Keeping Families Together
The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog
December 30, 2011
It Was A Good Year. The Next Will Be Even Better
By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA
For our last blog of 2011 we decided to share two stories—by now you know how much we love stories—that illustrate both how far away we are from where we want to be, but also the reason for our optimism that we will get there.
During an impromptu dinner on our last evening in Minneapolis, when the mood was friendly and talk free flowing, Karin Aguilar-San Juan told Wayne’s story. Karin is a member of St. Paul’s Clouds in Water Soto Zen Community. One Sunday she was at the Zen Center when a call came in. On the line was a lonely man staying at a Motel 6 on his way back to Washington DC where he lived. They got to talking and Wayne, that is the man’s name, related how he came to be in St. Paul.
When Wayne was young and realized he was gay, he told his parents. The parents rejected him. He left and created a life for himself with a partner. Recently his partner died, and he himself is dying of AIDS. After all these years, Wayne is around 50, he wanted to go home for a last meeting with his parents and perhaps reconcile. He took the train to Alaska, but the journey was in vain for his parents rejected him again. They said that AIDS is what God wanted for him because of his gay lifestyle.
Wayne had little money and began hitchhiking home, stopping along the way at hospitals for treatment and so arrived in St. Paul. He called to make human contact and said that the Buddhist community is his only family. Members of the Zen Center collected money so Wayne could stay one more night at the motel and have dinner at a nearby restaurant. Karin ended her story by saying that Wayne’s DC friends FedEx’ed him a train ticket and she hopes he is back in DC with people who know and love him. After all this, Wayne still hopes that his parents may change their minds.
On the resource table at the BOLD conference was a stack of flyers with “Drop The Charges” across the top and “Support CeCe” across the bottom, both in large, capitalized, bold letters. Chrishaun McDonald, CeCe, is an African American transgender woman charged with stabbing to death a white man just after midnight on June 5, 2011, outside a bar in Minneapolis, but the story is a little more involved than just that.
On that early morning, CeCe and a couple of her friends, all black, went to an all-night grocery store. On the way they passed a bar where a man and two women, all white, began to yell racial and transphobic epithets at them. A fight broke out and CeCe’s cheek was slashed all the way through with a piece of glass. Subsequent events are not clear, but CeCe either stabbed the white male with a pair of scissors or he walked into scissors CeCe was holding. At ay rate, CeCe was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. She maintains her innocence and claims self-defense against a racist and transphobic attack that turned violent. She was kept waiting for three hours before her initial interrogation and, while in prison, spent a month in solitary confinement. Throughout her ordeal the district attorney never even recognized the hate crime committed against her and both the media and district attorney referred to her by the wrong pronoun. CeCe’s community sprang into action: constructing a website, holding fundraisers, writing media alerts and doing all those things necessary to agitate against this injustice. They raised enough money to post bail and in October CeCe was finally released from jail, but remains under house arrest. Her trial date is set for April 30th, 2012.
Wishing All Of You An Amazing 2012! And Keep Up The Good Work
Work remains to be done. We must educate parents who believe in a God who exacts terrible vengeance when one of is His rules is broken (are they even His rules?). We must teach people that it is not all right to hate people who don’t conform to roles assigned to them, but who otherwise don’t do any harm. Thankfully, all around us, in ways immeasurable, communities spontaneously spring up doing just that.
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride www.apifamilypride.org