Important reminders while struggling.

Recovery for me is a roller coaster of events; it’s a big messy ball of forward progression, stagnant days, and falling back – often in some weird combination of all three. Surviving with mental illness can be difficult on good days and even worse on the bad ones. Not everyone understands how just getting out of bed is a joyous occasion most days and the simplest of chores (like laundry, showering, eating) can be so incredibly hard. I can only ever speak to what my own experiences of dealing with depression and anxiety though.


For me, one of the best things that I have learned and have reminded myself is that it’s okay to feel those negative emotions. It’s important to feel frustration and anger and sorrow just as it is important to feel happiness and joy and love. Trying to squirrel away negative emotions and never feel them has never worked out for me really. I’ve spent so much of my life being terrified and ashamed of the negative emotions I so frequently experience that it took 23 years for me to fully acknowledge the fact that I do have depression and anxiety.

In my mind, you are not broken, you are not a burden, you are nothing more than a wonderful existence if you have a mental illness of any sort. Society seems to treat mental illness as a broken feature to fix or neglect and negative emotions as ones to squirrel away and forget. But these emotions exist and it’s okay if you experience them.

To all those experiencing mental illness or going through a hard time, just know that it’s okay to feel those emotions. When you want or ready, here are some reminders and affirmations that you are worthy:

  • You are not a burden – Sam Dylan Finch
  • 9 affirmations you deserve to receive if you have a mental illness – also by Sam Dylan Finch, who wrote:
    • I’m going to issue a challenge to you: Stop pretending to be okay when you aren’t. You don’t need to be “okay” all the time or even most of the time.

Check Your Privilege.

check-yourself-before-you-wreck-yourselfAn important part of participating in any sort of struggle or fight for justice is checking any sort of privilege you might hold. Everyone has some sort of privilege – whether it’s race, class, your ability (both physical or mental), etc and checking that usually means realizing the ways in which you benefit from some social institutions that disadvantage others.

Sam Dylan Finch wrote it perfectly in an article about checking privilege that:

When someone asks you to “check your privilege,” what they’re really asking you to do is to reflect on the ways that your social status might have given you an advantage – even if you didn’t ask for it or earn it – while their social status might have given them a disadvantage.

I have plenty of privilege – much of who I am involves power within the US. I’m white, middle class, college educated with no debt. I’m able bodied by societal standards and English is my first and only language.

And the thing about learning about privilege and oppression is that all of those identities that have power within the US, the ones that make it so the police are in fact here to protect people like me among other things, is that if I do want to participate in destroying the status quo, I will be uncomfortable. But my feelings don’t matter because the importance of black lives.

Checking your privilege is going to be uncomfortable; it’ll be awkward and weird and you’ll probably make a few mistakes. And all of that is okay – hell for me, it’s expected. No one is born a revolutionary.  But learn from your mistakes, ask yourself why you’re uncomfortable, do a hell of a lot of reflecting and even more self education.

There are so many places to start but some include:

  • How to Be a White Ally from Black Millennials
  • Becoming a White Ally to Black People in the Aftermath of the Micheal Brown Murder – Janee Woods
  • How to Be an Ally if You are a Person with Privilege – Frances E. Kendall, Ph.D
  • 4 Ways to be an Ally to People with Invisible Disabilities – Sara Whitestone
  • Examples of Straight Privilege – Erin Tatum
  • Privilege 101: A Quick and Dirty Guide – Sian Ferguson
  • On Male Privilege, (transcript of video) – Jamie Kilstien
  • 25+ Examples of Western Privilege – Sian Ferguson
  • What is White/Male Privilege? (video with closed captioning) – Marina Watanabe
  • The Straight, Ablebodied, Cis, Rich, White Man’s Burden


consentToday I found out that a friend of a friend had been raped last night after drinking with a few coworkers and I got incredibly furious. Despite what Robin Thicke  and so many others might think, there are no blurred lines in regards to sex and consent and there’s no grey area as far as consent. Consent is yes, no, a conversation. It’s a process and it’s something that people should work on together.

Before anything else though, I do want to say to everyone who has been assaulted, raped, or went through anything traumatic, you are worthy. I love you and you are so wonderful. What happened wasn’t your fault and you are more than this.


One of main things about consent is that it’s a decision that requires thought and something that can’t be forced on someone. It has to be your decision with knowing all the facts and without being pressured. And it’s important that it can be withdrawn at any time, as Lex Croucher points out:

Consent can be withdrawn at any time. A person does not need to say the word no to withhold consent. There are lots of ways that a person might indicate that they don’t want to engage in sexual activity with you. Like body language, or lack of reciprocation.

Last year, California passed an affirmative consent law that dictates that a conscious and unambiguous decision must be reached be by everyone involved in sexual activity. The law primarily focuses on college campuses and helps to support prevention groups and victim rights’ groups. There are a lot of think pieces about this law, some in favor and others not so much. But personally, I think this law opens up a door towards having conversations at large about what consent means and how to have on going conversations about it means. It’s important to realize, at least for me, that consent is grounded in respect for the other person (or people if that’s the case).

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Fat Shaming And Loving Your Body.

I’ve mentioned before my relationship with my own body and with fatness. Because I’m fat and I’ve pretty much always been fat, my self esteem and my self worth has frequently been hinged on the unwanted comments from others. I have avoided going to the doctor with legitimate concerns because I know there will be unnecessary comments about my weight. (Once went in about anxiety and depression – the nurse practitioner told me that I should lose weight?!)

th (12)Anyway, I’m not the only one to struggle with weight and others’ perception of my own body. And there are so many facts and pieces of information that actually tear down all the unnecessary comments and concerns that people might have about fat people.

Sarah Landrum, for example, wrote over at Adios Barbie about the 6 scary facts that prove the existence of size discrimination, including the fact that there is an unconscious bias against overweight patients from medical students and that there is an increased likelihood of conviction. Over at Mic, Julianne Ross wrote about the 9 facts that shatter the biggest stereotypes about people who are fat, including the fact that:

Fat shaming, though cruel, is another form of bullying that often goes unchecked because people believe that it will spur others to lose weight, and, as the logic typically goes, become healthier. This is misguided first and foremost because there’s nothing inherently wrong with being fat… And even if there were, fat shaming doesn’t help people lose weight.

Justin Dennis also brings up the fact that fat shaming doesn’t actually help people lose weight like many seem to think it might. In her video, she talks about that and unpacks what fat really means. (transcript)

Ultimately, it’s taken me a long time to get to be even kind of okay with my body. I still frequently struggle with my self esteem, still wonder about how others perceive me because of my fatness. But I’m at the point in my life where I realize that despite all the fat shaming, my life is worthy. I’m still human even if I don’t fall into what society deems beautiful. And that’s also true of so many other people who struggle with their weight as well. I think that Marie Southard Ospina said it best though in an article she wrote about coming to love her fat:

I don’t have a recipe to falling in love with your body. I don’t have an easy button you can press to feel fat and flabulous. I think it’s hard. It’s really freaking hard. We don’t live in a society that makes it easy. We don’t live at a time when fat is considered beautiful by the mainstream, so we have to fight to make people realize the beauty in it. And fighting is never easy, but it’s worth it.


StonewallfilmAt first, I was so excited to hear that a movie was being made about the Stonewall riots that happened in June of 1969. I mean, here’s an event that had a huge influence in the LGBTQ+ history within the US and started what we now celebrate as Pride. And many of those involved were trans women of color –  including Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy.

But more information started to come out about the film, including the trailer and a short description from IMDB, which says that the movie is about:

A young man’s political awakening and coming of age during the days and weeks leading up to the Stonewall Riots.

And now? I’m not so excited about the movie because it is yet again whitewashing and ciswashing history and centers a white cis gay man instead of any one of the actual major players who were trans people of color. I get that the film isn’t a documentary and hot damn Hollywood is great at making fiction out of history but to continue the erasure and rewriting of history? No thanks.

One of the great things about the release of the trailer has been the critiques of the erasure and white washing. Many have taken to social media and proclaimed that this movie is #NotMyStonewall and Miss Major herself has spoken about her anger over the inaccurate portrayal of the event.

Janet Mock also talked about the movie in her segment SoPOPular! on MSNBC and brought up so many amazing points, including the hope that the director, producers, and others involved in the movie will own up to their mistakes and address the issues they created by centering a white man in their film. Monica Roberts also wrote about the whitewashing of the events and called out the fact that Sylvia and Marsha are just minor characters:

Seriously?  The mother of the trans rights movement, who jumped off Stonewall and along with Marsha played a major role in fighting for the recognition of gender variant people as the nascent movement was forming in the wake of the Stonewall rebellion is a minor character?

That’s some bull feces.

Personally, instead of spending money on the upcoming Stonewall film, I’ll be donating to the film Happy Birthday Marsha!, a film centered on some of the actual major players of the Stonewall Riots like Rivera, Johnson, and Miss Major. Apparently I’m not the only one to do something like this – there have been many others that have similarly acted in backlash to the upcoming Stonewall film.

White Feminism™.

BRikTZqCIAE5KG2I’ve been meaning to write about white feminism for awhile now because I think it’s an important thing to talk about. The distinction of white feminism is to address the practice of centering the issues disproportionately felt by white, middle class women while also ignoring and excluding the intersectionality of issues like racism, classism, ableism, and others. Anne Theriault has written about white feminism before and in one piece, described what she meant by white feminism:

* by “white feminism” I mean a certain demographic of white women who are straight, cis and able-bodied and view their brand of “feminism” as being better and more “real” than that of anyone else’s.

NinjaCate also wrote about what she means by white feminism, saying among many things that:

As I always say, “If it doesn’t apply to you, then it’s not about you. If it’s not about you, then don’t take it personally.” Being a good ally means recognizing that sometimes your input is not needed or wanted, and that it’s incredibly inappropriate to demand that a marginalized group, (in this case, WoC within the feminist movement) restructure a conversation that is happening to serve their needs, in a way that is more “comfortable” for the very people they are mobilizing against.

NinjaCate also wrote about the greatest hits of white feminism in 2014 (part one) (part two), where she references different events that happened over the year, including the fact that Emma Watson thinks feminism should be nicer to men. Additionally, Anne Theriault wrote a couple pieces about white feminism, including a list of shit that white feminists need to stop doing and the white feminist savior complex.

As a white feminist (and trying to not be a White Feminist™), I think it’s incredibly important to have intersectionality at the center of feminism and activism. And I think it’s important for white people in general to be okay with being called out on any bullshit. We’re not going to be perfect but we sure as hell can listen, learn, and strive to be better.

Update – some other articles and videos include:

  • Does Feminism Really Help All Women – Or Just White Women? – Marina Watanabe
  • The Black Feminist’s Guide to the Racist Sh*t That Too Many White Feminists Say – Maisha Z. Johnson
  • The Beginning Black Feminist’s Guide to Feminism Without the Anti-Black Bullsh*t – Maisha Z. Johnson
  • Here are 4 Ways to Navigate Whiteness and Feminism – Without Being a White Feminist™ – Maddie McClouskey

#MikeBrown – one year later

It’s been one year since Micheal Brown Jr. was shot and murdered by Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MO. The last year has been emotional and full of protests calling for justice. Protests have happened all over the nation for the past year, with more and more people unfortunately and tragically becoming hashtags after their death at the hands of police.

There has been an incredibly moving memorial happening in Ferguson and other places in memory of Micheal Brown Jr today.

To all those marching today, to all those who can’t but still honor Mike Brown Jr., to all those fighting for justice, and especially to the family and friends of Mike, thank you for your presence. Thank you for your fight. I’m so sorry for the violence, for all the pain and suffering. Sending so much love and prayers to everyone today.

Being Queer and Having Faith.

I’ve written before about struggling with faith and my own queerness -coming out while attending a particularly Catholic university made things difficult from time to time. And having attended a Catholic elementary and middle school didn’t particularly help either. I was constantly being told of the love that God had for people but also that who I am went against God and nature. My queerness was and continues to be an abomination in the eyes of the Catholic governing power of my university, whether they fully admit it or not. I, along with so many others, survived numerous microaggressions and lived through the constant feeling of being unwelcome by many peers and educators.


It took me a really long time to acknowledge the fact that it is totally possible to be religious, of faith, and queer all at the same time. Those identities, while they can be at conflict at times, are not mutually exclusive and they don’t have to exist in conflict. It took me even longer to realize that there are churches and faith communities that fully embraced, accepted, and celebrated the lgbtq+ community.

I’m not the only one who has struggled with faith and my queerness, not by a long shot. Noha Elmohands wrote about how being queer made her a better Muslim and Carolyn Wysinger wrote about 5 ways to reclaim Christianity after coming out as queer. Lamya H wrote about how she is not your tragic queer Muslim story and among many other things, writes:

… My queerness and my Muslim-ness do not need to be reconciled mostly because they cannot be disentangled from each other. I can’t remember ever not having been both.

This isn’t to say that I haven’t struggled with my queerness and with Islam, because I have and continue to do so. But when the imagined narratives are stripped away, my struggles are, if not universal, at least familiar: how to avoid disappointing my parents, how to resist assimilation, how to live a fulfilling life. I suspect these will never be resolved, but in the end, this is a story about trying.

In the end, this is a story about living.

Being queer and religious or belonging in a faith community is not a universal experience nor is it an impossible one. No two people will experience faith and religion the same way – some might reclaim their childhood faith, others might not, and even more might have different relationships with faith.

Faith and Activism.

553One of the reasons I haven’t been back to church or joined a faith community in the last year or so is because I have personally found the lack of activism in some faith communities to be extremely disappointing. For me, there’s no better call to action, no better reason to be protesting or changing the world than faith and religion. I want to go back to the revolutionary Jesus, the one who would have been on the streets supporting the call that #BlackLivesMatter. I want to see faith communities use their faith and foundations of community to stand with the most marginalized, as God so often calls for us to do.

I do want to preface this and say that I can only come from a mostly Catholic background – my experiences with religion fairly limited to Roman Catholic and an extremely small number of different christian denominations. My own experiences are extremely whitewashed because of my own whiteness and living in two primarily white communities. Amit Singh wrote about the whitewashing of climate change solutions and how Pope Francis’ call for action regarding climate change and other call to actions are not original and often very white.

I think faith and activism can very easily go hand in hand. At the very least, I think working in the streets, walking the talk to say, should be an integral part of faith communities. The seven themes of Catholic Social Teachings highlights the Catholic teachings towards building a just society, many of which call for dignity, solidarity, and care. The Catholic Social Teachings, for me, are an important call for Catholic communities to step out of the church and into the streets.

The AFL-CIO has a section on faith and labor, which has resources about why faith communities should support labor groups. Additionally, there’s the Interfaith Worker Justice, which is an interfaith organizing group rallying around economic justice and also has a resource center for faith support of labor. Some of these resources include:

  • Islam and Fairness in the Workplace
  • Labor and Jewish Traditions
  • What Faith Groups Say about Workers’ Freedom to Choose a Union
  • Raising the Minimum Wage
  • Worker Justice Matters

Faith groups are also rallying behind immigration reform within the US for various reasons. The Sanctuary Movement was a political and religious campaign that began in the early 1980s as a response to Central American refugees fleeing civil conflict and at its peak, there were over 500 congregation that declared themselves official sanctuaries.

There has also been a rise in a new Sanctuary Movement over the last several years. Places like Portland, OR, Boston, New York City, and many others have formed coalitions to provide sanctuary and support for immigrants, allies, and faith communities. Some resources and faith support for immigration reform and immigrants include:

  • Immigrants in Christian Texts
  • Immigrants in the Jewish Texts
  • Immigrants in the Muslim Texts
  • Welcoming the Stranger: Immigration and the Church
  • Top 10 Immigration Myths

There are also faith communities and interfaith groups that work towards providing food for those in need and ending hunger. Lift Urban Portland in Portland, OR is one of those interfaith groups, working to help fill in the gaps in the pantries of low income individuals and families in part of Portland. There’s also the Faiths Against Hunger group, which had evolved initially from Muslims Against Hunger Project. And some resources for why faith groups should support ending hunger include:

  • The Faith Behind Food Work
  • What Does the Bible say about Hunger?
  • Ruth

Chosen Family.

2c7af2cae330be5636e50ae695ed29bdI am a big fan of chosen families for the queer community – the people in your life that aren’t necessarily biologically or legally related to you that you consider family. They’re the people you can rely on, the ones you can often turn to in hard times, the ones that may fill the gaps your biological family might leave. And being in a biological family where I’m the only queer person feels alienating.

And in a community where threat of being kicked out (and/or actually kicked out of the house), abuse, homelessness, abandonment, public projects about queerness being vandalized – the ability to have that chosen family when others left (for me) is crucial, necessary, and wonderful. Over at Queer Queries, someone wrote about chosen families, particularly articulating that:

We carefully weave these families together in order to create a safe space for growth and love without limits. My chosen family has had a major impact on my life and development as a young adult by accepting, teaching, loving, and challenging me. When our biological families can’t love us in ways that we need, our chosen families pick up the slack. Chosen family means so many things. Sharing resources, whether that’s money or time or knowledge or a computer or a bike or music or coffee or a couch to sleep on. Trusting others to say no when they need to and yes when they want to. Traveling together, sometimes in silence. Helping each other move. Mutual respect, trust, and love.

For me, my chosen family has been the people who supported me, talked to me during hard times, called me out, wanted me to be better. It’s been hard over the past couple months though – my entire chosen family is scattered all over the country and some all over the world. Technology has made it possible for me to continue talking with the most important people in my life and I feel a hell of a lot less lonely when I’m able to tweet my reactions to a thing with a friend hundreds of miles away or look at the photos of what people are doing.

And with that, I think it’s important to take care of all the people in our community, especially the most marginalized. We should be taking care of and fighting for those in the working class, the people of color being impacted by police brutality, the elderly population of the queer community. And there are so many people who are doing these things and working on intersectional issues that impact many in the queer community.