I once told a joke about a straight person.
They came after me in droves.
Each one singing the same:
Don’t fight fire with fire.
What they mean is: Don’t fight fire with anything.
Do not fight fire with water.
Do not fight fire with foam.
Do not evacuate the people.
Do not sound the alarms.
Do not crawl coughing and choking and spluttering to safety.
Do not barricade the door with damp towels.
Do not wave a white flag out of the window.
Do not take the plunge from several storeys up.
Do not shed a tear for your lover trapped behind a wall of flame.
Do not curse the combination of fuel, heat, and oxygen.
Do not ask why the fire fighters are not coming.
When they say: Don’t fight fire with fire.
What they mean is: Stand and burn."
When you are hurting, there will always be people who find a way to make it about themselves. If you break your wrist, they’ll complain about a sprained ankle. If you are sad, they’re sadder. If you’re asking for help, they’ll demand more attention.
Here is a fact: I was in a hospital and sobbing into my palms when a woman approached me and asked why I was making so much noise and I managed to stutter that my best friend shot himself in the head and now he was 100% certified dead and she made this little grunt and had the nerve to tell me, “Well now you made me sad.”
When you get angry, there are going to be people who ask you to shut up and sit down, and they’re not going to do it nicely. Theirs are the faces that turn bright red before you have a chance to finish your sentence. They won’t ask you to explain yourself. They’ll be mad that you’re mad and that will be their whole reason alone.
Here is a fact: I was in an alleyway a few weeks ago, stroking my friend’s back as she vomited fourteen tequila shots. “I hate men,” she wheezed as her sides heaved, “I hate all of them.”
I braided her hair so it wouldn’t get caught in the mess. I didn’t correct her and reply that she does in fact love her father and her little brother too, that there are strangers she has yet to meet that will be better for her than any of her shitty ex-boyfriends, that half of our group of friends identifies as male - I could hear each of her bruises in those words and I didn’t ask her to soften the blow when she was trying to buff them out of her skin. She doesn’t hate all men. She never did.
She had the misfortune to be overheard by a drunk guy in an ill-fitting suit, a boy trying to look like a man and leering down my dress as he stormed towards us. “Fuck you, lady,” he said, “Fuck you. Not all men are evil, you know.”
“Thanks,” I told him dryly, pulling on her hand, trying to get her inside again, “See you.”
He followed us. Wouldn’t stop shouting. How dare she get mad. How dare she was hurting. “It’s hard for me too!” he yowled after us. “With fuckers like you, how’s a guy supposed to live?”
Here’s a fact: my father is Cuban and my genes repeat his. Once one of my teachers looked at my heritage and said, “Your skin doesn’t look dirty enough to be a Mexican.”
When my cheeks grew pink and my tongue dried up, someone else in the classroom stood up. “You can’t say that,” he said, “That’s fucking racist. We could report you for that.”
Our teacher turned vicious. “You wanna fail this class? Go ahead. Report me. I was joking. It’s my word against yours. I hate kids like you. You think you’ve got all the power - you don’t. I do.”
Later that kid and I became close friends and we skipped class to do anything else and the two of us were lying on our backs staring up at the sky and as we talked about that moment, he sighed, “I hate white people.” His girlfriend is white and so is his mom. I reached out until my fingers were resting in the warmth of his palm.
He spoke up each time our teacher said something shitty. He failed the class. I stayed silent. I got the A but I wish that I didn’t.
Here is a fact: I think gender is a social construct and people that want to tell others what defines it just haven’t done their homework. I personally happen to have the luck of the draw and am the same gender as my sex, which basically just means society leaves me alone about this one particular thing.
Until I met Alex, who said he hated cis people. My throat closed up. I’m not good at confrontation. I avoided him because I didn’t want to bother him.
One day I was going on a walk and I found him behind our school, bleeding out of the side of his mouth. The only thing I really know is how to patch people up. He winced when the antibacterial cream went across his new wounds. “I hate cis people,” he said weakly.
I looked at him and pushed his hair back from his head. “I understand why you do.”
Here is a fact: anger is a secondary emotion. Anger is how people stop themselves from hurting. Anger is how people stop themselves by empathizing.
It is easy for the drunken man to be mad at my friend. If he says “Hey, fuck you, lady,” he doesn’t have to worry about what’s so wrong about men.
It’s easy for my teacher to fail the kids who speak up. If we’re just smart-ass students, it’s not his fault we fuck up.
It’s easy for me to hate Alex for labeling me as dangerous when I’ve never hurt someone a day in my life. But I’m safe in my skin and his life is at risk just by going to the bathroom. I understand why he says things like that. I finally do.
There’s a difference between the spread of hatred and the frustration of people who are hurting. The thing is, when you are broken, there will always be someone who says “I’m worse, stop talking.” There will always be people who are mad you’re trying to steal the attention. There will always be people who get mad at the same time as you do - they hate being challenged. It changes the rules.
I say I hate all Mondays but my sister was born on one and she’s the greatest joy I have ever known. I say I hate brown but it’s really just the word and how it turns your mouth down - the colour is my hair and my eyes and my favorite sweater. I say I hate pineapple but I still try it again every Easter, just to see if it stings less this year. It’s okay to be sad when you hear someone generalize a group you’re in. But instead of assuming they’re evil and filled with hatred, maybe ask them why they think that way - who knows, you might just end up with a new and kind friend."
I really want to be homecoming queen. But really I’ll never be homecoming queen. And that’s okay.
It’s okay to be myself. It’s okay to let loose and fuck everyone else that gives you shit. It’s okay to be part of a subculture, and it’s okay to be one in a million.
It’s fucking okay to do what I love and not care about anyone! I am beautiful. And it’s okay to not feel beautiful. Because everybody feels that way. But it’s not okay to let people dictate how i live, dress, speak or act.
It’s okay to let people influence me in positive ways. I don’t always have to be completely original. NO ONE IS.
and it’s okay to be mad. It’s okay to support the things I love and stand behind them with my entire being.
and I don’t have to impress everyone all the time. I’m the only one that matters.
1) everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal;
2) anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;
3) anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.
Apply this list to movies, rock music, word processors and mobile phones to work out how old you are."
douglas adams writing about technology in 1999.
i used to love the strokes until i met you. you were different. we didn’t agree on things - and that was okay. i didn’t recognize your “casual” quips because they were coming from the mouth of someone who was an ally, a friend.
maybe it was because i didn’t look past the surface. i should have discovered who you are before i started feeling this way. you’re just like the ones i hear about everywhere, but i didnt realize. because it was subtle. you weren’t going overboard with your remarks, you treated them like it was a normal thing to say.
you’re worse than all that, though. you just became part of a group.
“But you’re not fat, don’t say that,” he responded.
Tell that to the hips that got caught in a turnstile yesterday and everyday that she forgets to turn sideways. Tell that to the stores that stop at size 12 (or size 10 if she wanted to look her age). Tell that to the small woman rolling her eyes beside me on the subway as my booty spills over into her seat. Tell that to the holes my inner thighs have rubbed into every pair of jeans I own. Tell that to the rolls on my back & the crevices in my ass.
Tell that to the silence at the end of your sentence that should say “because fat people are ugly, because if I think you’re attractive you can’t be fat because I’m saving fat to degrade a woman two sizes smaller than you but with a flatter chest & a spare tire. Because you’re not fat is a compliment even when it’s not true because what I’m really saying is you don’t repulse me the way fat people are supposed to repulse me. Because I get final say on your body, not you & I’m giving you a pass for the same dimpled ass I laughed at on another woman yesterday because your waistline is smaller than hers and a normal woman would just be happy with that.”"
westerners are obsessed with the idea of happiness as if it’s a constant state of being. happiness comes in moments. you dont “achieve” happiness. you experience it along with every other emotion on the spectrum. if you spend your life chasing this constructed idea of happiness you will never even be remotely content. work on being whole and feeling everything while increasing the happy moments. stop trying to be a “happy person.” just be a person.
The girls are never supposed to end up together. I watched that movie with Ellen Page and Alia Shawkat, the roller-skating movie, the one where Ellen and Alia are best friends, each other’s only comforts in their podunk town. They need each other, and they hug, and they dance, and they tell each other I Love You, and Ellen meets a skinny boy who plays in a band. It doesn’t even work out with the boy, but that’s almost tangential. The girl was never a real option.
I think that’s why it’s really difficult for girls. For me. We follow narratives and our fingertips trace the contours of the stories we love and we long to escape within the confines of our own lives. Meet your boyfriend in the pouring rain and yank down his mask and kiss him upside down. Run with your boyfriend to the front of the ferry and throw your arms out to the side and scream, “I’m king of the world!” If you are a girl in love with a boy, your possibilities are infinite.
If there is a special girl in your life, you love her as a friend. You love her as a friend, but she becomes less important to you as you grow, and you leave her behind for a boy. She might even stand next to you when you marry the boy, and she might catch the bouquet of flowers that you throw to her. You’re giving her permission to move on, move away from you. It’s a ceremony of separation.
But if you should fall in love with a girl - and loving and falling in love are two very distinct things - the first kiss is the end. You’ve all seen the movie. Or the television show. Or the after-school special, or you’ve read the book that was banned from your school’s library for containing Sexual Content. The point of your story is not to fall in love. The point of your story is to struggle. Your story begins with a lie and climaxes in a truth and ends with a kiss. In the movie of your life, forty-five minutes are devoted to you figuring out how to say that you want to kiss girls, and another half-hour is devoted to people’s objections, and maybe the last fifteen minutes is you kissing the girl. Maybe you don’t even get to kiss the girl. Maybe she tells you that she’s flattered, but she doesn’t bat for your team.
The critics swoon; it’s realistic, they say, so realistic, to depict the struggle of the modern teen, the heartbreak of irresolvable incompatibility. Isn’t that always what celebrities cite in their divorces? “Irreconciliable differences.”
And so you’re lying on the floor of your bathroom, your knees curled to your chest, or you’re on your sofa with a pint of ice cream, or you’re in bed watching your favourite sad movie on Netflix, and the collective weight of all that you consume settles on your shoulders, leans in, and whispers, “You were never meant to fall in love.”
You were never meant to fall in love. Your story ends in tears or it ends in death. Jack Twist was bludgeoned to death with a tire iron and Ennis Del Mar was left alone in his closet to dance with an empty shirt. Alby Grant found Dale Tomasson swinging by a noose in the apartment that had been their safehouse, their respite, and he sank to his knees and cradled Dale’s bare feet and he cried. The Motion Picture Association of America axed Lana Tisdel and Brandon Teena’s sex scenes, but they didn’t have a problem with the extended shot of Lana cradling Brandon’s corpse in her fragile arms and falling asleep next to his body.
Love and intimacy are ours only in death, or so it would seem.
I don’t want to die. Isn’t that a very human experience? Not wanting to die? When does anyone who looks like me get to grow old and raise grandchildren and hold her wife’s hand as the skin wrinkles, turns translucent?
Sometimes my father asks me if I’ll ever date a man. Sometimes he doesn’t ask. “You are attracted to men, and you dream about falling in love with men,” he says, as if he can will his imaginary daughter into existence merely by speaking about her. Or maybe he is just looking out for my safety.
He’s seen the movies, too.
He loves me.
He doesn’t want me to die.