“I moved back and forth. I never had a place to really call home.” Ri, a student at CSU East Bay and Stockton resident, shares with the Housing Justice Coalition how they have lived all around Stockton, moving constantly and being housing insecure. They had to learn to adapt to various living situations that were beyond their control.
Not only did Ri struggle with adapting to constantly changing and challenging living situations, but they also felt like they didn’t fit into their surroundings. Ri explains how hard it was to find a community they could fit into. “I always stood out–my skin, what I was wearing, my voice, what I did. It was different, I was different.”
Ri is part of the LGBTQ community. For many LGBTQ community members, it is difficult to find security, to find a safe place to call home. “A lot of us have not been accepted.” In fact, Ri’s father did not accept their identity and they could not live with him.
Despite these hardships, Ri shares “the only time I felt like I belonged was in the LGBTQ community and poetry community.” Even without a permanent place or house to call home, Ri found “home” within these spaces. Ri was able to explore their identity, express themselves, and process their challenging living situations. Poetry and community helped them navigate hardships. “Poetry was and is an expression through metaphors. I needed help and poetry was paper bleeding out the ink of my pain. Without it I would not be where I’m at today.”
Today Ri lives in a dorm, where they finally feel stable and secure. They share the excitement of finally being able to decorate and make the room theirs. “I walk up to my room around 5 in the evening and the sun is setting and the room smells like cinnamon and everything in here is mine. I can make hot chocolate, coffee, read, and set up Christmas lights. Everything feels homey. Every time I walk into my dorm room, it is a safe space. I have a shower, a bathroom, sheets, and food. [This home] is made by me.” They shared with us, “Home isn’t always your actual family, [it is where] you are comfortable, safe, and you can express yourself in a place that is comfortable for YOU.”