You Name Me Monster But My Scars Are From You

When you stare at me, you see a disease,
and you blame it for everything that makes me me;
All my quirks and flaws just a broken brain.
My successes erased: to you, I’m insane.

I remember the day that everything changed:
I mentioned a chemical lack in my brain.
You looked at me, then looked away.
That day I learned your true face.

I’m not broken or diseased. There is no cure needed for me.
I’m smart and creative; passionate and free.
The successes I build you’ll never meet.
It’s not in spite of my disorder. It’s because I’m me.

But here’s the truth, broken or whole:
The disgust in your eyes names you the fool.
Prejudiced and bigoted, you see only failure.
But mental illness can be a strength,

a fact you’ll never learn.
And let’s not forget it’s myself I most often hurt,
while you toss words like daggers
and leave me to bleed in the dirt.

You name me monster, but it’s you that should be feared.
My scars bear your brand even as you sneer.

I remember the day that everything changed:
I mentioned a chemical lack in my brain.
You looked at me, then looked away.
That day I learned your true face.

Call Me Gentleman

My little brother was the first to call me a gentleman, and my eyes lit up like electricity. I’d just discovered that I liked male pronouns, but I hadn’t yet realized what a powerful word gentleman could be. It’s more than just a word for a man. It’s praise.

My gender is still far from simple, but there’s something undoubtedly delightful about the combination of “gentle” and “man”. It implies that the typically underrated quality of gentleness in males is in fact something to aspire to, not mock. And the way it feels in the mouth as my tongue rolls out the word? It’s beautiful.

It has such exquisite meaning, too. It brings to mind holding open doors and pulling out chairs and taking the time to listen. I can’t say I’m a perfect listener, but these are things I desire to be.

Perhaps, after all, gentleman is simply an ideal that leaves us striving to better ourselves, and isn’t that why we are here? I want to be a gentleman in the fullest sense of the word: not just on Tuesdays, or with someone I love, but always.

Call me a gentleman only when I’ve earned it, but call me a gentleman.

New episode of A Queer Was Here published!

Sex vs. Gender vs. Gender Expression

New episode of A Queer Was Here published!

This episode of “A Queer Was Here” is on Sex vs. Gender vs. Gender Expression, and defines each of those terms and discusses the similarities and differences between them. It is followed by a poem on the topic discussed, and then a TED Talk recommendation on Ending Gender.

You can find the TED Talk I mentioned here: TEDxHouston: “Ending Gender” by Scott Turner Schofield.

Understanding Consent

New episode of A Queer Was Here published!

This episode of “A Queer Was Here” is on “Understanding Consent” and gives a simple definition of consent, followed by a detailed explanation of each part of the definition, and then a poem on the topic discussed. I also mention a spoken word poem on the topic by Guante and a video explaining consent through tea.

You can find the spoken word poem I mentioned here: “Consent at 10,000 Feet” by Guante

You can find the video “Tea and Consent” here: Tea and Consent

You can find the post I wrote on my website that inspired this episode here: Understanding Consent

When Beautiful Things Come Together With Time

Eli is coal. Built from a million memories and past experiences,
he is what happens when beautiful things come together with time.
Charcoal meets paper. The past and the present collide
and art is formed from their touch.

When you are lost in the darkness, call for him. His light will guide you home,
forming brilliance from broken moments and hope from scars.
Why coal was named darkness when it forms such gorgeous light
is something I will never understand.

Still he burns, moment to moment, creating art from shadows and blood.
His heart is fierce in its love to those lucky enough to receive it, and I
bow down to the resilience in its touch.

Maybe beauty and time
can be enough.

Grief, Healing, a New Book, and Other Updates

These past few weeks have been difficult. A friend died, and it’s unclear whether it was suicide or accidental. What is clear is that she is gone. As an atheist, I don’t have the comfort of believing that she’s still around in the afterlife. With a single bullet, her energy and the light and love she carried within her dissipated, and that is a true tragedy.

The same day as that lovely human took her life, I found out another friend has inoperable cancer and an unknown amount of time left. This activist and inspirational human told me what matters is the fight to make the world a better, more equal place, but all I could feel was grief. For the past few weeks, I’ve been cycling through depression, anger, denial, and numbness, but I’ve finally begun to find the peace he told me about the cancer with.

The turning point was not what I expected. Grieving, broken, sliding from numbness to depression to crushing anger moment to moment, I drove my way home from a discussion at the local humanist center far from at peace. When I walked through the door, though, my roommate introduced me to “When Marnie Was There.” His favorite Studio Ghibli film, it was a moving, ultimately healing testament to overcoming tragedy, and when it ended, I felt lifted up with hope, the first hope I’d felt since the day of bad news.

Day to day, I’m finding my healing.

There’s been good news, too, though.

On July 20th, I put out a new book. Raw and honest, “Seven Ways to Break a Heart” deals with themes of heartbreak, addictive love, and tragedy in a deeply moving, transformative manner.

There will also be a book release party for this book on August 16th. Taking place at Maya Pizzeria in Mesa, Arizona from 7pm to midnight, there will be fantastic musicians, wonderful friends, my books, and some of the best pizza on Earth.

Later in August, I will, for the first time in years, be going back to college. I’d dropped out with only 4 classes left before my associate’s degree when I needed to appeal my financial aid suspension (I’d dropped too many classes due to a series of traumatic events that had severely exacerbated my PTSD) and been too overwhelmed and stressed by the appeals process to complete the steps to have financial aid returned. I finally took the necessary steps to appeal, and will be registering for my classes shortly.

Also, in February of next year in Bisbee, Arizona, I will be doing a workshop on “Navigating Gender Identity” as part of a series of workshops to help provide more information and support for the trans and non-binary community in Cochise County. I feel incredibly lucky to be part of this transformative movement toward a brighter future, and especially in as lovely of a place as Bisbee.

I’ve recently begun working again on my dystopian YA science fiction novel entitled “Crimson Class Rebel,” and I am 138 pages in. I recorded the first chapter as a little sneak peak for you guys, and I’ll be releasing that chapter soon.

The last bit of news is personal, but something I’m incredibly proud of. I’ve been struggling with weight gain for years, reaching 300 lbs at my highest, and feeling hopeless about my ability to lose any of it, but in the past couple months, I’ve managed to lose 28 lbs. While I’ve still got a way to go to reach my personal weight goals, I am proud of myself for overcoming my despair and stress to take steps that improved my health. Though I do believe that no one should be shamed or judged based on their weight, I personally was unhappy with mine, and am proud of what I have achieved on my own weight loss.

What have you achieved recently that has made you proud, and do you have any advice or things that have helped you to overcome your own moments of grief?