Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day, National Coming Out Day, and Shiny New Certificate Day.

Both Indigenous Peoples’ Day and National Coming Out Day are dear to my heart.

At 14, I first “came out” in Arkansas where my self-extraction from the closet of Evanglical authoritarianism was not welcome. I called myself a lesbian, because I knew I wasn’t straight. Then I kept dating boys in high school who usually figured out they were gay around the time we broke up. I did not know how to be a gay man in my own body yet, but I spent more than a decade, years of hormone therapy, and a few surgeries trying to figure it out.

By 29, I’d learned being a gay man was not all it was cracked up to be. The gay part, yes. The man part? With cisnormative assumptions about how I was allowed to feel, and be, and express my rage and sadness about the harms of colonization and patriarchy? I couldn’t do it.

At 30, I retransitioned. Shedding the old, tired suit of manhood, I embraced the gown of Queerness. Changed hormone regimens again, which started a third puberty. I shifted to they/them pronouns, which I’d tried to do with the first transition but had been socially and medically pressured to “just choose one” cisnormative gender from the binary system despite my ineffective protests. I’d thought I was settling for “the lesser of two evils”. Now I understand what happens when I allow any evil to dwell in my heart. Never again.

I have since grown to understand that the binary system of gender exists to maintain white men’s illusory power over people of color and over non-men.

I wish a blessed Indigenous Peoples’ Day and — God willing — Indigenous Peoples’ Century to all the brilliant Two-Spirit folks whose names for your own gender, whose names in your own mother tongue, whose names for the world you love, deserve to be spoken fearlessly. As Dr. Mikaila Brown suggested during last week’s symposium at Cornell, may we forever more bring ourselves to meet you at the level of your power, and not reduce ourselves to the level of your pain. You are what makes this world worth living in and living for.

With deep, profound gratitude, I am happy to build upon these life experiences with a new, shiny Executive Leadership Certificate from Cornell University in #Diversity and #Inclusion, received yesterday. This certificate confers not only an accomplishment, but a sacred duty to honor those who’ve made this moment possible. I intend to serve you well, dear loves.