News flash! It doesn’t just get better. We get better. We get stronger. We get braver. The world can feel like a dark place sometimes. It may not always seem like life is getting better, but YOU GET BETTER.
My name is Nico Tortorella. I am a non binary, happily married, polyamorous bi/pansexual author poet performance artist.
Oh and I’m also an actor. I’m on that Lizzie McGuire/Sex and the City mashup called Younger in which I play Josh. My favorite thing about playing Josh has been the privilege that comes with it. Younger is on in 170+ different countries and I am known around the world as a super straight, super cis, super white bro. Which is so funny to me because that’s sort of just my “male drag.” Nonetheless I know that in our world that is a privilege. It makes my activism, advocacy, and messaging on the LGBTQIAPK+ community that much more easily digestible. Whether we like it or not that is a privilege the system has allotted me. So thanks Josh, love you girl. Now I’m here and I’ve got some things to say.
My sexual and gender freedom has always been a work in progress. Isn’t everything? Over the past year I have done a lot of personal work to re-evaluate the toxic norms I was taught about gender and sexuality. Let’s unpack that. What is sexual? Is it in the physiological processes or does it relate to gender? Is it simply bodily or straightforwardly cultural? Is there a world in which it can be all of it plus more?
Sexual and sexuality start with sex. And anything that starts with sex is going to be messy.
Through my own public education of sexuality and the queer community, I have begun to break down the binary construct of gender, male and female, and its emphasis on “division.” It is no secret that we are markedly divided here in the United States and abroad. Binary pronouns “he” and “she” , “his” and “her” can be divisive, which is one of the many reasons I have started using they/them pronouns for myself.
And when asked if my pronouns are plural I say yes: I am a multidimensional dynamic human being.
We all are.
While the language we may use to describe ourselves is ever changing, gender non-conforming people are not “new,” nor a “trend.” Historically, in every corner of the world, multiples genders have been recognized, celebrated, and worshipped by indigenous peoples. Because of colonialism and coercive religious indoctrination, alternative understandings of gender and sexuality have been demonized and erased.
My public education has lead me to right here, right now. Storytelling as a form of healing. It is up to each and every one of you to decide where your energy goes and at what cost. Do your research. Learn as much from the world as you possibly can. Put yourself first so you can properly do the work for others. Share your stories, share your stories, share your stories.
And remember, all of it is you.
Be every human. Love every human. See every human. Respect every human. My call to action is this: As much as we are aware of the victim in all of us, we must also acknowledge the ways we are complicit. Just because you are being strangled doesn’t mean your hands aren’t wrapped around someone else’s neck. If you see something, say something. If you have a body that is deemed more socially acceptable than others stand up for the ones in need. If you are white, scream against systemic racism. If you are an American citizen, stand up for undocumented people. Stand up for the indigenous, the poor, the disabled, the Jewish, the Muslim, the POC, the lesbian, the gay, the bisexual, the trans, the queer, the you, the me, the us.
Join me in supporting the essential work of the It Gets Better Project with a donation today. Help them continue to share stories of the LGBTQ+ experience –an innately human experience—so that all voices are represented and celebrated.
We were all born here. Equal spirits divided into unequal bodies.
Love all. All of it is worth celebrating.
Because All of it is you.
It doesn’t just get better, you get better.
Here’s to 2019