What is a safe space? When you leave your house or the confines of blogs you are familiar with, how can you navigate through life entering spaces that will keep you, uplift you, and ultimately shield you in some way from anything bad happening to you? Be it physical, verbal, or in writing. The truth of the matter is you can’t. You can hope to be surrounded by people with decency and respect. You can hope to be surrounded by people who don’t see you as a target. People who though they might be strangers, would stick their necks out for you, in the event that something went wrong. People who pause before hitting send on a comment, reversing the words they have just written back onto themselves. Asking: Is this ok?

Isn’t that what humanity is?

Last week I was forced to question. I was forced to question safe spaces, feminist spaces, and internet decency. How to make a long story short? I was home in New York visiting friends and family, and had ultimately decided to have the time of my life. Because well, why not? I was homesick for New York, and planned on using my vacation there to visit all of my old dives, my favorite parties, see friends, and for lack of a better word: rage. So Friday night I did what I had done so many Friday nights in the past, I headed down to the west village with a bevy of friends to cut loose, and lose ourselves on the dance floor.

Monster is a west village institution. It is right across the street from the infamous Stonewall Inn. This corner of the west village is an epicenter for gay history and rights. It is my favorite street to walk down during PRIDE, and until last week was one of my favorite places in Manhattan.

For gay and queer people, finding spaces where we can literally just be has no doubt become easier and easier over the years, but that doesn’t mean that we still constantly have our guard up. Gay bars and queer parties are inherently meant to be spaces where the only thing you have to worry about is running into your ex. Monster has proven to be a gay bar that likes to handle it’s patrons like subway rats. Male bouncers, treating lesbians and trans* people like pieces of trash. I have both been a part of and heard countless stories about these men. Until last week these stories were flags they weren’t blockades. I have spent the past week trying to put that night into words. This is what has materialized:

To the girl on the floor at the bar we know well

I don’t know if you know what happened

After your body fell

My friends and I saw you laying there

Alone and asleep

Dancers were dancing around you

The DJ didn’t stop a beat

Amongst my friends we had a doctor

And those trained in CPR

You could have died there and no one would have cared

I guess a free party only gets you so far

We made a circle around you

And breathed life back into you

In the background the venue shook with music

The drinks continued to flow

With their illegal over pours

I asked the DJ to lower the music

So we could get some order

He told me that the music had to stay on

I turned to a bouncer

Who was standing over you looking onward while my friends did what they could do

He put his hands on me

And threw me aside

He did this while

Doing nothing to make sure you would survive

You should know that no staff member check on you

Until the EMT’s came it was your peers who tried to rescue you

You should know that the bar manager was twenty feet away serving drinks

He never stopped for a second to make sure your heart was still beating

He never bent down over you to see if you were in fact still breathing

He let your body shake to the beat

I wonder if you had been a white man

If the staff would have cleared out the dance floor

But upon seeing another black body laid out

They did what white people usually do in these moments


You should know that the group of people that tried to save you

Are as diverse as could be

We have been attacked by the bouncers here

Based on who we are and what these men apparently see

Attacked both physically and mentally

They have made it clear that we are not welcome here

And after the other night

Showed us that even our lives are disposable

I do not know your name

There were no friends around to tell it

You fell alone

But please know that we did all that we could do

So that we would not lose you

I have had a heavy heart since that night. How can we make sure that the spaces we are in, the spaces we create as queer people, are spaces where we uphold each other? As I sat reeling from that evening another event was happening in my life. My good friend was throwing a 25th birthday party. One in which she was welcoming 60 queers to a strip club. I won’t use this space to talk about how I personally feel about strip clubs, I will instead present the series of events that ensued. After weeks of hilariously fun posts on the group event wall, we began to get serious about the fact a collective of lesbians and queer individuals would be entering a mostly cis space. A space dominated by cis men at that. Many conversations followed. How would we fit into this space? How would we as feminists act in this space? Was there a right way? There was definitely a wrong way. Let’s be responsible adults and talk about these things. This event wall is a safe space. It is a private, by invitation only space, these are our friends, we get each other. Who knew that our conversations would end up polarized by the public?

My friend throwing the party, decided to make a bullet point list of the conversations we had been having. In hopes of bringing forth both clarification and comfort. After the events that had happened the previous Friday, this space felt uplifting. No one in our party would be that girl. No one would have to deal with aggressive and insensitive security. How you ask? Because my friend went to the club prior to let them know about the diversity of this crowd. Their would be trans* people, there would be girls kissing girls not for sport but because of love, there would be straight men who were feminist. This was a different crowd than who would normally walk through those doors, and we wanted to be safe. Imagine our surprise when our very private conversation ended up on Jezebel:

Jezebel has always been a place I have seen as an internet safe space. They even did a story on me after I did Barneys Spring Campaign. They were the women warriors of the internet. But just like Monster, they have fallen. They have become bullies, articles feel more like click bait, authors seem more like Regina George’s than Bell Hooks.

When I spoke to the bar manager at Monster he was more concerned with getting back to bartending. This was not managing, it was working for tips.

When I read the comments on Jezebel, the author was more concerned with generating “likes” on her post and making snide remarks. This was not journalism, it was a high school locker room.

I’m not sure if these events collide for you, as much as they do for me in my head. But both occurrences have made me realize that feminism is not inherently good. That feminism is not just a word you can slap on anything an empowered woman says. Because you write for a feminist blog, it does not mean your core is that of a someone who is both strong, and trying to create safe spaces for other women: for all women, no matter their race, class, or birth gender. With that said we must do everything we can not let feminism become a bad word. But how do we do that when some of the loudest “feminists” are actually just bullies that hide behind avatars on blogs?

I realized that just because a bar is historically gay, the people that work for it can not only be transphobic but strongly anti-woman. It is then imperative for the queer community to call out these spaces. It is our responsibility to demand fair treatment, even if that isn’t the popular rally cry. Even if you are then calling out a party you have frequented for years, thrown by one of your friends. Silence will not only destroy you personally, but your lack projection will destroy countless others. We can not speak in absolutes, we have to always leave room for others, you must always leave space otherwise there literally is no room for growth. And what is the point of living if you are not also growing?

*My friend responded to Jezebel on Medium and her words are well worth your time.


Let It Lay

In my mind I have always had this dream conversation with my dad. He would sit there and listen to me talk about my childhood. He would take in all of the things I had to say about how shitty things really got. He would let me cry and vent, and support my words. And when I was done, he would say how he saw things, why he thought things had played out the way that they had, and then he would apologize. He would look me in the eye and apologize for all of the bullshit. For all of the late nights I spent being screamed at, for his wife, for his tantrums, for being kicked out. It would be a heartfelt apology, one that meant he had sat down and thought about all of these things, and realized that maybe a good chunk of my teenage years were unfair. We would then hug and kiss, and maybe go out to dinner, or go for a walk, or really do anything because MAGIC, the air would be so crystal clear for us. Right?

My life has always seemed to be a stream of connections and unsettling disconnects.

Recently I have come to realize that 1. My dad will never apologize. 2. I no longer need him to.

If you met a stranger, and that stranger told you that they loved you, what would you say? At large family gatherings I often feel that way.  The way in which there are people I see maybe at most once a year, but when we embrace or leave each other at the end of the day “I love you’s” can be heard, under the rifling of jackets, the packing away of leftovers. It is engrained in all of us, that we love our family. We do this without question and without much thought; because you are SUPPOSED to.

As I get older my life begins to have more and more layers. And with those layers, come secrets. There is no doubt that there are some members of my family who I can dive into those deeper layers with, but there are others who stay at the surface. We stay on the surface. There are other family members who I have a much deeper more blood stained relationship. And there comes a point, where you don’t so much as give up, but you let go.

We are taught that blood is thicker than water. That there is nothing more bonding than a family, and therefore nothing that you should hold on to harder. Just like in marriage family is “for better or for worse”. Can it maybe be time that we moved past this thought? I will in no way say that family ties should be cut for simple fights, traditions and culture are engrained into us, and when we have families that uplift and hold those things true, well than we are in luck. But not all families are this way. Just because you are related to someone does not mean that you like them; but it does mean that you love them? This concept seems so crazy when you put it on paper and think about it. Those who come from overall great homes may not be able to grasp the concept of not wanting anything to do with a family member, but for those of us who grew up in fragmented homes, the idea does not sound far fetched.

Maybe because I am queer, and embrace many thought systems that cis society shuts away, this whole idea of breaking up with family makes perfect sense to me. The same way that poly relationships and pansexuality make perfect sense to me. If someone is making you excruciatingly unhappy why on Earth would you keep them around? If your friends boyfriend was abusive, would you encourage your friend to stick it through because he does at the end of the day love them? We do not apply the same rules to those we meet in life, to our families. We are taught to be tethered to our roots. No matter what happens, no matter how bad things get, you do not turn your back on family. But is that really healthy?

I look at certain members of my family who are miserable. They have exactly what society wanted them to – a home, cars, a spouse, kids etc. But what they do not have is inner peace or sanity. I look at so many of the adults in my family and their relationships with their parents and just shudder. No one ever broke the cycle. This is not to say breaking the cycle is packing up all of your shit and never being heard of again, but no one ever sat down with anyone and had that dream conversation that I used to pine for, with my dad.

Maybe the problem is, that we put all of the pressure on those who enter our life, and not enough on those who have always been in it. We expect girlfriends or boyfriends to change bad behaviors, otherwise we leave them. We call out friends on their bullshit, and give them ultimatums. How often do we do that with family?

Both my grandfather and father have always said this one phrase to me: Listen to what I say, not how I say it. Which is word by fucking word, absolute bullshit. It is them giving up on pursuing ways of checking themselves before blaring out hurtful words at others. It is them checking out so hard in fact that they have left all of the sorting, unpacking, and understanding up to you. It is selfish as all hell, but it is also the way that they have chosen to be. Now I love both of these men dearly, but it is this mindset that has severely hindered us being able to have conversations centered around emotions as opposed to black and white subjects like finance.

Family unlike friends provide for us. For better or for worse, your parents did probably feed and clothe you as a child (some more than others). Your family is basically obligated to make sure that you make it as a human. That obligation I feel makes some parents absolutely lose their minds. The obligation of taking care of, sculpting, minding after, and BEING A GOOD PARENT to a kid. Jesus. I am too young to know what qualities an individual most possess to be a good parent, but I am old enough to know that I have met a lot of folks who do not fit the basic criteria. But society tells them to have children, so they do, and then their kids spend their lives waiting for apologies that they will never receive.

Telling a straight cis man who has been life tracked to have a good job and 2.5 children, that he is not fit to be a good parent, sounds like a quick way to end up nursing a wound. The media still to this day shows women as milk machines, who are meant to throw dinner parties, shuffle the kids off to school, have dinner on the table, build a rocket ship for Timmy’s science fair, etc etc. Of course we as individuals and many of us as feminists have moved away from this all American ideal, but that is only SOME of us. To many people that is the future that is expected of them. They will go home to family on the holidays and be asked about jobs, and about their love life. But what if we DID start telling certain people that they should maybe wait out parenting for a bit. Get their own shit together before they tried to (literally and metaphorically) start taking care of someone else’s.

How are people like my dad, who came from mindsets like my grandfathers, supposed to raise emotionally stable children?

At what point will we as a society see the importance of therapy and mental health diagnosis? You know that friend who often refers to her mom as crazy? What if her mom had the means to see a therapist before she had kids, and was therefore able to find the trigger of that “crazy”?

It’s funny, growing up I ran away a lot. I would drop off the face of the Earth and go sulk in unknown cities. My family would always say: Running away won’t solve anything. Thinking about it now, I realize that while I have always had the literal flight response those who I am close to in my family run away in their own ways. They run away into their own heads, and don’t talk about things out loud. Which then creates tension whose core you are totally unsure of. Just because we aren’t yelling, doesn’t mean that everything is ok. In my house it was either screaming, or silence. There were no casual conversations, no dinner time laughs, we were all separate bodies barely co-existing. The thing is I don’t think my dad sees this at all. Sometimes I wish I could dive into his head and see how he replays scenes, scenes that I play over and over in my head and try to break down, burn, and forget.

It is terrifying to realize that some of the memories that haunt you the most, are forgotten by everyone else who was there.

Relating to people is one of the hardest things we are faced with in this life. Understanding when to let things go is something I feel we will all always battle with. For better or worse we all have our own egos to cradle and defend. Our own egos that get in the way of us saying: I’m sorry. The words of our parents ring in our ears without us even realizing. The weight of fights we had years ago sit with us. I can still remember the worst nights of my life. You can too. But it is what we do with those residual feelings of pain, how we finally figure out how to extinguish those flames, yet still realize that those embers may never fully turn to dust. Realizing that love is just as much the most amazing feeling in the world, and the feeling that will cause more pain than hate. It is the love we inherently have for our families that will break us again and again. That is. until we get right with ourselves. You are not always right, but you are in control of steering yourself towards what seemingly is.


On Women, Sex and the Internet & Some Dude Named Shane Draper

The Village Voice has penned up an article talking about how lesbians just don’t seem to be into the whole: hooking up with a random stranger from a date app thing.

Which like after reading all I could think was: duh.

But then I really got to thinking. When it comes to women and using the internet as a dating tool – is sex what they are looking for at all? And if not, why?

Firstly, let us not fall back on the antiquated thought that women don’t like one night stands or can’t hook up in the way men can. But a man on a dating app has a sexual power that a woman may not. What do I mean by that? With rape being a fucking ridiculous and often glorified problem in this country is it any shock that a woman wouldn’t want to “put herself” out there online? How often are women told that their rapes are their faults? The problem is where does consent come into play? Is the woman consenting to sex as soon as she agrees to meet a man for the night? Can she change her mind after they do meet? If he has sex with her anyway can he claim that it was indeed mutual and consensual? “Look at our messages!” he could say. “She’s on a site looking for sex, of course she wanted it.” Now this rape scenario may not have anything to do with lesbians dating online but lesbians ARE after all women, many of whom grew up dating men. But regardless of who they once dated, once common thread ties all women together: society has since birth told them how they should act.

Women in this country have gone through many a feminist movement, and are still to this day fighting for equality. It seems no matter how much progress is made there are still reminders in society showing us how far we have to go. Look no farther than millions of American’s t.v. screens on Sunday nights at 10:00. Mad Men has taken over our lives in more ways than you may think. The show has done more then spawned clothing lines and spike the sales of scotch and orders of Old Fashioned’s. It has also shown a man, many men at the top. Fucking whomever they fucking please, and still going home to their wives and kids. While some characters have seen the downfall of living such a lifestyle for the most part these men live a life of absolute power – both financially and sexually. It would be absurd to say that men watching Mad Men were not intrigued by Don Draper. He gets away with being both a tremendous asshole and a sauve misogynist simultaneously. If Don can do it? Why can’t I?

When I first started watching Mad Men I was captivated by this man. He walked into offices and you could literally see women salivating. He reminded me of one of my young idols Shane (you know THAT Shane). Both characters have striking similarities. They are both loyal to their friends, yet have no idea how to actually function in romantic endeavors. They both use their charm and wit to attract nearly anyone and everyone who crosses their path. They both come from secretive troubled pasts that control their current worlds. They can not escape who they once were and it haunts them everyday. So they get drunk, they fuck as many women as they can, and they routinely fall on their faces, yet somehow get back up.

These masculine figures that the media portrays to us, they trickle down to real life settings. No one wants to date a Don Draper or a Shane, but inevitably it happens. Now the question arises, would someone like these two use a dating app strictly for hooking up? No, because it would ruin the veil of mystery and secrecy the two have crafted so well. So what kind of man is on these sites, what kind of lesbian? The one thing that seems apparent from every woman Don Draper fucks, is that they all trust him. They see him as someone who would never physically harm them and could quite possibly fall in love with them. Shane comes off as a helpless lost puppy. Certainly not someone who would inflict harm upon you. Break you heart? Yes. Totally. But neither of these two would assault you.

I think it is safe to say that women not only like to but need to feel safe when it comes to any kind of sexual encounter. The internet is simply to easy a place for people to hide. How does a woman – gay or straight know that the person they are meeting is actually who they say they are? In a lesbian’s case homophobia becomes a question. What if the person on the other side of this conversation is actually a gay bashing hetero man? Now of course ANYONE can lie when it comes to online dating. But a man has an upper hand so to say. A hand that society has already given him.

So why aren’t lesbians lining up to the interent fuck bin? Surely there are lesbians out there who just want sex. Of fucking course there are. But they want to do it in a safe space. They need a little more than: 23, Black, Athletic. Women need at the bare minimum some face time, a bit of conversation, a little more than: Room 217 knock three times. But this has nothing to do with women being prudes or beings who can’t explore their sexuality openly, I honestly think this has to do both with safety and with how women are wired. For the most part – ladies do not talk about sex and those who they are attracted to the way men do. I won’t stereotype and say that ALL men will stick it wherever they can but men and women are simply different sexual beings.

I have lived life both as a female and as a male. And I guess in a way I still continue to do so. I have taken part in conversations with men (who see me as a man) about who they are attracted to/dating/fucking and with women talking about the same. AND LET ME TELL YOU: Shit goes down quite differently. There are of course many factors to why these conversations occur oh so differently. A group of men for instance are not exactly trying to have a powwow about feelings and what this encounter could possibly mean. One on one maybe. But with the pack? Fuck no. It also can not be ignored that men can seemingly separate sex and love in a way that women can not. This is not to say that they are at fault for this, but it does seem to be a truth. Maybe I hang out with some very emotional ladies, but it is rare that I hear from one of them about someone they have had sex with and not heard some form of emotional something about it. There are exceptions to every rule of course but I am speaking from my own personal experience.

Do lesbians and straight women look to the interent for sex? Are women thinking that they want to find a fuck buddy using their iPhone? Let us not forget that both sexes act with the thought of what their friends will think. Let us take these two scenarios: If a guy’s friend went onto his phone and saw an inbox filled with women/men who wanted to fuck his friend what would his reaction be? If a woman went onto her friends phone and saw the same what would her reaction be? Now it is quite possible that both would react with high fives and _____________ insert any inappropriate comments here. But the one thing I can 9/10 guarantee is the girls friend WOULD say that the dudes friend would not is:

“Is this safe?”

I’m Not a Faggot

Now I don’t want to be a party pooper. Because everyone knows I LOVE A GOOD PARTY. But when I checked my event invites on Facebook the other day a very ugly word was staring back at me. “Faggot”. It wasn’t an invite to a kill the homos party, it was instead an invite to one of the most rad parties out there. So I scratched my head and was like ok, this is a group of empowered well educated people. And I know that their intent behind this is from a place of knowledge and self love. BUT I really, really, really don’t like slurs. Especially when they are going to be seen by people outside of said community.

In, circles where everyone shares a common minority thread, certain words are tossed around. Some people say its done to take back what has been wrongfully taken from them. Some people argue that words are just words and that it is the nature in which you speak them that gives them their power. Whatever the argument I do think it’s kind of lame to say words that other people have literally died for, in a joking matter. Now, I am a minority of minorities. I am black, Jewish, gay, and a woman. So there are quite a few words I could go about saying. I could make tons of anti feminist jokes, say words like kike and nigger. Because I would be doing it from an empowering place? RIGHT?

When I hear people on the street saying “Yo my nigga.” Nigga this nigga that, I get both angry and offended. It’s not only black people that use the N word. Anyone that has an ear turned into hip hop or rap subsequently thinks they have license to use it. Ah but the N word is for black people to take back right? Well black people aren’t the only ones listening to rap. If a white kid who has never known the racism of the 60’s grows up with black friends who openly say the N word and he listens to music the openly uses it, what is stopping him from using it as well? Is it then fair for his black friends to tell him that he may not use that word? That when it plays in a song he’s rapping along to that he must omit it?

Words all have a funny history. What words originally meant have changed as years have gone by. In England for instance the Brits call cigarettes fags. So a gay experiencing London for the first time might be a tad confused as to why the English love lighting up fags so much. But here in America fag means one thing->; gay. In gay life the word fag gets said by some daily. Quite like the word nigga. Fag and Nigga. But rarely: Faggot or Nigger. I have actually heard people explain to me that nigga is a different word all together than nigger. That they are two different words that mean two different things. Maybe to younger generations that is the case, but all I can think is, great to older generations who grew up hearing and possibly even saying Nigger they are now hearing young black kids call themselves the very words they once used to put blacks down. It’s almost like their racism is still succeeding. They called you a nigger for so long that you now see yourself as one. Congratulations.

Facebook events can be seen by all, well unless they’re made private which this isn’t. It is also at a huge venue – Public Assembly, that is not a gay space. Yes it allows gay events (as it should) but daily their concerts and parties are attended by any and all. So when straight people walk by and see that an event is coming called Year of the Faggot, they then have the license to repeat that word out loud correct? And maybe text a few friends about it. Maybe write a status about it. A whole bunch of straight people will be throwing the word faggot around. Because they will understand it as well, the gays seem to be ok with being called faggots now guess we can too.

In 2013 can I hope to see parties thrown like: Niggers Making Music and Kikes and Dykes? Can black face parties maybe become a thing? Because if a group of black people are ok with black face then it’s totally ok right? (though I don’t think anybody is ok with black face because I think universally everyone can agree dat shit is never funny)

I think creative expression is ridiculously important. And I think that when throwing parties you have to find creative and inventive ideas to keep people interested and to keep them coming back. I have heard LGBTQ people refer to themselves as faggots before and if for them that title makes sense then that is fine. But it is not my title. And I still have a hard time finding respect for that word.