An excerpt from my book.
In my book, each of the 19 interviews I did with activists, change-makers and advocates is followed by a personal reflection that I wrote based on our conversation. Sometimes the refection was about how I related to the subject matter of their work and sometimes it was based on a particular message that struck me. This reflection based on my interview with Amanda Jette Knox and her family is perhaps the most important one in my book and one that I believe we all need to hear – and put into the world. (The excerpt of that interview is here.)
I’m sharing this today in anticipation and celebration of the release of Amanda’s book, Love Lives Here, on July 30, 2019.
Originally published in Momentus: Small Acts, Big Change, November 2017
Since I started my blog, I have always made it a point to find and read other blogs. My mom has always told me that to become a better writer, you have to be a better reader. What she really means is not a better reader, but that you need to read a lot and that will help you define your style. Amanda’s blog, Maven of Mayhem, is one of my favourites, not just for what she writes, but how she writes. I love that her posts always feel like a conversation–sometimes with herself and sometimes with her readers, and because as a reader, I really like that, it’s something I’ve been working on as a writer, too. I hope it’s working.
But as you can see, it’s not just about Amanda’s writing; there are other reasons why I admire Amanda and hold her up as a role model. She is not only an example, but a leader, when it comes to what it looks like to support someone and be an ally. We can learn a lot from Amanda and her family to create accepting and safe communities for everyone.
It’s also about how important sharing our stories is, and how through our stories, we create community, and it’s through community that change is created. Something I haven’t told you yet is the support that Amanda, Alexis, and Zoe got, has created that ripple effect I mentioned before.
I’ll start with Alexis, because the support she has received beyond the walls of her family home has been an important part of how she sees herself and her ability to be an advocate not just for herself, but for others like her and for their families, schools, and local communities. It’s been said that “love is louder than hate” and that is especially true when love and acceptance comes in large numbers and from influential voices.
Amanda and Alexis were given the biggest dose of community support they could imagine when WE Day invited them to share their story on the WE Day stage. It was the first time that LGBTQ stories were highlighted.
Support–from family and from community–it can be everything to someone who is seeking to belong for who they are.
Which brings me to Zoe. Once Zoe was secure in the support that she received from her family, she was ready to take the next steps and start fully living as Zoe, and that needed to include where she spent most of her time–work. Amanda wrote on her blog:
“[Zoe] works at a large technology company, managing a team of software developers in a predominantly male office environment. She’s known many of her co-workers and employees for 15 or so years. They have called her “he” and “him” and “Mr.” for a very long time. How would they handle the change?”
Zoe started, like Alexis did, by reaching out with an email (to her colleagues), and she received messages back filled with support and encouragement. She took a week off and worked from home as she prepared herself for that first day back at the office. Despite all of those kind emails, Zoe was nervous to make her entrance. Sometimes showing up is hard.
In my favourite blog post that Amanda has published on her blog–one that was picked up and went viral thanks to Upworthy, Buzzfeed, and countless others–she described how Zoe was welcomed to the office in the warmest way. Her workspace was decorated for a party, and her name, Zoe, was posted everywhere. There were flowers and cards, too. There was literally icing on the cake when she walked into a “meeting” that was actually a surprise party. In typical Amanda-style, she ended her post with this message:
“It’s a lot of energy to judge people, you know. It’s way more fun to celebrate and support them for who they are. Besides, we have cupcakes.”
The support that Alexis and Zoe received at home gave them both the opportunity and courage to live their lives as their true and authentic selves. The support that they have received from their immediate and larger communities has encouraged them to become storytellers who lead with love as advocates, allies, and acceptance.
Amanda’s book, Love Lives Here, is being released on July 30, 2019 – ORDER IT NOW. I took my advanced copy on the road for my summer travels. Like her blog, it’s beautifully written – like she’s telling you story after story over coffee (or ice cream). Like Amanda herself, it’s honest, insightful and filled with love.
Here we are in New York City, love lives here.