I have a new big kids job, across the country,I have friends who I love more than anything, who I know will be in my life for longer than a season and I am genuinely pretty god damn happy. But about that growing up thing, for the past few months I have found myself becoming more and more bored by what I was doing with my life. I have fallen into a routine: the same bars, the same rotation of groups, and active dating life that had some amazing highs but ultimately kept on feeling wrong or lackluster. Everything felt like a colossal let down. For the fist time in my New York life, I felt out of place. I would go to parties and feel like I was watching from behind a piece of glass. My mouth would instinctively work on autopilot but my brain was a million miles away. I was a million miles away. My feet knew the path they had to take me on everyday, and so I got where I needed to go, where I was supposed to be, but I was essentially wandering. I also wasn’t writing.
“‘You don’t love me like you say you love me.”
To which my response was:
I’m at a really interesting point on my year, and it’s only the beginning. For the past few weeks I’ve seen my name – both my birth and chosen name splattered around the internet. It has been overwhelming and amazing. Both feelings simultaneously. I’m trying to understand how to take hold of both of those feelings, and own them.
A few months ago my uncle, great uncle if we’re being particular. Came to the states for his annual holiday visit. He retired to the Dominican Republic years ago. His house there is breathtaking. It sits in the mountains overlooking a rolling rapid river. His house has no actual windows, just shutters so that you can hear the river from basically anywhere in his house. Outside there is a mango tree, he has a swimming pool and a marvelous garden. At night you have to sleep under mosquito nets, which isn’t actually that bad when you have the sound of a river to lull you to sleep.
He is still here now. Not next to that rolling river, but instead in Long Island. He is going though his second round of chemo.
My mom died unexpectantly when I was 14. It was shocking and it was painful but it was brief. My family doesn’t grieve. We do not talk about the sadness that comes with death. The pain associated with loss. The repercussions of what happens to you after someone you love is gone. I went back to school a day later. Went to boarding school a year later. And didn’t shed tears over what had happened for years.
One year, a few days after when my moms birthday would have been. I cornered my dad. He hadn’t called me that weekend to check up on me. My father and I have always had a relationship that wavers from extremely close to painfully far apart. I spent most of my late teens and early twenties not speaking to him. I spent most of that time angry at him for choosing his new wife over me. For allowing her into his families life.
We met for lunch and I ripped into him. I broke down, maybe for the first time in years about how alone I felt. How much I missed my mom, and how much I despised him for not being there. My mom and him were high shook sweethearts. How could he have forgotten her birthday? How could he have forgotten his kid? To my surprise, my father who had always been the type to attack when confronted started crying. He told me he had never stopped loving her, and didn’t know how to voice his loss. His sadness.
For the first time I saw how he must have felt when she died. For the first time I realized how my stepfather must have felt. I thought about what it would feel like to have the woman you loved ripped from you. I broke down again.
My family doesn’t deal with heart. My dad’s father was a businessman as was his father. My dad and his sister are architects. Their worlds are numbers. It’s funny though because those numbers are highlighted with beauty; of gorgeous buildings. But there are no words. Just images and structures.
My world has always been words. But they have always had to stay written. My household didn’t allow for me to be outwardly expressive. As a kid I read everything I could get my hands on. I would lock myself away and write everything I felt. Everything I wanted to feel. My grandpa often says to me what are you going to do if someone stumbles across your notebooks when you’re gone? They’ll think you were always so angry or so sad. Whenever I write he says I always make a note explaining that’s just how I was feeling in that moment, so no one will take away whatever is in those books as who I am.
That is my family in a nutshell. We have feelings but they are meant to open they are meant to be suppressed.
My uncle is sick. I have no idea how sick because again my family is all business. I don’t know anything about cancer, or really watching someone die. My mom died while I was home, and those sounds still haunt me. I didn’t say goodbye to her. That will always haunt me.
My family speaks about doctors. About surgeries and about medicine. They don’t talk about how he feels. He doesn’t talk about how he feels. And I’m realizing I have no idea how to ask. Conversations are about doctors appointments. About how he feels physically; what foods he can keep down.
He goes to get his chemo treatments in Manhattan he goes alone and comes back filled with medicine – poison. I stop myself before I ask what it felt like. What it feels like to have all of that medicine running through you. What it must feel like to spend the winter of one of your golden years in the cold of New York, when for years you’ve basked in the sun of the Dominican Republic.
I am trying to find the words to let him know that I’m there. If he wants to talk. But I’m failing at those words. He instead asks about me. About gender and about sexuality. He is gay but his experience is extraordinarily different than mine. He grew up in the 40’s. His life was a secret. When he did come out it wasn’t to a world with shows like Modern Family. It was a world where he was a faggot, a Jewish one at that. A world where gay men were the punch line. His love life was not celebrated.
My grandfather tells me about how he felt when my uncle came out. How confused he was that a man could love another man. I was so attracted to women he told me once. I couldn’t understand how he looked at a man and felt those same feelings.
This was my grandfathers first of what would prove to be many surprises in the family. All of my grandparents grandchildren are either mixed or black. Both of their kids; my dad and my aunt married black spouses. My mom who was also white married my father and they adopted me. Years later my grandfather would deal with me coming out of the closet and then coming out again as trans*.
My grandfather and I always push and pull at each other. He, like my father reacts to frustration with rage. They both have horrible tempers that end up isolating them from the people they love the moat. At their core they are both anxious kittens. Kittens cloaked with the mask of lions. My childhood was spent hearing my father roar.
My grandfather always wants to talk business. Even when it isn’t business, it’s business. Everything had an answer. And everything if you break it down for long enough becomes black and white. This way of thinking has proven to be very difficult when talking about gender and sexuality. It has also proven to be difficult when talking about sadness. About the fears associated with losing someone. When I speak about my mom it is one sided. I’ve never felt solace going to my grandfather or my dad. It’s top overwhelming for them.
I want to talk about my uncle. I want to talk to him. It kills me to think that he could be gone, and I will have missed out on knowing someone and equally as important he will have missed out on knowing me. Someone that I love that is. God that is a hard word amongst my family.
My mom would smother me with love. She loved flowers and fruit. The art of Matisse and O’Keefe. We would paint each other’s nails in the summer, outside in our cement coated backyard in Queens. I would struggle away when she locked me in bear hugs. When she would overwhelm me with kisses and tells how beautiful I was.
Those are memories now.
I’m not sure how to share them. I’m not sure who will listen.
My mom died like a wave crashing into shore. It was quick and before I knew it it was gone. Her memory fading into the sand. You can curse at the stars you can curse at the sky but once death takes over well it’s infinite goodbye.
I know that will happen with my uncle eventually. This is his second battle with cancer. He is older this time and this winter is so cold. I’m not counting him out, but I’m realizing how much of a risk life is on it’s own never mind after you add cancer to the mix.
Sometimes we have to realize that we have to reach outside of our own comfort zones to comfort those we love. I am learning how to do that, and I hope that he and I can make contact.
Maybe I’m the only on this side of the fence but I kind of hate strap ons. Like in my head, in theory, I fucking love them. But in reality, in practice, in the time of fucking I kind of have some real beef. (no pun intended)
So as a male presenting person with a female body who has the sexy times with cis women a strap on would appear to be a god send. I was born without a dick poof here’s a dick (an expensive fucking dick) viola le sex can commence. But it never really happens like that. It’s more like:
Man I want to fuck you so badly right now.
Great I want to fuck you too.
Awesome where’s the strap.
Fuck idk it’s so dark.
Check the top drawer.
(slams head into dresser)
Ok found it.
Wait shit I really can’t see.
Is it on?
Uhm…yes. I think…wait yeah we’re good.
I’m so wet.
Let me just use my hands.
No this doesn’t happen every time but seriously 7/10 times that I’ve used one this has been the situation. And like I JUST WANNA FUCK.
Now as someone who thinks of themselves as (mostly) a dude. I do like the idea of having a dick. It’s nice. And sex is as much of a mental thing as a physical thing. So for me, mentally, having a strap on is really amazing. BUT I’m not naked. Because with straps come harnesses. So no matter what I’m going to feel like I am wearing something that isn’t a part of me.
I’m also really about touch. I like to be able to actually (truly) feel what I’m doing. Which as much as I am mentally about it the thought of being hard and being inside someone I do like you know TO FEEL IT.
I have friends who are on all sides of the gender spectrum and whose sexualities run the sexuality unicorn rainbow trail; they love straps. Lahve them. And whenever we get to talkin about sex I’m always intrigued to hear about why they love it so much. Everyone’s opinions differ but the consensus is always yesss please.
I want to so fucking badly be all about the strap. I want it to feel like an extension of me. It can in the moment, but I could also do without it when it comes to actual sex.
Is I a crazy queer?
This piece is a compilation of many feelings. Of many thoughts. It is the pouring out of the things that have been going through my mind for the past 5 months while interning. They have all come to a head now that I have left my internship feeling no more connected or accomplished than I did when I started. The length of my internship had no limit or minimum. Other interns had been there for going on a year. Seeing no employment opportunities within. The company I worked for was lovely and our work atmosphere was amazing. But the underlying fact is we were working full work days without pay. In a city like New York it is almost impossible for 20 something’s to make ends meet with entry level jobs. Never mind no source of income. Does “experience” really override monetary payment? I worked at a pizza place in high school. I had no experience working in a restaurant. I quickly learned how to answer phones, make pasta dishes, top pizzas, and handle money. I also received a paycheck every week. I gained experience while earning. And to this day can still make pretty delicious Italian food. In 2013 only 37% of grads who worked unpaid internships received jobs from the companies they worked for. Who can afford to work for 6 months to a year for free? That question is mainly rhetorical as we all know the answer is: The Rich.
Many jobs now require intern experience as a prerequisite to being hired. Entry level which is what an intern used to be is now a notch above being an intern. Which means in many fields you should expect to work for free well after graduation without anyone thinking anything about it.
New York is a city that will test you in ways that you never even thought would come across. From judging the correct way to side step the person yelling at you on the subway, to dealing with a bug bed outbreak in your apartment. New Yorkers deal with shit daily that would break most people down. But we keep on grinding. You don’t move to New York by accident, you’re here for a purpose. To fulfill some dream no matter what it may be. The problem with dreams is that sometimes they are just that. We all imagined our lives going towards a certain trajectory. If we put the time in, networked with the right people, and worked our asses off we would get to where are parents always told us we could.
Right off the bat I will say there are some factors that immediately get in the way of my trajectory going as planned.
1. I chose to work in the arts and activism.
2. I’m black.
3. I’m transgender.
4. I think way too many people are full of shit.
Let’s attack each of these bullets.
The Arts and Activism/Non Profits
So you’re a musician, a writer, a designer, an actor, an artist, a…you catch my drift. This world was not made for you to make a shit ton of money. You’re a professional activist? Good fucking luck. No one is trying to pay you. You’re fighting battles because the government and mainstream don’t give enough of a fuck to. Which means you will forever not have enough funding and will be climbing what will feel like a metaphorical Mount Everest for the rest of your life. Some artists get lucky. Some musicians and actors go on to fame. And some writers find themselves in great positions. But those are the very small, fortunate, lucky few. Activists much like teachers will always fight the biggest fight and always make the least. That’s it.
I mean I don’t even know how much of this I have to explain. More often than not when I talk to an older white person they look back at me and reply: Well aren’t you articulate? I’m surprised good for you.
I think that about sums up what my skin color attracts and pushes away.
Remember puberty? Remember how shitty that was? PUBERTY WAS THE WORST. Now let’s imagine shall we coming out of the closet, and also realizing that the gender you were born wasn’t the gender you wished to be. This happened for me around 20 and for the last 4 years I’ve ben trying to piece together who the hell I am and how I want to present to society. Which let me tell you, is super fun. I haven’t changed anything legally. My ID still has my very feminine birth name and says Female. I however present as a male. This causes daily anxiety and fear. Now the good thing about New York is that for the most part people are either too preoccupied with their own shit to care about yours or are extremely LGBTQ friendly. But that does not mean that a percentage of ignorant individuals and homophobes does not exist. And those motherfuckers, well they are motherfuckers.
When I apply for jobs online there is always a moment of hesitation before I send out my resume. If I land an interview how will I explain within the first few moments meeting that I am trans*? Will the interview than shift from my skill set to my gender? Will it kill my chances of getting a job altogether? And if I do get it, what will life in the office be like? How often will I have to correct pronouns? Or have awkward conversations?
Do not think for a second that I pity myself. I don’t. I pity neither being gay or being trans*. In fact I am thankful. I realize for instance that my climb in the nightlife world would not have been as easy as a straight person. Being gay often is horrible but if you tap into your community and win their support you will thrive. It is a lot easier to be a big fish in a little pond. Being gay and trans* in New York definitely makes you a big fish, but as a big fish you are also a bigger target.
The Shitty Ones.
The quicker you learn how many people are full of shit, the easier your life will be. This is not to say that there aren’t wonderful beautiful people out there. There are. Treasure them. But in a city of dreamers, in a city of people working towards fame, money, power, or all three you are bound to meet a lot of assholes. A lot of them who will use you and manipulate you as they see fit. Someone can use you and not be an asshole. Those are the trickiest kind. You know who are the trickiest users? Companies using your wide eyed dream having self as an unpaid intern.
First of all working and not being paid is only ok if you are doing charity work OR helping out a good friend or family member. Which even than has its limits. But working a full work day without payment is a crime.
Are you paying for my meals? Or commute? Or housing? Are there jobs open at your company for me at the end of my internship?
Would you date someone who brought absolutely nothing to the table but the promise of CONTACTS and EXPERIENCE? Look I won’t say that internships don’t provide some base of experience of course they fucking do, you are working a full motherfucking work day. Which you should be compensated for. Since when did experience overshadow payment? This isn’t an apprentice position. This is what used to be an entry level job position, that companies realized they could hire rich college or post college kids to do for FREE.
Note that I said rich. I also forgot white.
When I was a wee gay I had a huge problem with the word queer. It felt incredibly exclusive. It felt incredibly high and mighty. It felt incredibly white.
I now feel very similar thoughts to the word “intern”.
The kids who were using this word: queer. Were those whose parents were ok with them going to school for poetry and gender studies. They were white liberals with money who had the patience and time to let their kids find themselves. Which is great I guess; an amazing education is something that should not be snuffed at. But none the less these kids have always made my skin crawl a bit. These same kids who I would later in life be invited to parties with and see what I had thought all along the word queer did in some ways means white. Want to see a party with little to no black people? Advertise it as queer.
This is not to say that queer black spaces and queer black people do not exist. But it has taken some the for the word to spread past the halls of liberal arts colleges and lofts in Brooklyn.
How do I say this without – ah fuck it black people were slaves for long enough. Working in offices for white people for no money just hit very close to home for me. I realized that most of the people around me had parents that were still funneling money into their bank accounts. They could work 40 hours a week for free because some way or another they were being paid for it.
I also realize that I am in a different situation than most black people my parents are white (twist). Granted I did not have a fairy tale childhood, but my family are liberal open minded Jews. My entire life I have been told by black people that I was too white and by white people that I was the whitest black person they knew. You’ve heard the story before so I won’t preach it again. My point being that just like being trans and gay me being black with Jewish parents has lead me to opportunities that I do not think many other black people my age with similar life stories can say.
Black trans people go through hell. From their families. From society. From within the black community. Of all of the people you would see interning in an office in Manhattan a black trans person is probably dead last.
So I guess I’m lucky. Yes I am lucky, lucky in the sense that I am able to navigate through a very white world. I understand this. I understand that I will probably never meet another me working in an office. Because other “me’s” were never afforded the chance. I feel grateful while also feeling angry; feeling sad, feeling used, and being broke.
These are as I’m sure you can imagine a mess of feelings to be feeling while also starting the process of going on Testosterone.
New York is a whirlwind. No where else do people have roommates well into their 30’s. No where else is Happy Hour essentially mandatory at least twice a week. And totally excusable every night of the week. Drugs of all kinds are norms. Adderall to get more work done. Xanax and Ambien to calm the fuck down. Alcohol and cocaine because you either have way too much money and it’s making you sad or way to little and it’s making you sad. Marriage? Children? You didn’t move here to fall in love. This isn’t Paris. You came here to make it. There is something about New York that is beautiful. The amount that people hustle, the communities that flourish here that would not be allowed to exist anywhere else. The food, the entertainment, the breathtakingly beautiful people you see everyday. But New York wears you out. It’s like the rope swing in gym. It takes you years to get anywhere, and you often feel like you’re just dangling in the wind. Waiting for something either really good or absolutely horrible to happen. You get higher eventually, and closer to the top, but what the hell do you do when you get there? To the end of that rope? The ceiling. Are you now the master of your own life? Or have you just spent years climbing to meet a wall?
I want to take you to a place that I used to know well.
I want you to feel what I feel in my bones.
The place that gives me hell.
It takes awhile to get to this place.
It takes awhile to look in the mirror and be ok with the face –
that stares back at you and realize that the person your heart beats for doesn’t make you a sinner.
When everyone is telling you that everything you feel is wrong.
When everyone song you turn to is about heartache and break and holding on –
you lose yourself in the moment.
You lose motion.
Because you are too flooded with emotion.
Please don’t be afraid.
Those voices in your head are just telling you to love.
And in love there is no wrong or right way.
I am so sorry that not everyone sees it that way.
And I am so sorry that you may lose friends and family along the way.
But stay –
stay true to who you are
look into mirror after mirror until you can’t help but smile back.
Opinions of others are opinions of their own.
What is factual is that you are a human full of love.
Who wants to be loved.
And will be loved.
Because there are a million of us out there.
Who you can walk to with open arms.
Look this world can be shit.
I know and so do you.
But it can also be so bone crushingly beautiful.
You can have these moments where you swear some part of you must be in pain.
Must be about to break.
Because everything in that moment is The Most Beautiful.
It can come in the arms of a beautiful girl.
It can come in the arms of a beautiful boy.
It can come from the best meal of your life.
Or realizing that you just met the person that is that.
Is your life.
I wish that I could sit down and show you a crystal ball.
One that shows you the future and how this time will fall.
It will be a distant memory and a hardship that once happened.
But it won’t cut as deep.
When you are laying in bed realizing that you have no more secrets to keep.
You are young.
You are gay.
And baby you are free.
*This is a little informative piece I threw together for a party and now for the Interwebs, to simply breakdown what it means to be gender queer. Heads up, chins out, glitter gun locked and loaded lets do this:
So you aren’t trans? But you’re not a girl? But you pee sitting down? Sometimes you pack and sometimes you don’t? You look like a guy though. But a lot of what you say is kinda feminist like. I’m really confused. Are you confused?
No. I’m just gender queer.
Lets break this down:
Gender is that thing that was slapped on your birth certificate determined by what was between or not between your legs.
Queer is that wonderful word that we can consider an umbrella term for many LGBTQ people.
Now when I slap the words gender and queer together. I am telling you that I am a little bit of both. What is between my legs is not thoroughly who I am. If gender is black and white I am gray.
“So what gender pronoun should I use when addressing you, or people like you?”
No person is the same. No gender queer person is the same. GQ folks range from accepting and being comfortable with words you’ve heard all of your life like: Mr. and Miss. too some other words you may not have even known to exist like: ze/ hir
Zir? What is that about? Think of it this way: he, she, ze / him, her, hir / his, hers, hirs
Names work too. So instead of saying her or him insert said persons name and ta da no need for an awkward moment. They and them are also pretty common.
“So who do you date?”
EVERYONE. And no by that I don’t mean that every gender queer person dates every other sexuality automatically. What I mean is, gender queer people can fall into any sexuality. Because you see, gender and sexuality are separate.
For some of us gender has always been pretty clear. While for some of us gender has been much like sexuality – a question. Anyone who falls under the gay umbrella knows what it is like to question who they are, and question what it is society expects from them, and looks at them. Being gender queer is just another one of those things.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. To stay curious. When done so with respect, there is SO MUCH TO LEARN.
I’m watching the water jump from the sky and dance on the road and it’s making me think of all of my exs
In particular this one girl
She wasn’t even a girlfriend more like a summer distraction
Someone who could maybe one day be a story about brief and sudden lust that felt like love
She seemed like everything I could ever want for a moment maybe more
Sweet and polite but with all of the sass and Jesus she had a great ass
She had my full on attention
Until every red flag flew from the rafters
That I was actually someone who didn’t meet all of her dating factors
She couldn’t get passed the fact that
While she was a lesbian
I was wearing a pack
She kept saying things like I see you as a she
And I just kept saying look sweetheart you need to see me as me
Didn’t understand why people called me sir
Especially if I was walking down the street with her
They’ll know your a girl because you’re with me
I’m a lesbian
And they’ll get that as soon as we come near
I don’t give a fuck how straight society sees me
We got into it one night
As she screamed out that she just didn’t understand
If I cut off my boobs she wouldn’t be able to deal she said
Then you’d be a man
I wanted to cry
I wanted to smack her in the face
I wanted all the whiskey and my mothers smiling face
I am who I am and believe me sweetie I don’t need you
She said well you’re just something I have to get used to
To which I responded what if I was to say: I’m a Jew and dating someone – a gentile like you is something that I have to get used to?
I wish I could have bitten my tongue and not gotten so damn angry
But I don’t need your small town mind when I am more than happy
Being a queer dapper dandy
My gender is a definition of me
But I am not solely defined by my vagina or lack of a dick
There is nothing for you to get used to but my brain and what makes me tick
The person I am inside this frame of a body
You made me feel like an alien
Some species that had to be handled with care
And then I woke up and realized you had never been there – through all our talks and long conversations – all of the blogs of mine you had read
You thought you could change me
And tell me what you see
And make that me
But even God tried that and you my dear are not nearly as crafty
I pray at the alter of gender fucking and confusion
I’m sorry that you confused it all for some Halloween like illusion
So when you bitched and you moaned to me about what a horrible person I am
For not understanding your ignorant downfall and therefore never ever wanting to speak to you again
Realize that I’m so thankful I met you
You restored my faith in the crazy
In the beautiful non gender conscious gorgeous and empowered folks who I party into the wee hours of the night with in the brightest glitter filled corners of Brooklyn
The queermos who I fall asleep thinking of and can’t get out of my dreams
Why on earth would anyone want to be mainstream
I will take easy before I ever take hard if it means that I get to be me
A beautiful anomaly
Because it means through all the shit
And her shit
That I get
To be happy