we only hold our noses to the sky to retaliate against lies that will not help each other. like my mother who tells me to chew on the bones for health and luck, who senses my interest in easier living and twists it to her will. you lie in bed and tell me that maybe i will find some joy in this sorrow and i believe you with that same broken care.

if a lie kills as it nurtures, is it still harmful? when your pain and joy meet at the middle, when you learn that your madness curls in softly to protect your heart & mind, you forget to wish to your ceiling for the day that you’d lose it. your anger becomes part shield, part-medal like you had something to live for and behind.

i think, i cannot let this rage go to waste & work until the soft pads of my fingertips erode into bones.


On Growing Up Shameful

Adults shamed in childhood have the following traits:

"False guilt" is the belief that you must perform to be loved. To perform well. One of the biggest mistakes I continue to make is that of oversimplifying; of believing that there is one concrete answer to all my popped stitches. I do it because I want to be protected; moreover because I am the only one capable of protecting. No one ever talks about how one learns to lie as a form of survival. 

Does it make me less fucked-up if I can tie all my flaws back to a simple moment? Chemicals more free-form in a brain; every Tuesday I slip under the sheets with the lights off. A boy much, much older than me learns my anatomy during nap time; I stop having dreams. If we all realized that being this crazy takes years of dedication, could we accept that we had a hand in all the hard work?

1. They are afraid to share their true thoughts and feelings with others.

God, please let my mother’s sneering eyes be the reason I bite my tongue. Let the shadow of a hand be the reason I draw I curl in to protect myself from blows that never, ever come. Let my father’s indifference and reeling anger be the reason I dance around people like they’ll stop loving me any minute. Let my perfectionism be a direct line to being one less headache in a parent’s life. 

4. They struggle with feelings of worthlessness and believe they are inferior to others. They believe that is something they can never change as worthlessness is at the core of who they are.

Please don’t let this be anything I’ve willed myself to. When I tell my story of preservation, I want every action my body makes to be one of resistance. Stories are not as noble if you were the villain before the victim.


LET’S BE REAL: NOBODY CARES ABOUT GAY MARRIAGE

Can we just do my little (hypocritical) queer ass a favor and stop handing out cookies like it’s a  bake sale?

Look, Barack Obama/Jay-Z/T.I./NAACP/everyone at large: no one cares about gay marriage. No one. I don’t care how many polls you read, how many queers you get up on stage, how many Dan Savage columns you waste your (obviously useless) time on—no one, absolutely no one, cares about gay marriage. That is a fact and I’m claiming it now.

If that sounds a little brusque, I’m sorry the truth hurts like a bitch—I’ve felt the slap too, more than once. Three days after singing Obama’s praises, I learned it quick: gay marriage, it turns out? Is not all that important in the grand scheme of things, when people like Lorena Escalera are still dying, when people like CeCe McDonald are sitting on trial for things that real, live humans do. While you’re (metaphorically) fucking around with the idea of gay marriage, other parts of the LGBT community—the ones that are not white, male, cisgender and/or gay—are actually getting fucked. It’s kind of hard to see around the media’s blinders, but it’s there and it sucks.

Let’s be real: there’s nothing wrong in theory with caring about gay marriage. It’s the practice I’m worried about. Sometimes we forget that we are amazing creatures with the power of multitasking, or even caring about more than one thing at once. We forget that different concepts, ideas and issues can co-exist, that sometimes an issue that has gone stagnant can be set calmly upon the back burners and we can move on to something a little more pressing, like homeless youth or intercommunity racism or lack of resources for trans* people. These are all important things to remember, but once the media hacks it way through yet another tired conversation on gay marriage, we tend to forget all of these things.

We really, really need to be better about this shit.

I feel like gay marriage is just a huge cockblock to other issues in the LGBT community. That’s not even an insult to gay activists (mostly), but just a nice visual of what we are all doing to people who literally don’t and can’t care about gay marriage. It’s hard to give a fuck about getting married when you are homeless, starving, suicidal or dead. If we continue to push the idea that gay marriage is more dire than those who are well, actually dying—the divide that is currently present in the LGBT will only serve to get deeper. That’s not a chance I’m willing to take.

So buck it up and suck it up, and get to work. We can fight for gay marriage if that’s what you really wanna do, but if you’re insistent on ignoring the lives and experience of others, I don’t know how long I can join you in that fight.

(Originally posted on May 20, 2012.)


FANS TO DC COMICS: ANYTHING BUT GAY!
“Just giving you a heads up because you’ve been a fair guy, If Wally West comes back gay, i’m done with DC comics forever. Nothing against LBGT, but they can’t have my favorite character.” 
“Who will be the gay character?, Please no Superman, Batman, The Flash or Green Lantern!. I’ll throw away my collection and will not buy any. I have gay friends, but the characters who were not gay do not have to be now.” 
“Mr. D, I sure hope you all aren’t planning to make Superman gay. You all have already torn the character down enough, please don’t ruin the character for the shock value. Not sure what DC has against having characters that are good role models…married and have a respect for their parents views.”
Recently, DC Comics co-publisher and all around innovator Dan DiDio came forth with the news that an already established character will come out in a later issue, much to everyone’s surprise and (some) rage. I’m naming DiDio an innovator here because, despite my views on and ideas about DC Comics, I think that generally some diversity in a sea of white, straight buff superhumans would be nice, and also because I think Batwoman being the Token Gay (TM) is getting a little old. Applause all around, DC Comics! I’m excited to see what you pull off next.
What you see above, however, is just a small taste of the “not-homophobic-but-wait” backlash the news received from otherwise “tolerant” fans. The main gist seems to be that the commentator doesn’t have a problem with gaypeople per se, but they’ll be damned if they have to like them! Or identify with them! Or even—gasp—read more stories about them being gay and normal! To be honest, nothing about this is new or transparent, and it’s sure as hell not surprising, but it is telling about the state of diversity in comics if an LGBT character is stirring up as much trouble as a Reboot.
I don’t have tell anyone reading how important it is to have gay characters in fiction, and that reading  about and identifying with gay characters can often add to the collective idea that yes, gay people are real and they have difficult lives, and sometimes they punch people in the face. But having an established character, one with an already colorful background and loads of impressive canon, come out will probably force us as readers and as fans to confront what we know about gay people and everyone else—which, of course, probably makes a lot of “tolerant” readers uncomfortable.

To find disbelief in the idea that one can be a superhero (and exude power, strength, cunning and might) and also identify as gay probably shows that you’ve spent a long time believing the two are mutually exclusive, that somehow “limp wrists” and a swish of the hips will drown out all previous ideas you’ve ever had about a character. To even go so far as to insist that the character will be “ruined”..like? I’m not sure what you think being gay consists of, buddy. (And don’t even get me started on that “they can’t have him!” comment. Honey, we don’t want him, we want visibility.)

All I can advise for everyone at this real is to get real and get a grip. If you’re wasting any more than a second considering the orientation of a comic book character or insisting that his superhero godliness is contingent on said orientation, then I’m not really sure what you’re doing with your life. Sure, the character doesn’t need to be gay, but they also don’tneed to be straight—and I’m really all about keeping open minds here, really. If you have no problem swallowing stories about aliens or mythical dynasties or hell—a dude in a fucking bat suit—you should’ve have no problem understanding that after a long day of work, Big Tough Hero just wants to curl up with their partner. Suck it up and buy the trade paperback like you know you will.

(Originally posted on May 23, 2012.)

ON “PLAYING NICE”

A few hours ago I wrote a less formal post about being “nice” and what it means to me, and I’d like to flesh it out here.

For most of my life, I’ve always felt like I should be a nicer person. The feeling fluctuates more often than not, and mostly when I find myself in new situations and am not able to cope properly about how I feel about myself in relation to other people. I’ve just made it through my first year of college in a new city with a strange and unfamiliar environment, and to this day I wish I had facilitated more friendships. I’m not the kind of person who needs a million friends to be happy (in fact, given my friendship track record, that’d probably make me highly uncomfortable)—no disrespect to anyone with a flowing friends list, but that’s never been me. I like the friendships I have made; I love and enjoy the people that I know. But I always wonder if I am good to them.

I don’t think that I am a mean person. I am blunt, have very little patience for bullshit (for the most part)—these are all accurate descriptions, yeah. But mean, although usually directed at mean, just doesn’t fit me as well as my other traits do. Maybe it’s because I have never felt mean, just honest. I realize that my honesty is not always carefully given or sugar-coated and while I do try to work on that, my base instinct is never to be mean.

I feel like I am doing everyone a favor when I choose not to engage with people who have hurt, upset or otherwise disturbed me in public situations. I don’t like to put on that front. I understand that as a part of modern society we view these types of conversations to be polite or pleasant, but I don’t feel like either when I am forcing myself to be in situations that make me uncomfortable. In the past, the way I behaved in such environments was a little cut-and-dry, not very skilled. Now I understand that there are better ways to present myself and still self-care like I am aiming to do.

Self care is actually what all of this comes down to: my behavior, my ideas about people, the way I approach them. I am now at a point when I am come first in all of my relationships; if I feel that I am being hurt or that engaging will hurt me, I don’t want to deal with it. Some may view that as weak, but I think taking care of myself finally is one of the strongest things I have ever done. I don’t feel as if I should have to endure relationships with people who have hurt me to show my strength. I don’t feel as if feigning politeness for the judgement of others is a strength of mine anymore. I have to come first. I have to be first in everything that I do now or it’s not genuine for me.

Since making these decisions, I have found myself friends with people who understand and accept me for who I am. I don’t have to be nice. I am because I love these people and their feelings/emotions are important to me. But I do not show care for them by being nice always—sometimes I am annoyed with them, short-tempered, exasperated. I don’t pretend to always be on their level, because I am not. I try my hardest to give them my time and what knowledge I have, but sometimes I cannot always take care of them. Hell, sometimes I can barely take care of myself. They understand that I will give them the energy I do have, and they accept that.

I haven’t played nice for a long time now. My external demeanor and my reputation, as far as I know, have both changed. I have heard plenty of times over a course of a few years that I am intimidating, scary and mean. I have also heard that I am ambitious, honest and trustworthy. Perception is no longer my concern; I am. I choose to accept what labels I want to apply to myself, and every so often, I will accept that I am mean. I know that you mean that sometimes I am not always pleasant in the way that you want me to be, and that’s okay.

(Originally posted on May 25, 2012.)


AN ODE (AND A PROMISE) TO CREATING

I miss creating. I miss being consumed by a million large, ridiculous projects; I miss waking up in the morning with some kind of drive. It’s been a long year since I’ve truly felt anything about my work (or that I even had something to call “work.”) I like to think of myself as a creator of some sort, but even I have to admit that the love has definitely been lost here.

I think what scares me more than anything right now is that I’ll never be able to get back into the mindset of creating, of being so engrossed in something regardless of it was going to “be” something or not. For the sake of my mental health and capacity, I’ve spent this last year focusing my energy on things that would ensure success or didn’t require a lot of my thought or creative process, which has helped in some areas and harmed in many others. I think I’ve forgotten that I have always, above anything else, been a dreamer. I like starting projects, I even like it when I don’t or can’t finish them. I like thinking of how cool something would be if I could just get it done.

In short, I’m going to dedicate this summer to creating again, and maintaining that drive that has kept me going. I don’t want to be here again next year.

(Originally posted on June 1, 2012.)


I WILL NEVER DO DARIUS SIMMONS JUSTICE

…and I need to accept that.

I think one of the hardest things to realize as a writer is that your voice is not always needed. There is always going to be someone more articulate, more passionate, more skilled than you—and sometimes, their voice is exactly what’s needed. I am not a person to underplay my own skills, but I can always tell—before I pick up the pen or open the document—if I am going to write something worthwhile to me. Sometimes I surprise myself, but often times I don’t. Sometimes I know I’m going write straight bullshit before I even type a single word.

Whenever I think about Darius Simmons, my fingers ache to write. There is so much I want to say and they would all be justified. But the more the news circulate, and the more reactions I read from others who are mourning in some way just like I am, I realize that there is nothing that I can do, and there is nothing that I could say that would bring this boy to life again, or that would respect him in his death. What do you say to those who are mourning? I’m am too well acquainted with my own pain to tune into anyone else’s sometimes. I have never been good on writing for the emotions of anyone else but my own. I find that I can heal through my own sensibilities, but never as much as I want to. Writing out my pain and having people connect to it is more catharsis for me than healing for others.

What could I possibly say about Darius Simmons that would not be lost in my own anger?

What could I say to him other than I’m sorry? I read the news and I feel like I have failed. I only want to write about my anger, my fear—but nothing I will ever say will be about this boy. I will not write testaments to Darius Simmons, because I am only good at writing about me.

I will never do Darius Simmons justice, and it will never his fault. I am learning that right now, my pain is meant to be inside. I do not need to express it. I need to analyze it, to feel it, and to turn it into something useful, something powerful than me. I need to learn how to cultivate my fear into a celebration of someone else; I want to learn how to turn my anger into a community to surround others. I need to give more than my hurt.

(Originally posted June 5, 2012.)


IS SELF CARE OPPRESSIVE? (OR, HOW TO BE A GOOD ACTIVIST BY TAKING A BUBBLE BATH)

I had an interesting conversation with a friend yesterday that opened up a lot to me. Parts of it dealt with self care, and other parts of it was just me screaming about how the majority of the activist community just aren’t shit.

The wonderful, caring, amazing sweet friend of mine (Wonderful Friend for short!) had me thinking a lot about self-care and the way it relates to activism. Wonderful Friend is a long time activist, but is not in a place right now where they can actively engage in activism in the way that they want to. Which is totally understandable of course, and a good sign that a nice self-care day (or week or month!) is in order—but although that seemed to be the next logical step, Wonderful Friend felt concerned. Were they being oppressive by proxy in stepping back from the community to take care of themselves? Was self-caring the same as being apathetic or indifferent to the many issues out there in the world?

I angrily replied to Wonderful Friend that hell no it wasn’t.

(My anger wasn’t and isn’t directed at Wonderful Friend and their concerns, but at the idea behind them. I’ve considered myself a part of the activist community for a few years now, and there seems to be a budding trend of “slacktivist” bullshit running around, which tends to get really annoying and racist/classist/ableist pretty quick. Slacktivism is the bullshit idea that there are only certain parts or things in activism that are true and real. It creates an “ideal activist,” usually someone white, able-bodied/minded and in good financial standing who is able to picket line and protest and create rallies and do all these wonderful things that only “real” activists can do. Wonderful Friend’s concerns seemed to stem from this thinking, which upset me in ways I did not realize. How could such a great person feel for a second that they were not true or real because they were not (supposedly) “active?”)

The gist of it is this: activism is not a zero sum game, and self-care is a radical act. Anyone who questions this is an asshole.

Self-care is always something people should do, as activists or as people. Self-caring is important! But because there seems to be a prevailing idea that activism is a thing that requires 24/7, constant giving. You must always be on, or you are immediately cut off. Solidarity must always be shown or you are lazy/oppressive/inauthentic. Time and time again, I’ve seen these ideals thrown around with little disregard for those who are not able to live up to these “standards” for varied reasons. I explained to Wonderful Friend that I was and would never be the “perfect activist” because I was black, broke and not in stable mental health. My black ass has no business being at rallies with police officers, my broke ass can’t afford to make signs or organize rallies or buy pins or whatever and my depression sucks my energy and focus dry. Why should I pander to the idea of the perfect activist when I know it will never happen?

Activism is not all or nothing. It is as complex as people, can be affected in many different ways, demands intersectionality and often doesn’t receive even that. There are plenty of reasons why you will never seen an assortment of people on the sidelines. That shit just doesn’t work for us. Instead, we might create art, or write books, make music, dress loud, speak soft or fuck hard. Activism comes in so many flavors and colors that the idea of restricting it to a couple of picket lines and tree-chainings is so fucking ridiculous that it almost hurts.

Self care, for me, makes for good activism in that it shows the world that 1) you’re willing to take care of yourself in a society that does not call for it or make it easy to do so and 2) it’s not over, bitches. I explained to Wonderful Friend that self-care becomes activism by allowing to do your fucking job as an activist. What’s better than sitting down a few minutes to heal, train and come back harder, fists swinging? Self care takes us out of the game so that we can rest, learn, enjoy, and feel so that we may work even harder, stronger, tougher and more amazing. I don’t know about anyone else, but I like upgrades. I like being better and faster. And even if you don’t feel like any of these things when the self-care is over, you have still done enough by just tending to yourself.

If anyone has any shit to say to that, fuck ‘em. The day self-care becomes oppressive is the I day will march my ass down to the nearest police station and have myself arrested.

Let no one judge the way you fight, less they be masters themselves. And trust me, there is no one true “activism master.” This isn’t fucking Highlander. You do what you can in the spaces that you can do it, and that will always, always be enough.

(Originally posted on June 10, 2012.)

ST