Life’s too short; focus on love

From l to r: Brooklyn BreYanna Stevenson. Photo provided. Zack Pearce. Family photo via Kansas City Star. Isaac Sakura Herrera. Facebook photo.

by Robin Dorner
Editor in Chief

During the month of Valentine’s, we think about love. Usually, it’s romantic love, but what about spending this February loving life; loving the lives of those around you?

According to Buddhist tradition, loving people means believing in their potential, treating them with kindness and gentleness; celebrating their successes and cheering them on.

You may or may not care for Buddhism, but the peaceful tradition promises you will love your life much more if you follow these simple steps.

Perhaps we’ve all heard the saying, “Life’s too short,” or “Live each day like it’s your last,” but do we only remember that in the face of tragedy? Do we only think about that when we lose someone dear to us?

In the past few months, our community has suffered many tragic losses in The Gayly region.

Late November last year, Brooklyn BreYanna Stevenson, 31, was found dead in Oklahoma City. It was the first time a known transgender person was murdered in Oklahoma City.

Stevenson’s mother said in a statement, “We are heartbroken. Brooklyn BreYanna was an amazing daughter, sister, and friend with a giving and loving heart. We pray that those who committed this heinous crime will be identified and Brooklyn will receive justice.”

Nearly a month after her death, Brandon Michael Tyson was arrested and charged with her murder. His motive is still unknown.

Early last December, Kansas City residents Zach Pearce and his boyfriend were walking home from dinner when two people demanding money approached the two. Pearce was murdered during the incident.

His boyfriend, who chose to remain anonymous, said in an interview with Fox 4 KC, “I wish we wouldn’t have gone out. We just could have stayed in. Left five minutes earlier or five minutes later.

“He had everything going for him. He was going to be great, and it is sad that he didn’t get to do that.”

Friends described Pearce as a kind, smart, driven, funny, goofy guy.

The boyfriend said the incident was the worst moment of his life. “I really hope they find the people that did this, and I hope everybody knows Zach was the best person in the world, and they took my world away.”

Further, in OKC this January, officers responded to an address about a deceased individual with trauma consistent with a homicide. They located the body of Isaac Sakura Herrera inside the apartment. 

The Gayly spoke with Isaac’s mother, Veronica Myers. “He was very proud of being a gay person, and I was very proud of him,” she said. 

These are stark reminders to cherish the ones we love.

In addition to these recent, violent deaths in our community, Valentine’s Day can be a troubling time for all LGBT+ people.

Statistics have proven that our community has a much higher incidence of suicide than heterosexuals, particularly our youth.

Brenda Way, founder of the Wichita Transgender and Community Network (WiTCoN), was almost one of those statistics. Way said she’s struggled with suicidal ideation since before she came out in 2014.

“I had an additional seven suicide attempts all because I didn’t fit in. My mannerisms say ‘girl’ my body said ‘boy.’”

Her work with WiTCoN is at times a struggle, but it’s also what gives her strength in warding off these ideations.

“A lot of heart goes into WiTCoN. She’s the love of my life right now. The trans people who walk through our doors are looking for help; those are my kids.”

Way said she dislikes Valentine’s Day because of the isolation it brings her as a trans woman.

Tulsa resident and two-spirit activist Miranda Sanders said she doesn’t see any representation of people like her in mainstream Valentine’s media.

“Indigenous people get zero representation as it is in mainstream holidays, but to be two-spirit means even less acknowledgment.

“Indigenous kids never see brown same-sex couples in Valentine’s movies, books, TV shows or even advertisements.”

Sanders said resources for two-spirit people struggling with suicide ideation are not consitent from tribe to tribe.

“I’m lucky my tribe has a really good behavioral health program and numerous resources and suicide hotlines. But most native youth are on their own.”

Sanders said that she wanted other two-spirit people to know that the loneliness they feel during Valentine’s Day is not an isolated experience.

“People with suicidal tendencies need to know they aren’t alone and that they don’t have to be afraid to voice what they are going through.”

If you are thinking about suicide, call the Trevor Lifeline at 866-488-7386 for immediate help. It’s free, confidential and available 24/7.

Abra Cullen, Staff Writer, contributed to this story.

The Gayly. February 15, 2018. 9:54 a.m. CST.