12 Hours of Inspiration in Indianapolis
Yesterday, I sat down for dinner with Alex after an incredible, but long day in Indianapolis. I ordered three tacos, ate them at lightning speed and then asked the waiter to surprise me with a fourth taco of his choice. As he walked away from our table, he said “You came ready to eat today, huh?” I wanted to be insulted but I wasn’t, because he was right. I was starving, and I had come to Indianapolis ready to ask every single person I met for their restaurant recommendations and to share kindness. I ate well and had one of the best days yet on tour. I’ll spare you the former, and go into detail on the latter.
In Indianapolis, Bankers Fieldhouse sent a note to all concert goers inviting them to bring feminine hygiene products to donate to a local drive organized by our amazing Channel Kindness Award winner Taylor (more on that in a minute). I wanted to do my part, so I flew from California to Indiana with a suitcase full of tampons and when I woke up yesterday morning, I stuffed them all in bags and headed off to a day full of kindness.
My first stop – obviously – was Starbucks and as I was called to the cash register to place my order, I realized that my wallet was under a mountain of tampons. I took out each box, one by one, and stacked them on the counter in front of me, even asking the businessman behind me to hold one, so I could reach my wallet. I ordered my Starbucks, shared the statistic that, on average, a woman pays $7 per month for 40 years for these boxes, a privilege that many people cannot afford, and started my day.
At the hotel, an old, but Millennial, friend of mine picked us up at our hotel and brought us to an incredible space called the Alexander Hotel. Derrick Feldmann, from ACHIEVE Agency, had taken it upon himself to check out the Lady Gaga tour dates and sent me a note about coming to town. Too often, when friends email me, I have to give them the honest excuse that I’m in town for twelve hours and as much as I’d love to see them, I have a packed schedule. Derrick didn’t want to see me (or at least, not only see me), he wanted to be part of that packed schedule.
He and the incredible team from the Buckingham Foundation hosted an early morning conversation on kindness, mental wellness and the intersection of the two in building resilient communities. There is nothing I like more than starting my Mondays with coffee, friends and kindness and I am grateful to Derrick for providing all three.
From there, we went to IUPUI to meet Channel Kindness Award winner Taylor Parker and add my tampons to the more than 6,700 other ones that Taylor had collected the night before from Little Monsters at the show.
The room in the Multicultural Center was buzzing with activity and overflowing with products and clothing donations. In the center of this happy chaos was Taylor – the vice president of IUPUI’s LGBTQ+ Center. Taylor was surrounded by a group of friends, waiting for her direction and each time she turned her back, remarking on how incredible she was, how amazing this event was and how grateful they were to be her friend.
One young woman called Taylor a “national treasure” and another shared the impact that Taylor had had on her life. There is no shortage of inspiring, one of a kind young people in my life and for that, I am so grateful. These young people – every single day – make me feel confident in our future, grateful for their leadership and vision and hopeful for my children. Taylor was all of those things but I also felt something I have only felt a handful of times in my life – the urge to be quiet. The urge to watch someone because I could feel that somehow, in the study of another person, I would learn how to become a better human being.
Each person that walked into that room (which Taylor wanted me to make sure I told you, was a room and a campaign organized by all queer women), was greeted with a smile, and a hug and a personal question by Taylor. The question wasn’t “how are you?” or “how’s your day?” Instead, she would ask, “I know you have that ASA meeting tonight, do you have a way to get there? I know your class ends at 8:15 PM. Can I come get you and drive you to the meeting?”
It’s as though Taylor knew what each person needed and instead of asking the surface questions that we all spend way too much time on, she cut through that and offered to meet an unmet, sometimes unknown, need. She didn’t have things to give other people, which implies privilege, she simply existed to help others thrive and was willing (and committed) to using everything she had for other people – her voice, her tampons, her conference room and her life.
The selfless, urgent giving spirit was echoed throughout each one of our interactions in Indianapolis yesterday. We had the opportunity to sit down with the staff for the Indiana Youth Group, who shared excitedly about their new space, their ambitious capital campaign and the crises that they deal with every day, as they work to make Indiana a more safe, inclusive and welcoming space for young people. We heard it again at ArtMix, where art builds community and erases difference, and there’s no such thing as a disability.