At the unripened age of 51, I now realize that my teen years were framed by choice, free speech, pot and a vote that seemed inconsequential. There had been assassinations, the Kennedy’s, Martin Luther. And the term ‘conflict’…had been a thing of the past. But to a child of 16: those were acts of the past. Had times been more turbulent and less self centered in the mid 80’s; would my life had been different? It hadn’t been until the A.I.D.S., virus and a governmental mishandle took place…did I begin to volunteer to make a difference. Vote to make a change. Things are much different now.
It was last Saturday when it hit me that my entire life has been framed by violence.
I don’t remember being born on Jan. 28, 2000, and I don’t remember being a year and a half old when 9/11 happened. I don’t remember the panic of my mother as she stepped outside our house in Washington and smelled the smoke of the burning Pentagon. I don’t remember her knowing I would grow up in a changed world.
But I remember other things. I remember being 7 years old and seeing adults who were sad, angry, shocked after something terrible happened at Virginia Tech. I remember not knowing why. I remember the lockdown drills at my elementary school, the helpful signs in every classroom telling us where to hide in case of a “Code Blue,” which meant active shooter. (I remember we were told that having all the kids in one corner, a misguided protocol no longer followed, was the best means of protection.)
I remember being in seventh grade, and I remember my teacher looking up from her computer, pale, and running out of the room without a word during a quiz. I remember her walking back in, tears streaking her face, as she told us there had been a shooting in Newtown, Conn., where her grandchildren lived. I remember her telling us they were all right, and I remember thinking of my little brother in his second-grade classroom and feeling my stomach churn.
I remember walking into my high school the day after the Orlando nightclub shooting and seeing one of my gay friends sitting limply in a chair, eyes hollow. I remember sobbing. Often, I remember sobbing. I remember friends’ tears a year later, after the shooting in Las Vegas, and I remember feeling angry that I wasn’t crying. I remember Parkland the most clearly. I remember the silence. No one talked about it the morning after. No teachers mentioned it. I remember bringing it up at lunch but receiving only passing responses. I remember talking to my friend Max about how odd it was that no one said anything. I remember him gathering our friends to organize a walkout. I remember walking out, and I remember the silence of the crowd of students standing outside in the March cold. I remember the crackle of the megaphone we used as we read one name of one victim every minute. I remember those 17 minutes. I remember marching, once, then twice, and again and again.
I remember going with two friends last Friday to a Shabbat service in the spare room of a local Methodist church, sponsored by my college’s Jewish organization Hillel. I remember my friend Lucy leading the prayers, with her singing and playing guitar, and I remember my valiant attempts to sing along using the transliterations below the Hebrew in the books they’d handed out. I remember getting kosher dinner with them afterward as they explained to me how and why kosher food was a thing. I remember them describing the different kinds of Judaism they all came from.
I remember waking up on Saturday morning and seeing the news on my phone. I remember the sadness, shock, anger. I remember the haunting thought that the shooter might have gone to our service instead, or could go to the next one. I remember a stream of dripping wax burning my finger at the vigil I attended. I remember the look in my Jewish friends’ eyes.
And it was then that I remembered everything at once. I remembered all the violence looming around me, and my friends, and my entire generation. I remembered that for anyone born near the year 2000, this is all we’ve ever known.
I remember filling out my absentee ballot a few weeks ago. I remember voting, hoping that weeks, years, decades from now I’d be able to remember that we changed.
Got the ‘look’ today…As I walked into the woman’s bathroom. In all honesty, the sign should not have held a, woman in a skirt image. It should have had caution tape around the door knob! But that is a discussion for another time.
I’ve written about the…’look’ before. A sideways glance or, perhaps a, out and out, sizing up of my ‘persona.’
In my younger days, after a few too many drinks, I have actually stated…
“Yes, I have a vagina!”
To the lurker dressed in polyester, slightly turned inward, scowl and judgmental manner upon her well lined face.
However, today, I really had to take a piss!
Long story, not made short, I am prompted to write…yet again, about the silliness. Yes, I am old enough to have fought in some initial wars. HIV, AIDS, physical assaults (which are now called, HATE CRIMES.) Smack dab in the trenches of watching my friends die, witnessing my friends decide to leave their ‘truth’ behind…in order to appease their family. Walking in ‘Gay Pride’ marches and being hit with bigot signs. Knowing, Bob wanted to finish transferring to Lindsay…yet, stuck in the middle because the money ran out.
As the diminishing gay male friends fell to the side of the road around me. Trying my best as an out ‘sister’ to offer a form of peace…I knew in the heart of my deepest recovering catholic heart…there was no turning back!
Below, I offer the following list of terms (most of which, at the age of 51.) I did not know.
Agender Somebody who either feels they have no gender identity, or who identify not as male or female but ‘neutral.’
Aporagender A fairly new word stemming from the Greek ‘apor’, meaning ‘separate’. Aporagender is an umbrella term meaning “a gender separate from male, female and anything in between while still having a very strong and specific gendered feeling.” That latter part is key, then, distinguishing it from Agender.
Bigender Relatively straightforward: a bigender person sees themselves as having two gender identities. The separate genders could both be male, or female, mixed or other – and may be felt at the same time or entirely distinctly.
Butch Used as both a noun and an adjective, this refers to a person who identifies as masculine (either physically, mentally or emotionally). The term is occasionally used as a lesbian slur, but has been reclaimed by some gay women and turned into a affirmative label.
Cisgender Pronounced “siss-gender”, this refers to anybody who identifies with the same biological gender they were born with. Tentatively, then, it could be seen as the opposite of transgender.
Demigender A catchall term for all identities that only have a partial connection to a certain gender. Demiboy and demigirl are also frequently used.
Femme Used by and for anybody who identifies as feminine, but more commonly associated with feminine-identifying gay women.
Genderfluid A term describing individuals for whom gender is unfixed: they fluctuate between different identities aside from their biological assignment.
Gender neutral A synonym for ‘agender’: somebody who identifies with no gender.
Gender queer An umbrella term covering any feelings about gender alternative to society’s traditional expectations.
Intergender One of the oldest (and thus often deemed outdated) terms, this is used by anybody whose gender identity is between male and female. Some believe intergender should only refer to those born with different genitals to the norm, though this is more commonly known as ‘intersex’.
Nonbinary Fairly simply, anybody who doesn’t identify as simply female or male.
Polygender Identifying with several different genders either at the same time or different times. Normally the term is given to those with four or more.
Transgender/Trans An umbrella term for any individual whose gender identity is different from what is typically associated with their assigned biological sex at birth. It should be noted that transgenderism is a gender identity and not a sexual orientation, therefore no assumptions should be made as a result.
Not really sure how to express my confusion. However, I’m gonna give it a shot. By per-curing a label (or, many labels) are we not forgetting everything in our soul?
Back in the late 70’s: I didn’t want this or that title. I wanted to be me. Now, I understand, to stand up for legal rights, a term must be allotted. But I hope to holy hell that in the pit of a young person’s soul…There is a movement to categorize who they truly are.
Did I want to be know as, gay? Did I want to be known as, straight? No! I just wanted to be known as, me. Someone who wanted to love. Someone who wanted to give…love. To the right person. Regardless of their identity!
What is hate? Is it something that washes over us. Such as, a child’s play in a cool spring on a wet, sodden, summer’s day?
Is it disguised? An acronym? Perhaps, a left handed compliment?
She’s pretty cute for a big girl!?
Could it be that hate is how we are raised? Ingrained into the fabric of our young hearts! Red stitching to blue denim. Skinned knee that scars. A scar we are reminded of by those who love us?
‘How did you get that? Will it fade?’
Hate…has bothered me, more so, the last month or so.
I had been raised in hate.
I had seen hate come through as; insult, slap, push, punishment, words…
I abhor hate.
It has taken years to release the feel of a leather belt on my bare legs. The words of my mother…
‘You wait ’til your father gets home!’
The wire hairbrush that lost it’s purpose. The bristles against my Nubian skin. The wonder why.
I do not wave Rainbow Flags, like I used to. My days of marching…few. My need to display the anguish is more or less confined to a keyboard.
Not African American.
Just gay and a woman.
No matter. I am a product of hate. Consciously or not…I became the minority.
Coming out in the 1980’s; allowed me to witness such blind vengeance. Gay men oppressed for their illness. Lesbians thrown into a crowd of overtly bold…straight men. Watching the world circulate. Witnessing our lack of communication. Bowing down, on occasion, to the uncontrolled bias. Bias that will, mark my words, turn to hate.
On the shorter end of the stick, I still wonder this very simple notion.
‘How hard is it to love and let love?’
That is all!
‘When the world begins to slow. Is the hate and disrespect really worth it in the long run?’
I am a poet not a politician. I ran for office once…I felt dirty all the time and I offered little in return other than; being an honest official to New Hampshire’s needs.
Along with no believing in the modern age of television, I read too much! Particularly, political articles, history pages and the ‘art’ of our past.
I do not have many ‘followers’ but there are a few. I have gathered what few fans I have…the hard way. Word of mouth, friend to friend, a passerby who happened upon my blog.
Ours is a busy world, today. People hurrying to get somewhere else. To text to an acquaintance. To get to that next big trending ‘object’ online. So on, and, so forth!
It is with that conjecture that I summarize; if you read this post, you are an artist, you love the arts, you enjoy creativity. Possibly this is a generalization. But with the above conclusion, I can only assume, you are a liberal. Perhaps, you vote otherwise. Yet, in truth, down deep, if you seek the truth through the passion of word or paint…you are liberal.
Politics and the world of Artists…in today’s White House?
Artists are often dependent on state funding. This may elicit a reactionary response whereby an artist who might otherwise be conservative is immediately comfortable with the idea of government finance and control in order to meet her basic needs as…blah, blah, blah…
Breibart publications are/were associated with Steve Bannon. The same Steve Bannon who is privileged enough to assist Donald Trump in military decisions. The same Bannon who is associated with the alt-right. Alt-right being, Neo Nazi’s, modern day…KKK.
The following information is boring? Perhaps, but it does lead to one conclusion; America is in the middle of a coup.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
Dwight D. Eisenhower…predicting the new world order!
Like Hitler, Trump is a radical, authoritarian figure who lies outside the normal parameters of his country’s conservative governing class. Thus, there is a parallel between the two men’s unexpected rise to power that is worth considering: Why would traditional conservatives willingly hand power to a figure so dangerous that he threatened their own political and economic interests? Why, having failed in their halfhearted efforts to nominate an alternative candidate during the primaries, don’t they throw themselves behind a convention coup, a third-party candidacy, or defect outright to Hillary Clinton? Why do so many of them consider Trump the lesser rather than the greaterevil?
a little history…
January 1933, the Nazi party’s vote share had begun to decline, and its party was undergoing a serious internal crisis, with dues falling, members drifting off, and other leaders questioning Hitler’s direction. A widely shared belief across the political spectrum at the time held that Hitler would not and could not win the chancellorship, because Germany’s revered conservative president, Paul von Hindenburg, had long vowed to deny such a position toHitler.
Hindenburg and the German right viewed Hitler in strikingly similar terms to how Republican elites view Trump. Yes, they badly underestimated his fanaticism, which Hitler had downplayed in public. While they failed to anticipate that Hitler would launch a total war and industrial-scale genocide, they did consider him a buffoon.
Trump’s admiration for ironfisted dictators, not only in Ba’athist Iraq but Russia, China, and North Korea, is the ideological lodestar of his long history of political musings. Over the years, Trump has weaved left and right on health care, abortion, taxes, and even the issues currently central to his campaign, like immigration and trade, but has never wavered from his foundational belief that strong leaders are those who crush their enemies without restraint. Whatever norms or bounds that we think limit the damage a president could inflict are likely to be exceeded if that president is Trump. Those Republicans who publicly endorse Trump because he probably won’t win may be making an error on a historicscale.
If you aren’t concerned yet? If you are like me…an egotistical artist who believes the ‘outside’ world…has little to do with my art!
Trump’s administration may shutter the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. That’s not good.
How did Hitler refer to modern art?
Back in the day. Back to a history we haven’t learned from…
Hitler despised modern art for it’s brutal and honest opinion of politics!
Once upon a time, I did not care about people, places and things. That is until I came out of the closet and my friends were dying of AIDS. Quickly, my education came. It is of the up most importance to care about the world. The world in a smaller since, is our home, our art, it is each and every one of us.
A quick and decisive extra-legal seizure of governmental power by a relatively small but highly organized group of political or military leaders, …