“At the end of the day, this is all you have.”
Last night I went to a candelight vigil for another amazing inspiring strong powerful queer youth who took her own life. Mosey Diaz was an active member of Picture the Homeless – the first young person who ever attended one of our Youth Organizing meetings, an incredible woman who was always full of positivity and always smiling.
The vigil was at twilight, on Pier 45 on the Hudson River, which has such deep resonance for queer youth but also for all queer New Yorkers – it’s where the Pride Parade terminates, tens of thousands of us disgorged onto the waterfront, exhausted and loud and drunk and naked and proud and happy – or some, or none of those things, and a whole lot more besides. Global Action Project had organized the event – Mosey was active there, as well as with the Bronx Community Pride Center and the LGBT Center’s YES Program. Arriving at the event, it was clear from the size of the crowd that Mosey had been an important part of a lot of communities, and that a lot of people loved her a lot.
I arrived with a lot of anger, and a lot of sadness. Specific sadness, about Mosey being gone from this earth, about whatever she had going on around her that led her to such a terrifying decision; and more general sadness, about the world we live in, and the rash of queer suicides and what that means for us, what it means about our society, how it’s more evidence of the injustices that are fundamental to the structure of our world, how race plays into our sense of self, how homelessness and poverty exacerbate all these other issues.
But after just a few minutes, that sadness and anger turned into something else. Hearing so many inspiring queer youth tell stories about how they knew Mosey, how they loved her, how they feel terribly guilty about failing to respond to a text message or a Facebook status update “Like,” how they remember her non-stop smile, how this should be a wake-up call to stop the shade and love one another and really really really love them, and tell them they’re loved, and tell them they’re amazing and inspiring (there’s that word again, but what other one is there?), because you really truly honest-to-Jebus never know (because, of the queer youth that I know, Mosey was pretty much the last one I would have expected to take her own life)… standing there with our candles pressed together, watching the sky over the river turn purple and then darken, watching the spire of the Empire State Building appear and disappear through low-drifting clouds, feeling another October come to an end, another year over, all of us that much closer to the dark, my sadness and anger became something else. Something still melancholy and mournful, but also stronger and more resolved, more – yes – inspired, reminded of why I’m a community organizer, determined to support folks coming together to figure out ways we can fend off the forces of hate and oppression.
One young woman was pretty frank about the ups and downs of her relationship with Mosey, but she used that to make the point that we all need to do a better job of loving each other. Concretely, physically, through specific acts, through saying how we feel. “Look around you,” she said, “because at the end of the day, this is all you have.”
And that, to me, summarizes what was most empowering about last night’s vigil. We are all we have. The stuff doesn’t matter. I half-agree with the Buddha, about the world being illusion, about all things being false, about suffering coming from clinging to false things, attachments to illusions. But as I understand it, Buddhism includes other people in that – that much of our suffering comes from our relationships with others, from the lust and desire and fear and longing and grief and anger that come from our attachments to people. It makes sense to me, to think of the universe as illusion, to think of the cold and the hostile and the cruel elements in this world as components of that. But people are real. People are not illusions. We need each other. This is all you have.*
I had planned to take photos, but of course once I got there I could not. Our grief was for us, for the folks standing in the cold clutching Styrofoam cups that kept our candles from blowing out. For our community; not for anyone else. So this blog post is submitted without imagery.
* – I’m not a Buddhist, and it’s entirely possible that I’m completely misunderstanding this central concept. I apologize. As the Dalai Lama says, if there’s a Buddhist equivalent to the Christian concept of original sin, it’s fundamental ignorance.Posted on: October 27, 2010, by : Sam J. M.
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