Hello all! Kyle Rice here.
Here is my 'Rainbow Cloud Story' as requested by Creative Director, Cameron Stefanski, of The Rainbow Cloud Project.
Please be advised that some content within this story may be triggering.
My story doesn’t have a hero. There is no “coming of age” story or a moment of contentment. To be content in the world is to be blind to its chaos. So, I am writing a short clip of my life to understand and teach about its influence, how the world shifts and contributes to the thoughts, patterns, and actions of people. More importantly, it’s to understand that these parts of life, the parts that feel chaotic, are more prevalent and need to be discussed. I might learn something about myself as I write this, but I hope I am able to give something too. It was 2010, I was 13 and the age of YouTube just hit its peak before the ad sellout. For a young, Black, Gay male growing up in a WASP dominated township, YouTube was salvation. It was a glimpse into a world that was other than my own—an opportunity to escape into the stretches of Black and Queer culture. I remember sitting in the basement, lights off with nothing but the screen and its colored hue flashing across my face. That’s when I discovered Prayers for Bobby. Quite simply, the movie analyzes a mother who fights emotionally at the loss of her gay son, Bobby. The story isn’t uncommon, but as a boy pre-mass media, it was the only proof of what awaited me. It was detrimental, the thought of not being accepted for something so simple, yet I couldn’t help but feel that was my fate. Days of no sleep and no light, I re-watched as Bobby threw himself from an overpass, tears still in his eyes as they were in mine. My truth tore at me from the inside out. This film was the trigger of my coming out. I am lucky to still be writing. As I said, the story of Bobby Griffith isn’t uncommon. Regardless of the circumstance (sexual orientation, race, gender, etc.), the suicide rate of our youth is alarming and increasing. A report from the CDC marked more than 800,000 lives between the ages of 10 – 24, taken in 2017 alone. When I hear this number, I think of a younger me, I think of my siblings. The world is cruel, and the only thing I can give is positivity and strength. This message is for anyone that knows hardship. I am here for you, letting you know you will get through this as I did and still do every day. Everything I do, I do for you.
Which leads me to now, entering a period where it all comes full circle. I didn’t grow up with the money. In fact, my family struggled for a very long time. I was never handed opportunities that I didn’t work hard for. I struggled to put myself through college, living on ramen, and working two to three jobs while still being a full-time student. And I’ve definitely had my fair share of racial prejudice, but somehow I’ve always been determined to make it past that, to be a symbol of the underdog—proof that you can come out on the other side. In a way, that is what YouTube was for me as a child. It was a view of what could be. But even more so than YouTube, were magazines. My parents used to keep old Rolling Stone prints, and although I was never really fond of Rock n’ Roll, the type, the images, the paper were all sort of mesmerizing. When I was 19 I traveled on my own to New Orleans to meet Gail Anderson, the magazine's former Art Director, and first black women to hold the position. I remember her presence clear as day; confident, with power in her poise matched with humor and humility. She was and still is, a legend. Now, we hit present day, as I work at the very magazine I so tirelessly flipped through as a child, now tirelessly bustled among the staff.
Navigating through life is difficult and there will always be hardships. The chaos does not end. As I sit and write this, war rages within our community, my people crying out with sadness and anger. There is no hero in war. I am lucky to say that my determination paid off; I have become the underdog. Now, it is my turn to give back to the community that gave me salvation during those early years.
To my brothers and sisters fighting this war, I see you as you see me, I stand with you as you stand with me.
"We are power and we are love."
Where can I connect with Kyle online?
#blackstoriesmatter #blackvoicesmatter #blacklivesmatter #blm #love #acceptance #suicideawareness #wearepower #wearelove #speakupforequality #lgbtq #loveislove #shareyourstory #findyourrainbowcloud #rainbowcloudstory #therainbowcloudproject
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