Isn’t It Queer: Various Reckonings

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My past few months have been full of reckoning, I treat emotional growth like I’m trying to compete in it in the next Olympics. I have been reckoning with the self, among other things, including pickle jars, dense psychoanalysis texts, and verbalizing my needs and limits, with the intention of forcefully molding my life into something that has a place for me inside of it. In this episode of Isn’t It Queer? I’d like to share the artistic product of the emotional reckonings, which for me are almost always in the form of poetry.

{Image Credit: http://www.freegreatpicture.com/goldfish/jumping-goldfish-1043
{Image Credit: http://www.freegreatpicture.com/goldfish/jumping-goldfish-1043

The reason I adore poetry and prefer it as my artistic medium is because poetry has the power to create spaces to custom define emotions (see Sacred Catharsis) In a culture that struggles to define, identify and share emotions, poems are the jaws of life that pry open language, allowing us to share more accurately how we feel. As such, I feel the only accurate way to truly let others experience what I’m feeling, to really show them my mushy insides, is to hand them the poetry I created in vulnerable moments.

{Image Credit: http://www.undermatic.com/diseno/collages-anatomicos-por-travis-bedel/}
{Image Credit: http://www.undermatic.com/diseno/collages-anatomicos-por-travis-bedel/}

In the past six months I’ve abandoned self-suffocating habits, unhealthy workplaces and relationships where my authentic self was not valued. I began to demand that the people in my life see me for who I am, support me with respect and communication, and inspire my personal growth.I’ve come out of closets, insisted that family meet my needs, handed my heart to a lover and had it handed back broken, and reflected on painful experiences in youth. The poems I share below are the emotional excess, the shed skin of my experience as I come face to face with my fragility and pride.

Reckoning Part 1: Park Bench Humanity

My heartbreak floats, buoyant as a lily in the echo park lake.

Both are man made.

But mine is pure honey, made of basil and sage and absolute redemption.

Because I have learned to love wholeheartedly in a world of people terrified of their humanity.

The bitter pill of your heart’s insurrection got lost somewhere beneath the park bench,

Because I didn’t feel like getting high today.

And I am juggling blades of grass and little grey pebbles, and just a few tears.

Just a few little salty heart clippings,

That I can afford to spare.

Still in my memory you are perfect,

Your selfish and coward are dangling in front of you like strings of fake diamonds,

A failed decoy.

And it hurts to feel this open and forgiving.

My ego misses me dearly.

But being alone without her bleating fury has been the most beautiful genderless bliss.

Reckoning Part II: For Lindsay

I was pre-hatched and featherless

beside you. Your

lanky appendages clung

like gravity to every breathable surface of my

bleeding skin and I wanted

to be your freckle constellation

in a universe etched in sulky charcoal.

Inside your shell

I was somebody’s everything

or maybe

I was just (apologetic for my existence)

somebody.

I was light, traced rainbows,

born of broken glass.

A full spectrum of gorgeous melancholy. A doll.

You were the only eyes present during

my loveless marriage with invisibility.

You were the only hands

that held a face

that rained perpetually for eight years,

that held a body that fell to

brittle bones and shriveled prune skin,

while the world

spun recklessly unaware of my dieing.

You, doting owl, are the sole reason these fingertips

lived to kiss another’s lips,

and you wish to this day that I’d saved those print kisses for yours.

But I didn’t.

You saw a soul, where that soul saw nothing.

My sorry shoulders shrug gratitude and gluey guilt,

that after you fed me air I flew rapidly.

Too fast for your garden,

and I love you,

gravity,

clingy lanky lover

of hatchlings and dolls.

I am forever a bow bending in gratitude, wishing a dismissive arrow with my actions.

The irony of your gift was my realization

that I am not porcelain, nor stars.

You gifted me with flight and I ripped off those wings and ran for it.

Some friend.

Reckoning Part III: It Snows Different in California

The cigarette next to me is beginning to snow,

Little flakes of ash decorate my black jeans

I’m alone.

Sourly indulging in my grief.

I picked my poison carefully.

The sound of white men’s heart break.

An Arian mourning hymnal

It’s like over brewed black tea tastes.

Bitter and delightful to the swollen hearted beasts that congregate here.

The people here want to be seen,

And so do I, but I want it in a painful way, the way people want to be seen when

they’ve frequented invisibility.

No aim to gain by appearing,

just the hesitance of a reckoning with oneself.

The man next to me just bumped himself with a different kind of snow and I wonder how people who do cocaine survive a month of heartbreak.

The bearded man across from me looks like someone who prides himself on his Instagram following,

On his arm is a cheap Khalysee who shops at h&m.

They look happy together as they share judgments and giggles on an oak bar bench.

It’s the first time other people’s love doesn’t infuriate me.

Progress can be measured in the number of your freckles you’ve learned to forgive,

for being burn marks from the sun that gave you life.

 

-To your personal revolts and riots and especially to your learning,

Cory

———–

Cory is a poet and novelist in the Los Angeles area. They have worked in mental health, education, social justice and fashion blogging and aims to lead by example through bravely living an examined lifestyle.

“The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.” -Audre Lorde

———-

There are photographs in this post that were borrowed lovingly from the internet and do not belong to us. All are linked and credited to the best of our abilities in hopes of attracting more traffic to the photographers and websites who have blessed us with this imagery. The inclusion of a photograph here should not be interpreted as an assertion of the subject’s or artist’s identity or beliefs. If there is a photo included here that belongs to you and you want it removed, please email compassionaterevolt@gmail.com and it will be removed promptly, no questions asked.

 

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Isn’t It Queer: Deconstruction to Construction

Banner{Image Credit: http://getfleck.com/s/Hfa1FCgAIgAKnknT}

{Image Credit: http://getfleck.com/s/Hfa1FCgAIgAKnknT}

Today I’m wet. With optimism, you perv, calm down. This time it’s because of a big-gooey-re-constructionist-wet-dream. I have decided to re-write all of the scripts in my life, and by scripts I mean ideas or constructs of what a person’s role in your life should be, or a way in which “one should handle” a life event. I am doing this with the intention of custom building my community. Why shouldn’t I build my own ideals for who I should surround myself with, what I should spend my time doing, and what my life will look like? Who else here is done with the painfully tepid bullshit of radio-love-song-advice? Yeah, I thought so. In communities of deconstructionist activism- where we dismantle definitions in order to live vibrantly in gender and race non-conformity, it’s important to remember that after deconstruction comes construction, lest we live in the sparkly gay ashes of our accomplishment. We have to fill in the gaps left by our own deconstruction. To build our lives in a way that supports us–whether we are people of color, trans/non-binary, LGBTQ, or non-monogamous–defining love, connection, support, acceptance and relationships for ourselves is the key to building healthy communities.

{Image Credit: {Image Credit: http://getfleck.com/s/Hfa1FCgAIgAKnknT}
{Image Credit: {Image Credit: http://getfleck.com/s/Hfa1FCgAIgAKnknT}

I was lucky enough to grow up with a mother who told me (privilege acknowledged) that the love songs on the radio were bullshit. There is no man at the end of the tunnel who will complete you, and dressing in a schoolgirl skirt and doing a choreographed dance does not make you more loveable (thank you Brittney for teaching us all such valuable lessons in dating). My mother and my abundance of sarcasm aside, her lesson incited a constant search for meaning and substance in relationships. It also provoked me asking inflammatory questions of my monogamous partners on a consistent basis. Why do we insist on exclusively dating each other and what purpose does that serve? What are you are providing me in this relationship and what are you getting from this? Why do some lovers insist friends are more important than partners (yes friends, I’m referring to the sacred laws of “bro’s before ho’s” and other such misogynist gems) and others claim partners always take priority over friends? The more I asked these questions, the more I began to deconstruct the idea that love (intimate) relationships needed to be the only source of love, support, and inspiration in a person’s life. Once demolished, I was stuck in love limbo….so what should love look like?

{Image Credit: http://mom-101.blogspot.com/2007/04/barbie-confessions.html }
{Image Credit: http://mom-101.blogspot.com/2007/04/barbie-confessions.html }

 

Too often, our politics of deconstruction leave us in the existential funk of “what now?”. After institutions are questioned and constructs are debunked, it is not always clear what steps to take in order to build healthy community for ourselves. I always encourage the people in my life to set limits about what they don’t want (i.e. flakey lovers or shit talking friends) but more importantly, to ALWAYS state what they are looking for. Essentially, what my particularly preachy revelation has brought me to, is the idea that we need to put into the universe (or our okcupid profile, or conversations with parents, or our search for friends) what it is we are actually looking for.

 

I am so unbelievably lucky I can hardly contain my wetness (emotionally). In re-writing my scripts, I opened myself to a new definition of friendship and I fell in love with my best friends. We are non-sexual but 100% romantic. They are the people who support me by listening (which is huge for me, given my ongoing emotional battle with feeling invisible), I trust them to be true to their word, to follow through.  They are the people who inspire me, hold me accountable, house me when I am in a hard place, and love me for the person I am (in all my beautiful chaos).

 

These attributes and forms of support are generally what people look for in lovers, and by all means, look for that in lovers! But when it really comes down to it, when you are only open to the script of your lover being your sole predominant support system, you shut down the possibility for a gorgeous romantic endeavor with your friends. And Goddamn it! You can be in love with your friends when you let them be your partners in life! That saccharine, buy them flowers, talk to them on the phone like you didn’t see them yesterday, text them loving sweet nothings when you are away on a trip, crystallized love that brings you such immense, overwhelming joy; that can come from a non-sexual partner.

{Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ben_giles/9206946009/in/photostream/}
{Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ben_giles/9206946009/in/photostream/}

Redefine friend! Redefine lover! Better yet, build your friendships and romances how you want them to look, give them titles to suit their roles, rather than relying on outdated titles embedded with limitation. Maybe I want my platonic life partner to be the person I live with, love and create life plans with and I want my lovers to be allies from all over. Maybe I want to participate in my lover’s domestic family but I want to travel the world on an annual basis and owning a home isn’t practical. Make your life and community look like your wildest dream, and your most satisfying one. We have the potential as a community to create homes and relationships bereft of outdated constructs of love and friendship, so that it can actually start meeting our needs. It all starts with asking, “what do I want?”, “what do I need?” and “how do I make it happen?”

{Image Credit: http://pinterest.com/pin/418482990346057725/}
{Image Credit: http://pinterest.com/pin/418482990346057725/}

 

I’m not saying that everyone should abandon monogamy, shave their heads and attend sex parties, although my inner teenage boy thinks it would be dope as hell. I’m instead suggesting that to become more happy, fulfilled individuals we need to start examining more closely the way we love and who we surround ourselves with. Each of us non-monogamous-defining snowflakes is different, our relationships and social networks can and should reflect that. But there I go again, should-ing all over the place. Tell me what you think, what would your custom life look like? In what ways have you reconstructed your life and how is it working for you?

-To your personal revolts and riots and especially to your learning,

Cory

 

———–

Cory is a poet and novelist in the Los Angeles area. They have worked in mental health, education, social justice and fashion blogging and aims to lead by example through bravely living an examined lifestyle.

“The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.” -Audre Lorde

———-

There are photographs in this post that were borrowed lovingly from the internet and do not belong to us. All are linked and credited to the best of our abilities in hopes of attracting more traffic to the photographers and websites who have blessed us with this imagery. The inclusion of a photograph here should not be interpreted as an assertion of the subject’s or artist’s identity or beliefs. If there is a photo included here that belongs to you and you want it removed, please email compassionaterevolt@gmail.com and it will be removed promptly, no questions asked.

 

 

 

 

Isn’t it Queer: Early Signs You Would Eventually Become… Yourself

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I am a slut for words.I have a bizarre kinky affection for Audre Lorde and Shakespeare.  Finding a word that describes a feeling you’ve had but could never describe, is liking finding out vegan milkshakes exist.

{Image Credit: http://bit.ly/1JY0zkQ}
{Image Credit: http://bit.ly/1JY0zkQ}

Today I was inspired by:

énouement

n. the bittersweetness of having arrived here in the future, where you can finally get the answers to how things turn out in the real world—who your baby sister would become, what your friends would end up doing, where your choices would lead you, exactly when you’d lose the people you took for granted—which is priceless intel that you instinctively want to share with anybody who hadn’t already made the journey, as if there was some part of you who had volunteered to stay behind, who was still stationed at a forgotten outpost somewhere in the past, still eagerly awaiting news from the front. {http://www.dictionaryofobscuresorrows.com/}

This word moves me because I have often flirted with the sorrow of not being able to let my 16-year-old-self, know that there is so much more to the world than the isolation and humiliation of public high school (see “monochopsis”). If I had known that the glorious, chaotic, noisy world of city life, queer community, kink, polyamory, and art existed, and with such vibrancy, I can’t even imagine what I would have been capable of then. Which brings me to one of my favorite topics: early signs you should have seen, that you would become yourself.

One of my favorite questions to ask the amazing humans that I work with at the dungeon is, “Growing up, did you see any signs that you would become kinky?” Their answers are never less than fantastic. One dominatrix told me the story of her taking turns “kidnapping” her siblings and tying them up to chairs and blindfolding them. Who knew that she would one day get paid to do that to people? One of the submissives described to me a game she played in highschool with friends that involved competitively smacking each other on the face as punishment for losing the game they called, “rock-paper-scissors-slap.” Just little hints that they would perhaps one day become proud purveyors of kink and sadomasochism.

{Image Credit: http://bit.ly/1GNXUpG}
{Image Credit: http://bit.ly/1GNXUpG}

This question is also fun to adapt to queer communities and alternative lifestyle communities. I often ask, “Did you ever see early indicators that you would be queer or gay?” or “Did you have polyamorous habits as a kid?”  At a party of non-monogamous individuals, I listened to one individual describe that at their preschool they had managed to acquire two boy-friends and one girl-friend and that the little radical collective would gather in the sandbox and make each other mud-cakes to celebrate their group love. They said laughing, “I should have known at that point that I was going to try non-monogamy, and I am still baffled that it took me so long to figure out that I liked men.”

{Image Credit: http://bit.ly/1NvHc37}
{Image Credit: http://bit.ly/1NvHc37}

I personally like to laugh at myself, as I answer the question, “Were there early signs that I would identify as genderqueer?” I recall making my college boyfriend dress me in his clothes, brown corduroy trousers, a black band t-shirt and a charcoal grey newspaper boy cap. I looked up at him in the mirror and said, “Oh my god, this is so hot! I make such a sexy boy!” I laughed semi-maniacally and I believe his response was a confused shrug and a chuckle, “sure…um…yeah.” That night I threw on my favorite tight black dress and red lipstick and went to ladies night at Hamburger Mary’s, and thought bitterly, “why do I have to pick.” The beautiful little red flags of gender deviance were flying but I wasn’t ready to wave those bad boys with pride.

Isn’t it queer that there are so many red flag moments, we remain blind to until we are older? Of course now that we identify as who we are, have been through what we have been through, and have a grasp on our identity (or are on the journey to getting that grip),  it’s obvious what those experiences meant. You have to laugh at the fact that  there is no way to go back in time and whisper in your own naive ear, “Bitch you are gay!!!” or some other such revelatory fact. What were your red flags that you would become who are you are today? What moments in your current life do you think might one day be seen as those same beautifully ironic red flags?

With that said, this enouement, that we feel, this sulky regret that we cannot forewarn our past selves of our impending future, can be bittersweet. It can be even sweeter if we remind ourselves that even being able to recognize that we are in progress as a human, or that we have made such substantial leaps forward in developing our identity, shows incredible resilience and emotional fortitude. In the days when we were young (whether your young moment happened when you were four or forty-three), you were absolutely doing the very best you could- to be yourself- with the tools you had available at the time.

Sitting on the precipice of your new life, looking back at a landscape of awkward teenage moments, misunderstandings of self and times you sold yourself short, you can show yourself gratitude for all the learning and growing you had to do to realize those moments were just that. So goddamn it thank yourself!!! And maybe, the next time you find yourself questioning a conventional norm while discovering your preferences, let those flags fly!!! Because you are stars and nothing less, even on your seething days.

Happy Pride my loves!

-To your personal revolts and riots and especially to your learning,

Cory

———–

Cory is a poet and novelist in the Los Angeles area. They have worked in mental health, education, social justice and fashion blogging and aims to lead by example through bravely living an examined lifestyle.

“The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.” -Audre Lorde

———-

There are photographs in this post that were borrowed lovingly from the internet and do not belong to us. All are linked and credited to the best of our abilities in hopes of attracting more traffic to the photographers and websites who have blessed us with this imagery. The inclusion of a photograph here should not be interpreted as an assertion of the subject’s or artist’s identity or beliefs. If there is a photo included here that belongs to you and you want it removed, please email compassionaterevolt@gmail.com and it will be removed promptly, no questions asked.

 

Isn’t it Queer?: Sacred Catharsis

BannerSacred Catharsis: Some Writings from The Butch Goddess

Creative writing has always been my outlet, it’s been my emotional fuel for every major life transition and it will always be my primary partner. My first journal, at age six, consisted of malicious, poorly rhymed, spells against my 1st grade enemies and poems that misused archaic Shakespearian terms like “doth” and “thou.” So today I will share my queer-poly-kinky-radical misadventures in the hope that it will entertain, inspire or educate anyone who is open to the experience. Enjoy!

Image Credit {http://bit.ly/1EZ5YCC}
Image Credit {http://bit.ly/1EZ5YCC}

The Orchid Graveyard

 Go ahead, use the graveyard

of our relationship as your fertilizer.

Let her fuck you

in our spoiled soil bed,

amongst the lilies in the kitchen and yellow anniversary

roses, hung upside down on the ghost blue wall,

like a pagan offering to a god that does not care

about us.

You can let her quiet introverted bones be a playground for your absolute refusal

to grow.

Your smile has grown root rot, my dear.

I could never,

despite trying,

require you not to stagnate, as a pre condition for our -now historical- gardening affair.

And you are a perfectionist avoidant,

like the finest stubborn orchid,

who surrounds herself with succulents,

and wonders why her landscape looks so much like a desert.

And wonders why she is unwaningly wilting.

You’ve deserted me,

but I should be a well,

a gushing laceration of gratitude,

that you no longer make regular deposits of your worry into me.

I am not a porcelain maelstrom.

I am not your abandoned landscape hungry for anything.

You wish that my fluids be flushed

out of me and my entirety

become an indigo expanse of insatiate cacti,

lit only by a faceless silver sliver,

who would be-and has been- my only companion,

while I lived as a stitch

woven into your safety net.

So go on my little graveyard,

fill the void in you, that could have held the universe,

with the smallest of words,

and a pallet of banal affections.

She too, will learn to cope with the decay one day.

Old Hollows

The spittle flecks

from his mouth are sallow as they land uninvited on the man’s

napkin. The yellow monotony of brittle conversation aches

in their cheek hollows. The man with the assaulted napkin

reaches old bones across the stretch of negative space

between the two men, past the acrid liquor in his glass,

the wood grain on the mahogany bar, past the angry shine

of the Rolex, unbuckled, on the napkin assaulters napkin, beneath a foggy

paper colored drink,

and touches the face of his old friend.

Two pairs of deep brown joy

beneath crate paper crows feet and yellowing teeth.

The ache of his blocky knuckles as he held them to his salt and pepper

5 ‘o clock prickle. Warm dark chocolate smile, beneath tart olive hands.

How they longed for this radiant moment.

How their chests palpitated sorely in each other’s absence.

They had been deeply in each other’s absence

and also in each other’s distance. Stacks of reports, invoices

and contracts, created miles of paper between them. The callous beneath

which the napkin assaultee had hidden this disruptive longing,

this pained severance, ripped from off his eyes and

beautiful tiny rivers followed the earthly crackles that trailed down his face.

So sacred are the tears of those brave enough to defy their own fate and sacred are the ones who hold them.

So olive took chocolate, in their un-precedentedly odd combination,

into his chest and held his alchemist palms,

line to line with his own.

To see if they could turn paper work into gold,

and red tape into ribbon. Maybe, they thought, they could tie themselves a bow

and marry their hollows

and longings

under the cruel red Los Angeles sunset.

Unfortunately for our men, Fate lacks

interest in the hope of old alchemists.

 

 On The Repressed Sexuality of The Great White North American Male

 In the carved open palm lines of your deepest depth

rests the open legs of every itch you’ve ever traversed

to find sexual authenticity.

Into the spineless sour

of your abandoned cavities. Enamel

laced with alcohols and acids.

You stand. You paint dry pictures on barren air canvasses,

taking your white collar only one button down.

Taking your desire only one button down.

You taste it only occasionally: hardened, blasé, heaving deeply, begging to be summoned

by some ungodly force of pig-tail-hand-holding-

romance, which does not exist, and you know this,

to save you from the seeping.

But you are breathing.

The desolate pink within you screams.

Your outsides sliding with the gasoline frolic.

You sit. You cross. You uncross. You browse.

Sleeping inside of your own living.

fucking, greasy, body.

Tapping shining black boats on the pavement as you rush to stare at a computer.

All.

Fucking.

Day.

You are held, like children seduced by creaking glorious swing sets, to the green paper gown covered in faces and the plastic handheld faceless connection

and every app you jam up your ass in search of a cantankerous convenience.

Ooooh, gurl, I like the way you ride my bourgeoisie.

Slippery and Cancerous.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read my writing. Sharing my poetry is a sacred catharsis for me and I hope that you have been excited, enraged, aroused, or that the poetry has in some way inspired emotion in you. If you have poetry, writing, art, music or performance that you would like Isn’t it Queer? to share, we would love to see it! Feel free to link your work in the comment section below.

 

-To your personal revolts and riots and especially to your learning,

Cory

———-

Cory is a poet and novelist in the Los Angeles area. They have worked in mental health, education, social justice and fashion blogging and they aim to lead by example by bravely living an examined lifestyle.

“The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.”

Audre Lord

e

———-

There are photographs in this post that were borrowed lovingly from the internet and do not belong to us. All are linked and credited to the best of our abilities in hopes of attracting more traffic to the photographers and websites who have blessed us with this imagery. The inclusion of a photograph here should not be interpreted as an assertion of the subject’s or artist’s identity or beliefs. If there is a photo included here that belongs to you and you want it removed, please email compassionaterevolt@gmail.com and it will be removed promptly, no questions asked.

Isn’t it Queer?: The Alchemy of the Spirit

Trigger warning: In today’s Isn’t it Queer? I will be discussing transphobia and gender discrimination. In some of the content, I pull from examples of parents or loved ones who make judgments of gender which may be triggering for some individuals.

There is a painful beauty in the necessity of social deviance and in breaking gender norms in order to become our authentic selves. Many individuals experience years of excruciating gender conditioning, especially when we brave the gender “deviance” necessary to become who we feel we are on the inside; i.e. “You look prettier in a dress,” “I don’t know, you just look too…girly…can’t you wear the baggier jeans honey?” “I don’t know what you are trying to prove by not wearing make-up, it just makes you look like an angry bitch.” The early conditioning, littered with misogyny and gender discrimination, plants seeds of shame and fear in our ideas of self. Members of the trans community also face degrading judgment in the form of outright transphobic statements; “You are my daughter, you can’t be a man,” or “ewww! that is disgusting, what happens to their genitals?”, creating a foundation riddled with fear of isolation from family members, and the very real possibility of not being able to find work and stability because we want our inner gender identity to match our visible exterior.

“When the Japanese mend broken objects they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold, because they believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.” – Barbara Bloom

So here is my light bulb moment! We can and are finding ways to take care of ourselves and our communities using art, self care, therapy, yoga, and human connection. We are finding our fissures and breaks and casting them in the gold of our authenticity. All corn aside, we need to celebrate our painful transitions into our real selves as being gorgeous acts of androgynous alchemy. Taking our traumas, processing them, and using the hurt to fuel or drive our passions and pursuits can turn the tables on systematic oppression for our own self empowerment. In further tangential pondering, this artistic thinking can help us reframe concepts such as ‘transitioning,’ to be so much more substantial, and less black and white, than “getting a sex change.” How powerful would it be if we viewed transitioning as being lucky. What other humans get to watch their coming of age, and transition into becoming their authentic selves, physically as well as emotionally? Explicitly said, the function of this reframing is not to invalidate the immense pain of being repudiated by a culture or to play down systematic oppression, but instead the reframe is meant to be a function of empowerment for the individual’s emotional growth. To help us feel healthy and whole, we need healthy and whole perspectives on what it means to be who we are, whether that is trans, bi, gender queer, etc.

These are some artists, performance artists, and photographers that are busy demonstrating the earthy, real beauty of gender fluidity, trans identity, and gender non-conformity. I hope these pieces move you to tears, like they did for me:

Heather Cassils 1
{Collaboration piece from Heather Cassils, preformance artist and photographer by Alejandro Santiago}
Heather Cassils 2
{Collaboration piece from Heather Cassils, preformance artist and photographer by Alejandro Santiago}
Half and Half
{Mo B Dick’s Half and Half. Also check out this incredible queer art tumblr, it’s impressive: https://queercultureproject.wordpress.com/}
{http://www.janamarcus.com/docus/TransPresentation/sld001.htm}
{http://www.janamarcus.com/docus/TransPresentation/sld001.htm}

Jana Marcus’s Transfigurations, is a photography-interview project that aims to illuminate the Trans perspective, using insightful information from the personal anecdotes of trans individuals. These personal accounts are movingly penetrative and offer a more complex depiction of fluidity in the identities and experiences of trans individuals. To view the project visit Jana Marcus’s website: Transfigurations.

{http://www.glaad.org/blog/photographer-jen-rosensteins-transformational-project-features-transgender-subjects}
{http://www.glaad.org/blog/photographer-jen-rosensteins-transformational-project-features-transgender-subjects}
{Patty Chang, Melons (At a Loss) }
{Patty Chang, Melons (At a Loss) }
{http://dusticunningham.com/}
{http://dusticunningham.com/}
{http://dusticunningham.com/}
{http://dusticunningham.com/}
{Genderbent http://dusticunningham.com/}
{Genderbent http://dusticunningham.com/}

So to leave on an alliterative note, the world of trans, gender non-conforming art and activism is alive with variety. New bold spirits brave enough to turn their pain into inspiring testimonials and social commentary, emerge every day.

So my lovely gender warriors, one last question: In what way can your pain power your passion?

-To your personal revolts and riots and especially to your learning,

Cory

———-

Cory is a poet and novelist in the Los Angeles area. They have worked in mental health, education, social justice and fashion blogging and they aim to lead by example by bravely living an examined lifestyle.

“The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.”

Audre Lord

e

 

 

Isn’t it Queer?: Poetry Soup for Achy Souls

BannerWe may be living in a culture that worships doctors and Barbies. It may be kind of shitty. We are perpetually inundated with media that is “by the cis-male for the cis-male,” “tits, ass and football!” and trying to live and thrive as a marginalized identity can lend itself to feeling lonely, invisible, disenfranchised and ostracized. Sometimes our ability to swiftly jump the gender binary, despite us knowing how talented and strong that makes us, can instead make us the target of unnecessary scrutiny by the painfully uninformed. Sometimes being a person of color who embraces your hair and the darkness of your skin, rather than adopting white norms of beauty can make you an outsider, rather than the fashion pioneer that we know you are.

For those of us that work in industries where the main topic of conversation with co-workers is barely able to surpass the Super Bowl commercials or whoever is currently arguing with Kim Kardashian on Twitter, it can leave us hungry for more substantial interactions and more meaningful dialogue. This is especially true for those of us living alternative lifestyles because we are already combating an un-inclusive cultural environment on top of the job problems, the I-had-a-fucking-crazy-childhood-problems, and the I can’t-fucking-afford-gas problems, that everyone else is dealing with. We all need small talk to blow off steam, don’t get me wrong, but how often is that small talk affirming of our non-cis, lgbtq, or poc identity? Never? Yeah me too. So for today’s episode of, Isn’t it Queer? I will be showcasing poetry exclusively from women of color, queer/trans/non-cis individuals, and individuals with alternative love preferences, with the intention of bringing healing food to your achy soul. Poetry is the keyhole we peer into, to find where our soul hides out when it is injured. These poems come from the pain, passion and struggle of their authors and are born with a variety of intentions. Poetry can be built with the intention of healing, of commiserating, of illuminating or of vocalizing a point of view that is overlooked by the mainstream ear. So, with love and compassionate revolution, I bring you poetry to sooth of the achy soul:

 Donna Kate Rushin

I highly recommend that every person on the planet read this incredible, groundbreaking collection of poetry and essays. This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. Here is a sample by Donna Kate Rushin, The Bridge Called My Back:

I’ve had enough 
I’m sick of seeing and touching 
Both sides of things 
Sick of being the damn bridge for everybody

Nobody 
Can talk to anybody 
Without me Right?

I explain my mother to my father my father to my little sister 
My little sister to my brother my brother to the white feminists 
The white feminists to the Black church folks the Black church folks 
To the Ex-hippies the ex-hippies to the Black separatists the 
Black separatists to the artists the artists to my friends’ parents…

Then 
I’ve got the explain myself 
To everybody

I do more translating 
Than the Gawdamn U.N.

Forget it 
I’m sick of it

I’m sick of filling in your gaps

Sick of being your insurance against 
The isolation of your self-imposed limitations 
Sick of being the crazy at your holiday dinners 
Sick of being the odd one at your Sunday Brunches 
Sick of being the sole Black friend to 34 individual white people

Find another connection to the rest of the world 
Find something else to make you legitimate 
Find some other way to be political and hip

I will not be the bridge to your womanhood 
Your manhood 
Your human-ness

I’m sick of reminding you not to 
Close off too tight for too long

I’m sick of mediating with your worst self 
On behalf you your better selves

I am sick 
Of having to remind you 
To breathe 
Before you suffocate 
Your own fool self

Forget it 
Stretch or drown 
Evolve or die

The bridge I must be 
Is the bridge to my own power 
I must translate 
My own fears 
Mediate 
My own weaknesses

I must be the bridge to nowhere 
But my true self 
And then 
I will be useful

 I personally adore this piece because of it’s affirming nature. The message that we are not obligated to be people’s interpreters or curators but they are instead obligated to research and explore the things they do not understand. Sometimes I read this one mid-workday to remind me not to take on other people’s ignorance as my personal battle.

 Janani Balasubramanian

Now, dear readers, let’s hear some spoken word. Go on Poet, don’t be nice! Poet and author, Janani Balasubramanian’s, “trans/national,” illustrates the plurality of masculinity through his family’s response to his transition, he ties in colonialism, white masculinity, and misogyny and in general just kicks a bunch of ass.

Balasubramanian’s visceral expression is a powerful commitment to resist male and white privilege, to hold and embrace his culture and family, and to be authentically him. What commitments do you own enough to announce them boldly?

 Nayyirah Waheed

Holy Shit buy Salt, by Nayyirah Waheed. I was introduced to this incredible woman’s poetry by my co-blogger Lyneonme. Her poetry has the purifying power of it’s clever title and it will open and heal you. Waheed’s, Salt, is a series of short poems that builds a fertile soil for your empowerment and personal growth, and if ever there was a poet that will incite your healing, she is that poet. With gratitude, I bring you a few of her gorgeous missives:

“if 
the ocean 
can calm itself, 
so can you.
we 
are both 
salt water 
mixed with 
air.”

“i love myself.’

the 
quietest.
simplest. 
most
powerful.
revolution. 
ever.” 

“remember,
you were a writer 
before
you ever 
put 
pen to paper.
just because you were not writing 
externally. 
does not mean you were not writing
internally.” 

“you
not wanting me
was
the beginning of me
wanting myself
thank you” 

“expect sadness
like
you expect rain.
both,
cleanse you.” 

 -To your personal revolts and riots and especially to your learning,

Cory

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Cory is a poet and novelist in the Los Angeles area. They have worked in mental health, education, social justice and fashion blogging and they aim to lead by example by bravely living an examined lifestyle.

“The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.”

Audre Lord

e

Isn’t it Queer?: Our Legion of Closets

Banner

We live in a wounded culture, one where each of us is required to not just “be in the [proverbial] closet,” about who we choose to love, but also to create a legion of closets within which we are required to confine our personal interests. One closet, say the one where we hide our sparkly, faux, patent-leather, unicorn-shaped paddle for our weekly spankings may not be the same closet in which we hide our lipstick, platform heels, and formidable piles of sequins, from our straight male friends. One closet you may have the unbelievable strength to keep, is the one in which we hide our volcanic desire to live authentically, the one that drives us to show up for eight hours, armed to the toes, in black ballet flats and/or presentable button up shirts, rather than follow artistic wiles to do something genuine and inspiring… I call that one the career closet. Our identities are so begrudgingly entangled in the roles we are taught to play in order to survive, that we begin to believe that performing our roles in a satisfactory manner, makes us worthy of love and connection. No wonder so many of us feel trapped. Which is why for today’s entry I bring you, my lovely rainbow warriors, some of history’s most prolific radical artists and poets. These two women, Audre Lorde and Frida Kahlo both felt the unbearable tearing of their culture’s expectations. Both women rebelled and healed their wounds, with extraordinary art. Enjoy:

Frida Kahlo: A Woman With An Arizona Heart and a Bathtub Full of Tea
{Frida Kahlo: A Woman With An Arizona Heart and a Bathtub Full of Tea}

Kahlo, a radical supporter of the Mexican Revolution and the Communist movement in the 1940’s, and an openly bi-sexual woman, is now famous for her viscerally painted depictions of herself drenched in constant symbolic limbo, torn between two worlds. In Los Dos Fridas (1939), she depicts herself twice, her westernized self tries to stop the gushing of her blood from her open vein with surgical tools, as her somber insides soak her European style garb. Opposite herself, her indigenous self, holds her hand and continues to provide blood and life force to sustain both of them.

{Los Dos Fridas (1939)}
{Los Dos Fridas (1939)}

{Arbol de Esperanza (1946)}

{Arbol de Esperanza (1946)}

Advice on surviving love and life from a compassionate revolutionary:

” Leaving is not enough. You must stay gone. Train your heart like a dog. Change the locks even on the house he’s never visited. You lucky, lucky girl. You have an apartment just your size. A bathtub full of tea. A heart the size of Arizona, but not nearly so arid. Don’t wish away your cracked past, your crooked toes, your problems are paper mache puppets you made or bought because the vendor at the market was so compelling you just had to have them. You had to have him. And you did. And now you pull down the bridge between your houses, you make him call before he visits, you take a lover for granted, you take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic. Make the first bottle you consume in this place a relic. Place it on whatever altar you fashion with a knife and five cranberries. Don’t lose too much weight. Stupid girls are always trying to disappear as revenge. And you are not stupid. You loved a man with more hands than a parade of beggars, and here you stand. Heart like a four-poster bed. Heart like a canvas. Heart leaking something so strong they can smell it in the street.”

Audre Lorde: “Revolution is not a one time event.”

lorde

Audre Lorde, a black, lesbian, feminist, born of Caribbean immigrants and raised in Harlem, set a new precedent for activists and writers, regarding the intersectionality of oppressions in 1950-60s American culture. In Sister Outsider (1976-1984), she wrote,

“I find I am constantly being encouraged to pluck out some one aspect of myself and present this as the meaningful whole, eclipsing or denying the other parts of self.”

Bold spirited and relentlessly honest, Lorde’s poem Who Said It Was Simple (1973), concisely illustrates her disillusionment with white feminist colleagues, unaware of the blatant racism they witnessed, while they planned a women’s right’s demonstration (Irony loves those of us with the best intentions):

Who Said It Was Simple (1970)

“There are so many roots to the tree of anger   

that sometimes the branches shatter   

before they bear.

 

Sitting in Nedicks

the women rally before they march   

discussing the problematic girls   

they hire to make them free.

An almost white counterman passes   

a waiting brother to serve them first   

and the ladies neither notice nor reject   

the slighter pleasures of their slavery.   

But I who am bound by my mirror   

as well as my bed

see causes in colour

as well as sex

 

and sit here wondering   

which me will survive   

all these liberations.

Words from Lorde on how to heal during your many revolutions and rebirths:

For Each of You (1968)

“Be who you are and will be
learn to cherish
that boisterous Black Angel that drives you
up one day and down another
protecting the place where your power rises
running like hot blood
from the same source 
as your pain.

When you are hungry
learn to eat
whatever sustains you
until morning
but do not be misled by details
simply because you live them.

Do not let your head deny
your hands
any memory of what passes through them
not your eyes
nor your heart
everything can be used
except what is wasteful
(you will need
to remember this when you are accused of destruction.)
Even when they are dangerous examine the heart of those machines you hate
before you discard them
and never mourn the lack of their power
lest you be condemened
to relieve them.
If you do not learn to hate
you will never be lonely
enough
to love easily
nor will you always be brave
although it does not grow any easier

Do not pretend to convenient beliefs
even when they are righteous
you will never be able to defend your city
while shouting.

Remember whatever pain you bring back 
from your dreaming
but do not look for new gods
in the sea
nor in any part of a rainbow
Each time you love
love as deeply as if were
forever
only nothing is
eternal.

Speak proudly to your children
where ever you may find them
tell them
you are offspring of slaves
and your mother was
a princess
in darkness. “

Simply put, none of this is simple. Sometimes the art of creating ones true self is damningly complex and painfully intricate. Braving the world outside of our closets, drawers, sometimes even wardrobes, can feel like a giftless venture, but as Lorde said, “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” Our expression of our pain, our passion and our anger is our vitality, and I plead with you, dear reader, to do just that. Even if it’s from within your closet and you are creating from within your darkness, read, fuck, write, play, sing, dance, paint, tattoo yourself with your experiences. You are a vibrant night light of joy and you are valuable just as you were created, as quiet, as inquisitive or as queer, as you might be.

 

-To your personal revolts and riots and especially to your learning,

Cory

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Cory is a poet and novelist in the Los Angeles area. They have worked in mental health, education, social justice and fashion blogging and they aim to lead by example by bravely living an examined lifestyle.

“The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.”

Audre Lord

e