I began writing short form fiction stories as a child. Looking back, I understand writing to be a way that I escaped the stresses of my childhood and generational trauma. Instead, I could write myself into a future of my own making. Writing was survival. Throughout my late teens and early twenties, I kept a journal to continue this self-care practice. I wrote my way through chaotic drug use, homelessness, exploitation, and incarceration.
Afterwards, I began my career in harm reduction as an outreach worker and community organizer supporting people in criminalized street economies and survivors of exploitation at Prax(us) in Denver, Colorado. Two years later, I was promoted to Co-Director where I oversaw direct services and organizing. My writing began to take the form of zines, fliers, grant proposals, and reports. Two years later, I joined the team at Colorado’s largest syringe service program, the Harm Reduction Action Center, as Volunteer and Development Director. This position allowed me to advance my grant writing skills as well as begin drafting educational and leadership development curricula. At the same time, I served on the board of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition where I advanced my knowledge of fundraising communication.
After graduating from community supervision and college in the same year, I moved to Washington DC where I acted as the inaugural Drug User Health Fellow for the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors. In this position, I wrote white papers, tool kits, blog posts, memos, and policy briefs. I also joined the board of the Sex Workers Outreach Project USA where I served four years, my final year as President. I wrote a lot of emails, updated bylaws, and learned to analyze a myriad of legal documents. Upon completion of my fellowship, I co-created Reframe Health and Justice, a safe space for queer and trans consultants of color working to create a safer world for themselves and their communities. Find out more about us and our projects at www.reframehealthandjustice.com. This space allowed my writing to blossom, and I published a number of articles.
In 2019, I was awarded an Open Society Foundation Soros Justice Media Fellowship to support the beginning phases of a narrative project that could catalyze a substantial ideological transition from police and prisons to community-based resources and services. I began to write my past. I wrote backwards in the hope that my memoir can help inform other people’s present and futures. My project transformed into a memoir and accompanying anthology which reveal the nuances beyond what we’re told is good and bad.