50 Winners Who Are Helping Others Win: #14 Rayceen Pendarvis

National Youth Pride Services is proud to announce it’s Third Annual list of 50 Winners Who Are Helping Others Win on our national magazine RizeUp! We used our national membership of youth and young adults across the U.S. to come up with the list and we are excited to see who they are not only watching, but learning from.

Interview by Demark Manigo

Describe your childhood.

I am the child of the 50s, 60s and 70s. Born out of the struggle of the Civil Rights Movement. I was taught to love and embrace everyone & stand up for justice.

Who is your most influential person.

My mother because she allowed me to be free, never denied me.

How were you able to cope out in the community?

“I’m a father of five, mother of many!! A Two-Spirited person!”

Our community had so much richness and self-containment. When you are raised in a safe environment, you have a foundation. When your family supports you, it prepares you for when the world rejects you. And if the world rejects you, you teach them to respect you by honoring your family, faith, and community by being a beacon of hope and a light of change.

What does it mean to be a light of change?

By living your truth and embracing who you are full and completely. And when you love yourself, it gives you the strength to love others who hate you.

What tools were you given to teach you how to find common ground?

My spiritual faith and fellowship with other people and mankind. There’s a vine that connects us all no matter where we are. With that comes an understanding of meeting them where they are. Everyone is welcome to the table.

What inspired you to do the work you do now?

Honoring those who died in the struggle, their memory. Those who went before me and were not able to see the finish. Knowing that someone did it for me. I look back and see their resiliency, then their growth and then understanding their power to bring people together and chose to be visible. When I open my mouth and speak power, I have the ability to change your perception of me. That I am greater than my image.

Define Two-Spirited in your own terms.

I embrace the spirituality of my femininity and the strength of my masculinity. I allow them to live in perfect harmony within me. And that’s through loving them both & understanding the power and purpose of each. I am the keeper of the gate – that’s what being Two-Spirited is also.

What got you to start the AskRayceen column?

Out of a need to see the community come together and celebrate our richness, beauty, and all its glory. To have a space that’s accessible, affirming, and engaging everyone and keeping it free is what drives me the most. Years of wisdom to share experiences of life, love, & happiness.

Where do you see AskRayceen going in the next 5 years?

Continuing bringing people together on a national level where those who can’t see me live can see me in living color. (No pun intended.)


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