These Truths, This Self-Evidence

orlando-victims-splitOur country is in the throes of an undeclared civil war, and in the wake of the Orlando murders I find myself with little to say except in urgent letters to political representatives. I look to the elders–to James Baldwin and especially to Audre Lorde–for a path with heart because all around me is broken, bleeding. Lost.

On the subway home last night, surrounded by the beautiful purple and green and pink and black and brown and yellow and blue and red misses and misters and mizzers of my city–variously tired, wired, sober, drunk, happy, sad; variously queer, too–I felt this powerful tenderness for every person in their precious, precarious trajectory. I wanted to strap on an arrow and bow like an Amazon, like Artemis, like Eros himself, and protect them all. We each have a right to be cranky, undefended, soft around each other–to sit shoulder to shoulder without fear or judgment. We are getting closer to that state. We are moving further away.

I looked around at the faces open and closed, and sent love. My cousins, my sweet and sour cousins. Then I opened my dog-eared copy of Lorde’s The Cancer Journals and began to read.

audre lordeTo survive in the mouth of this dragon we call america, we have had to learn that we were never meant to survive. Not as human beings. And that visibility which makes us most most vulnerable is that which also is the source of our greatest strength. Because the machine will try to grind you into dust anyway, whether or not we speak. We can sit in our corners mute forever while our sisters and our selves are wasted, while our children are distorted and destroyed, while our earth is poisoned. We can sit in our safe corners mute as bottles, and we will be no less afraid….When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, it becomes less important whether I am afraid.

Speak, write, congregate, bellow. Hear and hold each other. Rage and terror are our states. Let creation and compassion be our practices. Let us sing. It is as Lin-Manuel Miranda said in his sonnet at those Tony Awards we so dearly needed on Sunday night.

hamilton tonysWe chase the melodies that seem to find us
Until they’re finished songs and start to play
When senseless acts of tragedy remind us
That nothing here is promised, not one day.
This show is proof that history remembers
We lived through times when hate and fear seemed stronger;
We rise and fall and light from dying embers, remembrances that hope and love last longer
And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.


"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy