“To my LGBTQI+ elders, what I must say to you first is thank you. I am extremely appreciative for everything that you have done for us, especially the fact that you were able to get up, go out and live in your truth in times where we were persecuted prosecuted and told that we were not allowed to exist in society.
My greatest hope and dream for the future is that we really see true equality. And for us to see that, I believe that we have to understand that gender roles have to go. We have to see people as people. We have to see the human in each person. It's not about male and female. It's about humans.
If I had a time capsule, I would put my shoes - get the shoes! That's my thing. I definitely have to put some shoes in there. And I think I would put the first pair of shoes that were a luxury brand that I bought, and that would be my Giuseppe Zanotti. I would definitely put those silver Giuseppe Zanotti in that time capsule. And then I would put something in the time capsule specifically for my trans brothers and sisters.And that is one of the engagement rings that I have gotten from my fiance because I would want them to know that for trans folk, love does exist and it can be beautiful.”
“When I think of the future, specifically the future for our community, one word specifically comes to mind, and that word is children. The children specifically are the future of the worlds of our community. And I think that we as people who are older. I wouldn't say I'm one of the elders, but I definitely would say I have a little tiny bit of experience I can say that we have a responsibility to take care, uplift, teach, love, for our children because they are just like those seeds that are getting planted who will soon flourish and become what is our world today?
Children are really everything, honey. Take care of the kids. Okay.
Sometimes I feel guilty that I couldn't learn things at an earlier age or have the strength to do so. But I think in honoring my legacy, which is authenticity, it's also giving myself peace and forgiveness and letting myself be, even if I am not right, or even if I am not as strong as I would like to be.
My legacy is realness. Our legacy is truth. There is so much power inside of you. Trust me.”
“Note to younger self: Belita, you have to recognize that you have been a hero in your life. You always gave to others, even at your own expense. Many times you gave when you should have received. Your basic thought was that others were more important than you and you inadvertently allowed your self esteem to plummet.
You didn't realize that this limited your joy of life and led to decisions that robbed you of many opportunities. You must constantly work on self to become who you truly should be. This will entail confronting beliefs and challenging what others may have prescribed for you when you did not know what the world is about.
Note to Future Self: Belita you have done a lot of the work of realizing self. Now take charge of what happens from now on. Live your life with purpose, with joy, with freedom, and know that whatever you aspire to or need, you can make it happen. Go forth and live until you die. Don't stop planning, wishing, dreaming, and attaining goals. Keep moving.”
“This is to my younger self.
There are so many things that I wish I had known.Life is about the journey. You have to make money to do what's expected of you. Don't leave a job until you finish another one. You are who you are. Be your genuine self. Your home is a sanctuary. Seal it with love. Play. Answer the fantasy. Love who you are. Align yourself with uninhibited women. Women who love to play. Explore your body and your inner self.
Then explore the world. There are so many cultures. Respect them all. Take what you can from them. Incorporate what touches you. Above all, be kind. Do what feels good. There are many correct answers to the same question. Respect them all. See beauty in every woman. You may not agree with her. Every word but listen and try to understand her point of view.
Don't just wait to respond with your own thoughts. If you're not happy, change it. Be it a job, a relationship. No matter what it is. If you're not happy. Move on. Look for the funny and everything. Because that's the way you'll get through the world. That will make a happy life for you.”
“I think the youth is our greatest hope for the future. Our rights are under attack. We've been fighting all these years. We got to keep fighting. We have to not give up and keep fighting and stay positive inside your head. The future is what you make it. You create your own future. My legacy is trying to empower other people.
I was raised being a victim, and I have embraced being a queer warrior for many years. Friends encouraged me to do it. I encourage other people. It's a wonderful, empowering, fantastic, positive way to live. And I encourage any age or person to do it. I'm a senior now. I do it as a senior every day.
Letter to my younger self–
I'm 69 today and I feel like I like myself just as I am. I quit trying to be someone else a long time ago. So younger self be you. Value good people. Let go of bad people. Don't stay in bad situations for long periods trying to fit in to things and people that are wrong for you. I stayed in bad partners, bad groups, and bad job situations for too long, years and years.
I wish I had left these sooner. You give it your best shot and if it doesn't work, you go on to the next great thing. You can never find a good partner if you're with a bad one younger self. Don't be a victim. Be a warrior every day.”
“The legacy that I have inherited is the legacy to to be free and to take up fucking space and not be afraid. I honor the legacy of Sylvester James, who was a fabulous 1970s disco star. I honor his legacy by being a beautiful black trans femme in today's world and showing up in spaces and being unapologetic.”
“I have inherited a legacy of courage. Both of my parents are no longer in my life and so I feel like I have inherited courage through friends and family. You know, brothers and sisters of mine and grandparents of other friends and parents of other friends.
My hope for the future of queer, trans and non-binary folks is that we are simply able to live and love in the bodies that we want. I want us to be able to crush all of the boundaries that are working against us. The message that I have for our queer trans and non-binary youth is love yourself, live vibrantly and reach out to community when you need to do so because there's so many people that will be there for you.
There are so many people that will be there for you. Whenever you need it. Our community is huge and beautiful and caring. The future is bold and brilliant. My legacy is transformative. Our legacy is resilient.”
“My message for our queer and trans youth is: Please don't give up. Live. Be yourselves. The future is creativity. My legacy is courage. Our legacy is freedom to my younger self. I'm proud of you. You struggled to figure yourself out and took the time to test alternatives, all the while developing the principles that you wanted to live by. Integrity. Honesty. Service, adventure. Learning. Self-expression. Love of life. You screwed up plenty along the way.
But that's how you learn. You let people down sometimes. You held yourself back occasionally. But you recognize those missteps. Failures embarrassed you, but you faced them and grew from them. You learned how to stand up for yourself and for others. You learned how to lead and how to encourage others to grow and lead to you becoming a servant leader who never exploited your friends or your community.
You never became rich or famous like you dreamed of being when you were a teenager. But you have had an impact on the world and you have inspired and empowered countless others. You stayed true to yourself, and you loved your friends, your animals, your family, your partners. And you've been creative and honorable And you're not done yet. You can't give up because that's not in you.
Keep dreaming and stay strong, young man.”
“Thinking about gender non-conforming or queer elders. You know, it just makes me like so happy and I feel so grateful for everything they've done because I know for myself the things I'm trying to do for the future generations and how much more they had to do from their time And it just makes me appreciate everything that they've done to make even my journey easier and therefore my kids journey easier.
My legacy is a more loving and safe future for all kids, especially trans kids. Our legacy is leaving the world more beautiful than we came into it and more open, accepting and loving.”
“The legacy that I feel I've inherited is the legacy of community, the legacy of being united as one in a common struggle and advocating for the rights of myself, my community and those that are marginalized. The legacy that I honor today is the legacy of my family, of my ancestors, all the Mexican folk that came before me, that have endured years of struggles and resiliency to get us to this point that we are here.
I also have the legacy of all the queer and brown people that were here before me. And the responsibility of telling those stories and sharing that knowledge and also creating those spaces for future generations that come after me. I think, one, I'm really grateful for all the queer and brown undocumented elders that made it to this side of the border.”
“I hope and dream for the day that the fetishization, stigma, and taboo culture around Indigenous queerness can fade away. I don't want to have to exhaust myself in educating and explaining over and over again why I am the way I am. I simply just want to exist. And for all the knowledge of Two Spirit.
I stand proud for my relatives who couldn't. I don't want to ever take anything for granted. My brother Russell recently began his journey of transitioning and it has been so fulfilling to see him prosper and indulge in self-love. I couldn't think of anyone more inspiring than him, and I'm so thankful that he has invited me on his journey with him.”
“My legacy will live beyond my physical presence. It will be a reference point and an inspiration for others following in my path. I honor my own legacy by planting seeds of resilience, strength and courage and others so that they can realize their legacy that they're leaving.
I leave this message for queer and trans youth. You're okay. It gets better.Don't let anyone determine who you are, but you. The future is a silver lining in a gray cloud. The fight will continue, but hopefully the lift is lighter.
“What I want to leave behind is not bravery or resilience or courage. But just my joy, my existence. My hope is that at some point we won't have to fight anymore, that I won't have to explain to somebody that they need to be resilient or that they are resilient.
I don't want to congratulate another child on their courage of being themselves. I want them to just be themselves.
I think that I used to think that my legacy was all about working as hard as I possibly could, as being the best advocate that I can. And those are still things I want to be in my legacy. But I also want rest and I want joy, and I want to stop fighting all the time. And I think that's also what I want to pass on to others, because I don't want trans youth and trans kids to be fighting all the time.”
“I would say thank you to the elders that came before me for breaking down barriers so that I can break away from the common narrative of what it means to be a trans man. Since I started transitioning, I've learned how to balance my femininity with my masculinity. I'm not leaving my femininity behind, but rather morphing it into my own version of queer masculinity.
The future is unapologetic. My legacy is storytelling. Our legacy is fluidity.”
“My greatest dream for the future of LGBTQ plus people is the freedom to exist without shame. All too many times we're told we're doing too much, or we're asking for too much simply because we want respect and we want equity for being who we are. I hope for the future. No one has to come out or no one has to explain themselves.
They just say, this is who I am. And they're accepted and respected just because they are human.
The future is loud. My legacy is art. Our legacy is love. Our legacy is love.”