lore m. dickey founded My Bandana Project on February 1, 2016. lore is trans male who began his social and medical transitions in Seattle, WA in 1999. He has been a member of the LGBTQ community since 1983 when he came out as a lesbian.
lore’s story is somewhat typical of the era of his coming out as trans*.
In October of 1998, lore was working through a difficult bout of depression. He had been sober for about 4.5 years. One of the sayings he often heard in the 12 step meetings he attended was “don’t kill yourself until you have at least 5 years of sobriety; because you won’t know who you are killing.” At 4.5 years, with emotional darkness lurking on a daily basis, he committed to himself that in April of 1999 he would end his own life. At that point he would have 5 years of sobriety – and therefore would know himself.
Having struggled to figure out years of depression and why he continued to have failed intimate relationships he met and became friends with another trans* man in March of 1999. One month short of the promised deadline to end his life. It was through this friendship that lore discovered his own trans* identity, which saved his life. Even though he had known about trans* men and women for some time, it had not occurred to him that transition might be a part of his own journey.
With a supportive therapist and community, lore embarked on a transition in a city with much personal and family history. He quickly found that he could only come out to two people a day. Coming out was an emotional experience, and because lore had lived in Seattle for so many years he would run into people on a regular basis.
Depression is a tricky mental health concern. Over the years lore was on and off of antidepressants, some working well, others not so well. And when things have been overwhelming for him, the dark thoughts would be more frequent and intense. There were two times when he made promises to himself about ending his life and thankfully, when those moments arrived he had forgotten about the promise as much of the emotional pain had passed for him.
This may be true for others, as it has been for lore, but every time he would venture into those dark places he would get closer and closer to taking action. No one likes to talk about this – least of all the person who is having these thoughts. As a wise person said, “once you have thoughts of ending your life, the thoughts never vanish entirely.” That is a huge burden to carry for anyone. For trans* and gender diverse people, the challenge is compounded by the daily insults and microaggressions they face.
Two things have remained constant for lore over the years. A connection to community has always been an abiding source of vital support. Though he has moved a number of times, even to places he never dreamed of living, being able to form connections with others has been critical. When those connections do not happen, the isolation can become all-consuming and oppressive. Being in the company of loved ones, be they one’s family of origin or family of choice, can serve to temper the painful moments. A lifetime of friendships have served to buoy lore’s mood and at times has been the life raft that rescued him from troubled waters.
The other constant in lore’s life has been access to a trained mental health professional. Having access to a counselor, psychologist, social worker, psychiatrist, psych nurse practitioner, or mental health provider can be a huge source of support in difficult times. Knowing when, and how, to ask for support does not always come easily for people. Although the use of mental health providers has become more common, there is still a great deal of stigma surrounding mental health concerns. For lore, having a counselor has meant that there has always been a person who he has been able to talk with who understood the challenges he faced and was able to help bring a perspective that only an outsider can see.
This project came about for lore as he was trying to understand how to address, and chase away, his dark thoughts, his thoughts that life would be much easier if everything were to go away. For lore, that was his own personal code for feeling completely hopeless that he could ever address all the challenges he was facing. Although he rarely had a plan for ending his life, these passive thoughts of death only served to fuel the hopelessness.
Each person has their challenges and it is lore’s hope that this simple act of tying a bandana around your ankle on a daily basis will help to keep himself and others safe, just for today, from harm.
Duane and Rafe have provided emotional support for lore over a number of years, and most especially as he developed the plan to launch My Bandana Project. Through daily accountability, lore has been able to focus on launching this project because the “noise” from depression has been diminished each morning as he ties a bandana around his ankle.
The silent partner in this process is Jennifer F. lore met Jennifer in the late-1980s. She had just come out as a lesbian and was searching for support and community. lore (then Mary) helped fill that need for support. Tragically Jennifer was killed in an automobile accident in October of 1988, through no fault of her own. Jennifer used to tie a bandana around her ankle. Although lore does not know the reason for this, he began to do so years ago as a way of remembering Jennifer.
Jonathan is a teddy bear that lore gave to his counselor prior to moving for graduate school. Jonathan’s clothes consisted of a bandana around his leg. This is the same bandana seen in the photos on this web site. Jonathan got some new clothes, but lore wears his bandana each day. Jonathan was named after a character in the book Mandy which was written by Julie Edwards.