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Chicago

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

I had the privilege to accompany my dear friend and her loved ones to Chicago to celebrate her upcoming wedding. She asked us to join her at the American Writer's Museum for part of our trip: I hope this gives you an idea of how special she is and how lucky I am.


Americans have an incredible history of living vibrantly, honestly, and with freedom. American writers remind me when I forget.


One of the wall panels was dedicated to Henry David Thoreau. The museum curator wisely paraphrases that his writing encourages "respect for wilderness and personal conscience rather than yielding to society's expectations."


(Above photo taken by me at the American Writers Museum, March 2023)


When we were assigned to read Walden in high school, I connected with Thoreau immediately. Peace with nature in the face of industrialization resonated deeply with me and was refreshing from the grind of daily life, especially during my difficult high school days. I have sought peace in the entirety that Thoreau describes it, but had never considered that wildness is part of peace. Nature defies human-imposed order, and OUR true natures defy human-imposed order. As a non-binary person, this helps me feel a bit more natural in a world where I am not usually made to feel so.


Another panel displayed the most well-know part of Dr. King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" (1963):

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."


(Above photo taken by me at the American Writers Museum, March 2023)


I started this blog after feeling stirred to action in the face of recent proposed and passed anti-trans legislation. The anti-trans legislation isn't just about threatening queer people. It's a threat to every person, because whenever you deem one group of people to be less than human, the threat is open to all people regardless of race, socioeconomic status, gender, ability, sexual orientation, religion, immigration status, or any other label that is used to designate identity.


I am aware that in our current social and political context coming out as non-binary designates me as "different." I'm sharing my experience so that I may process it, but also because I want to offer you the opportunity to see that even if some of my experiences are different than yours, many of them have shared fundamental elements: joy, fear, grief, and wonder are common to every person. I also want to bring to the forefront that the threat of injustice to queer people is a threat to you, people you love, and everyone in this country, to "justice everywhere." I want to show you that we are connected, and should you choose, we can continue in the fight for freedom and growth together.


Before leaving the museum there was a section quoting Ann Landers, an advice columnist, "If I were asked to give what I consider the single most useful bit of advice for all humanity, it would be this: Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life, and when it comes, hold your head high. Look it squarely in the eye, and say, "I will be bigger than you. You cannot defeat me." That is my current plan for the challenges that I face and I invite you to join me.


(Above photo taken by me at the American Writers Museum, March 2023)


The American Writer's Museum and the authors honored in it's walls reminded me that you and I are part of a legacy of freedom. With this legacy comes the challenge of exploring what it means when a beautiful array of people learn to be free together. The writers also reminded me to speak the truth, fight for justice for myself and for others, and face my challenges head on. When I feel alone, I must remember I am descended from generations of Americans who have done the same.






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rebecca.letterman1
rebecca.letterman1
Apr 01, 2023

Thank you for reminding me that I need reminded of values that I espouse and hold dear - and that at times we all need to be reminded of what we say we value, so that we can learn to live in ways that evidence those values. (I especially love your phrase "when a beautiful array of people learn to be free together." It IS a learning process, and we are not alone in that process. I am glad to be a learner with you!)

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