I’ve been back in Brooklyn for just over 24 hours now, and my head is still spinning with all the incredible memories and moments connected to the Troubled Teen Tour. On Saturday night co-sponsored by SMYRC and Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls several Kicked Out contributors and I officially released the book in Portland at In Other Words (IOW) Feminist Bookstore. As a queer youth IOW nurtured my voice. It’s where I got my start as a zinester running a monthly open mic for 2+ years, and IOW gave me my first writing award. On Saturday, In Other Words was packed, we easily had over 70 people in the audience, and before the evening was over they completely sold out of copies of Kicked Out!!!
I grew up in Oregon, and came of age at SMYRC, Portland’s queer youth center. It was there that I first realized there were other homeless queer kids, and the relationships and experiences I had there were instrumental in building me as an activist, and helping me to conceptualize of the dream of a book like Kicked Out.
Saturday’s event included readings from Kicked Out contributors from around the North West,
including folks who came in from Seattle and Eugene. I always say that there was nothing typical about the creation of Kicked Out– for the 2.5 years we were in production the contributors and I became very close. We worked together so intimately, that sometimes I forget that many of the contributors and I have not ever been able to meet in person. This trip I got to spend more time with a contributor I’d met only once, and another who I’d never met before!!!
Being able to meet folks who I worked so closely with, and then having staff of the youth center I grew up in, old friends/chosen family that have been in my life since my homeless youth days in the audience, let alone having all this happen in IOW was exciting, and extremely emotional. there was something really special about brining Kicked Out to the closest thing to a ‘home town’ that I have. I spent a lot of time in Portland thinking about the queer kid I was nearly a decade ago, and how lucky I am to be where I am today. I feel so honored and blessed to have had the opportunity to share Kicked Out with those members of that community who are still with us, and to in my own way honor those who didn’t make it.