Happy Pride! I write this post on the same day a rave review was given in The New York Times Book Review of the new middle grade ghost story “Too Bright to See” by Kyle Lukoff. In this story, the main character, Bug, struggles with figuring out who they are. They are unsure of their own identity and grieving the loss of their recently deceased Uncle Roderick, a former drag queen whose presence is still heavily felt throughout the tale. It is through Bug’s connection with Uncle Roderick and the continued hints his ghost leaves that Bug realizes he is transgender, or that his assigned sex does not align with his gender identity.

As a school librarian, a passionate advocate for trans rights and a big sibling in Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters’ (JBBBS) new initiative pairing LGBTQ+ adults with LGBTQ+ children and teens for mentorship, I connect with the message in this book. For so many of us adults who identify as queer, we are literally haunted by the ghosts of those who came before us. There is a generation of people who do not exist anymore because of the transphobia, homophobia and queerphobia that have permeated our society for centuries. I wonder who I would be now if I had older queer mentors to guide me on my journey when I was younger. I wonder what truths I know now that I would have discovered at an earlier age, or whatever truths I will never discover, if there had been more elders to guide our way.

When I think about the importance of mentorship, I feel so grateful to be a small part of the JBBBS initiative. Right now, LGBTQ+ youth, especially trans and nonbinary youth, are facing horrific attacks at the city, state and federal level on their very basic right to exist openly and authentically. When state governments put forth legislature focusing on denying the right to participate in sports, using the correct facilities, receiving affirming health care and more, they are saying they don’t care about the health, safety and happiness of trans, nonbinary and gender nonconforming youth; they are saying their lives aren’t worth protecting.

As we enter into the second summer of a global pandemic, let us not forget the pandemic of hate, transphobia, homophobia and bigotry that still pains us constantly. And let us not forget the AIDS epidemic and the ignorance and lack of care that our government expressed that led to the deaths of so many of our elders. As I move forward in my life to becoming an LGBTQ+ elder and am in the position to offer mentorship and guidance, as well as the opportunity to learn from those of the next generations, I hope all of us will take a moment to reflect upon the importance of unwavering support and allyship with all marginalized people whose governments attack their very right to exist.

In Lukoff’s novel, we see how important it was for Bug to have his uncle, even after death, to offer him guidance in forming who he is to become. Let us all celebrate the chance to provide that for the next generation. Let us give them the chance to learn who they are, to celebrate who they are, to insist that this world we live in raise them up and not push them down, and to say, “We see you, we are you, we love you.”

Learn more about how JBBBS changes lives here. Apply to volunteer here!

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