This past weekend, I had a note from my friend, my family member, my Sisbro, Joie Lamar, “Hey Sis, want to meet up for lunch on Monday? I have received a few more Contributor copies of Cuarenta y Nueve, and I’ll have your book and Danielle’s book to give to you.” Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit, hell yeah, I would not miss this for the world!
Many of us will vividly remember the events on the morning of 12 June 2016. I described much of it in the piece I wrote for the book. Joie had a vision, a work created by 49 artist-contributors, one for each of the souls violently ripped from this existence that evening at Pulse Nightclub. Late 2016/early 2017, the call went out. First to a core group, and we all knew people who would be magnificent for this project, and in what seemed the blink of an eye, we had 49 ready to represent 49.
And yet, ‘project’ seems to be inadequate in describing 49 hearts, beating as one, an artistic tribute to our 49 family members lost… because witnessing this unfold throughout the intervening time has been truly inspiring to watch.
And, of course, doing some encouragement along the way, especially when confronted with that fallback line from some folks, “But, I can’t write/sing/create… I’m not any good at that!”
They don’t know what they are up against when dealing with this City Mom! I have recently had a similar conversation with a friend of mine whom I love to the ends of the universe and back. She has convinced herself that she doesn’t know how to write, can’t create, etc. I said to her, let me tell you the inside secret about writing honey… the person who sits down to read your arrangement of words and pages, they literally have the same request your kids did every night when you were putting them to bed, “Tell me a story, please!” I write in the same conversational style that I would if we were sitting across the table in Starbucks having coffee, or having lunch and sharing stories of our recent activities. And she went home and created a right proper kick-ass piece of writing that got raves in her writing class, and I was right chuffed to hear the result!
I have used a similar approach when teaching as well. Reduce it to basics, and one step at a time, you see you can do it with ease, and before you realize, you have perfected that concept and let’s expand on the next item. In my world, nothing breaks my heart more than hearing from people who have a lifetime’s experience of hearing “you can’t,” instead of “you can,” because it greatly reduces the realm of possibility that they could be living into and growing beyond.
I remember doing a national news interview the day following the Pulse massacre. I’m told I come up with some quotable items when I’m speaking from the heart and not from some prepared script as many fall back on, as I saw after the interview aired on CBC’s The National that evening (and as friends picked out above).
These are just some of the events from June 2016, you can read more in this post that I published last year on the first anniversary of the massacre where I discussed some of the events from that Sunday and the week that followed.
So… imagine my excitement!! I have written for many publications or have been interviewed for others over the years, but this was my first time being part of a real physical book! And of course, I checked out the two contributions, one from my bestie Danielle (I thought it was important to have the voice of an LGBTQ police officer in the book), and my own. The pictures give you an idea of what the two-page spread looks like, but if you want to read the words, you’ll have to buy a copy of the book (sorry, not sorry).
And, you do not want to miss the outstanding work of all 49 artist-contributors in this book! I have read it through cover to cover a couple of times since returning home on Monday, and I am beyond honoured to have been asked to be a part of such an amazing group of artists.
Now, the only payment the 49 artists receive for our contribution… you see it above, we received a copy of the 1st edition hardcover print run (SOLD OUT!!). 100% of the proceeds from the sales of Cuarenta y Nueve are donated in perpetuity to Pride School Atlanta and GLAAD. It is our hope that through education – understanding, acceptance, and love, will become the way we always interact with our fellow humans.
We continue to say their names, their 49 chairs remain empty at our family table.
And a reminder that we are all HUMAN, the only label that really matters.
I am truly proud of this book and the collection of artists I am among within its covers.
And yes, I have at least one, perhaps two, books coming within the next year or so. (Or I’ll get “the look” from my kid sister!)
Raising the rainbow flag on top of Toronto Police Headquarters for the first time in their 183 year history, 1 June 2017.