That Larry Kramer lived to 84 was a miracle. But it was not a privilege. It was a victory hard-won through the sheer voltage and focus of his beautiful, ungainly will–the same will that saved millions of “othered” bodies through his dedication to activating the passive, the phony, the pious-all the institutions that didn’t give a fig about a virus mostly killing off queers, POCs, addicts, and prostitutes.
I always say when a public figure dies, we are re-acquainted with his legacy, so the timing of the AIDS activist and writer’s departure is not a coincidence. And it’s not just because we are once again grappling with institutional indifference to a widespread lethal virus. It is because Kramer showed us that we have to enact our righteous fury if we are to ensure the justice and protections that every human body deserves.
For all through Trump’s reign, we have been wrangling with the bloody legacy of the colonizers we still exalt. This dangerous dehumanization always has been the law of this land (literally and figuratively) but our evil reality TV oligarch has newly empowered it—much as Hitler liberated a long-simmering national anti-semitism just as German gentiles were feeling disenfranchised post-WWI. Due to new technology, some Americans are waking to what everyone else lacked the luxury to ignore: that freedoms, including the right to live, are only a given for those whom our fucked-up Founding Fathers deemed human.
As a white woman–queer, yes, but privileged in so many other ways– it is not enough for me to say I am devastated by the lethal entitlement endorsed and institutionalized in my country. It is not enough for me to just write something here, which is why I’ve largely kept mum. It’s not even enough for my heart to break, though it really, really has. Larry Kramer’s legacy must be honored.
He taught us it was not enough to prettily and politely express our objection to institutionalized murder. He taught us to love each other enough to rise against the machine of greed, willful ignorance, selfishness, hate, and violence. He taught us we must act as if every human body endangered by institutionalized oppression is our own. And he taught us that the goal is for every body to live long enough to tell their story.
We still have much work to do but you have earned your rest, Cousin Larry. Thank you for your messy, heart-forward resistance.
As businesses and beaches slowly (and not so slowly) re-open, I’ve been thinking about artists as essential workers.
We’d have lost our minds this spring were it not for movies, TV, books, DJ sets, Zoom dance parties, all sorts of creativity. This tracks, because artists always have been the ones to lead us out of chaos by dancing on the precipice between order and disorder, and combining holy patience with holy impatience. It’s a vital model, for to rise wholly (and holy) from this viral dis-ease–to effect conscious, constructive change–we must reject the 21st century, post-industrial concept of linear time in which every hour, minute, second (and nanosecond) has been scheduled and over scheduled. Instead, we must embrace the lessons of our Covid-19 tesseracts, and continue to rest, to look and listen mindfully, to practice gratitude and economy, and above all: to create.
For art was never meant to be consumed and collected the way capitalism has taught us. Instead, we are each meant to process our unique joy and pain through creative expression—be that baking, sewing, sowing, singing, spreadsheeting, painting, witching, writing, whatever suits us sustainably and beautifully.
To be an artist is to be a spirit worker, social changer, chaos wrangler, and time traveler—and we all must be artists now. This is a key lesson of Venus Retrograde in Gemini. And this is a key lesson of this Wrinkle in Time.
For a reading or ritual to activate your own creativity, book here. Art: High as Fuck, an open-air quarantine creation by Josh Smith, courtesy of David Zwirner Gallery.
In it, I bought a small wading pool for my office. (I’m not sure why, though bringing mermaid energy into my intuitive practice is always well-advised.) Before filling the pool up, something made me bend down and peel off one of the decals plastered across its bottom surface. The decal was a kind of sea creature–royal blue, with a spiky spine, four legs and very long tail. Absent-mindedly, I began petting the bit of plastic–cradling it in my palm, really–and without any conscious invocation, it swelled into the third-dimension and then animated entirely. At which point it leapt out of my hand and began scrambling all over the room–nervously, wildly, not unlike a wild bird trapped in an indoor space.
I felt equal parts fascinated and terrified. It was adorable, yes, but also dangerous? A dybbuk of some sort? Finally the blue creature began squirming under my front door, and after a great deal of squeezing and squeaking, managed its escape. I watched with no small relief. But by then Grace had rushed into the room and was clocking the goings-on like they were Game 7 of the Permakitten NBA finals.
“Ma!” she shouted. (In my dreams she can speak, though she rarely deigns to do so.) “I can’t believe you weren’t nicer. I’ve been asking for a decal buddy forever.” At which point decal buddy scrambled back in, and he and Grace began cavorting all over the apartment–the tails of one tiny seasprite and one tiny permakitten joyfully entwined in a barely visible blur.
My big takeaway: The residents of Gracie Rosmansion may be lonelier than I’ve allowed. No doubt there is a tertiary revelation–that my unacknowledged (and thus dangerous) desire for connection can will anything into existence. But there’s something else that has stayed with me all the way through my morning coffee and snuggles with Grace: The unexpected is not always unwelcome. That’s a challenging lesson to absorb. But if I’m to truly find love again–and a love unburdened by the defalcations of yore–I must leave room for what I can’t yet imagine.
A Venus Retrograde dream if ever there were one. Who said the goddess doesn’t have a sense of humor?