Words by Tess Becker
Whether you’re gay, trans, or another identity within the LGBTQ+ rainbow, it can be nerve-wracking to come out to your loved ones. Take into account that sometimes the people closest to you might not be accepting and some people stay in the closet indefinitely.
That’s something that children’s book author and LGBTQ+ advocate Cassandra Brooks learned firsthand.
Until a few years ago, Cassandra was a vocal church leader who used her faith to help the community. Then, she found out that her niece was afraid to come out to her for fear of backlash. That was a turning point for her.
“She was over at our house one day and she finally told me but she was really scared because she thought I was going to judge her,” Cassandra tells Smiley News. Cassandra always thought herself to be open, but saw how her beliefs could have dissuaded her niece.
“It was hard to actually think that somebody that I love and care about was nervous about how I would respond to them for something like that," she says.
That moment was four years ago and since then Cassandra has completely shifted her life, becoming an outspoken LGBTQ+ advocate, especially for OUTMemphis, an organization that helps queer people in Tennesee, and Free Mom Hugs, where she serves as the co-leader of the Tennessee chapter – which is a nonprofit to fight for human rights for all.
She’s also written two children’s books with a third on the way, all of which have a specific focus on acceptance and representation showing characters reflective of her own life. All of the books are part of a larger series called Magick in Me.
“They’re just about believing in yourself and you making your choices about who you are and feeling confident and being who you are,” Cassandra says. “That's where the magic kind of comes from and that’s just a message that I've got to share again and again.”
Community and connectedness
A big part of all this work has been community and connectedness, something that was there even when she was a part of the church. This is how she eventually ended up at organizations like OUTMemphis.
In general, Cassandra just wants to help people feel more comfortable in their own skin.
“There’s nothing other than just helping people get out there and inspired to do something that helps change their world as well as the one that they live in,” she says.
Find out how to support OUTMemphis and more on its website.