Tag Archives: queer

Forget What You Heard

Be reborn

Forget What You Heard

They handed me a picture

And I looked at it and frowned

My heart dropped so fast

Thoughts running around

‘Bout this girl and her hair,

Falling down her shoulders

With her eyes so big

And her smile so bright,

You’d think they would’ve known her

But they never do

That’s just how they do it in Oz

No pause

To hear

To see

To feel

‘Cause they do it like they want to

Taking everything from you

They talk like they’re blind

But these sharpshooters

They always aim so high

With their targets on your back

Before they pull the trigger, you better figure

Are you slave, are you fighter

Are you sleeping, are you sowing

‘Cause she knew who she was

A girl in a costume, ‘bout ready to lose her mind

Straddling three to four worlds, no peace in them to find

That hair was not a crown, but the mark of the beast

With 66 names, one name for each stab

That they left up on her back

They walked all around her, walking on by

On the day that she died, alone on the ground

Murdered by the insight of the darkness within

Cornered by their dogma that had finally closed in

Killing whatever heaven she wished she could’ve built

So I’m telling you now, forget what you heard

You don’t know the story

If you got it from them

These lies don’t make it better

These secrets are what had killed her

This girl in this picture with the note on the back

“Born in ‘87, Dead at 27.”

Please, Live.

When I was in the eighth grade, I hated my chorus teacher. He was a very kind man who loved his job and possessed an acute sensitivity to the progress and success of his students. That wasn’t why I hated him. He was gay. His high pitch voice, the curl of his pinky fingers, and feminine gait assaulted my thirteen-year-old sensibilities of how a “real” man should behave. My religious upbringing taught me people like him were an abomination. So naturally I joined a band of vicious kids intent on torturing the poor man. I turned my lips up at him in disgust, refused to cooperate in class, and dismissed anything he had to say with a hard roll of my eyes. Even my father thought I was out of control when in a row of A’s, he saw a glaring C for chorus. I didn’t care. I saw my chorus teacher as unworthy of my time or effort. I moved up to the ninth grade, but stayed in the same building because the eighth graders shared the same space with the high school crowd. I didn’t take chorus in the ninth grade. Instead, I developed a hard crush on a girl and my whole world exploded in a perplexing mess.

I confused her for a boy at first. And switched to believing she was a girl. And back to thinking she was a boy again. The confusion elicited by her gender presentation delighted me in unexpected ways; I wanted to talk to her and hear her story. When I entered the girls’ bathroom and found her there, the logical part of my brain declared, “Well, there you have it. She’s a girl so you can’t like her anymore.” But knowing she was a girl made me fall harder. So I semi-stalked her because I didn’t have an ounce of courage to approach her. I don’t think she knew I existed. Or if she did, never acknowledged it. I found out she had a girlfriend; they were the only lesbian couple in the school. Whenever I saw them holding hands, pangs of jealously stabbed my chest, but I also loved seeing them together: the times they kissed, argued, and hugged. I ached for what they had. With a girl. My brows furrowed whenever these thoughts zipped across my head. What was wrong with me? I would ask over and over again. I should like boys not girls.

It hit me later in the year that I didn’t completely like boys. I wanted more to be their friends, to be part of their inner circle, to be them even. I envied their fucking freedom. I paid more attention to my choice of clothes and realized, horrified, that I dressed more like a guy: collar shirts, baggy pants, sneakers and army boots, and vests. I loved vests. I saw them as my armor against the big, bad world. I wore my hair in a ponytail most of the time, wearing it down only for picture days. And dresses and heels were for church. The thought of wearing such an outfit to school never crossed my mind, even something slightly feminine. I had to laugh at myself. Here I was, a homophobe who happened to be the most obvious queer in the school. But I wore make-up so maybe it wasn’t quite so plain to see. I wouldn’t know the word for how I presented until the end of college: tomboy femme.

I took chorus in the tenth grade and made a conscious effort to know my chorus teacher better. That’s why I know he was a kind man who cared deeply about his students. Such qualities about him flew over my head in the eighth grade because I refused to see his humanity, refused to see him beyond his sexuality. I laughed with him, talked to him about things in my life, listened to stories about his, and did my best to excel in class, paying close attention to his instructions to perform better in upcoming competitions. I can only imagine his confusion about the 180 in my behavior. But I never apologized for how I treated him two years ago. And that was a mistake because he left the school the year after. When I asked why, the answer broke my heart. The bullying had been too much for him so he quit. Moved to Provincetown. It was my first time hearing about this place that some students’ referred to as a gay Mecca. The sadness over not being able to apologize followed me through the rest of high school, the rest of life really, all while I secretly pined for a gorgeous, highly unavailable girl.

Whenever hateful conversations about gays and lesbians came up at home, I stayed quiet instead of joining in on the homophobic rant as I used to when my mind was different. My silence was a scream in the middle of it all. A scream for the hate to stop. A scream to let them know that I was gay too. That those conversations crushed the most delicate parts of my soul and fed my fear of coming out. Religion, Haitian culture, community and family ties, honor, keeping up appearances, and being normal–I was too afraid to stand up against such a superbly trained army of manufactured soldiers. I was only one person after all.

In grad school, after suffering from depression in college and nearly killing myself over my sexual orientation, I asked myself this one question: are you willing to destroy your world for the truth? I didn’t have an answer then, but I do now. With destruction comes the opportunity for rebirth. I will build a new world, a world supported by truth. I will continue loving myself and telling myself one thing: Please, live.

freedom

How Bad Do You Really Want This?

It was November 2013 when I began taking my writing career to the next level by querying agents and late December of that same year when I began working with my CP. Today is about nine months later. Where am I? Am I any closer to reaching my goals? Although I believe my writing has improved, I don’t think I’ve done everything I could to get myself closer to getting an agent. I’ve been letting the mundane activities and upsets of life drag me down, almost to the point where I’ve hit a road block. All I do is peek over the wall and see my bright future ahead, waiting and beckoning, angry and impatient at my lack of urgency. Urgency. I used to have urgency but I’ve allowed it to evaporate from my heart. I need to soak it all in again and move forward like I’ve got only one year left to live. If I knew I had only one year left to live, how would I live my life? With urgency. Hunger. While cutting away at all the bullshit stirred up by fear and insecurity and countless reports on the benefits of sleep. Fuck sleep. I can get all the sleep I want when I’ve made it. I want to change. The desire to be different and readjust my pace from languid to unbridled enthusiasm sits at the edge of my brain, ready to make the leap, but I’m holding back. Holding back to everything while living half a life. And maybe that’s where I’ve realized something: the storms in my personal life are choking my writing, creativity, and passion.

If I’m not willing to risk it all, then why choose to live at all? I’m not getting any younger. The more time I let go by, the angrier and more insecure I become. I just want to scream into the universe and say, “Fuck it, I’m gay and I don’t give a fuck what any of you think about it!” Who would have known that staying in the closet could be so toxic to not just my life and relationships, but also to my creativity? That fear of people knowing spilled over to my creative life and stopped it from blooming completely. Stopped me from pushing myself to the lengths that I knew I needed to go, lengths that I knew I could reach but never attempted to reach.

Fear suffocates. Shrivels the soul into dust. And that’s what my heart has become: dust. All because of the fear of everyone knowing. It was time to stop being afraid. Time to stop walking on my tiptoes, always fearful to offend. Time to stop living half a life, for goodness sake. It was time to stop giving the world just a portion of myself when what the world really needed was all of me. And I needed the world, people from my everyday life, to have it all. I desperately needed to stop hiding.

I’ve decided to stop hiding. Because you know what? I really, really want this: to live.

walking to eternity
walking to eternity

Stay amazing,

Sammy

Identity Space Intersection

I don’t belong anywhere; I belong everywhere.

Right now I’m a voice that you’re reading. I’m human and maybe you feel a slight connection because of this simple fact. However, if I mentioned that I was a woman and you’re a man, then maybe the connection has lessened somewhat. Add that I’m Black, and if you’re non-Black, the connection decreases even further. Now, add that I’m Christian. Once again, we probably aren’t connecting as much.  In fact, maybe some of you have decided to stop reading and closed this browser. And if I told you that I love sci-fi, depending on your interests, I have either further alienated you or brought you back a little closer to me.

And there lies the power of identity to connect or separate people in difference spaces. If you put two vastly different people in a room together (say an upper middle class white man and a working class Black transwoman) and expect a conversation, you’d be clinging to false hopes unless one can have a stirring conversation about being human.

However, in a scenario like this, there is one thing a person can do. Listen. When we can’t find the words, the best approach is to ask, “Who are you?” and listen and learn and process the information given. We shouldn’t underestimate the power of listening to generate conversation and onwards toward connection. And with that connection can arise empathy and possibly even love.

So let’s make an effort to listen when we find ourselves in a room full of people we believe have little connection with us. Swallow the fear, walk on over and ask, “Tell me about yourself. Your past. Your present. You struggles and hopes for the future.”

Ask. Listen. Connect. Love.

 

Stay Amazing,

Sammy