We Are Deserving Of A Safe Community:

Reflecting on the sexual abuse and breach of trust perpetrated by a former Houston arts and community leader.
April 2024

    I rushed from Houston to my hometown of Bay City, in search of a sense of security, safety and familial comfort, but over the past three years I have sensed a loss or lack of community. A lack of community, which for the past two weeks I have had the absolute pleasure of being able to reconnect with through my art and documentation opportunities. Houston, even with all of its problems, is a very magical place. The city has so much to offer and so many avenues to showcase its indisputable cultural majesty.

    When I am in Houston I feel as though I can accomplish unimaginable things, visions not based on delusional grandeur, but in the understanding that I am, at any moment, surrounded by amazing people who are doing outstanding things, accomplishing untold feats, dispelling myths and breaking generational curses.

    However, even within that majesty, there often exist occurrences of such intense and immense tragedy and violence. The same safety that I may tout is not a universally shared experience. There are entire communities of people that have only themselves and a small group of allies to advocate and communicate to the world their right to exist, or to bodily autonomy. It should not need to be stated that no one, absolutely no one, has a right to tell a woman what to do with their body, and under no circumstances does one have a right to access a woman's body.

    We are currently here, in this moment, paused. Paused so that we can acknowledge the weight of former community leader, Matt Manalo’s actions, to identify the many ways in which this violation, this betrayal, was not only an act of sexual assault, but also act of theft. In those moments, he robbed those women of the perceived safety of their homes, their level of comfortability around men which was already compromised, he robbed them of a peace and certainty that whomever was invited into their sacred and safe space, that they would not do them harm. By sexually violating their person, he breached their trust, betrayed their friendship and destroyed their sense of security within their home and community, a community that we all deserve the right to safe within.