Fringe Benefits

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

A joke: What do you do with knotted hose? You let the kinks out.

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Meet the Beast

I am a Gemini. I have always known my soul is faceted, my spirit fragmented in many parts. I am the twins. I am the wise child and the simple son. I am the one who succumbs and the one who resists. I am also a product of a childhood built upon Disney and Tolkien: there is good and there is evil, and they are disjoint and easily distinguished.

And yet, as an adult, I now wonder: how different are they? And am I not both?

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Names Like Snowflakes

When I left my room at four in the morning to leave for Alaska, I expected a lot of things: It would be cold, maybe I’d see snow, I’d get to learn about a new culture, work in a school, and maybe see some whales or the aurora borealis. And except for the last two, I did all of these things–but one thing I didn’t expect to learn about was names.

Names mean a lot to me: As a writer, a character’s name (or lack thereof) can be the most defining element to a story. As a leader, learning the names of my fellow students is not only a great way to attract new members, but also to establish a genuine sense of community in our group. And as a gay man in a world where marriage equality seems inevitable only a few short years after it seemed impossible, I’ll someday have to choose my name, his name, or a strained attempt at something in between.

But as I learned in Alaska, the power of names doesn’t end there.

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Come On, You Know You Like This

Let me introduce you to some of my friends.

More importantly, let me introduce you to their rapists.

One of my friends at Guilford Tech was raped by his father. One of the guys I worked alongside was raped by his older brother’s best friend. One of the guys I’ve met at N.C. State was raped by his first boyfriend. I have a friend who was raped by her ex-husband, and another friend who was raped by her boyfriend. One of my very best friends was raped twice–by people she didn’t even know.

And people say there’s no such thing as rape culture.

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The Vacancy of Freedom

When the world didn’t end on Friday, I thought I’d post a revelatory message on Saturday. Instead, I got carried away applying for a scholarship and lost track of time. So, I figured, let’s just read the next lesson of the Pirkei Avot and post it promptly on Sunday. Well, as I decided to finish said application this evening and took something of a nap earlier in the afternoon, time has once more gotten away with me. Regardless, learning is learning no matter what time it happens at (although, arguably, midnight learning is best left for Shavuot).

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A Beautiful Lie

I’d like to say my silence this week has been a part of the blackout in opposition to SOPA, but that would be a beautiful lie.

I’d like to say the bill will do as it promises and end internet piracy without infringing upon our individual rights and freedoms (I’m an artist, too–I support intellectual property as much as you do), but that would be a beautiful lie.

I’d like to say I have complete faith in our legislation to do away with SOPA and its ally, PIPA, that they understand freedom and the importance of its protection, but that would be a beautiful lie.

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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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Love Thy Work, or Forever Suffer

1.10     Shemayah and Avtalyon received the tradition from them. Shemayah taught:

Love work;
Hate positions of domination;
Do not make yourself known to the authorities.

Who here has the pleasure of being able to say “I love my job”? I have a sad feeling it’s not many among you (if I’ve yet acquired many readers), but nonetheless, it’s what most people seem to want: We go to school to get jobs that make money that we’ll love doing. It’s what we aim for in life. It’s where we want to be.

But it’s not where we are. That’s the problem. That’s the lesson. We have to make loving what we do an active part of doing it. Take for example school: I love learning. I do much to try to make learning relevant to me, to make myself interested in it so I love doing it—and it’s paid off, I’m doing quite well, and I’m very happy learning new things. But too many people give up early. They just don’t put their heart into what their hands are doing.

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