Dakota by Paul Richmond

A beautiful drawing of Dakota by famed artist Paul Richmond:

Dakota

 

“My #doodletuesday drawing this week is a tribute to a bright soul we lost way too soon. I knew Dakota Blevins through my work with Harmony Ink Press, a publisher of LGBT novels for young adults. Dakota was a young reader of our novels and a brilliant writer as well. Tragically, an accident just a few weeks ago took him from us. Not everyone accepted the brave way Dakota challenged preconceived ideas about gender. But in his short life he managed to inspire a lot of people, me included. If you’d like to learn more, read some collected writings here:https://starsonmyheart.wordpress.com/ and a beautiful tribute by his friend Jamie Mayfield here:http://jamiemayfield.com/2013/11/saying-goodbye-to-our-dakota/

 

Paul Richmond’s art can be found at http://www.PaulRichmondStudio.com

 

What is Pride?

Dear friends,

I hope everything has been going well! I’m busy being a rock star – cause you know, I am one of those. Remember? Thought so.

Fun thing I know it’s been a while since we talked, but I have a good reason! This month, (October 12th and 13th) I went to Atlanta Pride and this is my second year marching in the parade! As this is a really special occasion, I thought that I would write about my experience with Pride events to share with a few of you.

As no one has sent me any Q&A requests – I am glad that I finally found something to write about!

Seriously – it’s been tough: so I got to thinking about Pride some more, and realized you know – it took me a really long time to understand what “pride” really is and what it means to the LGBT+ community. I then asked myself if I knew what it meant to ME. You know – I never realized how much “pride” I really have for myself AND the community and I can remember the exact moment I sort of developed that pride, even if I didn’t realize what it was at the time.

So I may have mentioned that I was raised by a religious mother in a tiny town. It was really tough to be me, but It never even occurred to me back then that I didn’t like who I was. I just kind of lived my life. I was pretty stagnant to be honest – I went to school, went home, went to church, repeat. I thought that I was ugly and that no one would ever love me. I was afraid I was going to end up marrying a woman that I didn’t love and while women are beautiful I just don’t think that I would ever be 100% happy with one or be able to make her happy. I was just really down, you know? I’m sure we all get like that sometimes but like the first 16 years of my life were this slow, sad, boring, black and white movie that I did NOT want to be a participant in.

Then one day it stopped. I looked at myself in the mirror and I felt something different. I felt strong. I got a boyfriend. I’ve mentioned him before – his parents found out and made him move to a different school. I came out.

That still wasn’t pride, you know? Like I was proud of myself, but that’s not real pride.

One day It just hit me though. I have something to ACTUALLY be proud of you know? Me. I mean, I’m not a superstar and I’m still in college but you know – I dig being me a lot. It’s kinda nifty.

I really want you all to have pride in yourselves too – not because of all of the things you’ve accomplished but just for straight up being you. Be proud of your personality, be proud of your body, be proud of all the awkward things about you and all of the things that aren’t. If you think you’re the best thing ever then take pride in it. If you think you’re weird, then take pride in that too.

Really sit down one day and think about all of the things that you actually are. Don’t think about other people’s opinions of you – or how you think other people feel, but how you legitimately feel about yourself and why. When you do that – you really learn to appreciate just who you are.

Actively do your life and actively love yourself. Be that conceited jerk if that’s what it takes, but be mindful of others. Pride is for everyone you know? So don’t bring someone down for having some!

LGBT pride is a little more than that too though. To have LGBT pride – you have to be appreciative of all of the people who have fought for you to have safe spaces and you have to be proud of them too. Be proud of the battles that have already been won, like the DOMA repeal that I talked about this Summer. Reach out and help people around you that need a little pride or a little push. Help your friends who can’t come out of the closet be safe in their personal matters. Be mindful of when people want to keep their identity to themselves. Celebrate with the small victories as well as the big ones – because you never know which ones are really going to show that cosmic sensation of pride! If you’re gay friend comes out to their mom, congratulate them! If your trans friend wears a dress in public for the first time, smile with her and tell her she’s pretty!

Most importantly – be proud of who YOU are. I know I’m all mushy gushy and super cliche but you guys, it’s SO important to love yourself BECAUSE YOU ARE THE BEST YOU THAT THERE IS AND ONLY YOU CAN DO YOU – and isn’t that awesome? Aren’t YOU awesome?!?!

ANYWAY ENOUGH OF THE DEEP STUFF HERE ARE SOME PRIDE STORIES:

This year, at Atlanta Pride – I got to walk around wearing a transgender pride flag (blue pink and white) as a cape, wear heels, and get flirted with in public and I didn’t care at all.

Also – I got to hang out with Jamie! That’s some pretty awesome news, because we live soooooo far from each other.

The parade was lovely and I’m really just so happy to be in a world where I can march with a bunch of LGBT youth and see a couple carrying a sign that says “Engaged for 42 years – just married.” I was able to see Bonnie McKee AND Steve Grand on one of the stages!

I got to dance with a couple of trans people. I had a sticker that had “trans” printed on it, and I was wearing it on my shirt. Two boys walked by and commented on how nice I looked, but then one of them saw the sticker and said “oh he’s trans” and they both walked away. My luck!

That’s some pretty great stuff.

So there it is – Pride, in it’s raw beauty. It’s a beautiful feeling, and you don’t have to prance around in front of everyone with a big purple sash and a mohawk. I do that, so obviously that’s okay too – but it’s not the best for everyone.

Remember that this month is LGBT history month! Every day, there is a new historical figure that you can read about on http://lgbthistorymonth.com/

I love you all sooooooo much ❤

XOXO

I Wanted

by Dakota Clay Blevins

I stepped out of a solid white chariot, linked arms with my fair maiden friend, and walked proudly up to the devilish fortress that loomed before us. We were marching into a gruesome battle that neither of us were truly prepared for, and without knowing our fate, we stepped up to the terrifying gateway, which immediately slid open without either of us touching it. A “welcome to the mall” sign flashed in front of us. We were shopping.

“Are you sure we couldn’t just be hermits and make our own clothes?” My friend pouted, but I laughed and shook my head.

“It will be fun. I promise,” I replied and pulled her protesting body through the food court and into the actual shopping area, where fewer people stomped around. I pushed my hair out of my face and stepped into the first store I saw. My friend walked in beside me and glared.

“There’s so much pink” was the only thing she said as we stared at all the dresses lined up on racks. There were simple strapless ones, elegant full-length gowns, and everything in between. They lined the walls, only broken up by jewelry displays and racks of hats or scarves. My fingers brushed against gentle cotton and I grasped the material longingly. I stopped for a moment to feel a silky sleeve and then to admire a girlish frill. Every single dress we walked by was “the one” but didn’t seem like anything I would actually wear. I kept pushing on, searching for one that just screamed my name.

When I finally gave up, we walked toward the store exit—but then something caught my eye. On a rack hidden behind the window display, there was a little lavender dress that was high in the front and low in the back. The bust wasn’t too low, and the shoulders were covered without looking too blocky. I checked the tag that read “medium” and the other that had a little red “sale” sticker on it. Twenty dollars. It was lovely—and in my price range.

“I have to try this—” I cut myself off when I looked at the dressing rooms, which were simply stalls along the store’s back wall. There was a bright red sign placed against the wall with white letters printed across it. The little sign pleaded with customers to ask a sales clerk for a changing room key. My eyes glanced nervously at a woman wearing a lanyard that bore the store’s insignia. The gentle-looking brown-haired lady was helping a couple of other women find clothes in their sizes, and a family sat on a bench waiting for a young girl to come out to model a new outfit. “Never mind—you know, it’s not that pretty, come to look at it.” I replaced the dress and left, my heart breaking.

“Why don’t we try a department store?” my friend said hopefully. Department stores have much more private changing rooms, I thought, and I doubt I’d need to ask for a key to one. We charged to the nearest one and, after finding the women’s department, I glanced around. The dresses were actually a little more my style, although some of them seemed too young for a nineteen-year-old with their ice-cream-cone prints and bright flowery designs. I looked around and found a nice sleeveless navy-blue dress with a lacy top that my friend and I loved.

“We can both get one!” she chirped brightly, then found a few more she could wear. We grabbed our respective sizes and marched to the dressing rooms proudly. When we got there, though, we found an attendant standing guard.

“Excuse me, can we get dressing rooms?” my friend said politely.

“Um, you can—” the attendant said, then looked at me. “—but you’ll have to go to the men’s section to try on clothes.”

“But… I’d have to go to a different department, and I want to try on this dress,” I said quietly, looking at the ground, “so why can’t I just use this one?”

The lady looked at me blankly. “This is the women’s department. We sell girl clothes here,” she said, really slowly.

I nodded. “And I want to try on this dress. Is this not a girl’s dress?” I tried too hard to be passive-aggressive, but the woman clearly didn’t understand.

“It’s not the dress that’s the problem. I can’t let boys in the dressing room. The girls might think something—” She looked around with a worried expression and leaned in to whisper. “—like you want to touch them.”

I stared at her, stricken.

“I am a girl, though,” I finally said.

“No, honey—you’re a boy. She’s a girl. You can’t try the dress on. It’s for women.”

I finally understood that the woman thought I was probably what she would call “special needs.” I honestly wasn’t aware that needing a changing room for myself was that special of a need.

“I am a girl, though!” I cried, “Why don’t you think I am? My hair? Because I’m wearing blue jeans and a T-shirt?” I looked at my friend, whose hair was only a bit longer than mine and was wearing jeans and a T-shirt too.

“Just forget it. Let’s go somewhere else.” My friend pulled me away before I could get angry, “Let’s go look at shoes. You don’t have to have anyone look over you to try shoes on.” She gave the store clerk one final dirty look and we left. We found a nice selection of shoes and began to massacre the shelves looking for our sizes. I found a pair that fit and put them on—suddenly standing five inches taller.

“Those look odd on your feet,” my friend said. I pulled them off and began to hunt for another pair. Shoes are my favorite thing in the entire world, so the long search for ones that feel and look great was beyond worth it. “These. Wear these.” The box she was holding contained two of the most beautiful, five-inch nude heels I’d ever seen in my life. I needed them.

“They’re size ten.” My heart broke.

“Well, maybe they have the next size up in stock?” she said as I tried, in vain, to push my foot into them. I almost had it. I tried again, thinking about asking for the size up, and managed to squeeze my toes into the shoe. “You’re going to ruin your feet. Let me ask.” She walked up to a desk and looked around. A nice older lady came up and asked if she needed help, and my friend replied that she needed a size eleven shoe.

“Honey, you don’t wear a size eleven. Your feet are tiny!” I could just see steam come from my friend’s ears.

“They aren’t for me, okay? They’re for my friend.” She gestured at me and I smiled my most perfect, innocent smile.

“We don’t sell heels to boys,” the woman replied plainly and walked away. I was crushed. I just turned and walked out of the store. A few minutes later, my friend came out with a bag and handed it to me.

“I didn’t want you to leave empty-handed, so here you go.” The bag contained an adorable striped scarf.

“I love you.” I hugged her and we turned to leave the mall, defeated. Before we got to the food court, though, she stopped me.

“Look, there’s that dress you wanted, and no one is in the changing rooms.” I raced into the store hopefully, on my last bit of strength. With the meager bit of courage I had left in me, I picked up the dress and marched up to the sales clerk. Unfortunately, the sweet brown-haired girl from earlier had been replaced by a slightly older, blond woman who gave me a strange look when I approached.

“I’d like a dressing room, please,” I said simply, immediately regretting the decision to try the dress on. My tongue felt heavy and I started to sweat immediately.

“I’m sorry, this is a women’s store,” she said coolly.

“I have a dress. I have money,” I said defiantly.

“This is a women’s store” came the reply.

“Please! Please please! I’m transgender and I just want to try this dress on! I have money. I don’t—” She cut me off.

“We don’t sell our clothes to whatever you are. Now leave before I call security on you for sexual harassment.”

I felt every part of me shatter to pieces.

“Hey, who are you to think you can talk to someone like that? You are a terrible, terrible—” my friend yelled in the middle of the store, but I cut her off, then dragged her into the food court and out to the parking lot without saying a word. We got into her little white car and sat in silence, with my arms folded tight over my flat chest and legs crossed at the knees. Tears fell down my face.

“You know you aren’t a boy. I know you aren’t a boy,” my friend said, starting the car.

“What does it matter… if I always have to dress like I am?” She held my hand and we left the parking lot. “Have you ever cried after a shopping trip where you didn’t spend any money?”

“No, baby. I don’t have to.”

Immortality (Anthem of the Overcomers)

Dear me in one hundred and two years,
O – how did you make it through the tears?
The silly thing is, I don’t really
want to know what will happen to me.

I sort of fell behind for a while,
but I guess you know about that mile
where I lost all my words and my sight.
It’s scary, being mute in the night.

Do you think of laughing as yellow?
It reminds me of the sun, you know,
and it’s nice to travel in the day.
Or, it IS harder to lose your way.

I think of choices as being blue,
along with pretty things and the new
trails that branch off of this one we’re on.
Before you know it, the blue is gone.

Do you still enjoy looking at trees?
I’d hoped you were still a lot like me.
Romanticism is what we are,
and I don’t want to stray very far.

I hope that all is well in our life,
and that you are happy with our wife.
As silly as I’m sure that may sound,
I guess I’m wherever you are, bound.

Don’t write me back – I’m tired of the news!
I’ll just wait on any bit of muse
that helps me out and can keep me cool,
Always yours, You from back in High school

 

Copied from: http://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1731060-Immortality-Anthem-of-the-Overcomers

It’s Been Three Years

by Dakota Clay Blevins

It’s been three years.
That might not seem like long,
but if you count it in tears
and not in months or days or hours,
minutes, breaths, blinks, or fears
then it’s three years without flowers
and a thousand moments unsure
if you’ll ever remember –
or, ever learn – what it’s like to be happy,
and it’s waiting through December
for a present that doesn’t mean a thing
another year without a ring,
without listening to Him sing
even if it is out of tune –
and then January will come
without that midnight kiss
but it’s not something you miss,
because you’ve never had it before –
and you’ll turn into a pumpkin for another year
even though your glass slippers are right here
and you can wear them
but midnight’s already been here
and your time has ticked away here –
and then February will come
with a birthday that isn’t yours
but you know you should celebrate it anyway.
You don’t know how to celebrate by yourself.
You don’t know how to celebrate.
It’s been three years.

It’s been three years
but you remember it like it was yesterday –
no – like it was thirty minutes ago
because it’s the only memory you want to stay.
It fuels your hate and stunts your growth,
it makes you late and keeps you low
and yet it’s the happiest thing in your life.
You can’t talk about IT.
You can’t talk about HIM.
You can’t talk about life.
You don’t know what life is.
but you remember every color
every sound
the clicking in his throat
the way he wrapped his arms around
and wrapped his coat around
all around you,
and just you,
and always you.
and the way his mustached prickled
and when you hugged he tickled
and his lips would touch your neck
and then wrap around yours
and just yours
and always yours.
and then your realize
it’s been three years.

It’s been three years.
Sometimes you think its nostalgia
remembering how to adolesce
you just reminisce
but then you know its not any less
than that pivotal moment
that pivotal feeling
where you were strong
and you were happy
even if it felt wrong –
You knew what happy meant
and It was pure euphoria –
you were in love but couldn’t be.
You held his hand under the cafeteria table.
You leaned on him in the hallway when you were able.
Sometimes you kissed when no one was watching
but someone was always watching
seeing you, waiting on you,
either protecting you or hunting you
you were never safe because what if someone saw?
It’s been three years.
You kissed one day and imagine – you were Juliet
and Romeo kissed you in front of all the Montagues
and all the Capulets:
that was like kissing him.
It was love but it was dangerous.
You were happy.
You knew what happy meant.
And then you didn’t.

It’s been three years
but you still remember how he went missing
and you worried, just knowing
that something was terribly wrong
and you went to school hoping
that you were terribly wrong
and found that you were right
and his family had caught you
and they had moved away,
taking him away, away,
and you were alone.
You didn’t hear from him.
It’s been three years
No one could tell you anything.
HIs friends wrapped their arms around you
and you think you would have forgotten
how it felt with their arms around you,
but it’s only been three years –
and that might not seem like long,
but if you measure it in heartbreaks
and time you could have spent on happy songs
then it becomes almost a year of being alone,
then three months with the alcoholic
that you first slept with,
then seven months with the man – seven years older
that said he couldn’t love you
but that he’d be your lover,
then college
it’s been three years.
then Three months with the boy
that held you close every night
making you feel like it was alright
while he molested tears from your face
made your heart beat faster, faster, race, race
not just molesting tears
but molesting you,
hurting you,
breaking you,
night after night after night,
three months you didn’t sleep or eat or breathe,
and still
It’s been three years –
and then Five months with the boy
that made you happier than anyone in the world
the first boy to hold your hand
where it could be seen
and it was so good to be seen –
you were a trophy but not treated like it
and he was never mean
but then he left you for NOTHING.
Then out of the blue
you hear from that first boy
that special boy
it’s been three years
but it was that same boy
that held your hand under the cafeteria tables,
the one you hadn’t spoken to in three years.

but it’s only been three years,
and that might not seem like long
but if you measure that in tick marks
tick marks on your calendar
tick marks on your wall
tick marks on your paper charts
and tick marks on your arms
then it’s been a long time
but you can’t remember quite how long
because calendars get thrown away
and you lose track of the days
and your skin doesn’t scar
and its the only thing that’s not marred –
and if you measure it by blood drops
then you just don’t think about teardrops
or raindrops
or bus stops
or car tops
or what you’re not
you think about being alone
and never being taught how to be alone
never being taught how to be on your own
and never being taught how to be with someone
because the only someone you had a chance with
well he’s been tears, and tick marks,
and he hasn’t been there
He hasn’t been anywhere.
Not for three years.
It’s been long enough.
It’s been three years.
How long is enough?
It’s been three years.

Can you heal yet?
It has been three years.