With my own journey and experience, I have a unique perspective and a personal insight. As a fourteen year old teenager, it was horrible struggling with my identity and sexual orientation.
I have attempted to commit a cruel act upon myself as a youth, I tried to commit suicide. Living on the Navajo Reservation I grew up surrounded with poverty, knowing little about the outside world, even though I lived near Farmington New Mexico. Farmington is a town that was only five minutes away but yet I still felt isolated, alienated, and I was struggling with my identity. Then I’ve encountered stereotypes and being discriminated against due to the fact I identified myself as native (Dine’-Navajo) and gay.
During my years struggling I was scared to accept myself because I felt that no one cared and I was afraid of what others will think. There were no resources at that time, and now I do not want any youth to feel the I way I did. That is why I developed Celebrate LIFE so we can keep reaching out to LGBTQ/Two-Spirit (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning) youth who are struggling because there are so many other opportunities for our youth and there is help.
These struggles led us to create a successful project call “Celebrate Life Skate and Ride Across the Rez”, a six day tour around the Navajo Nation Reservation a total of 474 miles of skateboarding and biking From Shiprock NM, Kayenta AZ, Tuba City AZ, Wheatfields AZ, Chinle AZ, Lukachukai AZ, Shiprock “Rock”, and back to Shiprock NM. The goal was spread awareness on Suicide Prevention, LGBTQ/Two-Spirit, Celebrating Life, and to advocate for Rethink Dine’ Power on their efforts for a Skatepark in Shiprock NM.
The youth who led this expressed their appreciation to the communities and advocating for Shiprock Skatepark. They were all proud of themselves and for achieving their message. I also educated the youth on suicide among LGBTQ/Two-Spirit people and how it’s very hard for youths to celebrate their individuality because people are not aware on how vulnerable they are. My steps are connecting the dots within all the communities, building bridges with the community, and making connections with rural and urban communities through communication, support and strength.
Individual donors, my NYLA seed funding and our NYLA partnership network helped me promote and outreach for all youth. I began my NYLA fellowship journey last October which supported me on my path to bring my vision to my community and to the world. NYLA provides a community of young visionaries and elders to help us to continuously learn and continue to create what our communities need most. NYLA also connected me to the Brown Boi Project, a community of masculine of center womyn, men, two-spirit people, transmen, and our allies committed to transforming our privilege of masculinity, gender, and race into tools for achieving Racial and Gender Justice. Brown Bois are from diverse cultural communities and I have another family of leadership and personal support all across the country.
I plan to have more projects that will encourage a spark, imagination, fuel skill-sharing, workshops and performances that bring all youths and communities to come together to share the creative and extraordinary ways to grow and learn from each other. With this I hope all would be informed about suicide and LGBTQ/Two-Spirit our youth or either be allies within their own communities. I hope that one day I will be a resource for future gay native youths. We would like to thank all skaters/BMX’ers, all donors, and supporters for making our project a success.