Now and again I will be writing an entry about a person that should be praised publicly but will probably never be...the heroes and angels that walk among us.)
I recently wrote an article for a new queer Latin@ magazine called Zona Rosa. The topic of the article was “heroes.” That publication will have a section in each issue dedicated to the heroes of queer Latin@s. In my article, I redefined the term “hero”, stripping it of the often militaristic, capitalistic, or political elite requirement of hero-making.
In my life I have had many heroes. Some are still with me, others have passed on, and there are a few that I have not seen in years, but they are never far from my heart, mind, or spirit.
Once such person is Koren Hoard.
I remember meeting Koren a decade ago. Once upon a time there was a queer youth movement in this country that challenged gender, embraced while ripping apart stereotypes around sexual orientation, and wove a fierce joy and open sexualness and sexuality into a movement that redefined “gay” and the issues that were pertinent to our communities. Koren was one of the soul carriers of that group of young people.
On the surface, when I first met Koren, I though he was one of the most beautiful women I had ever met. I was quickly taught a valuable lesson in assuming gender, and Koren was the first non-operative transman I met. I used to tell him that he had the most beautiful breasts of any man I had ever seen. Everything about Koren is beautiful, from his smile to the gentle way he moves through the world. There is a quiet and fierce strength about the man that is uplifting. He never sought the spotlight, and the one real indulgence that he took was making sure that each night he wove into his hair brightly colored extensions that matched whatever fierce outfit he put together the next day. And I am talkin' fierce...he is the only person I know that can pull off an electric blue and magenta outfit and also rock the hair to match.
When I met Koren, he was working at the National Youth Advocacy Coalition. He did his work with integrity and that integrity was present in his friendship. I love Koren because with a word and smile, no matter how ugly your day is, was, or might be, it seems a little lighter and more bearable.
When I lived in North Carolina and worked at the NC Lambda Youth Network, I would often come home and find Koren, who lived in DC, sitting on my front porch or cleaning my roommate River's bedroom (and for that and that alone Koren deserves sainthood...River was a pig, rolled in a hog, dipped in a sewer, buried in a full septic tank). I love River.
I also loved when Koren came to visit. He would move about our house and smile. And when he asked how you were...you knew he cared and was listening.
Over the years, as I have gone through my own journey and trials...Koren would hear or read about it...and it would never fail...in would come an email or a phone call. Koren offered hugs, financial support if I needed it, or just a willingess to be there. This was after having not seen him in months and sometimes years. I know that I have never given to him the peace of mind and love that he has given me, but I would, quite seriously, do whatever I could and try to do things I knew I couldn't in order to support him and make sure he is always surrounded by peace and love and the support he needs.
I don't talk to Koren often enough. I can't remember the last time I saw him. But my love for him has grown exponentially. He is a gift to the justice movement. He is a gift to all who have had the fortune to know him, and he is a gift in my life. I love you Koren. Thank you.