I Want Them Back

When you wake up to the news of 49 people shot dead in Orlando, Florida, you still have to eat breakfast. You have to keep up your strength. You may cry while you’re eating your eggs, but you need to fortify yourself for the day ahead. You can even crawl back into bed for a little while after you eat it, but please just get something in your stomach.

Crawl into your bed and think about the queer and transgender people you love with your whole self. It could have been them, it could have been them. Think about the latinx people you love with your whole being. It could have been them, it could have been them. Let yourself cry and feel everything you are feeling, but make sure to think, “It probably would not have been me.” Make sure to say it out loud. And think about why that is.

We live in a terrifying and violent country. In our terrifying and violent country, terror and violence are not dealt out equally. Queer people experience a hugely disproportionate amount of violence. Transgender people experience a hugely disproportionate amount of violence. People of color experience a hugely disproportionate amount of violence. Queer and transgender people of color EXPERIENCE A HUGELY DISPROPORTIONATE AMOUNT OF VIOLENCE.

I will not live in this world.

14 transgender people murdered in the first 6 months of 2016 is 14 too many. 21 transgender women killed, most of whom were women of color, in 2015 is 21 too many. 35 holy human bodies is too many. I want them back.

258 black people murdered by the police in 2015 is 258 too many. 258 holy human bodies is too many. I want them back.

63 acts of anti-muslim harassment and vandalism in 2015 is 63 too many. Even one holy human body affected by those acts is too many.

49 people murdered at pulse nightclub in orlando, florida on June 12, 2016. 49 holy human bodies, almost all queer, almost all latinx, is too many. I want them back. I want them back.

I will not, I will not, I will NOT live in this world. I promise I will continue to engage and to learn everything I can. I promise I will not turn away from the disproportionate experience of violence in queer communities, transgender communities, and communities of color, and every intersection there-in. I promise that I will have the conversations I need to have with people like me who do not experience this violence.

I love our grieving world and I will fight for it.

Advertisements

A Chain Of Support And Love And Reaching Out

Dear Mommy,

My friend is going through a really difficult situation involving life, death, and cancer. How can I support him and be there for him?

Wow. I’m so sorry that you and your friend are going through this. In situations like this, words can be so meaningless. I don’t have the skill or knowledge or, frankly, the desire to write about death and provide insight into its meaning and how it affects us. All I can say is that it’s just fucking shitty. To be alive and know that one day we and the people we love won’t be anymore. Life makes you love people and then it takes them away, and eventually you, too. You and your friend are in the thick of it, right there in the middle of what makes life horrifying and worth living. You are absolutely not the first and definitely not the last. If you want, let it comfort you that literally all of us will weather this storm, too. We are here by your side.

As far as supporting your friend through life-threatening illness, there is only one thing I can think to do: ask him how he wants to be supported through life-threatening illness. People tend to comfort people how they themselves like to be comforted, but we all need different things and we have not necessarily been taught to ask for them. Help him ask for them! Maybe he’d like you to keep things light when you hang out, maybe he wants you to witness his fear, maybe he wants to be held when he cries, maybe he’d rather not be touched. Maybe he wants you to listen to him silently, maybe he wants advice and comfort. Maybe he doesn’t want to talk about it at all. Maybe he wants a combination of these different things at different times, and it’s up to you to make him feel comfortable asking for them. You need to understand that the way he wants to deal with this is not up to you, and any way he wants to cope is valid. You need to admit that you do not know, and ask him. And if he doesn’t know, maybe you can figure it out together through trial and error. It can, and should be, an ever-evolving conversation.

I’d also like to say that while this situation is and definitely should be about your friend, you are also affected by it. You need to make sure you are doing everything you can to take care of you through all of this. Secondary traumatic stress is very real, and you cannot be a help to your friend if you are being stretched to your breaking point. Be there for your friend as much as you can, but remember that you are NOT selfish for taking care of yourself too. Understand that you don’t have to be available for him 24 hours a day, whether that means not responding to a text from him for a little while or setting boundaries for how long or often you hang out. Treat yourself like you are treating your friend, and turn to other friends in your life for support. Things can go on that way forever – a chain of support and love and reaching out.

Good luck, to both of you.

Love, Mommy

—————————————————————

Dear Mommy,

I work in a very sexist industry, and I try my very best to help lift other women up, but I am routinely cut down and condescended to by other women. It drives me crazy and it PISSES ME OFF. How do I support the fellow women in my industry, even when they’re being nasty?

Hello, my love. This is such a hard situation! First, I want to commend you on your mission to lift up other women. That is so powerful and radical! And sexism is so fucked up! One of the ways that it works so insidiously is by worming its way into our own bodies and minds, using its poison to turn us against ourselves and other women. We are continually given the message that there is only room for a certain, very small, amount of women at the top and the only way to make it in this “man’s world” (ew) is to put each other down. I commend you for doing the hard work it takes to rise above that deeply entrenched SHIT. Not everyone has, and some people never will. This could explain a lot of what’s going through these other women’s minds when they’re cutting you down. Of course, who knows, they could also just be mean. This is possible because people are sometimes mean and, well, women are people.

One thing I’ve learned in my relatively short life (some wise old people say this too though, ok?) Is that communication is always key to pretty much everything. You will never be able to control what other people do, no matter how hard you try, but if there are specific women at your work that are perpetuating this crappiness, try opening a dialogue. Say exactly what you told me! “Hey, I’ve found our workplace (AND ENTIRE CULTURE) to be really sexist and it bums me out. I feel encouraged to see the women I work with as competition. I’m trying really hard to combat that by lifting up other women. I want to have your back, but I feel like you don’t have mine. Can we talk about that?” It is possible that they’ve literally never thought about it that way before. This conversation could break down walls and be really healing for both you! Or maybe nothing will happen. Either way, you did your best and that’s all you can ask of yourself. At worst, you’ll become known as “that woman at work who has my back even though I don’t have hers.” There are waaaay worse people to be! If you work in an industry where the people you work with are constantly changing, you may have to have this conversation over and over again. If that thought exhausts you already, remember that you don’t have to fight sexism each and every day. You can’t, it would be too draining. Sometimes you need a break, so let yourself take one when you need it. And some women are never going to have your back, some women are going to keep pissing you off and putting you down.

I want to leave you with something to mull over. It’s an idea we should try to explore to its farthest reaches. It may make things harder for you, but it could also liberate you! Here it is: you don’t get to choose which women deserve to be lifted up, because we all do. Internalize that instead, and make a commitment to lift up all women, regardless of their race, temperament, class, interests, style, ANYTHING – even how much they piss you off. Don’t worry, no one is saying you have to do it all single-handedly. You won’t be able to, so don’t even try. But do what you can. It sounds like you already are. I’m so proud of you.

Love, Mommy