GUEST POST: I Refuse to Apologize

Luther again: this is the second post that my student asked me to put up; as I said earlier, I thought the first one deserved to stand on its own for a bit before getting Bigfooted by this one.  Go read that first, if you haven’t already, then come back.


When the news about Jussie Smollett came out about a month or so ago, my organization, the Queer Students of Color, decided to post a fundraiser to raise money for queer youth of color that experience violence everyday. We wanted to so something while people were paying attention. 

We were fooled. And we’re not sorry for it. 

We’re not sorry for believing a victim. We’re not sorry that there was an example of hate crimes that finally gained mass media attention. The only thing we’re sorry for is that we were lied to by someone we thought we could trust. 

The fact of the matter is this: whether or not we were lied to doesn’t take away from the truth that is violence against LGBTQ+ POC. For that reason, the fundraiser is still on, and we’ll be advocating for it until we meet our $10,000 goal, and everyday after that. We are representatives of a community that is the one of the most vulnerable demographics in the world.

Jussie Smollett took advantage of the vulnerability of millions of people. He spit in the faces of trans women of color that have been murdered. He spit in the faces of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean – stole attention from their story in favor of his own selfish goals. That enrages us, saddens us, and makes us even more passionate and dedicated to our cause. 

The Queer Students of Color is a collection of youth with the voice and power to bring attention to the very real fears of people that feel like they don’t have a platform. We are loving, caring people who want to use our intelligence and resources to better the world, so that we don’t have to live in fear any longer. Jussie Smollett spit in our faces. We are not ashamed, we are emboldened, and we will not stop our advocacy just because one person decided to do a bad thing. 

For those of you that feel like LGBTQ+ people of color owe you an apology: fuck you. The fact that you’re attacking us because we believed someone is just that – an attack. Why should we apologize to people that have always thought that we were predators, criminals, liars? Why should we concede to your twisted idea that we’re just attention seeking hypocrites? I’m most definitely not. I’m un-apologetically black, genderqueer and bisexual. If anything you should be apologizing to us for using the instance with Jussie to spew your homophobic vitriol. I have never had so many attacks on my character until I was accused of starting a fundraiser for the Trevor Project – a third party organization whose mission is to provide care to young LGBTQ+ people. The money never went into my hands, it will never go into my hands. The money goes to programs that want rights for LGBTQ+ medical insurance, for LGBTQ+ safe spaces, etc. Google is free, y’all. Use it. 

I’m angry, that much should be obvious. But I’m not angry at my own people, I’m angry that there are some saying “Ha! This is proof that those faggots are liars!” I’m angry that we’re receiving hate instead of support, when Jussie’s lie affected us more than anyone else in this country. That there are some thinking that this debunks all of the very real testimonies of violence that LGBTQ+ POC have finally had the chance to bring to light. I’m angry that straight cisgender black people are the main perpetrators of this awful, awful rhetoric. I’m so fucking angry that after this, people will feel emboldened to hurt us because they’ll feel like they’ll get away with it. 

I’m. Mad.

GUEST POST: On the Intersections of Homophobia/Transphobia and Race

Luther here– this piece, along with a follow-up to come in a couple of hours, is a guest post by a former student who emailed me and asked if she could get a spot on the site. The answer was yes, obviously, but life intervened and I had to delay putting it up a bit, and, well, if you’ve been following the Jussie Smollett story at all you know that it’s been … we’ll say fast-evolving and leave it at that. So she sent me a second post, after the first one. I’m running both today; this one will live on its own for a few hours and the second will run tonight. There will no doubt be more to come, as recent news indicates that just because Smollett doesn’t seem to have been perfectly honest doesn’t mean that the Chicago cops weren’t lying too.

Regardless, I encourage you to donate to the fundraiser.


Just recently my organization, the Purdue Queer Students of Color (QSOC) decided to do a fundraiser for the Trevor Project to raise money for the homeless LGBTQ+ youth in America. There were a few tragic events that happened around the same time: the attack in Chicago on actor and activist Jussie Smollett, the discovery of dead Timothy Dean  in Democratic donor Ed Buck’s home. He’s the second of two gay black men found in Buck’s home, next to Gemmel Moore. There was also news of the death of Dana Martin – a black trans woman – who was found shot to death in a roadside ditch. When the executive board of QSOC heard of Jussie Smollett’s attack, we came to the conclusion that it was a good time to raise awareness for dangers that every LGBTQ+ person of color fears on a daily basis. Those who are homeless are especially in danger of this sort of violence, so we’re doing the fundraiser for them specifically. 

When I posted the link to the Trevor Project on Twitter, an accusation against me claiming that I was gold digging was quick to the draw. Tariq Nasheed tried to impeach my character, making the assertion that I was trying to profit off of the news regarding Jussie, which did indeed cause a large uproar on social medias. His followers swarmed me with challenges: you’re just capitalizing on something bad that happened; you don’t really care about anyone but yourself; what about other LGBTQ+ people of color that have suffered violence; black people are the only people of color, really; this was more racism than anything else, you know that right, etc. 

All of these were “concerns” by people who couldn’t care less about queer people of color. None of these people care about trans women of color who have died due to hate crimes. None of these people truly care about Jussie, either. There is only one marginalized identity that matters to them: blackness. 

The Tariq Nasheed is a champion of the ever-harmful “black first” mentality. Why is it harmful? I’ll illustrate. 

As a black, genderqueer, bisexual person, the only identity that matters to them is the first. The fact that I could face discrimination based on my gender identity and/or sexual orientation goes completely over their heads. Or, if not totally oblivious, they just don’t care about anything else. They’re cutting my multi-faceted person-hood down to a singular attribute. In a way, they’re doing to me what the white hegemonic societal and governmental systems are doing to all people of color. I’m being looked at as a black person/nigger first. While one is hyper-focusing on liberating on only one of my identities, the other is placing me under the heel of their boot. 

I get it, black people are subject to hatred by a power that we’re trying to deconstruct and destroy. However, in the heavy fog of single race liberation their eyes are too clouded to see other forms of oppression faced by people of different racial backgrounds. 

“You keep saying people of color. Just say black, we’re the only real people of color.” A young lady tweeted this to me on the very same evening that I posted the fundraiser link. I may get some blow back from this statement, but fuck it. 

Black people can be racist. 

Before you get a social wedgie, let me explain. 

Racism is the act of perpetuating negativity towards people of races variant to that of the race that currently has complete socioeconomic control over a given state or states. Meaning, black people can’t be racist against white people because no matter what, what I or any other black person says against a white person it won’t affect said white person by lowering their station in the grand scheme of societal hierarchies. In fact, it may even help the white person to the detriment of the black person; the former now has ammunition as to why black people are “racist”, and can use that by perpetuating the idea that there is equity among the races. 

Think: are black people the only ones at a detriment at the hands of white hegemony? Is black power the only real social movement that matters? Are black men the only ones who suffer from police brutality?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re what some would call a “hotep”

For the Whites or those who aren’t familiar with black vernacular, I can supplement the attached link with my own outline of hotepistry. 

A hotep is:

  1. A black person who stresses “black liberation” but only has black men in mind. (Black women included). 
  2. Thinking constantly that any punishment that a black man faces is the act of racism, when the black man is probably just a murderer, rapist, etc.
  3. Someone with a “black first” attitude because if someone attacks you they saw your skin color before they saw your gender presentation or sexual orientation. (Also known as homophobia/transphobia). 
  4. A person that excuses rape because “did you see what she/he was wearing? She/he was asking for it!”
  5. #BlackLivesMatter only if you’re straight and cis-gender
  6. “wHy ArE bLaCk MeN bLaMeD wHeN iT’s WhItE pEoPlE aRe ThE oNeS wHo DiD tHe CrImE???????” Promptly said after posting on twitter/facebook “If my son is gay I’m disowning him by throwing him off a balcony because that shit is for the birds.”
  7. Anyone telling Terry Crews “you’re bigger than him why didn’t you just smack the shit out of him?”
  8. Abusers. 
  9. Anyone who thinks the #MeToo movement is ruining dating culture. News flash! You’re just a rapist.
  10. Rapists (synonymous to abusers). 
  11. Tariq Nasheed and his Clan. 
  12. “He’s a he! He has a penis, don’t he?” Ew. 
  13. Sexists. 
  14. People who think that black people are the only real people of color. 
  15. Wack. 
  16. Someone who has an IQ of 4. 

Black people who think this way seem to forget the trepidation of immigrants at the border. They seem to forget that there are children that are being separated from their parents and placed in concentration camps. They eagerly bear the cross of slavery while ignoring others who are still being systematically victimized by white nationalists. And they seem to think that they’re beyond nationalism when toxic Afrocentrism is nationalism. You’re hurting people. You’re perpetuating willful ignorance. You’re racist. 

The intersection of racism and homophobia/transphobia is rampant in the black community, and I, for one, am sick of it. My brother once told me – after I came out to him, mind you – that if anyone said that “faggot” was just as bad as “nigger” that he would punch them in the face. Despite the fact that gay people and people in the LGBTQ+ community are killed every day from hate crimes. 

Despite the fact that thousands of gay men were killed in the holocaust. Despite the fact that children are killed by their own parents if they’re even suspected to be gay. 

What makes it worse, is that I’m both. I’m both black and gay. My family thinks that I experience the same amount of discrimination from just being black, but I endure even more hatred from racist homophobes. My experience is so distinct from straight cisgender black people that they don’t see that they’ve become the oppressors, too. I’m being oppressed by the people who claim to have my best interest at heart, when they really want me to tear myself apart in ways that would make me a shell of a person. 

As for the people who are homeless, a person of color and LGBTQ+, we need to prioritize them. They’re the most vulnerable population in this country. The idea that there are people losing their lives by violence, or even adverse weather like the polar vortex, because of who they are … it makes me sick just thinking about it. My organization is looking into helping homeless people locally, but we can only do so much. The Trevor Project is dedicated to bettering the lives of LGBTQ+ youth of all races and backgrounds in America. I’m stubborn, so I refuse to take down the fundraiser. If you would like to donate, please feel free. If you can’t, that’s okay too. QSOC would appreciate you spreading the word. The link to the donation page is below. 

https://give.thetrevorproject.org/fundraiser/1863720

Tl;dr: Dear LGBTQ+ kids, you are valid. You are loved. There are people fighting for you. Stay strong, and even if you can’t, that’s okay too. Take it a day at a time. No matter your race or ethnic background, you are YOU. You got this!

Tales by the Blue Light

My friend James Wylder and some of his people have started a podcast, so I’m handing the front page over to him for a minute.  Check it out!  

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Do you like stories? Miss having them read to you? I might be able to help.

Tales by the Blue Light is my new Podcast, a mix between “the Twilight Zone” and an old fasioned variety show, every episode brings you a brand new Sci-Fi, Horror, and Fantasy short story, as well as skits, and some other fun stuff.

We’ve been performing and recording the show live for a year and a half at the Blue Box Cafe in Elgin Illinois (and at a special performance at Indy Pop Con) but we haven’t put the show out as a podcast yet…till now! Our first episode is up to listen to everywhere, with fresh ones coming out every Tuesday till we catch up to the live performances.

I can’t wait for you guys to hear some of the great stories we’ve featured. “McMansion Hell”, “The Legend of Miz”, and “Prescription” for instance were all audience hits I can’t wait to bring to even more people. Plus, you’ll get to see our other featured segments, like our Radio Play, Interview, and everyone’s favorite sketch: “Monster Hunter Monthly” where Magpie Jones gives advice on surviving encounters with things that go bump in the night.

And it’s all free (though we do have a Patreon at http://www.patreon.com/jameswylder if you feel like supporting us) so go take a listen! These episodes are only going to get better as you go through our year and a half of learning how to make this show, so hop on now, and tell your pals!

-James Wylder

iTunes:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/tales-by-the-blue-light/id1403816049?mt=2

Stitcher:
https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/robert-southgate/tales-by-the-blue-light

GUEST POST: Disclosures, Prefaces and Caveats, by Queen Maisha the Good

This is a little different– my amazing friend Maisha posted this to her Facebook feed a week or so ago, and I begged her to let me repost it.  She’s actually the person who got me into blogging, way back in the Xanga days, so basically my entire writing career and everything you’ve seen here is her fault.  

The name’s an inside joke, by the way.  She doesn’t call herself that.


20641326_10212326173003014_1881637019_oI’ve been meaning to sit down and do some writing for a long time now. I needed to write being a teacher, being a mother, being a wife, being a person, and all my levels of self prescribed failures at those identities. I haven’t written anything about my daughter in years, but today I am forced to put some words down and start stringing a level of coherence to my thoughts.

I was leaving Target, headed to Del Taco, and I started to cry. I started crying because of a phone conversation twenty minutes prior. I was still feeling, still aching, still worrying. That’s when I knew I had to write something.

It was a call from the dentist’s office. I’m setting up Leia’s first appointment. The anxiety started to mix in my chest when I asked how they get the children to cooperate. I know they’re pediatric dentists, of course they know how to work with kids. She explained how there’s a playroom and a tv on the ceiling and how the dentists have their ways. And as I listened my heart started beating faster because I knew what I had to say.

“The reason I was asking…I feel I should disclose…my daughter is on the autism spectrum.”

And I don’t know why that was so hard to say out loud. It’s lived every day. And I didn’t realize how much fear, worry, uncertainty curls in wisps around my chest about it. I was scared. Not for Leia, not worried for her to go to the dentist; it’s something she has to do and needs to be consistent with. I was worried what the person on the phone was going to say. Maybe she was going to pause or stutter or take back the appointment slot. Maybe she was going to pour out some saccharin coated “We won’t be able to see a child with those needs.” Ridiculous fears and worries, I know, right?

I used the word “disclose.” Like, I feel I should tell you this, so you have all the information to make an informed decision. That’s what it is. And that’s what it feels like a lot. When I talk to people who haven’t spent much time around Leia, I find myself having to explain. And I don’t know if I over-explain, or under-explain, or just say enough not to having lingering dread.

“Why don’t you bring your daughter?”

“Do you think she would like…?”

“You should put her in…”

“What’s your name, little girl?”

And then I have to explain how neither of us will enjoy xyz because I’d be chasing her around making sure she’s not climbing, jumping or stomping. I have to admit that I don’t know what she’d like because there’s a big chance she won’t sit still or attend to whatever is grabbing the attention of the other children. I have to talk about how I don’t know about her ability or willingness to follow directions or to do what other kids are doing because she’s pretty oblivious of other children. I’ll answer, “Her name is Leia, and she’s 3. We’re still working on saying (whatever it is they expected her to say).” Talking about it reminds me that she is different. But everybody is different. Every single f-c-k-i-n-g person on Earth is different. And I remember that and forget that within a matter of minutes.

Sometimes I can stay in the present, but most of the time I’m worried about the future–her future. I’m worried about the first time a teacher says she’s bad, or the first time she believes she’s not a good girl. I’m worried about something happening to her, and her inability to communicate what’s wrong. I’m worried about whether she’ll ever have friends, because I see other people’s kids and what seem like beginning friendships and I don’t see that anywhere in her life. Kids say hi to her, know her name, and play near her. She’s not necessarily responding back or interacting. I don’t know when she will–if she will. When we go to park and go down the slide together, she’ll say, “This is fun.” And it makes me so happy she’s saying a sentence in the right context, and then sad because I wonder if me and her dad are her only friends. And thinking about, talking about, worrying about the future makes me cry.

When my mind turns back to past, I feel like I can remember when she would say “Hi” to everyone she saw on the street. She would repeat some of the things you asked her to say. She would hand you books to read to her. She would point to things so you could name them. She was developing fine…or so we thought, just a little behind because of the prematurity. So we kept subtracting from that chronological age when she didn’t reach a milestone. Then at a point, the things she did before, the things that were developmentally on track, stopped. Some part of my mind thinks if I look at enough pictures and old videos I can see when she stopped and started taking steps back. Looking at the past, where she was, where I thought she was and where I thought she was going, makes me cry.

Sometimes I think it’s my fault. I think maybe I wasn’t supposed to have kids, that I was too old, too unhealthy, or just the wrong genes. Sometimes when I think back to the NICU days, maybe she didn’t get enough breastmilk. My milk never came in like that. We would nurse and I would pump, but it wasn’t enough. I think if I wasn’t her mom maybe she would have been okay; she would have been neurotypical. Thinking about what I wasn’t able to do, what I am not able to do, makes me cry.

So I have to find my way back to the present. When I am able to stay in those brief moments of the present, I marvel at her. She is fearless, creative, strong willed, musical, loving, and energetic. She is the girl who lived. He who shall not be named tried three miscarriages, preeclampsia, and three months early. But she is the girl who lived. Her life is a miracle. She is a miracle. She is amazing, and she has autism.

There’s so much I don’t know. There’s so much I don’t know about early childhood and development. There’s so much I don’t know about the autism spectrum. There’s so much I don’t know about how to tell what she can and can’t do, will and won’t do, should and shouldn’t do. Everything is uncertain. I crave certainty because faith is fleeting. God doesn’t just show up and tell you what to do and promise that everything is going to be alright. That’s not how life works. That’s not how any of this works. So what do you do?

What would Tim Gunn tell you to do?

Make it work.

GUEST POST: Writing for Yourself vs Writing for an Editor, by Steven D’Adamo

At least one guest post today and tomorrow, as brain melt starts to set in.  Steve’s good people.  Be nice.  


Bio: Steven D’Adamo is a writer based outside of Baltimore, MD. He co-founded Red String PaperCuts with a friend and fellow writer to discuss books, music, and poetry, and argue about life from their armchairs. His fantasy adventure novel, The Warden of Everfeld: Memento, will debut at the end of 2017. To catch a glimpse of his fantasy universe, check out the dark fantasy horror, “Wolf’s Moon Night,” published by Five on the Fifth. Aside from his website, you can find Steven on Facebook, Goodreads, and NaNoWriMo (dia820).

For Whom Do You Write? (Hint: it always changes!)

Most of us say that we only write for ourselves, that it doesn’t matter how the outside world perceives our stories because we poured our hearts and souls into creating them – that’s all that really counts!

Most of us are at least partially lying.

As I spent months upon months crafting the first draft of The Warden of Everfeld: Memento, it really did feel as though I was writing it exclusively for myself. No one laid eyes on my “alpha” draft until it was finished. I wrote it the way I wanted to, and I was proud of what I had accomplished.

I sent the draft to my alpha readers to have a look, knowing that they would critique my story and send me feedback. But my four alpha readers were close friends and/or family; people I trust with my life who I knew would accept my story as a labor of love whether or not it was any good.

Why the Second Draft was not for Me

The good news is that most of them liked it even it needed a whole lot of work. (And boy did it!)

But then I started writing the beta draft, and suddenly I felt the weight of my readers over my shoulders. I wanted them to see my story as fully fleshed out as it appeared in my head, without all of the plot holes and shoe-horned character development.

I accepted this change in mindset as an evolution; I hand-picked these four readers to open my story up to, and they deserved to read the best version of it I could create. I owed it to them to make WoEM the best damn story I could. Their opinions were all that mattered to me.

Critical Consumption

Four weeks ago I began working with a proofreader to review and revise my beta draft. She is also a friend, but as a high school English teacher, she actually has a ton of expertise in critically reviewing literature, the nuances of grammar, and stringing together beautifully constructed sentences.

We agreed to have a “test run” for her editing services to figure out what kind of project she was getting herself into. I scrolled all the way up to the top of my beta manuscript to read through the first few chapters before sending them to her.

I was immediately more concerned than ever about the little things that I knew would need to be reviewed or corrected eventually, but which I had passed over in my attempts to just write the damn story:

  1. Minor in/consistencies such as the precise ages of my characters, their years of birth in relation to important events in their lives or the story at-large, and even obvious things like how a made-up fantasy word was pluralized
  2. Use of adverbs and gerunds. Every writer’s blog ever harps on cutting down on this type of language. I took these suggestions with a grain of salt, because many sentences just sound unnatural without the occasional ly or ing. But knowing that I was sending this thing to an English teacher, I became hyper-sensitive to these words.
  3. Use of inner character monologue versus normal narrative to convey a character’s feelings/thoughts. Okay, so my editor actually brought up this distinction after reading my few batch of chapters. We had a long discussion about via email trying to agree when inner character monologues were appropriate. We came to an agreement, but it was such an Aha! moment for me that it changed the way I wrote my narrative in the final chapters of my beta (which are still in the works).

I am sure there will be many other instances of this as I review my beta to send to my editor. These are changes I would have had to make anyway to make my book appropriate for public consumption. But in my head, these were eventualities.

Hiring a proofreader has expanded both the real and potential audiences for my story from people who love me enough to tolerate my fantastical nonsense to people who will analyze and dissect every piece of my writing ability.

Fortunately for me, my editor is doing this in an effort to improve the beta manuscript.

Once the final version is published, no one else will do this for me. The stakes have been raised.