Category Archives: Queer

Prisoner and Pride

This is a picture of me,
the rainbow on a chain around my neck
both prisoner and pride.

This body is mine.
Mine to own and care for, but
the strange curves of hips and chest,
the thickness of the thighs,
the high waist, the voice,
unabashedly feminine,
unflinching in the mirror:

Those do not belong to me,
photo or not,
flesh or not.

I am all rough edges and stubble,
gritty passion and flame.
But I’ve watched my demons come and go,
addressing me by name.

Still, I stand male,
though of all my friendships,
fear is the most familiar.

The light that formed this photograph
can just as easily devour it, and I
am caught somewhere in the middle
of fighting for myself,
and fighting to make the world safe for myself

and others like me.

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?

Orlando

When I first found out about Orlando, all I could think was, “It’s happening again.” There was no shock at the fact the murders happened. They happen, on a smaller scale, every day. Dread, yes. Crushing grief, yes. Fear, and a sense of how frail any perceived security is in the face of everyday hate, yes.

As the day has gone on, however, that fear and grief have strengthened, and with them has come anger and exhaustion. Every day, violence hits minorities in our communities. This senseless act of hate was inspired by nothing more than sexuality and race.

How many more tomorrows like this must hit before we learn to accept those who are different than us? How many more body bags will be filled with gay and POC and trans lives? How long until a body bag closes over my own head?

Still, I will shine. I will shine for the lights that were cut short in Orlando. I will shine for my dead brothers and sisters of every hate crime. I will sparkle so fucking bright that all the people who follow me into the bathrooms with threats and fists will be blinded. I will shine with the fierce love we all deserve, until the whole world shines along with me.

But it still won’t bring the dead back.

Spoken Word Albums and Other Updates!

I apologize for my long silence, but a job was swallowing my life for a while. However, there are some exciting new updates!

  • I recently released a spoken word poetry album on Bandcamp. You can find it here: War Songs for Peace Keepers
  • I am a quarter of the way through recording another spoken word album, this one entitled Graveside Goodbyes. It should be released this month.
  • I plan to release a short album (EP) every month until at least July. They’re all written and waiting for recording and mixing.
  • I am doing a major site overhaul to make sections of the site more convenient to access. So far the Home Page and Spoken Word Poetry sections have undergone their first round of edits, so check them out and let me know what you think!
  • I’ve started singing my original poems and songs at open mics around the valley as an add-on to my poetry, so if you see an open mic listed on the calendar, you might be in for a new treat!
  • There are three more books planned for release in the upcoming months. Two are poetry and one is something entirely different. Keep your eyes on this blog for more details and some previews!

Speaking of previews, here’s a preview of the album cover for Graveside Goodbyes:

Graveside Goodbyes

James Avery Fuchs signing out!

(P.S.: I finally got my legal name change!)

Fantastically Gay

image

I washed away the rainbows;
wiped glitter from my eyes.
Only so much gay you can hide away,
and yesterday was pride.

Today my closet exploded,
glitter covering my floor.
Vacuums can’t cut it.
I guess I’m gay to the core.

When I look at my footprints
water rainbows in,
moonlight glittering down
and glistening on my skin.

Closets can’t hold me.
Glitterbombs light my way.
Guess I’m stuck in San Francisco,
fantastically gay.

Poem Interlude: Stage Fright

final rainbow

Stage Fright

It was June 2013 when I first told the world
the doctors were wrong. I’m not a girl.
I said it from the stage, the educator’s way;
then I stepped down as my entire life changed.

When I think of fear I think of success,
of turning points where there’s no going back.
Of my first Open Mic when I forgot my own words,
yet people cheered and I still was heard.

The deepest fear I’ve ever felt on stage
was the end of a festival, the day I told my best mates,
“I am male. I want to go by James.
Respect it or not, it is still my name.”

See, none of the musicians I spoke to knew,
and when the camera turned off, my shaking grew.
I didn’t expect the hugs and encouragement.
They admired my strength, and I’m better for it.

I keep seeking the stage to fight my fear,
and two years later, I’m still here;
my own books in my hands, words on my tongue.
They’re how I fight back, written, spoken, or sung.

But I no longer fight alone.

Bisbee Pride, Pt 1

Bisbee Pride, Pt 2

Bisbee Pride, Pt 3

Bisbee Pride, Pt 4

Poem Interlude: Stage Fright

Central School Project: Interview with Pete Goldlust

Sidepony Express Music Festival: Interview with Anamieke Quinn

Bisbee Pride, Pt 4

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Bisbee Pride, Days Four and Five

Saturday-Sunday, June 20-21, 2015

On the morning of the fourth day I woke up still unsure of how to transition between performance and workshop, nerves a jangling mess in my chest.

I started thinking about my biggest and most transformative fears then, the ones that changed my life when I worked up the courage to face them. I realized something startling during my tracing down of fears: I’d faced them all on stage.

Thus was born the poem used to transition between the two parts of my upcoming time on stage, a poem I called “Stage Fright”. Writing it taught me something unexpected about the wiring of my brain, though: I equate fear with success.

Ever since I realized all of my greatest successes were born of facing my most terrifying fears, fear itself, or at least its limiting aspects, have become a positive indicator that my life is about to change in the most powerful ways for the better.

All too quicky upon completing the poem, though, it was time to find “The Silver King” and prepare to perform.

Off I went. Before my set, Treasurefruit owned the stage as they gradually added instruments, and with them, the band members playing them for their impressive acoustic performance. The music blended seamlessly with the powerful vocals, and then they stepped back into the crowd.

Suddenly it was time to face my fears again. I firmed my back and stood.

My poetry inspired attention and cheers, especially “Stage Fright”. It was the workshop that would change lives, however. First a kid with paralyzing shyness worked up the courage to ask for advice on how to show others his art, and the whole group tossed out helpful suggestions and helped him feel less alone with his fear by give examples of their own similar ones.

My set wound down soon after that, but there was still another life it would change in a big way.

As I stepped away, one of the audience members took shaking legs to the stage to perform poetry of their own to an audience for the first time. He enjoyed it so much he came up after the last set to perform again.

I felt at the top of the world.

Later that evening, I got to see Treasurefruit and Sister Lip play again, and spent a while getting to know a band member I hadn’t really interacted with before. I also reconnected with a friend in a nearby town who was there to see the band Fairy Bones.

I went to sleep exhausted and happy, and at six in the morning, I was on my way home with only a Bookmans foray to distract me.

Bisbee Pride, Pt 1

Bisbee Pride, Pt 2

Bisbee Pride, Pt 3

Bisbee Pride, Pt 4

Poem Interlude: Stage Fright

Central School Project: Interview with Pete Goldlust

Sidepony Express Music Festival: Interview with Anamieke Quinn

Bisbee Pride, Pt 3

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Bisbee Pride, Day Three

Friday, June 19, 2015

I started Friday with some coffee when the coffee shop opened, then headed off to nearby Sierra Vista for some errands.

By the time I left, my bags were weighed down with books and notebooks (my two biggest weaknesses) and it was almost afternoon. I had checked out of Gym Club Suites already, and just needed to kill time until I could check in at the next place I was staying at, so I wandered over to the Central School Project. I had to type up a hand-out for the workshop at 3pm, anyway, and so I settled in with my computer and the internet and got to work.

After typing up my hand-out on senses beyond the typical five (new writers often neglect others such as sense of balance, spatiotemporal location, or temperature) and listing my website at the bottom of each, I gathered paper, writing supplies, and the books I had for sale, and headed off to the workshop room.

My workshop was being held in the studio of an amazing artist, whose colorful artwork fit in perfectly with the rainbow-bedecked weekend of Pride. I could have happily stared at Gretchen Baer‘s art for hours, and I was going to have the privilege of presenting my workshop surrounded by that vibrancy. After some quick set-up, I headed down to wait for people.

Oliver and Ramon from the Alliance Fund (which had funded my participation in Bisbee Pride) showed up first. I talked with them for a bit while waiting for others. Lori showed up next, but the time ended up being a bad one for any more attendance, because people either weren’t in Bisbee yet or were working, so the workshop was rescheduled for the next day, merged with an extended time for my Saturday performance.

Because the next day would combine performance and workshop, and the crowd would be there for performances as well as the workshop (not to mention a shorter time), I needed to figure out how to restructure the event and transition between the two parts.

I was still seeking a way when I fell asleep.

Bisbee Pride, Pt 1

Bisbee Pride, Pt 2

Bisbee Pride, Pt 3

Bisbee Pride, Pt 4

Poem Interlude: Stage Fright

Central School Project: Interview with Pete Goldlust

Sidepony Express Music Festival: Interview with Anamieke Quinn

Bisbee Pride, Pt 2

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Bisbee Pride, Day Two

Thursday, June 18, 2015

After I woke up, I timed each of my poems so I could have a realistic idea of how many poems I had time for. The rest of the day blurred together, and then it was time to set up for my first performance.

Set-up was quick, and left me with plenty of time to get to know the other performers. I talked with Venus DeMars and her students Alex, Molly, and Ruby, among others, and they were all fascinating people. Alex was flamboyantly awesome, Molly had the most amazing pink hair and radiated intelligence, and Ruby, though quiet, stunned with her depth. Then there was Venus. Tough as nails, courageous, and remarkably compassionate, I felt lucky to speak with her.

Suddenly, though, it was time to start.

Pete Goldlust, the Director of Central School Project, the organization that brought us to Bisbee and put together these amazing events, stepped on stage to introduce me as I looked around at the almost completely full theater. A minute later, I firmed my knees and walked onto the stage.

Deep breaths.

I performed 14 poems, the slight shaking fading more and more with each. The audience was rapt, a room of about 80 sitting in complete silence, and more than one had tears on their faces by the end. I could feel the emotions running high, and when I stepped off the stage, the applause surprised me with its fervor. When Pete mentioned my workshop the next day, multiple audience members called out to ask the time.

The night would only get better from there.

Venus took center stage first, with a riveting, emotional performance on coming out, and the changes that have (and haven’t) happened since then. I could feel tears clinging to the corners of my eyes as she stepped down and Molly walked forward.

Molly’s first piece was a powerful monologue, touching philosophy and identity in thoughtful ways as she spoke about the struggle to be yourself in a world that wants to put you in boxes so you fit with everyone else. Ruby followed with a heart-wrenching performance on who we’re told to be, covering a mirror with sticky notes and magazine cut-outs as she spoke, filling the mirror until her reflection disappeared. By the end, tears were streaming down my face. Molly then did another monologue exploring more themes of identity, and then it was Alex’s turn.

Alex’s performance began bemusing, grew to involve the audience, and ultimately culminated in a moving letter to a childhood crush that both broke my heart and gave me faith in the ability of people to grow. Then Venus stepped on stage again, and after smashing some memories, invited everyone on stage with a flashlight for a brilliant, powerful song. As the last chords faded into air, a bunch of my fellow audience members told me how much my poems had moved them. One in particular spoke to me about losing their wife, and how my poem Chasing Horizons had helped them heal. I was overwhelmed.

I spoke to a bunch more people at the after-party, where a friend who had seen me perform before told me she had cried throughout my entire set from pure overwhelming emotion, and I sold some books that evening as well. When I left, I felt like I was glowing. The trip had dawned brightly, and I couldn’t wait for the morning to come.

Bisbee Pride, Pt 1

Bisbee Pride, Pt 2

Bisbee Pride, Pt 3

Bisbee Pride, Pt 4

Poem Interlude: Stage Fright

Central School Project: Interview with Pete Goldlust

Sidepony Express Music Festival: Interview with Anamieke Quinn

Bisbee Pride, Pt 1

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This year I was chosen to be a featured performer for Bisbee Pride. The experience was amazing, and I feel like I made a difference in the lives of a number of audience members while learning a lot myself. Not only that, the organizations that played a part in giving me this opportunity were ones I already respected and admired. I feel really honored by the opportunity I was given, and I want to dedicate a number of upcoming posts to the experiences I had there.

The first group of posts will be about the trip itself, then I’ll post a new poem I wrote while there, and last, I want to write a bit about the organizations involved in making me a part of this year’s Bisbee Pride. They have not asked me to do so, but I value their missions and want to make sure those missions are heard. Links to all other completed sections of these series of posts will be at the bottom of each.

Without further ado, Day One!

Bisbee Pride, Day One

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

I left for Bisbee on very little sleep Wednesday afternoon, picking up food, fuel, and some of a friend’s instruments on the way. I had to make a few stops to walk off the tired, and being my book-obsessed self, I made sure that one of those stops was at a Bookmans in Tucson.

Bookmans is a local used book store chain that also carries music, comics, magazines, games, and video game systems, including vintage ones. It is also quite possibly my favorite place to shop in the state. They even allow dogs and provide wifi, along with holding various music, game, and cultural events. Even though I couldn’t afford to buy anything just yet, I wandered for over an hour, letting books inspire memories and feeling surrounded by love.

Eventually, though, I had to return to the drive, and I arrived in Bisbee a few hours later and checked into the Gym Club Suites, where I was to stay the first two nights.

The room had a vaulted ceiling, full kitchen, and more floor space than my entire condo and its three porches combined. The staff guided me by phone through the maze of Bisbee streets, provided me a number I could reach them at even when the office was closed, and replaced a light bulb I noticed was out right away even though the office was already closed when I saw. I unpacked, showered, then went next door to the Central School Project (CSP)’s theater, where my first performance would be.

I met Venus DeMars, the other performer for the next night, and one of the students who would be performing with her. Venus had been in Bisbee for two weeks, preparing a performance art set with local students on identity, and my performance the next night would be their opening act. Then I sat down to discuss preparations with Pete Goldlust, CSP’s director.

When I finally went to bed, I was thrumming with excitement.

Bisbee Pride, Pt 1

Bisbee Pride, Pt 2

Bisbee Pride, Pt 3

Bisbee Pride, Pt 4

Poem Interlude: Stage Fright

Central School Project: Interview with Pete Goldlust

Sidepony Express Music Festival: Interview with Anamieke Quinn