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Adam Darko Wants to Help You Heal

Transgender musician and life coach Adam Darko reflects on his personal journey toward healing, mindfulness, and the meaning of family.

The trans musician and life coach Adam Darko uses his own experiences to help other LGBTQ+ folks through theirs. 

"Oh damn," says hip-hop artist and life coach Adam Darko with a heavy sigh when asked what the word "family" means to him. "If you asked me this a month ago, you wouldn't get the same answer, a year ago, not the same answer -- but now, family to me just means connection. Just, you know, unconditional love; people I can simply be with effortlessly. This is what I would define as family, right now, at this moment."

Darko, a 24-year-old transgender man who migrated from Algeria to Malaysia, and has now settled in Montreal, Canada, admits much has changed for him in recent months. His career path recently took an unexpected and dramatic turn, and not just because of the global pandemic. Sharing his music and bits of his personal story with the world on YouTube inadvertently opened a personal Pandora's Box.

"Interestingly enough, this quarantine has been maybe the most life-changing period of my entire life," says Darko. "As you might know, so many LGBTQ people of color, especially if you live in the Middle East or North African area, we are quarantined...we can't go out all queer outside, you can't really be yourself in public spaces.... That was my life."

"Even before that, just [presenting as] female in my very religious Muslim family, I was not allowed to go out without a male companion.... I spent most of my life indoors."


"So when [the pandemic occurred], it didn't feel like much of a change to me," he continues. "But kind of this spiritual shift happened within me -- because at that time, I was just fed up. You know, I was dealing with a lot of PTSD after I got to Canada and I got addicted to cannabis about that time.... That's when I started meditating. I started learning more about myself.... I truly removed so many past patterns, healed, [have] been able to forgive my family -- and forgive myself in the process. All that's only happened in the last month."

Darko shares his music on YouTube with a creative collective he cofounded with two other trans men, Coup d'etat. His reason for starting the collective was simple. He was looking for connection; for that feeling of family that he just so beautifully described.

Darko says in the beginning, he just wanted "to meet trans guys. One of them is also Arab, so that's a great connection, and another trans man of color. To actually meet and be with [other trans men] in real life and realize that we have so much in common, even with our family dynamics -- we're kind of connected in that way. In a family sense. That is something that I never had before -- people that understand your triggers before your triggers occur, because they know what it's all about. And we also love music. So, we wanted to get it all in one, you know-- family, community, music."


Coup d'etat Collective members (left to right) Little Cashew, Mikkipedia, and Adam Darko

"I always loved hip-hop," he adds. "Because it kind of was music and poetry in the same time, and getting to know hip-hop history was also very empowering to me on my journey."

But it was actually Darko's personal YouTube videos -- in which he candidly discusses topics that are often considered taboo in Middle Eastern and Northern African cultures -- that led him to recently dramatically shift his direction in life. Although he's gotten lots of positive feedback for his videos, Darko says it's the negative backlash that has fueled his fire to continue speaking out and helping others.

"This is actually very new," he says with palpable excitement. "But I decided to leave Coup d'etat right now because I'm going to shift to focusing on life coaching -- because I feel like my community is crumbling. And they need help."

One topic Darko touches on in his videos that really struck a cultural nerve is child abuse. He explains that in his culture it is extremely taboo and considered highly disrespectful to speak out against one's parents -- no matter how abusive they might be.

Today, Darko says he's learning to balance healing, forgiveness, and self-love. He urges others who've had similar family difficulties to not hold their breath waiting for their family to understand them or love them the way that they deserve -- but rather focus on self-care, healing, and personal growth. And sometimes, keeping toxic family members at arm's length may be the healthiest option.


"I haven't spoken to my mother ever since I left Algeria," says Darko. "That's three years ago.... So I can work on those patterns, you know, and now that I got rid of those patterns, I didn't feel the need to connect physically with them. Forgiveness doesn't necessarily mean that you have to force them into your life."

On Father's Day this year, Darko again broached the subject in a very personal, emotional, and ultimately inspiring post addressing his relationship with his father:

"Happy Father's Day to my dad! I'm sorry for asking you to be a loving dad when you never even had one, built a fearful aggressive image around you so no one can access your shattered heart, not even you.

Despite the violence, the rejection, the humiliation, the isolation you made me live in, I managed to forgive you. I hope you will forgive yourself, too. It's been three years we haven't spoken, and it was for the best.

And Happy Father's Day to me! For reparenting my inner child into wholeness, forgiving myself for not being there for me as I should have, for I didn't even know how to do so, now you are safe, now you are loved, now you can peace."

Check out Adam Darko's video and song, "White Desert," below:

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