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BreakOUT! Mourns Loss of Member, Ciara Aaliyah Love
“Ciara.  Aaliyah.  Love.
Ciara Aaliyah Love. That’s my name.”

It is with a heavy heart that BreakOUT! shares the news that another one of our members, Ciara Aaliyah Love, has passed away.
Ciara performed in the BreakOUT! and Ping Chong + Company production, Say My Name, Say My Name: Stories from LGBTQ Youth in New Orleans.
Ciara makes the 3rd transgender young woman of color that BreakOUT! and the New Orleans community has lost this year.

BreakOUT! is accepting donations on behalf of the family to cover funeral and burial costs.  You may donate to her family here.

Ciara Aaliyah Love.  Say her name.

Say My Name, Say My Name clip with Ciara
(fourth from left)
Donate to Ciara's Memorial Fund Here

Excerpts from Ciara's story from Say My Name, Say My Name, courtesy of BreakOUT! and Ping Chong + Company: 

CIARA:   I always knew who I was. I was born this way. When I come out, my family disowns me. Just like that, they say,
LHUNDYN: You’re gay, we don’t care about you.
CIARA:  So I head to Houston. I have to just leave on faith. Once I get to Houston, I really do find it easier. I find other trans girls and I feel comfortable because I don’t have to hide anything. I am seventeen years old.

CIARA:  When Katrina hits, I end up in a shelter. One of my Aunts gives me a ride. Or at least I think that’s how I got there. I really can’t tell you a lot about that time because I’ve blacked out on a lot of it.  Somehow I make it to Louisiana.
ADORE:  Winfield, Louisiana.
CIARA:  I have never been to such a small town. You have to travel 30 minutes to get to the nearest store.  There are about 100 of us up in that shelter. I stay there for a week.
ALL:  2005
CIARA:  When I call my grandmother, she comes through for me. She says,
MILAN:  Baby, come out here.
CIARA:  And that’s when I get back to Atlanta. The people in Winfield are amazing. I am stunned by their kindness. They pay my bus ticket to Atlanta.

CIARA:  Ciara Aaliyah is born. After two years of searching, I finally find my name. I am working at a McDonald’s, next to a gas station. A lady named Kiva works at the gas station. She comes to me to get her food. I go to her to get my cigarettes. She becomes one of my best friends. She says:
ADORE:  You need a girl name.
CIARA:  What about Aaliyah?
ADORE:   No…you look like a Ciara. You look like a Ciara Aaliyah.
CIARA:  I love both those artists, the singer Aaliyah and the singer Ciara. Aaliyah just died, and I don’t want to be obvious about it, so I agree with Kiva and put Ciara first. I finally find my name, thanks to Kiva.

CIARA:  I move back to Houston on the bus. This is when I really begin to define who I am. I feel more comfortable in my skin. People accept me for who I am. I meet a lot of older trans women. One woman is really good to me. Her name is Kiva, too! When I am homeless, she brings me food, takes me out, gets my nails done. She treats me like a good, humble, trans woman should treat you! She is someone special.
CIARA:  Things are going good for me. But the guy I am in love with messes it all up. I am not getting that love back. One day I am at work and I just start crying. I walk out of my job. I leave my home. That’s when things really fall apart. I am homeless in Houston for about 6 months, all because I was going with that boy.
MILAN:  Ciara, what gets you through the hard times?
CIARA:  [Ciara stands] Music. Music gets me through. When I’m going through it, I go home, lay down and listen to some music. It really helps me. I try to stay humble and soulful. Mainly, I’m just letting God just work on me. Because I keep the faith. And I always have a backup plan. [Ciara sits]

CIARA:  I come back to New Orleans. I have been gone since 2009. I went to Houston. I left Houston. I went to Atlanta for a few months, went back to Houston, and then I came back to New Orleans. I hear about BreakOUT! from my pastor, Pastor Solomons. Every day, I learn more.  Here in the city, there’s a lot more resources for us trans girls:
MILAN:  A lot of girls living on the outskirts find their way to the city and find that it’s much easier here.
CIARA:  As big as this city is, it’s still very small.
CIARA:  I wish I could change some of my childhood life so it wouldn’t affect my future. But I am trying to leave it in the past so I can go on with life, cope with life. I want to get my GED. I want to work. I want to be a nurse’s assistant.
CIARA:  My name is Ciara. I was born on June 4 ,1988 in New Orleans. I believe in power, love, and faith.


BreakOUT!  1001 S. Broad St. #119  New Orleans, LA 70125  
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