Reflections from the True Colors Conference

The 24 year old True Colors annual conference took place on March 17 and 18 and the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT.  It was wonderful to be among 2,000 LGBTQ high school and college youths from across Connecticut and the region in a place that was welcoming, affirming and joyous.  My spirit was renewed by the gift of their energy and zeal.  I was moved by the stories of the kids as they struggled to find a place of welcome in the world and their parents as many of them struggled to do the right thing at the right time for them.  Yes, there were also stories of rejection and demonization but this was a place of healing.  A quote I particularly liked - I think it was from Scott Fried - is "you are not responsible for your hurt but you are responsible for you healing.  The collective "we" have made tremendous progress over the last ten years but a conference like this also lets us all know that progress is fragile and there is a long way to go.  My takeaway as a Presbyterian is we need to do more in our congregations to ensure LGBTQ youths and adults have a welcome specifically for them because they have been marginalized and rejected in so many of their other interactions.  I was particularly moved by the poetry of Denice Frohman.  Here is her poem "Dear Straight People".  Her website is http://denicefrohman.com.

Dear Straight People,

Who do you think you are?
Do you have to make it so obvious that I make you uncomfortable?
Why do I make you uncomfortable?
Do you know that makes me uncomfortable?

Now we’re both uncomfortable.

Dear Straight People,
You’re the reason we stay in the closet.

You’re the reason we even have a closet.
I don’t like closets, but you made the living room an unshared space
and now I’m feeling like a guest in my own house.


Dear Straight People,
Sexuality and gender? Two different things
combined in many different ways.
If you mismatch your socks, you understand.


Dear Hip-Hop,
Why are you fascinated with discovering gay rappers?
Gay people rap. Just like gay people ride bikes and eat tofu.

Dear Straight People,
I don’t think God has a sexual orientation,
but if she were straight, she’d be a dope ally.
Why else would she invent rainbows?

Dear Straight Women,
I mean, “Straight Women.”
Leave me the fuck alone!

Dear Straight Men,
If I’m flirting with you, it’s because I think it’s funny. Just laugh.

Dear Straight People,
I’m tired of proving that my love is authentic. So I’m calling for reparations.
When did you realize you were straight? Who taught you?
Did it happen because your parents are divorced?
Did it happen because your parents are not divorced?
Did it happen because you sniffed too much glue in 5th grade?

Dear Straight People,
Why do I have to prove my love is authentic?
Why do I have to prove my love is authentic?
Why do I have to prove my love is authentic?
Why do you have to stare at me when I’m holding my girlfriend’s hand like I’m about to rob you?

Dear Straight People,
You make me want to fuckin’ rob you!

Dear Straight Allies,
thank you, more please!

Dear Straight Bullies,
You’re right. We don’t have the same values.
You kill everything that’s different, I preserve it.

Tell me, what happened to
Jorge Mercado?
Sakia Gunn?
Lawrence King?

What happened to the souls alienated
in between too many high school walls,
who planned the angels of their deaths in math class,
who imagined their funerals as ticker-tape parades,
who thought the afterlife was more like an after party.

Did you notice that hate
is alive and well in too many lunch rooms,
taught in the silence of too many teachers,
passed down like second hand clothing
from too many parents?

Dear Queer Young Girl,
I see you.
You don’t want them to see you so you change the pronouns in your love poems to “him” instead of “her.”
I used to do that.

Dear Straight People,
You make young poets make bad edits.

Dear Straight People,
Kissing my girlfriend in public without looking to see who’s around is a luxury I do not fully have yet.

But tonight, I am drunk in my freedom,
grab her hand on the busiest street corner in Philadelphia,
zip my fingers into hers and press our lips firmly,
until we melt their stares into a standing ovation, imagine
that we are in a sea of smiling faces,
even when we’re not
and when we’re not,
we start shoveling,
digging deep into each other’s eyes we say,
“Hey Baby, can’t nothing stop this tonight”
because tonight, this world is broken
and we’re the only thing
that’s going to keep it together.