Talking to You

Kate Reid

Hey you, yes, you. I’m talking to you. I’m talking to those of you who are unique out there
To the fringe folks and the freaks and to those of you who think you just might be queer
To the lesbians, the gays, the bisexuals and pan-sexuals, two-spirited and questioning people
To the hetero-flexible folks and our friendly allies
For those who swim against the current rather than just going along for the ride
And the ones who always ask the question “why”
For those of you who defy the rules and who lose the instructions that came in the nice
Neat, too much-plastic-wrap packaging, who think outside the box of social norms  that were formed many years ago by a bunch of now-dead white guys

For all of you living independently of gender: the transgendered, pan-gendered, non-gendered people
Who move back and forth along the spectrum, exploding the binary and blurring the lines where ever you go
For those of you who change your names and create your own pronouns
Who make loud and boisterous sounds when you’re being told what to do
For those who choose not to mind your p’s and q’s
Who just can’t keep your X’s and Y’s straight, who can’t think straight or see straight
Or even drive straight so instead go gaily forward

For the brazen head shavers and the body decorators, the brave risk takers who challenge the dress code
For you with the bold style and the really cool hair and for the big strong girls out there
Who challenge society’s expectations of body size
For the tomboys and the gay boys and the boys who wear dresses
For the dykes who wear dresses and for those of you who fight misogyny, internalized and world-wide, because you’re proud to name yourselves lesbian and you’re proud to name yourselves butch even though many of your friends are gender-neutral identified. Thank-you for the feminist reminder: for striving to become independent, grounded women who aren’t afraid to say no to others and yes to yourselves. You are profound.

This one's for all the Pride organizers and the marchers, the loudmouthed activists, the shameless agitators and the quiet riot makers who form committees and plan parades knowing that celebration and community building have the power to heal. And on that note, this one’s for those of you with survival stories to tell, who came out way before it was cool, before it was even legal, when it was still deemed a sociopathic disease by the American Psychiatric Association. It's for the ones who fought back, who survived those late-night, back-alley, bar raids and attacks by the hate-filled cops. It’s for the Compton Cafeteria rioters, the Stanley Street fighters, the rebellious Stonewallers, the Operation Soap retaliators, the We Demanders, the Brunswick Four, and for so many more. It's for Trudeau who, in 1968 said, “there is no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation” and for those of you still fighting whose names we don't know.
For all you queer artists too: the indie-film makers who film the stories we don’t see on the 6 o’clock news, for the dancers who groove to a different drum than all the rest, moving your bodies in rhythmic protest. For the visual artists who create art and create sparks inside of us and for you, who painted your doctorate degree about growing up gay in a small, Canadian town.
For those of  you who keep queer history alive by telling your stories, who forge literary pathways with poetry, prose and spoken-word, for the song-writers resisting hate and celebrating, inviting people to gather together in public spaces. For our lesbian folk-singing foremothers who laid the foundation that I'm standing and singing on today. And for all of you out there who support queer art, thank-you for coming to our shows, for cheering us on. I love it when you sing along, when you dance and rant and rave with us.

For all of the same-sex couples who get married to prove a point and for the ones who don’t get married to prove a point. For the out-laws and the in-laws, for our chosen families and the blood families who love us and for my first girlfriend who put up with my fear of being queer and for my lovely and loving, not-so-common-law partner in life who said “yes” to becoming my wife. For the kids who have transgendered parents and gay dads and lesbian moms, you kids are cool just because. You know what the word ‘queer’ means but you're not mixed up or corrupted because of it. You’re not afraid of deconstructing gender and sexuality like some of your teachers or other people may be. And when your classmates say “That's so gay”, you stand up and say “That's so not ok.”

And for all of our youth, queer and allied, who are surviving puberty, who are pushing on through that difficult time between being a child and being an adult, you’ve got all this love and passion and rage inside you….you’re amazing. Thank-you for putting your energy and brains to work to inspire a new world: for standing up for diversity, for re-arranging people’s belief systems and fanning the flames of change. And while you’re out there trailblazing, remember to be mindful and be kind to eachother. Commit random acts of compassion together. And hey, greet your elders when you see them on the street because they carved out the queer landscape of this country you’re living in and made it possible for you to be who you are today.

And, if you ever feel like giving up, giving in, if you're hanging on by a thread, full of dread because you can't face another day of being different, let me ask you this: What would it be like if you loved yourself today? And what would it take for you to follow the artist way? Because you see, making art is a radical act. And self-love is revolutionary, in fact. You know that quiet voice deep inside of you? Well, that's your own voice, that's your soul talking, it's your whole being calling out to you. It’s a choice to wake-up and pay attention and it’s a choice to use the gifts you’ve been given. Some people will try and tell you to change, oh yes, they'll say that chasing your aspirations isn't wise but pay them no mind: you've got to follow to your own inner guide. And it's true, self-doubt is going to creep in now and then, that is the nature of being human. But stalling isn't going to make you less afraid and ignoring it isn't going to make it all go away.

So hey you, yes you, I’m talking to you and I’m right here by your side, reminding you to keep your eyes fixed on that limitless skyline, that infinite horizon, where all of your wildest dreams lie. This one’s for you, my friend, and this is your time…to fly.