I wanted to share this beautiful letter that our own Anna Conda sent out to her mailing list from SF.
When I was born in the summer of love I was born under the sign of mental Illness. I was gay and that was enough to have me put in a mental institution and lock me away till I was better and straight. My parents just took me to see somebody to fix me. First the church. Then the psychologist. Then into the mental hospital. I did not change.
I spent my formative years hating myself for not being the son they wanted. I became depressed and ultimately tried to kill myself my senior year. I spent a month in a hospital and did not change.
In college I began to be aware that something was changing in the general consciousness around me. There were protests in 86 in Pittsburgh demanding gay rights. I went. I had rocks thrown at me and taunts and threats from the crowd of over 100 christians when we were only 20 in number. I feared now that someone would kill me. My parents saw me on TV and disowned me. I began to abuse myself with drugs and alcohol and cutting myself. I wanted to be loved and knew that it was never to happen.
Four years after trying to kill myself I tried again and almost succeeded. My wrists slashed in a warm bath tub till I was unconscious. I awoke to find myself in a hospital and then endured shock, pill, and basic therapy's till I lied enough to go home.
I was still hollow and afraid that my life would always just be pain. I hated myself so much I was careless and full of shame and began having unsafe sex. I contracted HIV. People were dying in droves around me and I waited for my time. The white house was saying no to drugs and yes to letting the gays die in the thousands.
That is when I became friends with out proud lesbian Constance Mayer. She told me they were wrong to hate me. That I was a beautiful person who was full of vitality and promise and I needed to join my living brothers and sister and fight injustice.
Five months later Queer Nation Pittsburgh was born under our direction. We went to malls and got makeovers from Lancome who refused to make over trannies in the area. I proudly went to the mall got my makeover and with my brothers and sisters celebrated diversity and my life for the first time. I have never looked back.
Moving to NY I gathered self esteem and self worth and left my family behind without contact till they could accept me. I had freed myself. I was becoming strong. I found drag and a voice and a wealth of power inside of myself. I was learning to overcome the hate. I was replacing it with the love and truth and my reality.
Dudley introduced me to spiritual minds who were about healing and love. Real love not the kind my family had shown me, full of ultimatums and repression, but instead love of who and what I was and the promise that I was full of. They loved me for me. I had found my true family.
Twelve years ago I moved to SF and my very last suicide attempt soon followed. Even though I had grown so much I still felt like I was a disappointment to my parents and knew that because they saw me as a abomination against god I would never really have their love. When I woke up this time I knew my fight had begun in ernest. I would no longer suffer from Poor Me Syndrome. I would be strong and I was in a community that would keep me safe and help me in my struggle. I became a militant fighter for gay rights.
I called my family and told them that until they saw what their pious hate had done to their son I would not be part of their family because I had all the loving family I needed and I believed in myself.
I am so proud to be part of this revolution. I am proud of who I am and how hard I have worked to be able to stand up and be counted. I was pround to be brother and sister to my chosen family and I was happy.
Three years and some change ago I was healthy enough to meet the man of my dreams. To let myself open up and share on a deep level. I was becoming whole and now Brett was able to be with me and I with him. His love has brought me to places that I never imagined. He has allowed me to expand and conquer and live on a higher plane and feel even safer and more sure. I understood what it is to really love not only myself but another person. I had come full circle.
two days ago the state of California was pushed into a decision by out of state interests to limit my civil rights. To try and stop my liberation and make me and my family go away.
We are not going. We will not give up. I am going to see that my justice will be a reality. I will not pander to straights and thank them for my rights. I am going to get my rights and no one will be able to stop me. I will not do it alone. I have a family to guide me and fight along side of me till our dream is realized. We are not going away. We will not stop until we get what is ours. I will not suffer under the oppressor any longer. We will rise up and we will win.
We will do all this and we will do it together because we know in our hearts that we are right to want to be treated as everyone else is in this country.
I call you to battle my friends. I ask that you don't stop, don't give up hope, not let the hate get you. It's hard but we are strong and we will win our place in this society.
I will live to see the day when we have won this victory because the fight is on and we are ready and we will win over hate.
I have lived this life and not changed who I am but I have changed how grateful I am to be me. To be strong and ready to take a stance and to join the fight for what IS mine. we have come to far to back down now.
Look out nation, state, world. We are here. we are queer. We are not gonna take it any more! We will have justice and we will have it NOW!
Anna Conda/ Glendon Hyde-Helms