When I was young, the world was a lovely place. In elementary school, I had a generally good time. I had teachers who were on guard against things like bullying, and who were very good about encouraging students to explore anything and everything that interested them. It was a good time.
However, when I got to middle school, I learned very quickly about how scary the world could be when an entire system was set against you. I had a teacher who specifically singled me out for harassment to such a scale that I actually fled the school. My parents sent me to a Quaker school for a few years, which started off well, but ended with my name on a list given to teachers with instructions to harass everyone on the list until they left the school (now confirmed by four former teachers of mine, two of whom have asked my forgiveness for how they treated me).
By the time I reached college, I had realized a few things.
1. I am strange. I will always be an outsider in any mainstream group.
2. I am not alone. There are many other strange people out there.
3. I am extremely lucky. I have family and friends who have supported me throughout my life.
4. Not all of the people I care about are so lucky. Many people I cared about went through perils much worse than teachers trying to harass them. I had friends who were in physical danger on a daily basis. I had friends whose families did not support them, and at times, actively hurt them.
5. I could try to make things better.
For me, the guiding purpose of every project I have undertaken over the last five years has had the same underlying principle. Create a community to create a safe space. SPARC, which is still in process, and will be a magnum opus of this. But also events I go to and help with, and events I run. Dorian's Parlor is a safe space. Patrick Rogers has been running Nocturne and Dracula's Ball for over a decade in Philly, giving countless people of all ages a place to go to every week where they aren't mocked for being who they are, but instead, are safe. Jeff Mach has been running events for longer than he will admit to, and Wicked Faire for six years now. Wicked Faire is often called a home for everything not mainstream. Kali Morgan, by owning and maintaining a high quality store, first as Fetishes Boutique, and now as Passional Boutique and Sexploratorium, creates a safe space for people who want to explore their sexuality, and don't want bad porn videos on the internet to be their guide. Not only do they sell merchandise, but they run regular classes so people can safely learn about the things that interest them.
These people, all of whom I am very proud to have worked with, and many others, have created safe spaces for all of us who don't fit into tidy little boxes. My goal has been, and continues to be, to build communities, so that there will always be safe spaces in Philadelphia and beyond for people like us.
So, that's why I do what it is that I do.