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UR Healing, UR Wellbeing – June 30, 2022

URPride, URLove, URFamily

By Neka Pasquale, Founder of Urban Remedy

Thank you to our UR family member Boots for feeling safe enough to share their story with us and the world. We see you, we hear you, we love you.

About Boots in their words:

“I have been deeply committed to food sustainability, and organics for over 30 years. At 18, I was introduced by friends to the concepts of food as healing, learning of macrobiotics and Chinese medicine through grads from the Kushi Institute and the New England School of Acupuncture. Since that time, I have worked with some of the most cutting-edge, forward-thinking people in the natural foods industry. Working for Whole Foods, Café Gratitude, Gracias Madre, and D.O.V.E. Distributors, the founders, John Mackey, Mathew, and Treces Englehart, and Robert Medina, who each helped expand the accessibility of natural and organic foods across the United States. When I discovered Urban Remedy, it was a perfect fit, not only the quality and taste of the food, but I felt so deeply aligned with the commitments and core values, commitments to using the highest quality organic and regenerative farmed ingredients, to its ‘B Corp’ status, and to the values of change, empowerment, and integrity.”

We are here to share their story.

“My Name is Boots and I use they/ them Pronouns. I’m a gender Queer Trans Masculine person. As one of my favorite contemporary Poets says ‘my pronouns haven’t even been invented yet’. What TRANS means to me is that I fall outside of the commonly held gender binaries. Some people flounder around the ‘they, them’ pronoun use. A way I describe it is: I encompass all genders, Multiple genders, they/ them, falling somewhere along a continuum.

I grew up in a very different time, in a very different world.

Before Title IX, before gay marriage, before Gay/straight Youth Alliances and PFLAG, I lived through don’t ask don’t tell, and AIDS. I have been assaulted, denied housing, I have been excluded from being with my long-term partner while they were in surgery, being asked to justify my relationship to them while they were literally on the operating table. I have witnessed my friends have their children taken away, families destroyed and loved ones die of AIDS and ignorance. I have also experienced deep love, witnessed profound acts of courage, creativity, and beauty, and participated in celebrations of joy, love, and life. I remember my Mom saying to me when I came out ‘It’s so hard, I just don’t want your life to be painful and hard.” and my saying in Response, ‘The ache, the confusion, the depression, the isolation, the closet, that was hard…. Love, my people, the beauty, this is NOT hard.”

I left a very small Conservative hometown in MA for Boston when I was 14. I had been intensely isolated and. self-destructive and felt profoundly alone. Queer and trans youth have a much higher rate of suicide addiction and homelessness than other kids. Boston was the closest big city, and at that point in time, community and social life centered around bars and clubs, often letting in underage kids knowing it was the safest place for us all to be.

I literally grew up in gay bars.

The very first Gay Pride Demonstration I went to was over 40 years ago. I was completely blown away by all of these amazingly beautiful courageous people …my people. At that demonstration, there were a group of teachers who marched. They were so terrified of losing their jobs yet so committed to marching, that they literally marched with paper bags over their heads. This act of defiance and courage had such a profound effect on me.

I have always been politically active and have been involved in political work, demonstrations, and marches all over the country. Boston DC NYC SF, and LA. The HIV/AIDS crisis was a big turning point. It not only altered my community, forever, but it was also terrifying devastating, and profoundly motivating.

In 1990, as my people were dying of AIDS and ignorance, I marched in DC with ActUp to fight for health care, treatment, and medicines, for our lives to be seen and our deaths to matter. I marched with over 1 million other people for gay rights in 1993. My friends and I had sewn a panel for our friend, who like so many others with HIV, got pneumonia and died. We added his panel to the quilt and witnessed its first time unfurling in the Mall. I was there, too, at the final unfolding of the quilt in its breathtaking entirety all 44,000 panels (a fraction of the number of people who had died up to that point) spread out across the whole of the Mall in 1996.

We fought and we showed up and created an incredible community. We built networks and services for our community and so many underserved communities. We fought and loved and legislated for our lives. I have faced hatred and ignorance and it seemed that the fights I fought had impacted our world and there seemed to be great strides made in mine and the lives of so many others. To have the ability for LGBTQ folks to move more freely, to love and thrive.

But it seems now, that bold and belligerent misinformation and the whirring up of fear and hatred have not only led to a rise of personal attacks and challenges. But has led to a wave of regressive laws, trans and homophobic hate, and violence that is literally being legislated. It is destructive and very dangerous and feels very reminiscent of my early life.

I am profoundly grateful to work for a company committed to diversity.

I live and work in very blue states and still, I struggle sometimes when I am out in the world, to feel safe with my partner, or even to find a place to use the bathroom. I am in my late 50s. I have been out since I was a teenager. I can only imagine being a high school LGBTQ kid or the kid of queer parents, now, struggling with their gender and sexuality, and identity in a high school that is rapidly legislating them and their family out of existence and into danger, or literally investigation by child services and potential separation.

As it is LGBTQ folks who suffer extreme isolation, high rates of addiction, suicide, and homelessness, trans and queer kids and their families, struggle so profoundly. Truly the fight has never stopped to witness the ability of a queer kid to grow up to live freely, to have a safe workplace and home, the ability to receive Health Care and live and love a be loved, a fully flourishing life.

This is what my life has been about and it is what pride means to me.”

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