Colours of the Rainbow - Pride Month

Da'Shaun Harrison

Atlanta, GA

Prior to September of 2016, I identified as cisgender, heterosexual. I was 20 years young, still hardly “grown”, and silently working through the trauma of being a survivor of sexual assault and rape. And that September, I moved toward openly exploring sex and sexuality while I attended Morehouse College.

Growing up in a Christian home did not make this easy, but in March of this year, I finally acquired the language and the audacity to articulate my queerness to both myself and to my family. While I anticipated the worst, I was not prepared for it. When I told my family, their initial response was shock. Their follow-through left me without a home, not just in the literal sense, but figuratively as well. The foundation on which I built my love and comfortability—my family—had fallen in.

When I opened up to my family, I was away at school. I spent countless nights wondering whether or not I was going to ever tell them. I could not afford to live on campus and was losing my off-campus housing. But I told my family anyway. I prioritized my happiness over my own safety. By doing so my family responded to my queerness with microaggressions and bullying.

It goes without saying that this kind of treatment at home can lead to depression in queer and trans youth of color, who are already having to work through their identities in a cisheterosexist and racist society. Conditions like unemployment, substance abuse, harassment, and murder are our fears. And now I was experiencing another one: homelessness.

After experiencing such a cruel response from my family, I could not stomach returning home. I was forced into homelessness for several months. I couch-hopped and lived off of friends who would allow me to share a space with them. I was forced to sleep in my car or in open areas on campus when someone on the custodial staff forgot to lock a door.


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