Tuesday, May 22, 2018

I Love You. (Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights)

“Once upon a time… There was a world like this one but better. Ever so dolly. A world where everything was marvelous or frightening or strange. A world where everything was alive and significant. Some people caught glimpses of it and tried to bring back what they saw. They called it Oz, Wonderland, Never Never Land, Slumberland, and they were right but only partly. A world of wild adventures and wonderful cities and dark forests. But then it all fell apart. Don’t know why. Maybe it caught the sickness of the real world.”
-Grant Morrison
And I still can see Blue Velvet through my tears...
I came out as bisexual to my college roommates on Election Day 2016. I first came across the term when I was younger. It was on DeviantArt, of all places, and for a piece of fan art for a fandom I wasn’t a part of at the time (nor one that I am a part of now). It was just a brief simplified description of the sexuality, framing it within a binary set of genders (this was 2010 after all [come to think of it, the description didn’t even mention what bisexuality was, it just implied that it wasn’t just having sexual desires towards women]). The term didn’t so much strike a cord I could feel as haunt my subconscious until I came out to myself. I had the realization that I was bi for a few months now, I think late July/early August, but I hadn’t told anyone that I was until that day. It felt right to say it aloud at the time, though I don’t think they noticed or cared. It wasn’t for them really, I told them just to get it off my chest. And for a while, it felt good.

Then Donald Trump became President of the United States.

It was a harrowing experience, to say the least. I felt like I had left my own body and all that was left was a husk of a man who thought he was me. (I should preface that I wasn’t one of the people who immediately effected by Donald. I’m a relatively upper middle class, white guy from a slightly Christian background in New England. I also have compassion and can empathize with the plights of other people [or as best as someone on the autism spectrum can], so) I felt pale and terrified. I had to leave the common room my roommates were watching the results in just so I could breathe normally. I felt like the atmosphere was crushing me until I was nothing more than a fleck on the membrane of the Earth. I had to talk to someone, anyone really, or my thoughts would make me collapse into a pool of anxiety and paranoia.

I called my brother (or he called me, I forget which) and we chatted a bit about the election results (he voted for Jill Stein on account of “not wanting his hands dirty.” I voted for Clinton because Donald felt like a worst case scenario waiting to burn everything I hold dear [not the least of which due to his siding with the Alt-Right] and the democrats seemed like the best option to stop that, regardless of how I feel towards Clinton [not good but probably wouldn’t start World War III, which is how I feel about most candidates for President really]). He made some crass comments about how “Bernie would have won” or something like that.

The way he talked about the election… it felt as if he saw Donald as a better alternative than Clinton, though he would claim both were equally bad. When he tried to reassure me in a tone of someone who doesn’t think my fears are anything at all, a thing that deserves to be belittled. I snapped at him, screaming profanities at him in a voice hoarse with fear. I hung up and let myself be consumed by an atmosphere of dread.

A few minutes later, my mom called me. Evidentially, my brother called her, worried about how I was doing after all that had happened. We talked for a bit and I was able to ground myself. I was still terrified, certainly, but I was able to stay afloat of my thoughts that said that Nuclear Armageddon was going to happen on the first day in office. She also pointed out that it was a bit rude of me to scream profanities when it was quiet hours and that I should apologize to my roommates. They’re good people, so I did.

The next day, I was still a shell of myself. I wouldn’t regain my full self until the end of the week, but I had enough self to keep it together for a few days. It was hard for me to do any writing at the time; I just kept looking at the computer screen and asked what the point of it all was. The essay I was working on was an examination of the comic From Hell from a psychogeographic and psychocronographic perspective. It was an optimistic piece, ending in the monster being caged by art, but I couldn’t bring myself to be an optimist at the moment. I had fallen deep into a pool of pessimism and despair.

I only had one professor who was openly supportive of Donald. He was a teacher in the film department and the kind of teacher who got what Paul Verhoeven was on about. I was taking his course in screenwriting at the time and I found it somewhat useful, teaching me how to structure and outline a screenplay, but not much else. I had him the day after the election results were announced, and he was elated. He’d boast about how Donald was the first politician who made him want to vote and how he was going to make America great again. And yet, there was a performativity to the way he presented his support. It felt a bit hollow, like he was just saying it (as opposed to believing it) to rile up a few of the students in the class. We got back at him by not being disgusted by the sex work in Showgirls.

He was an outlier of course. My teachers mostly didn’t bring up the election and the ones that did were a bit nerve wracked by the results. They were able to teach certainly, but they had a look of dread in their eyes unseen outside of the eyes of a middle school teacher. I’d have many conversations with my Internship supervisor about the way the world was going, and every one of them ended depressingly. And to top it all off, my grandfather died a few weeks before the inauguration. So cheery moods all around.

I bring this all up here because this is the context upon which my understanding of my sexuality is understood. It was always political for me. It was probably always political for everyone else too. Which brings us to the event that happened on October 11th, 1987: The Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. Or, as it’s more commonly known, The Great March. So named because of the size of the event.

As with many queer issues of the day, it was primarily a protest against the Regan Administration for their failures in regards to the AIDS crisis. Additionally, there was the matter of Bowers V. Hardwick, which upheld the criminalization of sodomy between two consenting men, which was naturally considered to be a bad move on the administration’s part (and sadly, not the worst of their crimes) as well as a call for the end South Africa’s apartheid system, reproductive freedom, and more.

All told, it is reported that roughly 750,000 people attended the march. Among those, noted celebrities such as Jesse Jackson and Whoopi Goldberg led the marches and made speeches at the event. It is considered by many in the LGBTQIA movement to be a success, to the point where the first National Coming Out Day was created the very next year to continue the momentum. There were naturally flaws in the event (most notably the discussions amongst the organizers as to whether or not bisexuals and transpeople should be included in the event), but overall many see it as an important watershed moment within the LGBTQIA movement.

I wish I could say that I was as brave as these people. I wish I could say I went to marches like this one in the wake of Donald’s ascent into the presidency. Alas, that was not what happened. In truth, while I had desire to attend events like this one that were being held at my school, I just kept missing them or remembering they were happening at all. I had no drive to attend these events. I support causes like this one online, certainly, but I haven’t given money to the causes, attended any meetings or events.

Instead, I made a blog. It was sometime in July of last year that I came up with the idea of the blog, a small psychocronography (not to the scope of TARDIS Eruditorum’s 50 years, Vaka Rangi’s 28, or even My Little Po-Mo’s four, but rather a smaller scope of two months) to understand what was going on around me. I picked a story that I liked quite a bit and had enough of a following to gain some attention, though not enough of one that I’d be seen as a copycat (I always liked JM DeMatteis’ Spider-Man and indeed DeMatteis himself and felt he was quite underrated; the Ghost that haunts Albion, to invoke someone else’s comic project. As for Spider-Man, well to be quite frank I’m literally one of two people doing any critical analysis on the character within the realm of comics analysis and that’s just sad. So I figured, I always liked the character, maybe I have something to say about him. The fact that I’ve barely talked about the guy speaks volumes about my abilities at subtweeting). And then I wrote what felt right to write about-- about Charlottesville and my political history and all the other things that were happening around, in front of, and behind me. I wanted to understand what was going on, why I felt so heartbroken and defeated, why that feeling never went away.

I’m lucky, in many regards. I have friends online who I can talk to without anxieties (though I would like some more IRL friends. Not that I don’t have those, I just have some difficulties socializing with others beyond a general hello and some conversing in pop culture. I’d like to improve on these skills to form more lasting relationships). I have a family who’s supportive of my endeavors, though my anxieties tell me otherwise. And I do work that I like quite a bit. There are many who would be lucky to have what I have.

But I still feel a sense of dread in the air. Maybe it won’t go away until Donald is no longer President. Maybe it’ll take the slate of politics in America, as we know it, to change so completely and utterly that it becomes unrecognizable. Maybe it’ll never go away. Maybe it’s all just part of growing up and I should use my dread to make things better. I’d like to believe it’s not hopeless, that our actions no matter how small can change the world. And while I do genuinely believe that, I also know that it takes a lot of work and energy to do so. I know not everyone has that energy (hell, most days I don’t), but if we can help each other out, even a little, maybe we can make the world a better place. Or at the very least one that accepts the strangeness of others.
“Remember running
in between
the blazing trashcans
holding hands,
laughing above the sirens,
unafraid and pure? 
We knew
that freedom
could be won,
that nothing
could prevent it.”
-Alan Moore
(Next Time: J.M. DeMatties’ Spider-Man)

[Photo: Blue Written and Directed by Derrick Jarman]

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