A Rose by Any Other Name

This post kicks off my 2019 Pride Month series “Proudly Reaffirming Identity, Diversity, and Equity,” exploring present-day issues facing the LGBTQ+ and allied communities.

We all know Shakespeare. We all know Romeo and Juliet. Perhaps not the first illicit love, but surely the most notorious. MacBeth gave us witches, and Hamlet gave us unanswerable questions, “To be or not to be?” and Romeo and Juliet gave us words.

Words, however, should not be underestimated.

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The Embodiment of Truth

In the first world, before the Immortals shattered it, there was a well formed from the corpse of a god, and those who bathed in its waters became without what was within. Their hidden truth became their physical form. Some who leapt beneath its depths believed they would be reborn beautiful and godly, only to emerge monstrous and ugly. And others, lame or little, ascended to perfection when they breached the surface.

Often I have wondered, if I were to fall within it, what form would I take.

At times I thought I would become a dragon, fearsome and flighty. Other times a mass of molten fire, a body built of flaming embers. Or I would sprout wings and feel my skin pulled taught against physical strength I’ve never possessed before. And sometimes, in my darkest of moods, I would fade from something human toward something beastly, wild and unruly, untamed and forged for pure destruction.

But there is no such well in this world to become outside what I see within.

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I hate it when you’re right

I slept anxiously last night. The snow began falling before I’d left work, and by the time I stepped out to get my haircut, the roads were disastrous (thankfully, I only have to walk across the street). By nightfall, already a few dozen schools had closed.

So I tossed and I turned and every thirty minutes I opened my phone, checking the time in case I’d overslept, and then checking the school closings: the number steadily grew and grew and grew until, at 7 o’clock, I could wait for it to be called no longer: I was going to work today. So I got dressed (my poor little puppy crying as I did so, because she always knows when I’m going to leave), and then met the bus.

Surprisingly, the buses were on time. That, however, was the only surprise.

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Never Enough

Remember when I posted about reading that book about vulnerability? I stopped reading it the next day. Yup. You read that right: It was too much and I gave up.

Well, at least for a little while. I needed time to mull over what I had read and let it sink in. If I want to attain lifelong growth from reading this book, I can’t read it in one sitting and expect my life to change immediately. No, it takes more time than that.

So after that first excursion, I decided that two of the nonfiction books I’m reading this year I’m going to read often in small bursts: First is the Sefer Yetzirah, which I’ve been reading one verse at a time, because unpacking each verse when it’s literally steeped in thousands of years of mystical philosophy demands a slow yet attentive reading schedule, and second is Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly. The vulnerability book.

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Trump Card

Last week President Trump visited Milwaukee. In class that morning, one student said, “He’s not my president.” The timing wasn’t right to go into the nuances of that statement, to correct the fallacy that blindly believes saying “He’s not my president” excuses us of his wrongdoings (when we, the collective voting citizenry, put him there) but merely excuses his ignoring us, so my response to her was subtler.

“Whether we like him or not, he’s our president, and we should respect that.”

I refused to get religious. In fact, “refuse” is the wrong word: I keep my faith wrapped around my neck but not gurgling through my vocal cords, so I never genuinely talk about religion with my students. Perhaps, this time, I should have.

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Dialectic

It’s the patch of fabric scratching a patch of skin that’s agonizing and incestuous but you can’t get enough.

It’s biting the side of your mouth with your back teeth, the sting of flesh splitting, the intrigue of electricity pulsing in your skin, the sweet discharge of ferrous blood onto your tongue.

It’s the first few breaths after orgasm, lungs empty, yearning, muscles locked in place and paralyzed, every inhalation aromatic and awe-some: you’re smelling oxygen for the very first time.

I’ve been in a mood lately, fostering new views, melding old ones: Creation is destruction, there is attraction in repulsion, beauty exists in the most ugly and painful things.

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When a T-Shirt’s Not a T-Shirt

One of the too-many classes I’m taking this summer is a course in business ethics. When I added my second major in political science, I had everything planned out perfectly–and then I was told I needed to pick up additional, non-political science classes for the college (i.e., non-major) requirements. The first was a literature class (I’ll be taking fantasy in the fall–which does excite me) and the second was a philosophy class.

Which didn’t excite me at all.

Looking for an easy course that would at least have some tangential relevance to politics, I finally decided on business ethics because I didn’t know much about businesses, but they’re an important part of our economy–and thus an important consideration in politics.

It hasn’t all been fun, but what I’ve learned has been worth it.

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Sexist Stories and the Writer Within

I recently republished one of my first serials on the Writingwolf: a superhero origins story called “Super.” It had started as a simple prompt–if you had superpowers, what would they be?–but ended up inspiring an entire world of characters.

Let’s be honest, many of them existed long before the prompt: I watched X-Men cartoon growing up, and the idea of having superpowers always fascinated me. So, naturally, when I started writing about superheroes, the floodgates opened and an army of characters began fighting for a place in this fictional world I was creating.

Some of them were granted entry. Others were given tickets and a place in line. And then, for over three years, they waited patiently. That waiting ended in 2013. But at what cost?

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Five Facts Why Marriage Matters

I recently wrote about three myths of marriage I’ve heard in the LGBT community that suggest the movement is moving away from what’s currently our biggest victory. These feelings appear to be held by only a small number of LGBT individuals–but the movement away from marriage is hardly as contained. Instead, a second, more imposing message is causing young members of this group to especially rebel against marriage rights: It’s not the most important issue, they argue, so why are we fighting so hard to win it?

In many ways, they’re right (there are issues more important than marriage), but these issues shouldn’t detract from our fight for marriage inequality–and I believe if we allow them to, we’ll only slow the progress we’re making. Therefore, I’d like to share five reasons why marriage still matters–and why this empowers the LGBT community to turn the marriage battle–and its inevitable victory–into the all out war for equality we deserve.

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Three Myths of Marriage

Today marks the first anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Ruling in the U.S. v Windsor, which struck down the section of DOMA that prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. I can easily recall sitting in the same chair I’m sitting in now, waiting for the decision to be announced. It was such a hopeful moment, and with the victories we’ve gained since then, equality seems closer than ever before.

However, there’s a movement within the LGBT community that’s tainting this cause for celebration and making me angry: As equal marriage advances in the country one vote and one verdict at a time, there’s a small but growing number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals complaining about the heteronormativity of marriage–that is to say, they claim, the institution of marriage is a construct of straight culture.

And therefore, they go on, we should have no part in it.

But this thinking makes me mad. So very, very mad.

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