Reflections on A-Camp: The Power of Stories

"Hi, my name is Vikki."

Those were the first words I wrote on this blog. It was February of 2006 and I had no idea what I was doing and didn't know that those words marked a new beginning.

I never imagined that this blog would help me become the writer I always wanted to be or that it would bring incredible people into my life. I never imagined that it would lead me to a stage in New York and to a mountain outside Los Angeles.

But it did.

As I sat on that mountain last weekend, I thought a lot about those first few words - the opening line of what has become my story.

I have been an out lesbian for 22 years, longer than many of the women at A-Camp have been alive. I came out at a time when there were no out actresses, actors of musicians, at a time when the only role models we had were those we could find in college, community centers or bars. This was long before the gayby boom and talk of marriage equality. This is my cultural context, one that leads me to think (more often than I'd like to admit), "Things are so much easier now."

But A-Camp reminded me that I should never mistake "easier" for "easy".

I've never gone through conversion therapy. I've never gone back into the closet rather than lose my parents' financial support for college. I've never felt the isolation particular to the mix of race, culture and queerness. I've never been homeless. I've never had to come out to my girlfriend as trans.

The weekend was full of stories and each one changed me, reminding me of the power of the personal narrative. When we allow the fight for equality and justice to be blurred to the point of abstraction, we lose our power because our strength lies in our humanity - in our heartbreak, in our courage, in our compassion and patience.

Politicians change laws but stories change lives.

Everyone has a story to tell.

"Hi, my name is Vikki."

This is my story. What's yours?