My name is Daniel Jansen. Actually, that's not my legal name, it's my trans name, but that doesn't matter. You know me as DC Juris, author of GLBTQ romance. What you may not know, though, is that, by all rights, you shouldn't be reading this. In fact, you shouldn't know me at all.
You see, one night when I was still in high school, I decided to end my life. There were a lot of factors involved - I was being physically, emotionally, and sexually abused at home, my father was an alcoholic, my mother was codependent - I had lots of things going on. But chief among them, was that I was a queer kid growing up in a Southern Baptist family. My parents and relatives sat around the Sunday lunch table and told jokes about faggots and queers and laughed and laughed. Even after I had broached the subject of me being queer with my mother, nothing got any better. I was a freak. An abomination of God.
So I made my decision and my plans. There was one flaw though - I felt it necessary to say goodbye to a friend of mine. I knew he'd feel guilty after I was gone, and even in the depths of my pain, I couldn't stand the thought of his. So I called him. He was a good deal smarter than me though, because he put his mother on the phone. Over the course of the next hour and a half, she talked me out of ending my life.
I'm alive today, because one person cared.
One person saved my life.
You can be one person. You don't have to change the world. You don't have to go to Washington, or face Congress. You just have to be yourself - one person.
I'm reflective tonight because on Wednesday, I went to a Safe Zone meeting. Safe Zone is the local GLBTQ youth organization. On the one hand, the meeting was wonderful. On the other... It was weird. Weird because I've never been in that setting before - surrounded by a group of people who not only found it acceptable that I was queer, but who actually didn't care one way or another. I've spent my life being careful of who I was around, where I was, etc. I've spent my life being not too masculine in front of this person, not too queer in front of that person. And I've spent my life repeatedly fucking up those efforts. It was really weird to be open and be myself in a public setting.
In that meeting was a young trans girl and her mother. Something her mother said really struck me - "I'd drive 500 miles a week to get her what she needed to make her happy."
I sat there, stunned, wondering what life would've been like if I'd had that. How different would things have been, if I'd had support? Would that night I made that terrible decision even have happened? Would I be the neurotic mess I am today, if someone had just patted me on the back and said I was good enough just the way I was?
I have no idea. That wasn't the way things went, and this is who I am now.
But it got me to thinking about that night. I owe my life to my friend's mother, and there isn't a day that goes by that I'm not keenly aware of that fact. Maybe that's what drives me to try to cram so much life into every day - to do things, see things, take risks, push myself. She gave me a gift that night, and I'm compelled to make the most of it.
That's all it takes.