I am a non-binary, trans-masc writer. I work to dismantle internalized structures of oppression, such as the gender binary, class, and race. My writing is personal but anecdotally points to a larger political picture of systemic injustice.
It was a Saturday unlike any other. A morning of the usual pleasantries that filled their weekends: sleeping in, pour-over coffee made at home, a light breakfast of eggs and toast, a joint on the balcony, and soft music to set it off, but these weren’t what made the day unique. The novelty of this day was found in the transpiring of events in a simultaneity that would later be described as horrific. However, upon further reflection, it would more easily be seen as evidence of the universe’s divine absurdity.
TW: suicidal ideation/death/grief A yellow billboard stands out against a darkened highway landscape; black and bold lettering reads, “PAWN SHOP guns jewelry furniture….” There is more, but I forget; I stopped reading carefully at guns. In the top left corner, an outlined smile reminiscent of the old Walmart mascot suggests trust in this list of words strung into sense only by a cultural context that values the dollar, the cheap, the haggle, the violence, the instant.
a modest proposal
With a rising percentage of Americans identifying as LGBTQIA+, it is clear that a cultural shift in our country is necessary to achieve any semblance of peace in the coming years. Nearly 6% of Americans identify as queer in some capacity, and an estimated 20-40% of houseless youth identify on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. What accounts for this is often the response of family members after a child comes out. The queer youth is either kicked out or leaves their home due to safety concerns and lack of support. There must be some solution for this housing insecurity amongst queer youth that adequately addresses the harm done by straight and cis counterparts.
miles to go
It had been three years to the day since his mother passed. He was making the nearly two-hundred-mile trip back to his childhood home to spread her ashes with his family, and he was running late. The sun had risen several hours ago, and now he felt some distance from the task of driving. Now that he could see clearly in the morning light, the road stretched out before him, open and inviting. He allowed his mind to wander and muscle memory to take over. He had made this drive hundreds of times before; living in Southeast Michigan for the past eight years had provided ample opportunity for him to return to his parent’s home and visit while still affording him the space and distance he needed to flourish on his own. The drive was long, but he knew it well, and hours flew by like minutes.
I remember sobriety. It was a clear and productive time for me. It consisted of tears and writing and introspection and reading. Despite relapsing after a few months, my life drastically improved. I don’t do the drugs I used to, besides weed and the occasional drink. I regularly write inventories of myself and my actions to keep tabs on my mental health and addiction problems. I don’t know if I’ll ever be “clean” again, but I do know that drugs do not have the hold on me like they used to. The most I do now is smoke a bowl or a blunt and maybe have a drink with dinner. Arguably, my weed issues are more significant than any other drug problem I have, but it is far less disruptive to my life than the other drugs I introduced. Harm reduction, right?
It was “locker room talk” with the boys. I waited until I was older and already out of the closet to have sex, but it was hard to stop once I did. I built quite a reputation for myself in that small town quickly. I collected partners like trinkets and talked about them the same. My male friends asked wildly inappropriate questions ranging from the deeply personal to the fetishizing and obscure. I answered them all. The question, “did you scissor” was usually accompanied by vigorously and repeatedly ramming together the space between the middle and index fingers while maintaining uncomfortably prolonged eye contact. Sometimes they didn’t say a word at all, just gestured.