What I’ve always admired about life is the choice it gives us every morning.
We get to wake up and decide how we want the day to go. Are we going to show up for the world fully or partially?
If you’re anything like me, you choose fully. You choose freely. You choose passionately.
But my own freedom of expression didn’t come cheap—which is why, during my recent travels in Asia, when I was threatened with death because of what I was wearing and who I am, I was startled to my core.
I felt violated.
I felt wronged.
I admittedly felt like a victim.
After that scary experience, I started thinking how lucky I am to live full-time in New York City, a mecca of personality that encourages diversity and acceptance among all people. I began to think about how many millions of people don’t have the same privilege as I do, and how many suffer in shame because their communities aren’t accepting.
I also began thinking about what I could do to give back, because at the end of the day, I am lucky and it does me no good to pretend that everyone else has it as good as I do.
So here is my response, in spoken word form, to the man who threatened to kill me because I’m gay. I share it for all of you who have been taken advantage of or hurt by anyone, ever. This piece is not about being gay. This piece is not about being victimized. This piece is about the potential within all of us to look at what happens in our lives as a catalyst for waking up with fire burning in our veins every single morning and living as though we’ve never lived before.
We are all a community, and our community will not thrive until we can learn to support one another and acknowledge and celebrate each other’s differences, rather than look down on them.
Here’s to all the brave souls who keep showing up to the world in big ways despite the obstacles. Your hearts and your uniqueness are appreciated—this one’s for you.
Keep f*cking shining,
Author: Garrett Paknis
Editor: Nicole Cameron