Dear Fellow activists, Writers, and Whoever may read this:
I am a poet from Western Mass who happens to also be a women with a disability. My friend and mentor Laura Hershey died suddenly (at least to me) the Friday after Thanksgiving. Laura was living in Colorado at the time. Her memorial service is scheduled for the 20th.
I, of course, planned on going. I also figured while I'm there I could visit the headquarters of ADAPT, an awesome organization dedicated to ending the institutional bias that plagues and threatens the daily lives of so many people with disabilities.
Then I heard fellow, queer woman, poet Leslea Newman speak about her visit to the Matthew Shepard fence. Upon looking at a map, I discovered that Laramie, WY is only 2 hours away from Denver.
Being a poet by trade myself, it seemed to me that there was a universal deep reason that the spot Matthew made infamous was located so close to my dear friend's memorial service. Laura, it seemed to me, was telling me to do something more with my visit than mourn her. I planned to visit ADAPT as scheduled and also to visit the Matthew Shepard fence as Leslea had done.
The loss of these two openly queer lights in world affected my world in ways to were unforgettable. Laura’s battle to live independently with her partner and daughter, her bringing of her entire queer, disabled, poet self to all events at all times, and her success at getting off SSI (a task I’m still working on), deeply influenced my life. When people asked me who I wanted to be like when I got older, I’d point at Laura and say, “her!”
When Matthew Shepard died, I was a 22-year-old who had recently graduated college. I was also a little, queer, chick in a wheelchair who lived in a somewhat backward area of Pennsylvania. I didn’t leave the house for 6 weeks. Until I realized that this was a disservice to the young martyr I’d never met.
What I need to make this project happen:
2 Airline tickets (one for me, one for my personal care assistant- the person who helps me use the bathroom, get dressed and undressed, get in and out of my wheelchair)- approx $300
1 wheelchair van for use in Laramie WY- $100 per day
1 place to sleep in Laramie, WY- have a no step house and are welling to have me stay, or want to feed me, or lend me your van, please e-mail. The Project will be in your debt!
Total budget: $1200 (approx)
I am committed to seeing this book happen. I will have the whole manuscript edited by the Phillbrick Poetry Prize deadline of October 15th 2011. If Phillbrick doesn’t want it, someone will. If not, I’ll self-publish. If you give $10, you'll get a free book when this project publishes.
Thanks so much!