A QPOC’s Farewell To FTM Magazine

The oppressed will always be the ones doing the most work.

It came to my attention yesterday that FTM magazine was shutting down. And after reading the editor in chief’s reasoning as to why I can’t say that it comes as a shock. White publications often fail to understand that minority contributions should not be one-offs. To show dedication to diversity, entire staff’s must be just that: diverse. The transmasculine community has oft dedicated itself to praising and looking up to the bodies of cis men, or I should say, the members of the trans community who garner the most media attention are the white skin men who adhere to society’s thoughts of what a “real man” looks like. They do so,while erasing the existence of not only POC trans men, but trans women. When you do that and do it continuously, people take notice.

I took notice of FTM Magazine’s exclusion of trans men of color and trans women and swiftly called them out. When this: https://www.ftmmagazine.com/a-brutally-honest-history-of-ftm-magazine/ came across my timeline last night, I took a deep breath and decided to dive in. Midway through I found myself in a position that I feel many POC do when reading the laments of white folks. It was somewhere between laughter, anger, and a massive shrugging of the shoulders mixed with a rolling of the eyes. I am mentioned in the article and therefore feel that I am entitled to give you and Jason a response. Or as Lil John once said: “Don’t start no shit, won’t be no shit.”

White men, it seems whether they be trans or cisgender can not seem to wrap their heads around the absolute importance of upholding POC. They do not wrap their heads around it, because it forces them to challenge their own feelings, their own racism. In this head spinning article Jason, again and again uses analytics to site that when POC were gracing FTM Magazine Instagram likes went down, Facebook shares became nonexistent, and essentially no one seemed to give enough enough of a care about POC content to double click a photo or hit the like button. What Jason fails to understand is, he built a magazine for white people, who wished to see other white people. If you build a base and build a brand people have expectations of what you produce. That is how media works. I would know, I work in it.

Jason repeats AGAIN AND AGAIN that FTM Magazine continually featured white men. In his own words, he says this: “I started hosting community stories on our website and sharing them on social media. What I immediately noticed was that if it wasn’t a shirtless white man, no one cared.” Are you laughing? Are you feeling this? Are you reading a white man say what all POC people in existence know to be reality and are you understanding that this white man is saying this as means for you to feel bad for him? Are you getting all of that? He goes on: <em>”The next issue was a three cover issue because there were a bunch of web series in production. BROTHERS, run by Emmett Jack had open casting calls, used the people who showed up, did a fantastic job and ended up on Amazon Prime they’re so good. The majority of there hatred was because of their lack of representation of the POC community. Fair. Then Seven King came out with a web series based entirely on a group of TMOC and their lives and I watched as less people supported it. Every time we posted about BROTHERS, someone spoke out about it. Every time we posted about Eden’s Garden, no one shared or liked it. So what are we seeing here? That people are unwilling to support TMOC but they have no problem calling the publications out for it. Because you don’t really want more diversity, you want to be the clever guy who called a magazine out for their content. Jake Graf was the other cover and because of his shirtless selfies on Instagram, his issue sold out. (Obviously also because of his amazing film making). – You could literally pick which of the three covers you wanted, and Jake’s sold out. And I have almost 900 more to sell which cost almost $3,900″ </em>

First of all, I would like to call to attention that this piece was written by an Editor in Chief who is issuing his last statement and saying goodbye to his faithful readers. As someone who has been an editor myself, I know what that entails, it’s hard, you have to put your work and the work of others under a microscope. You have to pay attention to grammar and word choice and often are forced to make decisions that may go against what you at first felt was correct. But you do it because you are trying to create a piece that people will not only read once but again, a piece that they will share with their colleagues and friends, a piece that if you’re lucky may be picked up by another publication, expanding your readership. I would like you to re-read the segment of writing above and understand that this is a final copy. This was published. This was published in a piece where someone is questioning why his magazine is failing. If a POC writer wrote this way, which such laissez faire attention to grammar, punctuation and spelling they sure as hell would not have over 47K followers on Instagram. But I digress.

I am a bit confused to the point Jason is making above. BROTHERS faced a ton of scrutiny because it failed to showcase POC, but it was extremely popular because guess what? We live in a racist society that loves to see white folks being white folks. Eden’s Garden did not garner nearly enough attention because it featured QPOC. People are unwilling to support, pay for, promote, and take in the works of POC people because white people value their own work much more than that of POC. FTM Magazine was called out again and again because it failed to actively commit to the inclusion of POC people. Jason’s words speak a very real truth, when he says: “…people are unwilling to support TMOC but they have no problem calling the publications out for it.” What he is not understanding is that these are two very different parties. The folks calling out publications for not including QPOC are the folks who ARE supporting projects like Eden’s Garden, and those people are the folks who do not read FTM magazine nor go out of their way to support projects like BROTHERS. The people “unwilling to support TMOC” are the people who make up FTM Magazines active readership. And thus when a cover randomly had a POC on it, they didn’t hit the like button, because guess what? They don’t “like” black bodies.

Who knew that someone could so succinctly complain about their projects demise, note that they failed to be inclusive to all, and somehow place the blame on POC humans. Ah but here we are. We are at that place where a white person has built a space for other white people and wonders why POC are angry about it, thinks about it for a second, offers some crumbs to the Black community, assumes they’ve done enough, and continues on their way. The problem is, this isn’t 1964. The problem is this isn’t 1700. Black people are no longer here for your crumbs. They certainly aren’t here for crumbs that come off a piece of bread that isn’t even fresh. FTM Magazine was never cutting edge. It was never the hottest loaf of bread out of the oven. White shirtless white dudes that love the gym and love being bro’s. Did you feel my yawn? GQ and Men’s Health have been able to thrive because those who consume them – men – thrive in this patriarchal society. What FTM Magazine failed to realize, is that queer people do not operate in that world. While yes, there are queer folks who love the gym, and yes there are both trans men and trans women who choose to live their lives stealthily (as is their right) but for many of us our queerness, our gayness, and our transness is special. We form comradery over both our love and our hate of our bodies, our very different bodies. We show up for each other. We are active activists because we were born a bit differently than the cis straight folks we walk the streets next to. FTM Magazine never celebrated that. They never celebrated diversity at any level. They never stood up for trans women or femmes. They were a celebration of the white bro. And in 2016 it seems, that finally for the first time in our country’s history the white bro just isn’t who we all wish to worship anymore. Whether they be a cis man, a gay man, or a trans man.

Sorry bro.

The Desire

The Desire

If you lay down your head and feel The Desire

It may be a for a few seconds or fall into a while

Know that even though it has lived inside so many of us

We are still strangers

Trying to fight each other’s desires

 

I have always felt like the freshman, like everyone around me already had their place and were just being polite; making room for me in a space that was already full. That with my addition would be cramped.

 

I haven’t felt much like pushing words out recently. Because that is exactly how they feel, pushed. My brain this year has been more than ever affected by my body. This brown boy walking. This brown boy living. This brown boy existing. This boy pushing. Trying to be a voice, but one that doesn’t push away or disrupt those in the positions of power of the places where I want to be to excavate my thoughts to the audiences that…who I hope that, need to hear me. I am that, I am that ellipses. Omitting words to ensure that I am not upsetting. Leaving them somewhere in the crevices of my own brain, so that I don’t have to shove them into the forefront of yours.

 

I am getting used to it.

 

Did you know that blankets can feel like concrete anchors; binding your body to a bed, already consumed with – covered by your tears, your anxious sweat, some crumbs from late night binging, and above all else your desire. No not sexual – The Desire. The Desire to get up and go off into the world. The Desire to answer a text, to return that call. To engage. It isn’t for lack of want, nor the lack of need, but it can get tricky. Tricky when the brain tells us it wants nothing more than to be alone; tricks us into thinking we are alone. Tricks us into saying our friends don’t really want us, that we are not needed. That we, “us” were just a fleeting moment in time. Add to that the fear of existing in this world as an other. Even worse, as a target.

 

You are alone with your concrete anchor and The Desire is taunting you.

 

How do we demolish the shadow that for many of us is ever present? It goes by many names,for some of us is it our actual self. We can treat some parts of the shadow with pills and substance. But there is no fulfillment. How can there be when the world itself is changing with you? For you?

 

You are filling a cup with tiny holes at the bottom. The stronger the substance the more rapid the water flows from the faucet , overwhelming the holes – and in that moment your glass is suddenly full. But you have never known fullness before. And it proves to be just as overwhelming as being entirely empty. You exist knowing that having far too little is exhausting; and having it all is something you are not worthy of. You walk a tightrope of understanding that it is your place, to always feel out of place. You are a freshman. We allow the faucet to get out of hand from time to time, and allow ourselves to feel excess but we know no limitations for the things we have never had, and won’t be able to hold on to, and so either  we or society decides to reduce the flow, and just like that our cup begins to drain. And just like that we are back to living with the shadow of The Desire.

 

I feel pain that you are gone. That he is gone. That she will be too. I feel, no, I am sorrow – a state that feels constant, familiar, and somehow like a friend harboring in an enemy.  Lingering in everyday life are the reminders of those who used to walk with us. A laugh that sounds too familiar. A hairstyle that you knew well. A story you’ve just read, a movie you want to see, a moment that would have instantly turned into an inside joke; but you take it in alone.

 

So, on those days, when the concrete anchor is on top of our chests. When the cup is all but fully drained. When we are lost in the memories that have brought us to this place. How do we, how do I get the words out to tell you? How do I dig into the crevices I possess, and give you a flashlight? How do I share with you that The Desire lives inside of me? That while I seem like a freshman, I have been here for so long. Purgatory that is fueling The Desire.

 

This brown boy is trying. While I watch so many of my brown skin folk dying.

 

Though we have been here for centuries. America treats us as freshman. So many firsts. Because we have never been given the chance before.

 

This trans boy is trying While so many of my brothers and sisters are being silenced by violence. The Desire of others and theirs as well.

 

Though we have been here forever. We were not always in view. And now our pride, our celebration of self, it is killing us.

 

My black life matters.

Her trans life – which is charged with the same heartbeat as yours.

It matters.

Maybe even more.

 

So we push out these words even though we are tired. Even though we fight The Desire. Even though we. are. so. tired.

We have made ourselves the brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and even the mothers and the fathers

that many of us have lost along the way.

 

If I breathe a day longer, I am fighting.

 

The Desire may take you, as it has taken so many. And if it does please know that we’ll miss you. But that we understand.

While the world never let you move past being a freshman; know that you were in fact a professor.