Arrhythmia

The vigil. A self-selected showcase of sorrows and serenades. A call to action, an inactive advertisement for hearts and minds, but what about tomorrow?

I counted the seconds, 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… and told myself I would go up to talk if no one else said anything, but my feet wouldn’t move from the concrete. I looked around, somebody must say something, it can’t end without any speakers, somebody please. And I’d count again, insisting, this time would be it, but it wasn’t.

And four speakers stood before me before I finally said, this is it, I can’t wait any longer, but I didn’t know what I’d say, what could I say? I got to the mic, opened my mouth, and all the words left me. I said, I’m sorry, I took notes, and took out my phone for reference.

I decided not to come out at Institute when my CMA (corps member advisor) told us this school wasn’t particularly open and other corps members have struggled for saying too much about themselves, and I was afraid if I came out it would get in the way of building the meaningful relationships I need to be the best teacher I can be for these kids.

But when I heard about Orlando, I realized I was just trying to keep myself safe, and if I stayed safe, my students wouldn’t have the safe space they deserve. So I added a brave space slide to my introduction, affirming that everyone in this classroom is loved and embraced, and I put a brave space sign on the wall, but I never told them I’m gay. I wasn’t brave enough for that. I wasn’t ready for it. I don’t know how I’ll ever be ready–it was easier a few weeks ago, when I was engaged, there was a ring to start the conversation. Now there’s nothing. I feel invisible again.

I said I went to the TFA 25th Anniversary Summit in DC back in February and Tim’m West said in the LGBTQ affinity space that “safety is a pretty low standard to set.” And I said, safety isn’t enough anymore. Marriage equality isn’t enough if being married can get you fired, if being married can set you up for hate crimes. Marriage isn’t enough when our trans family are murdered every day. Marriage isn’t enough when HIV continues to plague our community and access to healthcare only gets harder. Marriage isn’t enough when children are unable to come out of the closet without getting kicked out of home. Marriage isn’t enough when the queer community remains one of the most racist and marginalizing communities: we cannot celebrate marriage while we still ostracize our queer peers of color, when a Latino I’m talking with tells me he’s always been attracted to white guys and can’t even identify why. Marriage isn’t enough, because there is still too much equity to be earned–equity to be fought for and won and claimed by blood, flesh, and bone.

The same blood, flesh, and bone being lowered into the ground. Their graves must not be an ending, but a beginning. We–as a community–have become complacent and complicit, perpetuating the same oppression delivered upon us. The oppressed are now the oppressors. We can blame the media for erasing the fact it was a gay nightclub, the fact that it was Latin night, the fact that trans artists were their featured performers–but until we as a community embrace them, we are no less to blame.

We can spew fire at the politicians who champion anti-LGBT legislation, who offered their hypocritical hearts and prayers in condolence and then took this tragedy as another opportunity to spin their Islamophobia and stir up the electorate. But until we open our arms to our Arab and Muslim allies and family, we are no better than any of them.

I said, as I stood before the crowd, the mic now dead, exercising my teacher voice so everyone could hear me, I said we’ve settled for safe spaces for far too long and it’s not enough–safe spaces are not enough when safe spaces are daily infiltrated and desecrated, when our brethren in blood and spirit are shot down for who they are. It could have been you. It could have been me. Safety is no longer enough.

I said thank you for attending, for coming out to reflect, but reflection alone isn’t enough. We need action. And because my CMA told me I need to practice giving clear directions, let me practice my MVP (movement, voice level, participation) statements.

We’re going to get up and with our loudest voices, we are going to make sure that everybody knows they are embraced in our community, and whenever we hear hatred or bigotry, we’re going to call it out and invite them into the conversation, because if we push them away, that conversation will never be had, and that change will never happen.

I said I didn’t feel sad when I first saw the news, because I’ve seen so many headlines about so many shootings. I said I feel desensitized, dehumanized.

Don’t make us feel this way again.

The Man Who Lied to My Face

My thanks to the man who lied to my face. His sniggering tone and that smirk he showed me made me feel deep inside those recesses of my intuition the falseness of his words. He could not fool me–but I would not be fooled into false understanding. I sought out sources stronger than his sordid sounds and confirmed my suspicions: That to my face he had spoken with such falseness not even the devil himself would have found it fit to speak.

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Black and White: Part One

In a moment I was called a bureaucrat and a dictator. I was told I’ve spent so much time up top I’ve forgotten how the people at the bottom still think. How they feel. How they live and die and prosper and are crushed, decimated, dessicated, turned to poison and ingested in the cannibalistic universe we live in. All these things in fewer words, but all these things nonetheless.

The truth is I haven’t forgotten. My hide has grown thicker. My skin has grown harder. My muscles, stronger; my bones, impassioned, have turned to steel. And my mind–that precious vestibule of unarticulated prowess–my mind has only sharpened in these days of misery as I live life. But I have not forgotten.

People don’t know me. Even when I see a man a hundred times a day, even when I share my deepest thoughts and my most hidden inclinations and my most obvious and embarrassing faults with him, he does not know me. Maybe I don’t speak as clearly as I think I speak. Or maybe, as is more probable, I’m simply deeper than I think I’m deep.

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It’s the End as We Know It

Should the world end today, there is no God.

It’s not often I speak specifically of my beliefs (mostly on account of not truly knowing the words to speak of them rightly most of the time), but today warrants it. I considered letting this day pass lightly, not saying anything but perhaps passing a shrug and a snicker, but as I was doing dishes tonight (please review A is for Action) it occurred to me that not speaking is, in the end, being silent.

And as my contemporaries would say, “You can’t make me silent with violence” (Anna Nalick, “Break Me Open”) and “I will not go quietly! I will not be silenced” (Company of Thieves, “Won’t Go Quietly”). So in their footsteps I follow: No threats will stop me. No words will weaken me. I will not stand silent. I will not stand still.

Those saying the world will end. Well, I take that as a threat.

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