So to start this story, there’s a tiny café that I love going to. It’s nearby, locally owned, the people working there are nice, and the coffee is great. As the days have gotten nicer and longer, I’ve started walking the mile or so to and from. Overall, I love this place and it’s one of the few ways I get to interact with people.
I went today and sat down to start working on a writing project like I’ve done so many times before. Suddenly, a stranger appears next to me with a piece of folded paper and sets it on the table next to me.
“Look this guy up. He changed my life,” the stranger says before walking out of the café. It was such a weird interaction that I think I managed to only sputter out an ‘okay’ before he walked away. I’ve had people suggest things before and I’ve had strangers say random things to me but this threw me off guard a bit.
Being publicly and openly trans and/or gender nonconforming is a tough thing to do, even in this day and age. I wish it weren’t, as being trans/gender nonconforming is just one part of a person and is an incredibly valid part of someone’s identity and experience. Even in feminist spaces like the recent Women’s Marches, it can be tough for trans and gender nonconforming folks.
So what do I mean with I say it’s hard for trans and gender nonconforming folks? It’s true that we’ve come a long way over the years and decades and it definitely feels like there are more trans people in the public eye. Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, Caitlyn Jenner, and Gavin Grimm are just some of the people that have (for better or for worse) brought trans issues to the forefront of many conversations. And over the years, there have been many legislative and legal wins for trans folks around the United States.
But sadly, even with all the wins and with more folks understanding what the term/label ‘transgender’ even means, many trans and gender nonconforming folks still face many issues and obstacles for simply being their authentic selves.
In the summer of 2012, the Macklemore/Ryan Lewis song ‘Same Love’ got me through some pretty bad homesickness. I had just come out of the closet a few months before and was doing an internship thousands of miles from my friends and family. It was really Mary Lambert’s chorus that kept me coming back to the song and when she eventually turned that chorus into its own song, I listened to it on repeat for ages.
For many, Macklemore’s ‘Same Love’ might be the easiest song to think of when someone says to think of a queer/LGBTQ anthem. There are some who have issues with the fact that a straight man has one of the most popular LGBTQ anthems, as there are so many amazing songs from LGBTQ+ folks about so many things, including being a part of the community. Here are some of my favorites:
Growing up in a financially stable middle class family meant that I never really had to worry about having food on the table each day. While we rarely sat down at the dinner table all together, there was always a great dinner each night and my sister and I rarely lacked packed lunches or lunch money. The few times we did usually happened because we forgot the packed lunch or money at home.
I say all this because it wasn’t until I was in college that I realized just how difficult it can be to provide food for yourself and your family if you’re struggling to make ends meet. A big part of this came through interning at a food pantry one summer and learning first hand how difficult it can be to get enough food if you’re at or below the poverty line. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) doesn’t always help and despite the fact that millions of pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables are regularly thrown out by grocery stores, getting anything that isn’t canned from food pantries can be really tough.
Over the past years, I’ve done a lot of reading about self-care and mental health, largely out of this intense desire to find the right words to describe my own experiences with depression and anxiety. It was really in college that I discovered just how pervasive these things have been in my life and it was in college that I developed some unhealthy self-care techniques.
Self-care is one of those popular buzzwords that often thrown around and yet, it always seems like many people can’t agree what it means. For many, self-care is taking the time away from work and responsibilities to watch something on Netflix. And this is utterly valuable. In a culture that values being busy and being glued to work, it’s important to take the time out from those things.
Sylvia Rivera is often most known for being just one of many that were present at the Stonewall Inn Riots in June of 1969 but her life and work encompasses so much more than that night. Rivera, now an icon for many LGBTQ+ folks, was born in the Bronx in 1951 as Ray Rivera and had a turbulent childhood. At just eleven years old, Rivera was on her own, homeless, and hustling on the streets trying to survive. Despite all the hardships she faced for her gender and presentation (as the 1960s/70s were very unforgiving towards gender nonconformity in any sense), Rivera was often very open about being transgender/a drag queen and was a long-time activist for LGBTQ+ rights.
Podcasts, as a medium, offer a very intimate and personal way of experiencing a production. This medium is one that you can listen to at any time and often times, you can hear people in their own voice and words. There are podcasts that are bringing back the audio drama genre; there are others that are bringing news and politically commentary to people’s commutes. And there are others that are bringing all sorts of LGBTQ/queer experiences to those who wish to listen. One such podcast is Making Gay History.
We’re officially three weeks into 2018 and I’m now in that phase of hoping this is my year to change but knowing it’ll probably be the same as the past few years. One of the things I’m hoping for this year is to get back into writing more and reorganizing past work.
I’ve been making some slight changes on this blog already and added a way to look through posts by category on the top menu. And as far as writing, I’m aiming for a new post every Monday. Maybe more but hopefully not less.
That’s about it for now. Here’s to hoping that this year is just a little better and to working towards a more just and equitable future.
This year, like 2016, seemed like a continuous garbage fire (and in some places, there were actual fires…). It’s been hard to stay strong, to be positive about the kind of future we have in store. Plus, with winter officially upon us in the northern hemisphere, these cold, short days are perfect for negative thinking and depressive attitudes (at least for me). So in light of all of that, I wanted to write about some of my favorite things to come out of this year.
I’ve been noticeably gone from this blog over the past few months and there are a few reasons for that. One of the biggest is my own depression. My mental health has been suffering over the past few months and a part of that is because the days have been getting shorter in my hometown, as days are wont to do as seasons change and the year comes to an end.
Winter is nearly upon us in the northern hemisphere and for where I’m at in the world, that means significantly shorter days and long, dark nights. The sun will set around 4:30pm today, giving us about nine hours of light but most of that will be under an overcast sky. My depression thrives during this part of the year and is a big reason why I’ve been so noticeably absent from this blog. Writing is difficult when there are days when brushing my teeth or making a meal is an accomplishment.
And more than that, I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do with this blog. When I first started this project years ago, I had a clear vision of what I want to accomplish and now, I’m not too sure. There’s so much work to be done, that I will admit. But I’m just not sure the best ways for me to move forward with this project.
I’m really hoping that I can come back to this space soon. Writing, as difficult as it is most days, still gives me something to focus on and a reason to get out of bed. But for now, I’m going to continue to focus on other things and hopefully I’ll be back to this space by the beginning of 2018.