A Fresh Start

A Queer Millennial North Carolinian Reflecting on 2018

The arrival of 2019 brings exciting new things to all of us who spent the night of the 31st rubbing our rabbit tails as the clock ticked towards midnight. Though I find myself not only excited by the possibility of a fresh start but by my reflection on what has past. This January brings many things in my life full circle. From a shiny new office at my job after a year and a half of desk surfing to the rekindling of one of the most formative relationships of my life. I feel that things are changing as much as they remain the same.

Another year in the unchanging Old North State threatens to fold me back into its often toxic status quo. As I write I am inspired by the progress I have made with my own sexual identity and trauma through therapy and the pursuance of authenticity in my life. Yet, concurrently, national news breaks of a sexual assault on a transgender woman in the restroom of a Raleigh bar. The setting for such an assault is also interesting considering the sour taste of HB2 that is left in the mouths of LGBTQ+people and their allies across the nation.

I believe that for even the most cynical of my peers there lies a glimmer of hope in the coming of a new year. There is much to be said for that as it often feels as though the Triangle has become an epicenter of divisiveness since HB2. Perhaps the age at which I became politically enlightened is showing in that theory, though. HB2 was an affront to my burgeoning queer identity and I theorize that for many my age it could have been a similar wake-up call. Combining HB2 with the police violence I came of age amidst might give some insight to the minds of young Millennials and Generation Z’ers. The anger that grew from these surely is still felt in our political discourse today. The tearing down of Silent Sam at the University of North Carolina and decisions regarding all Confederate monuments dominated the Triangle zeitgeist this past year. I had a front-row seat when it was announced that there was nothing that could be done to move the oppressive monuments from the State Capital Grounds. I dodged the media storm as an activist was escorted out of the hearing in handcuffs and rolled my eyes as “Confederate heritage” supporters followed them out of the hearing. There are passionate people in every camp who seem so ready for war should the “right” decision fail to be made on any given socio-political issue that it feels as though something terrible is looming.

It can get to be too much. Sometimes I’m so overwhelmed by my frustration with the state of the world today that I want to put my blinders up and wait for the storm to pass. But my frustration is met with a desire to experience the world. The new year is a chance to take everything that made you want to give up on the world and hold it up against the progress you might have made in your own life. I hold up the hours I spent keeping the doors of the LGBTQ+ Center open in Durham this summer. I hold up the smile on that little boy’s face at OUT!Raleigh as I grabbed his rainbow painted hand to help him off of an inflatable slide. I hold up all of the fellow 20-somethings I’ve met on my travels in 2018. I hold all of the laugh tears, the proud smiles from my therapist, the light in my mom’s eyes the night she got engaged, all of it up to the racism, xenophobia, and ignorance it seems the world is leaden with today.

There is always hope. I’m inspired by all of the peers I meet. From Durham to New York City to our nation’s capital, I never fail to meet people who inspire me to believe in the future. To believe in resolutions. To believe in progress. To believe in a new beginning which allows us to move forward, not for fear of the past but for hope for what is to come. Though, not only what is to come but what we are to build together.