Pongo Project Journal

Sharing stories of our work with teens
Jun 01
"The Heart is Us"

"The Heart is Us"

As the first week of Pride Month coincides with Pongo wrapping up our programs for the academic year of 20-21, it's an ideal time to celebrate the people who have helped us love ourselves.

Recently, I had the privilege to mentor poetry with a young man who told me about his experience coming out at an early age. This young man identified a key ingredient that made his coming out experience a joyful process: an open and affirming teacher.

"He was helpful," the young man wrote in a narrative poem. "He (the teacher) explained what I might be going through./ That I might be part of the LGBTQ community./That was the first I heard of it."

The young poet then wrote this poem reflecting on the importance of safe spaces in which we can be ourselves:


Your Self
by a student at CSTC, age 17

This is the place that showed me the way.
Equality is All.
The size of your chest, the curves of the body,
the ridges, the roughness—do not tell
or define who you are.
You may see others and think I want their looks!
I want to be them.
Why do you want the looks of someone you are not?
Keep your life. Live your life! Life is beautiful.
You are beautiful and looks aren’t us.
The heart is us. The deep emotions others don’t have.
The strength of our will to be us. Use it! Love it. Love you.
You are you. Don’t be ashamed.
Be yourself. Love your self, then others will follow.
Others will love you too.
This place is within your heart.
This place is the place of you.
Life! Keep hold and live.

Dedicated to my teacher

To all members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community, we hope you'll love on yourselves and those in your life this Pride month! As this poet and his teacher models for us, creating a loving space for others to be themselves can start by loving yourself.