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.

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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.

 

Missing MySpace

8kqibqh

I was on Facebook the other day, and a feeling of frustration hit me. I was bored. Bored of the site, bored from the sameness of every one of my friend’s walls, bored of the algorithms in place pushing posts I didn’t care about to the top of my feed. Bored of the “trending news” topics that when compared to Twitter, seemed to be trending on Facebook and Facebook alone. I sighed remembering the pure excitement another site used to generate. That website of course, being MySpace. If you were a teenager in the 2000’s a massive chunk of your life was spent switching back and forth from AIM to MySpace.

I remember using third party search engines on the school computers, trying to beat firewalls so that I could check my MySpace inbox. We didn’t have smartphones then, making the hours at school feel truly feel endless. At home, online, there was an entire world waiting. A world our parents lived in fear of. “Don’t meet people off the Internet” seemed to be the sentiment heard out of the mouths of anyone of our parent’s generation. My dad would have probably died, had he known how strongly I ignored his warning. I had, met, and continued many relationships with tons of kids I’d met on MySpace.

Facebook feels like checking my Gmail. It feels like something necessary. It doesn’t feel like something special. MySpace was special. There were so many portals on MySpace, endless amounts of groups, endless amounts of profiles, numerous bands, and the freedom to do whatever you wanted to your profile. You could simply never outgrow MySpace, because it grew with you; you were the driving force of your experience.

As a young lesbian, MySpace provided an LGBTQ universe that was unfathomable in my suburban world. I had gay friends all over the world, I could flirt with girls openly, and talk to older queer folks about their experiences. The 2000’s was of course the time of The L Word, and there was no greater place to talk about the show then in the numerous groups devoted to the show on MySpace. I to this day still have friends that I met in The L Word forum.

All the creativity it seems, has gone to Tumblr. Ello tried, and failed to recreate the magic that MySpace had. Facebook feels like Craigslist. It exists. It works. But it lacks any form of creativity. No matter how much you put into either, they will still exist as the very 2D structures that they are.

I used to spend hours perfecting my profile on AIM, my away messages, and my MySpace. These I felt, were all extensions of myself. Similar to the clothes I wore, my online presence was a clear indicator of self. And at a time when my style could not reflect who I truly was, MySpace saved me. Hours were spent gossiping on AIM, subtle shade was thrown on your top 8, shout outs were made to those “worthy” on away messages. You got to choose where you sat in this online cafeteria. The person I was at school, was nothing like the proud, sometimes cocky, flirtatious lesbian I was on MySpace.

I came out on MySpace years before I did in person.

Lenovo just released their teaser commercial for their upcoming June launch of their newest phones. In it, a relic of every 20 somethings past is on full display; the Internet went crazy. And of course we did, The Razr was the phone of a generation. If Lenovo is indeed releasing a 2016 worthy version of The Razr, well I must say well played. We are a generation that lives for nostalgia. We were born at the odd time where the technology of yesterday was still holding on strong, yet rapid advancements were occurring it seemed every moment. We grew up using floppy discs, CD’s, and flash drives. I had a cassette player, a Walkman, an MP3 player, and finally an iPod. We were a generation of constant and fast adaption. And maybe because of that, we were it seemed almost nostalgic from the beginning. Our online profiles, playing homage to the things we loved, the celebrities we admired, the soundtracks of the moment, the people in our lives; they were one of the only things we were in control of.

The Way That We Live

This has been a long time coming. The L Word ended in 2009, so it has in fact taken me about 1,000 rewatches to get here, I wish I was exaggerating. The L Word fucked us all up. Whether it was creating grossly inaccurate expectations for living, to grossly inaccurate portrayals of how to relationship. We all walked away from the L Word thinking that we could cheat, lie, do all the drugs, and somehow live in gorgeous duds in LA with girlfriends and best friends who would love us anyway. Which ok, everything in moderation; but The L Word was everything in extreme excess. And yes, that is what t.v is for, except so much of The L Word felt real. It wasn’t so much like watching fantasy, for a young lesbian it was watching what could be. Which is why, it fucked us all so hard. Let’s explore how, character by character, The L Word totally screwed us all.

Bette – Let us start with the matriarch. Bette was The power dyke. Educated, strong willed, cultured, independent, fiercely loyal, and wealthy. In many ways she was a total inspiration, and someone not only to look up to, but aspire to be. But lord was she a tyrannical mess.

Masculinity and Double Standards – As we see often in life and on The L Word, “masculinity” is often used as a free pass to be, for lack of a better word: a jackass. As the main breadwinner in the house for years, and the one who did not carry Angelica, Bette was written as the “man”. Take for example when Tina was caught cheating, the world ended, she was ostracized from her friend group and seen as a confused bisexual who just couldn’t seem to make up her mind about her sexuality. Bette least we all forget was a serial cheater, and was allowed to be just that. She was allowed to throw tantrums when Tina challenged her power or questioned their relationship, but allowed Tina no such space. Granted Tina was far from perfect (we’ll get to that), but if we were to assess the one who had the most strikes in their relationship, in my opinion it would be Bette. Bette’s unwillingness to meet Tina on equal levels is on par with many heteronormative relationship structures. Tina should of course not be pardoned for her cheating, but it should be noted that when Tina strayed, it was for love, while when Bette did, it was for power; she fucked her TA for gods sake. Bette was always allowed the space to excel at work, even when she was fired she ended up on top. With the series ending with the viewer knowing she had a job waiting for her in New York. Bette was always wanted, where as Tina was constantly punished for being a strong femme.

Mixed race – So I really have never understood this aspect of Bette’s character. Mainly because the only time Bette ever felt the need to state that she was mixed, was when she was up against a wall. Being POC was never a full part of Bette’s life. It was a tool she used when all other tools were too weak to help her win an argument. It also linked her to the extremely problematic mess of a character that was Kit. That these two possibly grew up knowing each other seems like the most ridiculous stretch in the history of character plot lines. Kit’s world is one of Black stereotypes; while Bette’s is of higher education and elitism.

Responsibility and Accountability –  Lol. Much like a white male of privilege, Bette never seemed to be held accountable for her actions. I am a firm believer that she killed Jenny. She saw someone who was going to challenge the perfect life she had finally been able to create. A job, a wife, and a child. There was no way she was going to allow anyone, never mind a powerful femme to destroy that. She did what she had to do, and felt no remorse for it, because this is Bette’s world, and the sooner you understand that the easier it will be for all of us.

Jenny – Is apparently the shows main character, which is funny because usually the main character of a show is the most likeable. This is a good place to say that if you are a Jenny apologizer, you will not like one word I have to say about her, and should probably bypass this character assessment cuz like I hate her. Where to begin.

Self Centered – GOD HAVE YOU EVER ENCOUNTERED SOMEONE AS SELF ABSORBED AS JENNY SCHECTER? If you have I am terribly sorry for both you and your therapist. It is safe to say that everyone in Jenny’s life was there for her entertainment. And solely for her entertainment. In essentially every relationship Jenny is in, it is for her benefit or amusement. Funny how she admits her love for Shane, when every other person in her life has finally had enough of her. Jenny needs to be needed. Max was a fun project when they first met. Maura was new, she was different, and she needed guidance, much like all of Jenny’s lovers. Jenny wanted to date those she could sculpt and mold, because honestly if your life was together why the holy fuck would you date her? Nicki was a young and naive actress, trying to figure out her sexuality and where her power in this world lay. Shane, well Shane never grew past being a puppy. And the poor vet she dated. Jesus where to even begin with that storyline – Jenny killed a dog in order to get back at the author of a bad review. She killed. A dog. And then proceeded to string someone along who was feeling vulnerable and unloved in her relationship. Which leads right into her other biggest flaw:

Narcissist – There was literally nothing Jenny would not do to come out on top. From dog murder, to stealing the film of her movie, to screwing over every single one of her “best friends” in the last season. And the thing is, the reason it is so easy for me to outright and fully hate Schecter, is that she shows absolutely no remorse for her actions. None. Her last thought before death was probably: No great artist saw success during their lives. In death, I will become infamous.

Sexual Assault – The L Word handled Jenny’s childhood and sexual abuse, in the most confusing and matter of fact way. While it never specifically victim blamed, it did allude that because of her past Jenny was now this insanely fucked up human. There was no space for conversation, because we were shown her abuse in an almost fairytale like way. Other than flashback scenes, Jenny never addresses what happened to her, and how or why it has shaped the human she is. Much like with so many other important topics, the writers dropped the ball on what could have been an eye opening discussion on what sexual abuse during childhood continues to do to adults. By presenting her abuse in such a fantastical way the viewer never got the seriousness of how powerful and life changing sexual assault is. You instead saw a manic pixie dream girl with no concrete understanding of how much her assault shaped her life.

Shane – Where to even begin. Where oh where to even begin. I personally blame Shane’s character for creating a generation of non dateable humans. The L Word, was all many of us had. No other t.v. show or movie depicted LGBTQ life the way that The L Word did. These people seemed like they could be our friends, they seemed like who we wanted to grow up to be. Shane made a generation of lesbians and trans men into walking fuckable yet detached douche bags.

Past – Shane had a rough childhood. She went through foster care, and the system, and therefore did was she had to do to survive. Shane’s teenage years are probably the most relatable to many LGBTQ youth growing up today. Kicked out of their houses for who they are, and forced to grow up much too fast. Unfortunately Shane came out of all of that a sociopath. An often funny and loveable sociopath, but a sociopath all the same. The writers also never showed how Shane was able to escape the streets. All of a sudden you see a human who is admired by all, with a job, money, and women literally dropping their panties for her.

Relationships – Da worst. God, Shane you are the worst. The actual absolute worst. Shane was always dependant on her looks to get essentially everywhere and anywhere. While fucked up, Molly is the only person who points out that Shane basically has nothing to offer. Now it is of course insanely fucked up not to note that of course Shane lacked a strong educational background due to the fact Shane grew up devoid of the privilege. This is yet another area where the writers could have done so much more. What an amazing space to start the conversation about the lack of resources and education those in foster care have to deal with. So what the viewer is left with, is that someone who grew up tough is given the allowance to be a vacant partner, who is rightfully allowed to leave when things get too tough, because poor Shane.

Style – I blame you for my teenage bangs Shane. I. Blame. You.

Alice – A character that started extremely rough around the edges, led to being one of my favorite characters on the show. While she had her flaws, she was one of the only characters that actually felt human.

Bisexuality – The writers killed sexuality on many different occasions. With many characters, on the show that strayed from being lesbians their other “tastes” where either made fun of, villainized, or treated as phases. Alice was probably the most experimental of all cast members and stuck by her choices, even mistakes, strongly. Her because flaw came from the transphobia she directed towards Max. She speaks out against him being a part of Our Chart, only to then shoot a podcast with him apologizing. The problem is, the way this scene is shot makes the entire thing seem more like comedy than a genuine apology. For those who don’t remember, Alice invites Max to a sit down at The Planet, which she has Shane videotape. While a very serious dialogue is going on between her and Max, a very horny Shane uses the time behind camera to zoom in on various women at The Planet. What the viewer than see’s is a butch lesbian obsessing over female bodies, while a bisexual and a trans man discuss how they fit or don’t fit into lesbian spaces. Their voices are in the distance, why Shane’s antics are front and center, ruining what could have been a groundbreaking conversation.

Carmen – It’s funny, while Carmen will always stand out in my mind, she really wasn’t around for that long, and her character really was not super developed. Yes she was Shane’s partner, and yes for a hot second she was fucking Jenny. But we never really got a taste of who Carmen was. She was a piece of many pieces Shane would devour and dispose of.

Latina – The two (and maybe only) Latin American women on The L Word were stereotypes. Carmen was a beautiful, sassy, and domestic woman. Papi was a working class player. Neither was given much substance, while both were highly sexual, and essentially nothing more than bodies. Interestingly enough, while Papis stay on the show was shorter, I feel like we were given a bigger window into her character. She was introduced as a player, but after meeting Kit saw the possibility of partnership. Carmen always just felt like Shane’s hot girlfriend.

Femme – What the writers lacked in giving Carmen a true personality, they made up for by making her bat shit crazy. Shane is a monumental asshole of a cheating douche bag. Dating her would make you crazy. We got to see Carmen freak out at the thought that the person she wanted to spend the rest of her life with, was actually just loving her until she found someone better. Shane’s actions and Shane’s cheating were never really shown in the correct light. That light being, when you constantly fuck someone over, they usually get sick of you. Instead Carmen chose to go down the path of marriage. Everyone woman that entered Shane’s life set out to “change” her, and after Shane fucked up time and time again, the writers wrote these women to be CRAZY FEMMES. Shane always was presented in a fairly calm manner. Artistic even. While these women suffered at the hands of heteronormative limiting stereotypes.

Tina – Tina kind of makes me think of watching paint dry. She was second fiddle to Bette, and therefore had to be written as the whiny wife. She seemed to always just be waiting around for Bette to get her shit together. She was less patient than the women who entered Shane’s life. Bette was given ultimatums, and made to suffer numerous times.

Kit – Ugh. Why write a Black character if you aren’t willing to WRITE a Black character. Very similar to Max, Kit’s character failed miserably. She remained likeable throughout the entire series, and funny enough was one of the only characters to take Max’s transition seriously and with compassion.

Race – Dynamite! Oh Kit must be entering a scene. If there was 1970’s slang being heard, there most be a Black woman entering the pristinely white world of The L Word, I am not sure on what planet we were supposed to imagine Bette and Kit being sisters, but ok sure. Bette somehow got all of the benefits of being a white passing woman, while Kit struggled with: alcoholism, sexuality, cheating, abortion, menopause, a homophobic son, people constantly trying to ruin her business, falling in love with a drag queen, god what am I missing? While kudos I guess, to the writers for making her a successful businesswoman, all of the snarls for making her seem like an extra from What’s Happening. What’s interesting is Illene Chaiken The L Word’s creator, wrote The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and now writes Empire. She constantly writes Black roles, and for anyone that has watched Empire, writes them really fucking well. How unfortunate that Kit was not given the same treatment.

Max – Max was the FIRST trans person I had ever seen on television. And for years, the only. Too bad The L Word completely and utterly destroyed him. I could probably write an entire novel on how badly Max’s character was written, because honestly there were just so many cringe worthy moments.

Gender and Sexuality – There was never any time taken to talk about the differences between gender and sexuality, which becomes extremely dangerous when you have a trans character who first appears as a lesbian and then starts taking T and becomes attracted to men. And then becomes pregnant?!? It is 100% true that some trans men chose to carry babies, but without any form of background Max’s character becomes a circus act. For most of Max’s early screen time we have to hear Jenny bitch about how hard it is for her to be with someone who is transitioning. Which yes, of course, any huge life change that your partner goes through is going to affect you, but this is Jenny, so all attention and compassion is lost for Max. The viewer is forced to feel bad for her. Which honestly is harder than chewing on a bottle of broken glass under the boat slip in P-Town. While pregnant Max is presented as what I can literally only describe as an angry caveman. The viewer is not drawn to feeling sympathy for him, but instead is looking at a disheveled, angry, and whiny gay man. His relationship with Tom is violent and abusive. Again, as it did many times beforehand The L Word presents men in an unsatisfactory light. Please for a second sit back and tell me if you can name one man in the shows history who is shown in a celebratory manner. I’ll wait.

Work – The writers did address how at risk trans people are, to being fired at their bosses free will. This is probably the only good thing we are shown when it comes to Max. He deals with his boss and douchebag coworkers to his best ability, and leaves admirably. Unfortunately his life then begins to spin out of control.

*You will note that I left out a few characters:

Helena – While I loved Helena, her character is pretty much filler. She’s great and sexy, and has a completely un-relatable life. She is perfect for entertainment value. I like to think that she got rid of Dylan real quick and is back on an island with Dusty.

Ivan – Ivan clearly was on his way to transitioning, but the writers clearly were not ready to write for him. I like to think that he showed up at The Planet one day and whisked Kit away.

Jody – Probably the only person who gave Bette a run for her money. She also showed that someone with a disability was just as capable, fucked up, and brilliant as anyone else.

Dana and Tasha – Are both perfect humans and should only be referred to as such.

The L Word, shaped an entire generation of LGBTQ humans. For better or for worse it has become an intrinsic part of many of us. While flawed in many ways, it does live on as a groundbreaking show that can still be watched with the same esteem and emotion as when it first aired. That emotion mainly being:

Fuck Jenny.

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Monsters

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

Ignore

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:

http://jezebel.com/dont-be-an-idiot-at-the-strip-club-a-strippers-guide-1681793887?utm_campaign=socialflow_jezebel_facebook&utm_source=jezebel_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

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.

https://medium.com/gender-justice-feminism/what-happens-if-you-plan-a-strip-club-birthday-when-youre-a-lesbian-the-idiot-speaks-52121eee099c

Enter Life Plan Here

 

I think I’m growing up.
Or something.

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.

I’ve been experiencing a very extreme form of writers block recently, not necessarily the head pounding excessive whiskey induced kind but instead one in which I literally could not string together sentences. Words were swirling around my head but they were not manifesting into anything.  I felt like I was in a washing machine. I had a sudden influx of newness in my life. The past year of my life has been this absolute blast of change. From relationships to work environments to my gender representation and my sexuality. That swirl of words was in direct correlation with the tornado my life was. Tornado is probably the wrong word to use, no part of this past year has felt destructive it has actually felt the opposite. And yet I felt incomplete. And for the first time in a long time I felt this mixture of being both out of place and left out.

 

I like to think of myself as someone who is usually very up on music. Actually I like to think of myself as someone who is very up on most things that are trending on the internet, after all I literally get paid to do social media. Living and working in New York makes this hyper focus on all things new and “cool” easy. A majority of people who move to the city do so with the very serious goal of being either part of or the reason for hype generation. I have always actively told myself not to get too engrossed in the politics of trendy. To happily comment and take part but not let being a dun dun millennial shape who I was. Hidden party in Bushwick? Cool, yeah I’ll totally go, but by chance you know? Not because it’s like where I have to be. But god just being in Brooklyn you feel like if you aren’t going (somewhere) you aren’t going (anywhere).

 

I recently accepted a job in San Francisco. That sentence alone makes me feel like a solid adult being. It also makes me realize that I am leaving behind the place that I have called home for my entire life. It means not being able to walk into bars and coffee shops and get free drinks and shoot the shit. It means having to ask people for the best spots to go to, instead of being able to direct others. It means getting lost and actually not knowing where the fuck I am. It means walking into parties and having no idea who anyone is, and in return them not knowing who I am. I am too overwhelmed to be scared, and too excited to be cautious. For the first time in the history of absolutely ever, I am thinking about the future. I am thinking about everything I want out of life, and being scared that I won’t be able to attain it all. I feel like a sky diver who is just about to jump. I have been toeing the edge for years now, with the mindset that eventually certain things would naturally change. My brain would calibrate itself to whatever the hell my family meant when they said: adulthood.

 

I have realized that my brain may never ever get on the same track that my family planned for me. And with that realization has come so much relief. I have also realized that my feet are not tethered to any location. That my ears are not bound to specific genres of music (thank the lord). My sexuality is not set in stone, and is evolving and will continue to evolve. My gender is this thing that like totally exists, but also totally doesn’t. My family are a base of support, but are not the only base. I can do it on my own.
Shit New York I am going to miss you. I am going to miss hot dogs at Crif. Burritos on Bedford. Dumplings in Chinatown. Beer and shot specials that come with free pizza. Korean BBQ available to me 24 hours a day…
Basically I’m just going to miss the food.

 

This city has taught me so much, and by this city I mean all of the people in it. The friends and lovers that I have met and made and fallen in love with and hated and then fallen in love with again. All the new bands that have pounded my ears. The art of the unknown, the art of the most famous. Being in New York you know that whatever happens, happens here first. I am ready to be second or maybe even third. I am ready to relax and revamp. To meet a city full of strangers, and fall in love with them the way that I have fallen in love with New York.

 

P.S.
I figure this is the best place to leave this little dating anecdote. Aka I have gotten all of the out of touch: A few weeks ago I had a mild tiff with a girl I had been seeing, I was a bit tipsy and we were having a disagreement about something pretty medial when she said this:
“‘You don’t love me like you say you love me.”
To which my response was:

216

HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW IT WAS A DRAKE LYRIC?!? I have also spent an absolutely ridiculous amount of time recently, trying to figure out what the hell Jason Derulo means when he tells me to: Go ahead and go ham sammich.

sandwich_ham-and-cheese

Jason I’m a Jew.
Am I finally at that place where I do not understand what the youth are about? Or has popular music actually just turned to shit? What is happening? Will I ever be able to get on a dance floor again? Is this like the point in my life where I start solely listening to classical music AT A REASONABLE VOLUME? I’m out. Me and Mozart are OUT New York.

Bye_bye_bye

The Party

It’s like constantly showing up late to a party; my life that is. A party where everyone else already knows each other. They have inside jokes and stories, have known each other’s partners, had dinner with each other’s parents. A party whose guests accept you yet don’t really know you past the game of flip cup you just played together.

I have always felt late to the party.

My family is my family. There is no confusion in my heart or head that the people who adopted me as an infant fill the roles of mom and dad, of aunt and uncle, of grandparent. They talk of a past that isn’t mine. My ancestors weren’t Russian immigrants. My birth family were never called kykes or denied jobs because they were Jewish. They knew no Holocaust.

They looked like me.
Black like me.

My parents divorced when I was still a baby, and both remarried. Two new families where I felt the outcast. My dad and his wife had a child together and suddenly my life at home was divided. I was a tag along. The third wheel of a family whose house I happened to share. I was a target, and on my own. I threw myself into friends, people who had known each other since they were babies. This was the suburbs, you had your friends from childhood but I was new. I came from the city, wide eyed and mystified by these tight knit circles.

Late to the party once again.

I squeezed in. Loud, opinionated, but soft hearted and funny; it was never hard for me to hop from group to group at school.

I never opened up about my family. My friends were from cookie cutter homes with moms who cooked dinner and dads who played basketball on Saturday mornings with them in the driveway. But every family is good at pretending. Every kid goes to school with secrets slammed behind their locker doors. In reality so few of our families were perfect. So few marriages were working. But being an outcast at school, would make being one at home too even worse.

What does it feel like to have people tell you that you look just like your brother? Have the face of your mother? Your fathers laugh and your families knack for sports?

Tall and black. Thin and athletic. Emotional and sympathetic. Scared and anxious. An extrovert with overwhelming needs to be alone. They are not like me.

My acting teachers always said that I had excellent projection. My dad and his father are easily better than me. Anger that resides in me results in words on paper. Either reading or writing, for me the fighting gets done between a book cover. I want to talk to you for hours. I want to your voice, your past, your choice, what led you here. Why that thing I did triggered you then. And when and if it happens again, how to deflect the tension. Amend it. Jesus would they yell. To see red in someone face as they storm around and pace. My dad would throw tantrums like a child. Break things and curse like a fuming bull charging through the streets. And then he would break. And sigh and often cry and hold me.

If this is the party, I would like to leave.

We deal with death. But we really never deal with death. If life is a joke, death is the punch line that went over everyone’s head. Everyone should feel the feeling of being on a roller coaster without a harness. Because as you feel yourself falling, grieving, twisting and screaming, you realize that you’re going to be ok.

I don’t know what her last words were. But I can guess her thoughts. Summers spent outside painting each other’s nails. Christmas stockings whose contents overflowed on to the mantle. Trips to bookstores where hours were spent, where I was allowed to roam and explore. The smell of coffee every morning as we shared the bathroom getting ready. Flowers.

Always fresh like Spring. Colors like a Pollock. A laugh that was louder than most car horns. Eyelids that were always ready to shed tears. Arms always willing to cuddle. A mouth unafraid to sound off. Love times a million the kind that radiates from so deep within, that you wonder if their is a trap door.

Fall off that coaster into darkness. But realize that breathing eventually becomes easier and the wind around you dies down. As you finally touch down.

I miss you at the party.

If I ran into one if my siblings on the street, would they notice me?

Have we ever crossed paths?

We have the internet now. This is could be so easy.

But do I want it to be?

Do I want to crash another family? Another group that’s had it’s history. Who know each other inside and out and maybe have always thought about; that baby that left them years ago. Maybe wonder how that kid came to be and if they had grown, tall like their father. If they have laugh lines like their mother. Passing thoughts as they have moments alone. But not enough to press the issue. And what about my other set of parents? The ones whose genetics make me into whatever it is this body can be.

Sometimes I walk for hours to quell my anxiety. If I leave town for a day or two when I get back the mundane will feel new. I often feel like a polka dot. The literal black sheep. I fear that they can’t hear me, that I showed up too late for them to get me. I am a vortex of change in every way. My gender picks up where nature left off and strays. My sexuality is magnetic towards so femininity and beauty. The men of my family are so different than the boi I’ve come to be and we all know there’s love there. But it can be so hard to show it.

The backgrounds of our slide show keep changing so rapidly. The projection of his light and not my light and the colors don’t exactly feel right when they bounce off the wall together. Yet they have been told that they are bound and belong together. So they stay illuminated for the party.

Waiting for the guests to leave.