When I first came out in a song, I knew that people were listening. It was one of my first performances. I was afraid. I was showing them my singing, my guitar hands, my lyrics, my stage presence, my sexuality, all at once. What would they think? Would they judge me? I looked around myself on the stage that night. I was surrounded by so much talent. They asked me to be there. I got my t-shirt and I was a part of the team. Look what we did together!
There are so many of us, musicians, teachers, activists. We have so much to offer the world and we do great work in our communities. There are many folks with various kinds of jobs who are just like us, and with our student loan debt, we’ll be working hard for the rest of our lives. That’s how it should be. We should all work hard, yet we shouldn’t have to go into so much debt to get an education and a good job. I had a college scholarship and got good grades and worked hard. I have to believe that one day, I will conquer this. I deserve a future full of happiness and abundance. A family, regular stuff that normal people ask for when they plan their lives.
I look at my community and my colleagues in education and the arts. We are educated. I have so many friends and allies in the LGBT community. We want a fair chance to have a normal life. This is our movement. I came out of the closet and I watched so many others do the same. More will follow. Visibility creates a voice for our community, a political voice. Now, people are thinking about us when bills get passed and decisions are made.
It is our turn to continue the fight for social justice and equality. I don’t have to feel alone when I see others at my side working for the things that we want: marriage equality and financial reform, job opportunities and affordable education. We work hard. Without visibility, none of this change would be happening. I’ve learned, I have to speak up if I want a job, an opportunity, a chance, consideration. I know I will get my opportunity. We will get it. I am not alone in my search. I want more people to be brave enough to come out with us.
My degree follows me everywhere and I’m proud of my education and experience. My debt also follows me. Even without a full time job, I am confidently walking on an amazing career path. I’m still looking for the job of my dreams. I work everyday, from home, in home, and I’m often commuting. I am an educator. I teach writing. I teach guitar. I teaching creativity. I teach social justice. I have a long way to go to get out of debt. I dream about this work taking me farther than I ever imagined. I dream of writing one big check for my student loan debt. Maybe a few small ones.
These past few years have been about setting goals and benchmarks. I made a list for myself. Find a career that you love. Done. More online radio airplay. Done. First $1000 gig. Done. Professional photos. Done. Start your coloring book. Done. Interviews/ and Press. Done. Bring more visibility to gay artists. Done. I started QueerCore (http://www.queenearth.com/queercore). Done. Play at Baltimore Pride. Done. Finish your damn album. Done. Find a job that you love so you can get out of student loan debt . . . Because that’s what this dream is really about. Getting ahead, pulling from behind, and getting a chance to leave a legacy. The next item on my list will be to work towards eliminating my student loan debt. Like the other work that I do, by coming out, I am making the path to education better for those who will follow in our footsteps.
Video Co-Produced by Chelsea Monae and QueenEarth
Written by M Smith