Pulse

Last night I was on the rooftop of our residence hall here at Rice University, sharing drinks and dancing and laughing with friends from the Milwaukee Teach for America corps. A few of us had gone to Rainbow on the Green, a family-centered LGBTQ celebration here in Houston, and since I hadn’t been able to attend, I eagerly listened as my friends shared their thoughts on the music, the atmosphere, the same-sex couples walking hand-in-hand with their children (“Life goals, right there,” Sean said, his hand on his heart, his eyes closing ever so slightly, and all I could do was smile and agree). And Houston Pride is two weeks away, so we’re already making plans to attend as a group.

Then this morning I was sitting at breakfast, and another friend said, “I’m kinda scared after Orlando,” and I didn’t know what she meant (my first thought was, “I haven’t been on Facebook lately” since that’s where I tend to get my news), and when she told me last night had been the largest mass shooting in US history–with more dead and injured than at Virginia Tech–and that it happened at a gay nightclub, I was stunned speechless.

It’s easy to rationalize different places and different spaces as a series of overlying Venn diagrams, here there is inclusion, here there is not, and here is that region in the middle full of tension and bated silence and awkward encounters at the bar, leaving everyone uncomfortable. But such drastic dehumanization forgets the fact that while we were celebrating our queer identity in the middle of a college university in Texas, the lives of hundreds were impacted by the bigotry born and raised in Florida.

We may be in separate places, but this space is shared: the sudden fear that all our years of visibility and changing hearts and minds has brought us nowhere, that the hatred against gay and lesbian and bi and transgender (and all other sexuality/gender-non-conforming) people is as paramount today as it was in the nineties when DOMA was passed, when Matthew Shepard was slaughtered, when Harvey Milk was assassinated.

Earlier this week someone told me that I “don’t really look gay,” and later this week I had a conversation with peers about a presenter who we all had thought was gay, and isn’t, and it only pushes to the forefront of our minds that sexual orientation and gender expression are not purely inherent, individual identities, but faces that can be inscribed upon others through the lenses of ignorance and assumption: I can move through the world being assumed straight, and that demands my authenticity even more. That privilege obliges me to be open about my sexuality and speak about all of these issues.

Because even when we speak openly, even when we keep to our own and stay in our own spaces, outsiders can and will and have come inside to shoot us down, to end our lives.

I will not be held silent. I will speak, and I will sing, and I will stand against hatred in each of its forms, before each of its faces, because if I cannot live bravely, who can?

An Open Letter to Pat Hurley

I will no longer address you as my representative. In voting to override Governor McCrory’s veto of Senate Bill 2, making it legal for magistrates to deny to marry same-sex couples who have the right to marry in North Carolina, you have not only voted against the wish of thousands of North Carolinians, but blatantly voted against me.

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Fire and Fuel

My greatest vision has always been a world without discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. This hope brought me to discover my own potential for leadership, and this compulsion has enabled me to push myself further from my comfort zones and make the greatest impact than anything else.

In part it’s probably obvious why I care (indeed it would be a greater mystery if I didn’t care), but in the spirit of the week–my vision quest–it seems only fitting to dig deeper.

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Fashion Sense and Sensibility

I got back from a leadership institute today and as usual, I’d over-packed–three too many t-shirts, a bathing suit I never used, and a few extra pairs of shorts. I learned on my trip to Belize the importance of rolling, not folding, clothes to preserve suitcase space, so the unpacking process now includes refolding my laundry. I picked up a pair of shorts I hadn’t worn, and all the week’s lessons converged on a few threads of white cotton crisscrossed in a barbed wire pattern.

Integrity, intent, and fashion sense. That’s leadership.

This is not a post about leadership–but leadership is merely an incarnation of the lessons we learned. A recurring thing was the saying “Own your stuff,” and I feel some ownership is at last in order.

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To Eat or Not To Eat (Mor Chikin)

Maybe we’re going about this the wrong way.

With those eight words I began the most hotly contested and highly criticized post I have ever written. It garnered more comments across Facebook and WordPress than my last three or four posts combined, and almost all of them were negative–against Chick-Fil-A, against the premise of the post, even against me.

Drawn using Paper by 53 on my Apple iPad.

It’s a big price to pay for a hypothetical, isn’t it? “Maybe” was my first word, soon followed by “perhaps,” and I ended the post with both a question asking for perspectives on the issue–to which I got a lot of responses–and a call to spread the word if they agreed with it. I can guess the word wasn’t spread very far, but maybe that was for the best.

Still, though, the question remains–or does it?

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701 Words to Remember

“More Than a Moment”

It’s not that I don’t want to get married
it’s simply the fact that I can’t
but what would it matter even if I did
when I know how they all end anyways
Well I guess they don’t all end
but you know what I mean when I say
that most of them do go anyways.

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Fight the World

Maybe I’m a writer and it’s just how we think. Maybe I’m a minority and it’s how we survive. Or maybe it’s the weather and just how we stay alive. But whatever the reason, whatever the cause, I feel like fighting.

It might seem an odd expression for me to say, so normally fond of peace as I am, but sometimes it takes a fighting soul to shove others into action. Sometimes we call this violence or aggression. But sometimes we call it passion and–

18. Ambition

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