Man in the Iron Masc

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

When I was six or seven, my aunt gave me a copy of The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexander Dumas. It’s part of his D’Artagnan saga, most notably begun as the Three Musketeers. It’s a novel of historical adventure, with a political twist–not quite satire, but enough criticism it probably played a role in catalyzing the French Revolution.

The version I was given, however, was adapted for children. I never read it.

The book sat on my bookshelves for ages, and I probably still have it somewhere, stored away in a box in a closet probably, but because it was a gift, something given to me, I always felt obligated to read it. The intrigue was always present, if my interest in reading it was not: Who was this man? And why did he wear a mask made of iron?

The historical figure we may never know, but the fiction is a story all its own.

Continue reading

Breaking the Binary

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

“Male or female?” The form is generic–it could be anything–but the question is as particular as it could get. Just two options. No room for black or white or grey. Just male or female. Or. The “either” is implied; the “both” is inconceivable.

For me, it doesn’t matter. I check the first box (because, after all, the male box always goes first) and carry on with my day without giving it a second thought. That’s because the sex I was assigned at birth is the sex I identify with. It’s a privilege often taken for granted, that when the doctor overseeing my birth wrote “male” on my birth certificate, it ended up describing me pretty well. Just like how the magazine printed on cheap newspaper in the checkout aisle looked at my birth date, said I’m a Gemini, and then stuck me in a box forever. Thankfully, that descriptor ended up pretty on point, too.

But all that means is I’m just one of the lucky ones.

Continue reading

Sex Sex Sex Yeah

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

“Pride is too sexual,” I hear them whispering. “I’d never take my kids to that.”

Or maybe the age-old classic: “Not in front of the children!”

So queerness–at least being gay or bi or lesbian–is reduced to being purely about love, and sex is a side subject that everyone skirts around because, well, children. But let’s all remember one critical fact: those children? Made by sex.

So let’s talk about sex.

Continue reading

Identity Politics

This last week in class we covered sequences and series. This is a strange unit: It looks little like anything else students have seen, yet mathematically it resonates not only with many things we’ve learned, but with many things we could only dream of ever teaching in a high school class bounded by deadlines and curricular standards.

If you’ve ever counted or made a to-do list or put things in order, you know innately what a sequence is: it is merely a list of numbers, with a specific order: 1 2 3 is a different sequence than 1 3 2. Some sequences seem patternless (sunshine Monday, snowstorm Wednesday, downpours Thursday, a blizzard today) while others are so set in stone we hardly take notice: Sunday always precedes Monday, and April follows March.

Now suppose you look at that to-do list you made and count all the things you’ve got to do (that infinite list that seems to always grow two more items when you knock off the first–how hydraen life tends to be!) then you know, too, how a series differs from a sequence: simply take all the things and add them together. No more complex than that.

But what does any of this have to do with identity or politics?

Continue reading

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?

Continue reading

Love Bias

Some four or five months ago I wrote a post called “Lessons in Love,” but I got stuck on my conclusion and when I left it be for a few days, I came down with mono, had to drop two classes, and never touched it again.

In the meantime, my life has only continued to swell with the force of love imbuing every moment of every day with vibrancy. My poetry became richer. My love of math, somehow deeper (and more fractured the same, but that’s another story). And my commitment to and appreciation of my friends and family only blossomed beyond comprehension.

Something changed, as I wrote those words, but like the onset of an illness–the swift and unknowing inhalation of an unseen germ or two–this transformation had already begun.

Continue reading

The Insinuation of Expectations

In a recent interview, Debora Spar–president of Barnard College and author of the new book Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection–stepped forward to make the claim I’ve been saying a long time: To advance women, we need to include men.

That itself is a fantastic topic for discussion, but more so I want to point out something else President Spar said–something that blatantly stands against her ideas of inclusion.

Continue reading

Why All Men Are Stupid

Women can multitask, park their cars better, and ask for direction–but the sorry male species can’t do a damn thing. It’s a beautiful world where you grow up with low expectations, isn’t it? A standard of male success is dying without going to jail. Poor women. They actually have to do something to be successful.

At least, that’s what I’ve always been told.

Continue reading

Awfully Whetted Strife

By nature I’m a very trusting person. By nature I give everyone the benefit of the doubt. By nature I strive to be kind and compassionate, and for the most part, I think I succeed.

So when the knife came out, I never imagined it’d be directed at me.

Continue reading

Classroom Mores

Classroom Mores: Why It’s Easy to Deviate in College

My deviant act developed entirely by accident, which not only makes for a fun story to tell, but also reinforces how breaking even the smallest expectations is a form of deviance: One Tuesday in history class, I sat a few seats up from where I normally sit.

My intentions were in themselves fueled by ulterior motives (I wanted to sit closer to a classmate I found attractive), and I deviated further to keep my true intentions unknown. When the girl I normally sit in front of asked why I moved away, I did not want to reveal myself, so I instead said I wanted to switch things up for the day, maybe see if our teacher would notice.

That did it. My classmate grinned and had a great idea—we would all switch seats today! She changed seats, as did a couple others, and after they had all moved, everyone else moved as well until no one was sitting in their usual seats.

Continue reading