Archive | Queer Matters

Change the Record, Change Your Life

I woke wanting to listen to Aretha. No big surprise there, though I haven’t been listening to my queen lately; it’s still too painful. What I really wanted to hear was new music by her, but this is no small feat when you’ve been obsessed with a now-deceased singer since you were a child.

It was a desire sparked by seeing Malcolm X at BAM last Saturday. It’d been so swampy that weekend, and R and I had been casting about for something to do that would diffuse the intense awkwardness of feeling like strangers after having been lovers for years and then not speaking for years after that. So it wasn’t just the prospect of seeing the Spike Lee biopic on a big screen that had dragged us three neighborhoods from our own as temperatures climbed into the 100s. We’d had to balance the prospect of sitting in pools of our drying sweat against the promise of a hefty distraction, and the latter had won.

The joint was packed, and not just because of that AC. Everyone in attendance was agog over the choreography and catharsis and craftsmanship and charisma and certitude. This was a 3.5-hour film, yet there was none of that BS chatter and smartphone-checking you find these days at a public screening. In the last 10 minutes, the late, great Ossie Davis delivered his eulogy for Malcolm over a montage of the diaspora of his influence, and all around me people sat silent except for the occasional nose-honking.

Over the credits sailed an Aretha recording I’d never heard before: “Someday We’ll All Be Free.”

Until the last credit R and I sat still. At the beginning of the film he’d reached for my hand and I’d been stiff, like a child afraid to disappoint a needy elder. Always sensitive to rejection, he’d dropped it after a bit and I’d forced myself not to soothe his ruffled feathers by reaching back. I’d promised myself I wouldn’t initiate any physical contact I didn’t desire. He’d done that enough for us both. Continue Reading →

Dowager Shock

I think to myself sometimes—maybe you do too— why all the selfies?

I barely took a picture of myself until I turned 40. But I spent yesterday with an old lover and it gave me an inkling of an answer: You really can’t go home again. Not because time is hopelessly linear but because if you keep on self-reckoning, eventually you outgrow obfuscation and objectification, diminishment and toxic possession. Shame. You stop saying, “Daddy, please approve of me.” You start saying, “Daddy, you have no invitation nor right to my deference.” Which is to say: you stop taking or talking jive. And maybe that’s why I take these pictures now. To remind myself that, despite the fact that I have aged out of viability in the eyes of patriarchy, despite the fact that I am untethered to a romantic relationship or biological family, despite the fact that I have very little cash nor clear prospects, despite the fact that I carry more weight than ladies are programmed to allow themselves, I am still here. At 48, I am more sure than ever before of who I am, what I can tolerate, how I can serve, and of the space I claim. So today I put on eclipse-season, mercury-retrograde, dowager-chic armor: a boob-revealing mini dress, platforms, 4D hair, lipstick, big glasses, fannypack—essentially I transformed myself into a 6 foot 4 spacecrone. And what I am saying—what I always am saying in Trump’s fucked-up, cockocratic, white-supremacist dystopia—is this: I’m not just a lover. I am a fighter. And I have earned the right to look back at you.

Notes on Pride, Luck, Lasses with Glasses

It will surprise no one who reads me that after finishing a film lecture upstate today I couldn’t bring myself to rush back to the city for Pride. Not because I don’t love my LGBTQ+ community but because I am incapable of abandoning a quiet green place for a crowded concrete one–at least before saying hi to every tree and bird in a two-mile radius.

So I sat by a lake and thought about luck once again. How unlucky we are to be living in the last few years of an environment that can functionally feed and hydrate and shelter us–or maybe how lucky we are to still have it today, given our abuse. How unlucky we are to be living under an administration that so brutally upholds capitalismcolonialismcockocracy–or maybe how lucky we’re finally forced to confront our country’s core of capitalismcolonialismcockocracy. How unlucky we are that so many queer community members–especially the gender-nonconforming–face mortal danger but how lucky that so many young people feel free to claim their sexuality given that when my generation was coming up, teachers were fired just for being gay.

And then there’s the personal stuff. How just yesterday I’d run into that stranger called my life for the first time in years only a few days after we’d messaged for the first time in years. And how a friend of K’s–a guy who helped me this dreadful spring for no reason except his general kindness–took suddenly, gravely ill.

The list goes on and on and woven into each item is our connecting karma, the Indra’s Net cradling each of us in its spidery, silvery arms.

I meditated on this for a while, sending everybody, and I do mean everybody, bright white light. Then, no joke, a gull came along and took a white bright dump on my blanket. It was the classic luck, schmuck conclusion, and I had to laugh.

But upon standing I saw a pair of glasses in the grass alongside me. Technically the abandoned lenses must have been there all along but of course I only noticed as I was feeling like I’d figured itall out. I only noticed the second pair–a half pair, really–on the curb as I returned to my car.

It’s like James Brown had hurdled back onto the planet in big preacherly robes hollering DO YOU SEE THE LIGHT? DO YOU SEE THE LIGHT? while Jake and Ellwood did sloppy somersaults and a very young Chaka Khan squirmed in ecstasy. Because, YES I SEE THE LIGHT AND THANKS FOR THE CORRECTIVE LENSES but also maybe I’M STILL NOT SEEING EVERYTHING I SHOULD!?

Gods and goddesses, send as many visions as you can.

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