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Continuum

Author Chella Man
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Pocket Change Collective was born out of a need for space. Space to think. Space to connect. Space to be yourself. And this is your invitation to join us.

"Chella chronicles the value in creating your own mold in order to reclaim your space and to feel represented in this always ever-evolving world, and he inspires others to stretch what it means to be human--and there's no right way."--Nyle DiMarco (model, actor, and Deaf activist)

"Full of heart, grace and precision, Chella Man charts his path toward himself in a world not yet equipped for all he encompasses. An affirming, artistic and accessible primer for anyone searching for themselves or yearning to learn about others."--Janet Mock (Bestselling author of Redefining Realness and Surpassing Certainty)

"Chella is the future. A total visionary and a wonderful example of a human being in every way. A master of empathy, courage, and growth."--Jameela Jamil (actress, model, writer, and activist)

"Navigating social norms can be so damn confusing and traumatic as a kid, but Chella shows that there is always a degree of dignity behind each step as we venture closer to the self."--Christine Sun Kim (sound artist and composer)

"Chella Man's journey is as compelling as it is brave and candid. I can't even imagine all the boxes people wanted to put him into and yet, he has emerged triumphant. His story will resonate with anyone who has a desire to be their true self. I can't wait to see the next chapter of his extraordinary life." --Marlee Matlin (Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning actress, author, and activist)

In Continuum, fine artist, activist, and Titans actor Chella Man uses his own experiences as a deaf, transgender, genderqueer, Jewish person of color to talk about cultivating self-acceptance and acting as one's own representation.

     Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books with big ideas from today's leading activists and artists.

     "What constructs in your life must you unlearn to support inclusivity and respect for all?" This is a question that artist, actor, and activist Chella Man wrestles with in this powerful and honest essay. A story of coping and resilience, Chella journeys through his experiences as a deaf, transgender, genderqueer, Jewish person of color, and shows us that identity lies on a continuum -- a beautiful, messy, and ever-evolving road of exploration.
Ashley Lukashevsky is an illustrator and visual artist born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, currently based in Los Angeles. Ashley uses illustration and art as tools to strengthen social movements against systemic racism, sexism, and anti-immigrant policy. She aims to tear down these systems of oppression through first envisioning and drawing a world without them.

Her clients include Refinery29, Broadly, The Washington Post, Planned Parenthood, Girls Who Code, GOOD Magazine, Brooklyn Magazine, ACLU, Red Bull, Snapchat, Air Jordan, and Logo TV. View titles by Ashley Lukashevsky
PROLOGUE


If I had been born during any other era, my story would be different. The world would not be ready to understand with open hearts or minds. To this day, many still choose not to. But whether they choose ignorance or empathy is up to them. My story will still be here; it will never be erased.
It begins and remains with a revelation: All of who I am lies on a continuum. My identity cannot be encompassed by a single term.

My ethnicity. I am biracial. I am both Jewish and Chinese.

My gender. I am genderqueer, existing outside the binary of “boy” and “girl.”

My disability. I am Deaf with access to some sound through two cochlear implants.

My sexuality. I am pansexual, loving beyond “straight” or “gay.”

I have not always known these identity expressions. To understand them, I first had to unlearn. It required diving deep into the systems that oppressed me, scraping the surface to expose them, and then studying their roots. And while it was terrifying, I understood that the communities standing by me would always offer support. That love and empathy (products of this ever-­long process of discovery) can melt the cold, hard surface of the iceberg. Together, we will rebuild these systems around inclusivity and accessibility by embracing individuality and living our truths.


CONTINUUM


As soon as I could articulate my choices, I chose to paint my childhood bedroom blue. Looking back, it is clear that this decision was made in favor of the gender I wished to claim. Books and loose papers filled with doodles covered the floor—­one thing that has never changed. From bed, I gazed up, scanning the edges of my ceiling, watching the blue meet the bare drywall. My body was engulfed by the tangled mess of superhero blankets as my pupils ran laps around the whites of my eyes, cycling through the routine in hopes it would shift my focus from the constant ringing in my ears. It was an eerie pitch, distant yet close, seeming to emanate from my mind.

At times, I wondered if the incessant noise was my own subconscious, passing on a message. Its voice kept me awake, encouraging my futile attempts of translation.

Enough, I thought, swinging my small legs over the side of the bed. I’ve never had much patience, although I have learned there are pros to this con. Letting my body drop the short distance from the bed to the ground, I walked down the hallway to my parents’ bedroom.

Every year, my parents insisted on hanging my sister’s and my school photos down this path. Passing them that night, I felt my own eyes follow me, bright from the moonlight. My mom always advised us to sport our favorite shirt each year on picture day. “Screw formality,” she said. “When you look back, you’ll connect with the clothing you loved.”

Naturally, I chose to fill my frames with baggy Spider-­Man T-­shirts. Empowered to be in clothes I connected with, my smile was genuine. I wish this remained for the school pictures to come.
Reaching my parents’ door, I cracked it open.

“Mommy?” I said, rubbing my eyes as they adjusted to the light.

“Rachel! Why are you awake? What’s wrong?”

She rushed over and crouched down so we were eye to eye. My mom always tried to treat us as equals.

“My ears are ringing,” I heard myself say.

A crease formed between her brows, and her shoulders softened.

“I thought the ringing would have stopped after a week, but I’ll take you to the ear doctor tomorrow morning just to be safe, okay?”

“Okay.”

I hugged her hard and retreated to my blue room.

About

Pocket Change Collective was born out of a need for space. Space to think. Space to connect. Space to be yourself. And this is your invitation to join us.

"Chella chronicles the value in creating your own mold in order to reclaim your space and to feel represented in this always ever-evolving world, and he inspires others to stretch what it means to be human--and there's no right way."--Nyle DiMarco (model, actor, and Deaf activist)

"Full of heart, grace and precision, Chella Man charts his path toward himself in a world not yet equipped for all he encompasses. An affirming, artistic and accessible primer for anyone searching for themselves or yearning to learn about others."--Janet Mock (Bestselling author of Redefining Realness and Surpassing Certainty)

"Chella is the future. A total visionary and a wonderful example of a human being in every way. A master of empathy, courage, and growth."--Jameela Jamil (actress, model, writer, and activist)

"Navigating social norms can be so damn confusing and traumatic as a kid, but Chella shows that there is always a degree of dignity behind each step as we venture closer to the self."--Christine Sun Kim (sound artist and composer)

"Chella Man's journey is as compelling as it is brave and candid. I can't even imagine all the boxes people wanted to put him into and yet, he has emerged triumphant. His story will resonate with anyone who has a desire to be their true self. I can't wait to see the next chapter of his extraordinary life." --Marlee Matlin (Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning actress, author, and activist)

In Continuum, fine artist, activist, and Titans actor Chella Man uses his own experiences as a deaf, transgender, genderqueer, Jewish person of color to talk about cultivating self-acceptance and acting as one's own representation.

     Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books with big ideas from today's leading activists and artists.

     "What constructs in your life must you unlearn to support inclusivity and respect for all?" This is a question that artist, actor, and activist Chella Man wrestles with in this powerful and honest essay. A story of coping and resilience, Chella journeys through his experiences as a deaf, transgender, genderqueer, Jewish person of color, and shows us that identity lies on a continuum -- a beautiful, messy, and ever-evolving road of exploration.

Author

Ashley Lukashevsky is an illustrator and visual artist born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, currently based in Los Angeles. Ashley uses illustration and art as tools to strengthen social movements against systemic racism, sexism, and anti-immigrant policy. She aims to tear down these systems of oppression through first envisioning and drawing a world without them.

Her clients include Refinery29, Broadly, The Washington Post, Planned Parenthood, Girls Who Code, GOOD Magazine, Brooklyn Magazine, ACLU, Red Bull, Snapchat, Air Jordan, and Logo TV. View titles by Ashley Lukashevsky

Excerpt

PROLOGUE


If I had been born during any other era, my story would be different. The world would not be ready to understand with open hearts or minds. To this day, many still choose not to. But whether they choose ignorance or empathy is up to them. My story will still be here; it will never be erased.
It begins and remains with a revelation: All of who I am lies on a continuum. My identity cannot be encompassed by a single term.

My ethnicity. I am biracial. I am both Jewish and Chinese.

My gender. I am genderqueer, existing outside the binary of “boy” and “girl.”

My disability. I am Deaf with access to some sound through two cochlear implants.

My sexuality. I am pansexual, loving beyond “straight” or “gay.”

I have not always known these identity expressions. To understand them, I first had to unlearn. It required diving deep into the systems that oppressed me, scraping the surface to expose them, and then studying their roots. And while it was terrifying, I understood that the communities standing by me would always offer support. That love and empathy (products of this ever-­long process of discovery) can melt the cold, hard surface of the iceberg. Together, we will rebuild these systems around inclusivity and accessibility by embracing individuality and living our truths.


CONTINUUM


As soon as I could articulate my choices, I chose to paint my childhood bedroom blue. Looking back, it is clear that this decision was made in favor of the gender I wished to claim. Books and loose papers filled with doodles covered the floor—­one thing that has never changed. From bed, I gazed up, scanning the edges of my ceiling, watching the blue meet the bare drywall. My body was engulfed by the tangled mess of superhero blankets as my pupils ran laps around the whites of my eyes, cycling through the routine in hopes it would shift my focus from the constant ringing in my ears. It was an eerie pitch, distant yet close, seeming to emanate from my mind.

At times, I wondered if the incessant noise was my own subconscious, passing on a message. Its voice kept me awake, encouraging my futile attempts of translation.

Enough, I thought, swinging my small legs over the side of the bed. I’ve never had much patience, although I have learned there are pros to this con. Letting my body drop the short distance from the bed to the ground, I walked down the hallway to my parents’ bedroom.

Every year, my parents insisted on hanging my sister’s and my school photos down this path. Passing them that night, I felt my own eyes follow me, bright from the moonlight. My mom always advised us to sport our favorite shirt each year on picture day. “Screw formality,” she said. “When you look back, you’ll connect with the clothing you loved.”

Naturally, I chose to fill my frames with baggy Spider-­Man T-­shirts. Empowered to be in clothes I connected with, my smile was genuine. I wish this remained for the school pictures to come.
Reaching my parents’ door, I cracked it open.

“Mommy?” I said, rubbing my eyes as they adjusted to the light.

“Rachel! Why are you awake? What’s wrong?”

She rushed over and crouched down so we were eye to eye. My mom always tried to treat us as equals.

“My ears are ringing,” I heard myself say.

A crease formed between her brows, and her shoulders softened.

“I thought the ringing would have stopped after a week, but I’ll take you to the ear doctor tomorrow morning just to be safe, okay?”

“Okay.”

I hugged her hard and retreated to my blue room.

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