“Mom, can you please ask Lauren to stop singing for a little while?”—my brother, age six, totally justified.

Justified, but impossible. Of course, there are times when it’s inappropriate or just bothersome to sing, so I stifle it. But most of the time, I can’t stop singing because using my voice makes me feel whole. At the Minnesota AIDS Project, where I've worked since 2012, I often meet with people whose voices have been stifled or silenced because of events arising from systemic injustices—racism, sexism, poverty, stigma (to name a few). I am keenly aware of how lucky I am to have a voice—to have been born in this time and place, with the unfathomable privileges of being American, white, and middle-class. I am also aware of how lucky I am to have been able to save up enough money to record an album and collaborate with people I deeply respect, people who have shared with me their immense talent, wisdom, and kindness. Most of all, I am so lucky to have the love of my family, mentors, and friends who support and honor my freedom of expression.

It is painful and motivating knowing that the freedom of expression I enjoy is not a reality for others. I am inspired by the capacity of the work at the Minnesota AIDS Project to expand, rather than stifle, voices of those who suffer injustice. To support the work of the Minnesota AIDS Project, visit www.mnaidsproject.org.

Thank you for honoring me by visiting this page, for the ways you honor your own expression and for doing what you can to work for and honor the freedom of expression of others.