.
larry began to make a name for himself as a dj when by playing alongside the legendary dj frankie knuckles (RIP) at the continental baths in the early 1970’s. he quickly became the breakout star of the emerging new york disco nightlife, but it would be his residency at the paradise garage that made him a legend.
larry not only mastered the mixing and reconstruction of songs but his style created an atmosphere that helped to birth the sound of new york house music and culture.
in 1987, as the AIDS epidemic tightened its grip on the community that frequented paradise garage, and impacted the health of the club’s owner, michael brody, paradise closed its doors – ending an one of the most influential eras in new york nightlife and dance music.
larry would go on to residencies at other clubs but the magic that was created at the garage could not be recreated. this left larry devastated. although larry struggled with addiction, he continued to spin at clubs throughout the world until his death on november 8, 1992. larry was just 38 years old.
those who were lucky enough to experience larry’s time at paradise garage often describe it as heaven on earth. larry created a space in the world where black, brown and queer people could be safe from homophobia, violence and AIDS – even if just for a few hours a night.
god bless the djs who saved our lives during a time when the world wanted us to die. thank you larry!
my mother worked for drug dealers. from monday – friday, regardless of how drunk or high she got the night before, she was up for work. i súplale this is where i got my work ethic and my ability to hold my liquor.
because of my mother’s line of work coupled with her very public struggle with addition, one of our neighbors called the police on us quite often. they would claim that my mother was endangering her children and kept massive amounts of drugs in the house – which was never true. she was adamant about that.
sometime late 1992, i was in my room watching music videos. it had to be sometime after 3pm because i was watching BET’s “video vibrations” and that came on 3pm. my mother was there getting dressed, i think. suddenly, we hear the front crash open and men yelling “freeze!” my young brothers were downstairs, before my mother and i could even react, cops with guns were bursting through my bedroom door. they ordered us on the floor as they pointed guns to our faces.
there we were laying face down on the floor with our hands on the back of our heads. i could hear the cops snickering. standing about me and my mother, one of them asks, “so which one is the faggot. we were told they was a faggot in here.” my mother and i, again face down on the floor, look at each other, i say, “that would be me.” i was 15 years old. the cops laughed. but you know what fuckin’ video began to play on the fuckin’ tv!? rupaul’s fuckin’ “supermodel (you better work).”
i was in awe at what i was watching from the floor. it was so gay. like, i mean, gay-gay! i asked my mother, “is that a drag queen?” my mother replies, “i think so.” i could not see what the cops were doing but i remember being able to hear them snicker. baybee, i am convinced that rupaul’s “supermodel (you better work)” music video played because my god is a faggot and they were letting me know via that video that when those cops asked about the faggot in the room, they summoned my faggot god. the cops searched and found no drugs. they left.
in the 28 years since the release of rupaul’s “supermodel,” i think of that moment i shared with my mother and my faggot god.
so yeah, FUCK THE POLICE – even the gay ones. my faggot god didn’t create gay police – white supremacy did.