I’ve been compiling a list of resources for transgender people around the country, more in-depth than the normal website links found on various advocacy pages – a state-by-state reference guide. Of course, there are the links for the national hotlines: The Trevor Project, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Helpline, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, but there is a need to identify as many resources as possible to assist people where they are. This is not an easy task, but in the last day or so, I’ve been able to identify resources thanks to the various NAMI offices in all of our fifty states.
Shortly after 5 pm today, I was on the phone with a wonderful woman from South Carolina who has a real heart for transgender people, especially transgender children, so much so she doesn’t charge parents seeking help because she is the only resource in the state. She was excited about my project, and she sent me pages and pages of resources for nearly all the southern states. After we talked about business for a while, she got friendly, asking me about my activism. As I was beginning to tell her about the things I’ve done, the fire alarm in our building went off, and we had to evacuate. I gave her my name, told her to Google it, gave my apologies for abruptly ending our conversation, and made a dash for the door.
Once outside, a whole building’s worth of people were crowding under the portico. Our managing director told us we could leave for the day if we wanted to. I dashed across the street and took a seat at a bus stop. While waiting, I Googled Bus Boys and Poets, a place a dear friend of mine told me about, a place she knew I would love. Luckily, it was only three blocks from one of the bus stops down the road.
By the time I got to U Street, it was raining very hard. I darted toward a Starbucks on the corner. When I got to the entrance, a dirty and soaked man with an equally soaked dog was blocking the door. His eyes got wide as I approached, startled by my size, perhaps. One of the baristas had opened the door, telling the man to move on, that he was hurting business. I offered to buy the man a coffee, but he continued staring at me. His dog shook her fur, creating its own rain storm, splashing me and the barista. This angered the barista, who threatened to call the police.
The man and his dog didn’t leave immediately. They crowded under a table umbrella where he pulled out a pack of cigarettes, extracting one, and tried to light it. No dice. He was too wet. The dog slumped miserably, pulling on its leash as if to say, “Come on, man. I don’t want to go to the pound.” They sauntered away, disappearing into a crowd of umbrellas from a herd of people rushing toward the bus stop across the street.
I ordered a coffee and watched a patch of blue sky develop over the intersection of 16th Avenue and U Street. The rain came down hard even after a patch of sunlight lit up the area, and the rain in that light looked golden and shimmery, a breathtaking sight in the heart of a big city. I felt a little homesick for Oklahoma City where things like this happen quite often this time of year.
When the rain finally subsided I walked east for a couple of blocks, through a neighborhood festooned with urban art. There was a vinyl record store named Joint Custody in a basement hovel near 15th and U. I walked by a group of guys with Jamaican accents. They were laughing loud and playing music, the odor of marijuana heavy in the humid air. They smiled at me as I walked by. One of them said, “That’s one big bitch, man.”
I found the Bus Boys and Poets at the corner of 14th Avenue and V Street. While I was waiting for the traffic light to change, it started to rain again. I dashed into the place, somewhat soaked from the downpour, a sign on the door, “Politics and Prose.” An African American woman with beautiful dreadlocks smiled at me, asked me if I wanted to sit at a place where I could use my computer. She must have noticed I was carrying a briefcase. I told her yes. I sat down on a ruby red couch, ordered a pomegranate lemonade and a plate of shrimp and grits. After enjoying my dinner I had a glass of hard cider. I listened to the music, jazzy hip-hop, and watched the grand diversity of people coming and going from this marvelous place.
On Sunday evening they’re having an open mic called *Sparkle* featuring queer spoken word.