Friday, May 15, 2009

Maya's Crew

One of Maya's best friends, El, is a lesbian, and at thirteen she is bravely out to everyone including the playgrounds of middle school. She is a true beacon of progress. I ask Maya if El ever gets harassed at school, and Maya says no. There was one cowardly, anonymous cyber incident but other than that, no. Everybody knows and it's no big deal. Except to El's mother. El's mother is not accepting the news well and their relationship is in severe crisis. The relationship took a steeper downward turn after El told her mother that she's transgender; she is a boy trapped in a girl's body. El is a quiet and handsome girl. Sad and confident. She's very sure of herself but a little distrusting except of her closest friends, Maya being one of them. I get choked up when I hear Maya talking to El sometimes. Maya tells her that no matter what, she supports her; that whoever she is, it's all ok with her.

Maya worries about El in private, about her home life or about how hard it must be for her sometimes. She doesn't understand why a heartfelt talk doesn't patch things up immediately between El and her mother. I tell Maya it's not that simple for El. We can't know exactly what either is going through. We can only be there for her as a friend. I tell Maya though that I think El is going to be ok. I believe that. I've never seen a young person so aware of the big picture and sure of who they are. But in reality, she is still a child, and a child shouldn't have to beg and pray for their parent's acceptance. I can't imagine the stress El feels at home, and sometimes I worry about her too. She comes to our house as often as she can, and when she does, she's at ease. I told her that our house is a safe one and she's allowed to be herself and that we love her the same. She relaxes, takes it in. Then she eats plates and plates of food. She's a growing boy, she says.

El is involved with a group called Safe Zone which is run through our local high school. It's a group committed to promoting awareness and sensitivity regarding the issues of sexism and homophobia. El is the only middle schooler who attends the conferences and meetings and she is driven to the Safe Zone functions by one of our middle school teachers who sits on the Safe Zone board. Through the program, El was invited to attend the Gay & Lesbian Prom given by Safe Zone for high school students. And El asked Maya and their other friend AW to go with her. Maya came home excited about the news. Then she asked, "What if I'm asked to slow dance by someone I don't know and I don't want to." This is a question that stems more from a general slow-dance apprehension at thirteen than anything else. I said, "Then you say no thank you, I'm with my friends. You don't ever do what you don't want to do no matter the circumstances." "Ok, cool," she said as she pulled out dresses from her closet. She began to imagine how her hair would be done. Then I said, "Uh, sweetheart, this is a prom, not an 8th grade gym dance. Did you ask how much the tickets would be?" Her face grew pale and surprised.

The tickets cost far more than Maya could have imagined -- it's prom! -- and the price was too expensive for even El. I said, "The prom should be a fun thing in high school anyway. You guys are young yet." Maya agreed and she fastened her helmet to go skateboarding with her crew. And a good, smart, funny, grounded crew it is.

El, Maya and AW.

12 comments:

Michael B. said...

I am so glad that people like you and Maya are in El's life.

madness rivera said...

Thanks Michael. I'm glad she's in our lives too. She a great person.

Maven said...

This is wonderful--El is lucky to have you and you are lucky to have El. I was just thinking the other day about how sheltered I was regarding sexuality and gender expression all through high school--I only knew of one out lesbian, even at a big school. The world was so much bigger than I even conceived of. I don't know where I was going with all this, but you keep knocking my socks off with these tales. You lovely people.

Rebel Girl said...

Agreed - so good to know you're there for El and for your own girls, of course.

xo -

LeS said...

I really do have faith that this world will just keep on getting better because people like you are in it, D :)

Molly Chester said...

Man - could you have found a better picture for the purpose. Meant to be.

Great blog. So lovely and accepting. Makes my brain release tension just reading it.

nec said...

I think Michael said it perfectly. It is unfortunate that at this time she can't turn to her mother for support, hopefully in time that will change...

John Mc said...

You know, I was having a bad day and this but of human goodness cheered me right up. Good in ya for your support of EL.

julie hasson said...

El is really lucky to have you both. Hopefully her mother will eventually come around. As a parent, I can't imagine ever not being there for your child. That makes me so sad.

madness rivera said...

Thanks Friends. I think your good thoughts will carry El through too. And John! Miss ya. Hope NY is treating you well.

the kitschen table said...

EL and Maya...Maya and El. Sounds like a great kids book in the making.Just think how many eyes could be opened... how many hearts could be warmed by the story of their friendship.

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