Gay on a Budget >> Please Tell Me Why You Pretend You're Ok

I’m not ok right now. I haven’t been ok for a long time and maybe I never was. Between mental illnesses that have never been diagnosed or treated, anxiety that dismantles pretty much all the good things I have in my life, and overwhelming empathy that makes me sob nearly every day when I read about animals being slaughtered for unnecessary human consumption, or trans women of color being murdered because masculinity is so fucking fragile, or Black and Latinx people being systematically attacked by the same organization that lies through its teeth when it swears it’s there for them.

I don’t want to focus on all the bad things because that won’t get me anywhere, but seriously I just don’t know how to deal anymore. I’m sick of crying every day. I’m sick of demons disguised as human beings. I’m sick of men. I’m sick of social media. I’m sick of people not knowing how to mind their own business and keep their mouths shut. People out here swear the planet revolves around them and that their opinions and ideologies are so special and unique that everyone else should follow them when they read NOTHING, watch NOTHING, and explore NOTHING outside their ignorant little bubbles. The reality is that none of us matter. The planet revolves with us on it and will continue to do so long after we’re gone.

Yet people out here have decided that human beings are the rulers of the universe and that any and all life aside from ourselves is designed solely for merciless consumption. The universe, coincidence, God, or whatever, apparently decided that humans were the center of everything and that we deserve everything. We treat animals as objects and condemn them to short lives with not a moment of love, peace, or tenderness. We cut their lives short because weak, selfish, greedy people want to eat exactly what they want to eat and nobody can tell them otherwise. They can’t tell you why animals deserve to die for them and they’ll avoid the question like the plague because ultimately they have to lie to themselves because ignorance is bliss. There are some people who proudly own up to killing and eating animals and I like to refer to those people as psychos with little dicks because clearly you gotta feel powerful by killing something beneath your evolutionary level, with advanced weapons, because you don’t feel so strong yourself. And they’re probably completely insane with a gross ego. That too.

People like to paint radicals like me out to be mean and emotional and aggressive and vicious, as if I’m not living in a society that shoves its beliefs down my throat every day, as if meat-eating is not the norm, as if heterosexual, cisgendered, white, Christian, and able-bodied are not treated as the beautiful norms. It’s ludicrous to me that someone could ever think that caring about living beings, of all species, ages, races, genders, sexualities, religions, and abilities as weakness or as over the top. You hear phrases like PC Culture and Social Justice Warrior because humanity has become so disgustingly warped that hate and fear are the defaults while love and trust are magics we only genuinely share with maybe a handful of people in our lifetime.

We let institutions and governments manipulate our fear to line their pockets, while they make us fight one another. All around them pain and death and they never even have to get their hands dirty. They empower societal norms that they make us believe are natural when in truth they’re as manufactured as the products we get from China. I stand by my belief that the people who do these things, people who make the world a more terrible place, the hands behind the scenes, are not human. How could real human beings do the things that they do? How can people be so ignorant to human suffering?

I’ve been falling apart lately, wondering how I can live my life happily in a world where suffering is an inescapable, ever-present, ever-dominant circumstance. I don’t have the answer yet. Mostly, I watch videos, read stories, I cry, and I make donations to organizations at 2:00 in the morning. I call my partner because I don’t know what else to do. I selfishly throw my pain on him because I don’t think anyone else really cares to hear from me, because I know people see my writing, see my posts, and they keep scrolling, or they hide me altogether. I get more support from strangers I’ve never met.

I know I’m not special and I know my pain doesn’t compare. I don’t want sympathy. I’m not trying to be deep. I’m just trying to figure out what to do. I’m trying to keep from drowning in anger, sadness, and pain. I want to help people but I can barely help myself. There’s so much to do and I want to help everyone. I want my life to mean something. But my body and my mind sabotage me every step of the way.

For now, all I can do is take solace in my kitten, my partner, TV show binge sessions, sleep, and food. I don’t think this is rock bottom but it’s pretty low. Oddly enough, my freelance writing has been going really well. In fact, I have more consistent, amazing gigs than ever. But I’m a wreck. I don’t know how to be happy for myself while people suffer. I don’t know how to enjoy myself when other people are denied even the most basic opportunities. I don’t know how to talk about my feelings without sounding like a privileged whiner.

I don’t know if this post means anything or if I should be posting it at all. But at the very least, I’m talking about and that’s worth something I think.

Gay on a Budget >> Dear White People, It's Time to Speak Up

We’ve seen unarmed black people killed by cops for doing little to nothing while white criminals slaughter black people at church and are somehow safely apprehended or rape people and somehow become the victim of it all. #BlackLivesMatter has raised extraordinarily powerful black voices, but ultimately a system that doesn’t value their lives is unlikely to change because of their voices alone. It’s time, as it has been for generations, for white people to use their privilege and access to help the fight for racial equity. This is not to say white people need to lead the charge—because they certainly should not—but rather this is a call for white people to consciously and passionately share the black voices and unshakeable proof of injustice in the #BlackLivesMatter movement in places where they would otherwise be arrested, ignored, or shut out at face value. Black people have always cared about black lives, because they’ve always been at risk, but little has changed. What needs to change is how much white people consciously value black lives.

This isn’t asking for anything extra. It’s asking for black lives to matter as much as white lives do. It’s about changing the narrative that calls a white, 15-year-old a girl, but calls a black, 15-year-old a young woman. It’s about giving young black boys the same thoughtfulness and consideration for their youth and future when they commit a crime, or are accused of committing a crime, that we give young white boys. It’s about giving black people the tools to succeed instead of giving them roach-infested, underfunded schools with no or dead computers and textbooks worn from years of use, and then blaming them for not doing more with their lives. It’s about not looking at black bodies as inherently violent or dangerous, when in fact the only one with a right to fear skin color is black people to white people, for the years beyond years of unyielding, historical, systematic abuse and oppression that seems designed to do little else aside from wiping them from the planet completely without being too obvious about it. It’s about recognizing and exposing the system in place that tells everyone that none of this is true and that anything said otherwise is just a conspiracy theory.

But what does all of this have to do with white people besides everything? Think about this, why don’t we hear the larger white community of this nation fighting for police officer accountability and control, or for the right to safely practice their religion, or against workplace discrimination? Simply, because they have never as a group been denied any of the rights or faced with the discrimination above.

People are quick to pull the “what about the Irish” card when their privilege is challenged, without even the most minimal understanding of what systematic oppression looks like and how Irish and black oppression couldn’t be more different. White dominant spaces deny injustice because the reality of the truth is too heavy. Much like alcohol or drugs, people become addicted to feeling safe and moral, so much so that they twist black bodies into aggressive attackers, who are always up to no good, and looking for excuses for their own failures. White deniers, above all else, are just weak, ignorant, and afraid, nothing more. They defy logic and ignore evidence and make up stories about how suspicious or violent the black he, she, or they used to be or might have been someday. They say #AllLivesMatter, but are nowhere to be seen when children starve in Syria, or when women and girls are trafficked across the globe, or when non-white holy sites are bombed by ISIS. #AllLivesMatter is just #BlackLivesDontMatterToMe in disguise.

White ignorance is, as proven by history, a powerful thing and can’t be dismantled without help from the inside. White people need to have conversations with and collect their racist uncles and friends. They need to take responsibility for their community, in much the same way that other communities do when people who represent them preach hate. It may seem silly, but we need to share the sentiments of #BlackLivesMatter because whether we want to admit it or not human beings are often better at hearing things from people who look like them, have some of the same identities as them, or come from similar backgrounds. In some ways, white people being called out by white people can feel more like accountability, which may stroke their sensitivity enough to make them receptive.

We can’t just join the fight when someone is killed, though. Privilege used only in this way is always too late. The larger white mainstream has cemented an ideology wherein black activists are seen as radical troublemakers who are too clouded and biased by their blackness (as if they shouldn’t be) to speak any truth. Again, that’s where white people can come in. Ultimately, the choice is theirs.

For those white people who are also sick of non-indictment after non-indictment after non-indictment, now is your time to speak up. You don’t need to become an expert overnight. It’s ok to just listen and just to share posts from black creators. It’s not ok to keep pretending our country wasn’t built upon slavery and racial, gender, sexual, religious, and class hierarchies. I’m confused by exactly when people thought any of that changed and when people thought that equity had somehow been achieved. If someone wants to reach out and let me know what exactly changed everything, please let me know. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

Gay on a Budget >> The One Where I Talk About Where I'm Working Next

Hey, Interwebz! It’s been a while but I have an excuse that works for me that you probably don’t need to hear so I’ll just continue because it’s not like this blog is paying my bills or anything. Plus, it’s more for me than anyone else at this point anyways. But rant aside, I wanted to take a minute to work out and share my thoughts about what’s next for me in life.

I just got finished a year of service with an education-based, non-profit called City Year whose mission is, simply, to end the dropout crisis. It was a rough, complicated year that taught me a lot about myself and other people, but that’s a conversation for another time, preferably in a journal. However, one thing my experience taught me that I’d like to share is that I’m not cut out for the 9-5 life. That routine drains me physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally to the point where even the pay doesn’t restore me. I know there’s an immense amount of privilege resting in that statement and I’m not fake enough to ignore it. I want to acknowledge that most of what I’m about to say I’m able to say because I’m lucky.

While I was working at City Year, full-time and then some (think days that started at 7:45 A.M. and ended at 5:15 P.M. not including commute time), I was also freelance writing. The school I served in was my workplace and my home was my workplace so basically I was stressed 24/7 without relief, except for the two days a week I got to be with my supportive partner. This never-ending stream of work and responsibilities and deadlines wore me down to the bone, where I began unleashing my emotions and re-emerging traumas on the people closest to me. Most stayed, some didn’t, but regardless I was heading to a really lonely, unhealthy place if I didn’t make a change.

Luckily, by that point, my service with City Year was basically over. All around me were people planning their next step in life. Everyone was silently panicking, putting on a fake smile to convince everyone that their life was far more together than it actually was, when really we shouldn’t feel the need to impress or comfort anyone else. Our future is ours after all. I didn’t care, though. I had a plan, a crazy one too. I wasn’t going to work for anyone, oh no, I was going to start working for myself.

You see, if you want to escape the 9-5 monotony you have to make big moves, and pull your dreams into the real world. Despite the fact that freelancing during my service nearly destroyed me, it also made me wonderful connections and built my portfolio immensely. Still, freelance writing is hardly reliable. There’s practically no job security, as you can be let go at any time, and payments take far too long to survive on. But I’m planning, organizing spreadsheets, and going through my email every minute of every day, and it’s starting to come together.

I could be making backup plans for if this fails, but I don’t want to. If I’m going to fail at this I want to fail knowing I gave it my all. People give me sideways looks when I tell them my plans, but it doesn’t bother me anymore. I’ll do anything to live the life I want to live, which is being a free writer who has a safe, peaceful place to work, where work doesn’t feel like work and life actually feels like life and not enslavement to bills and dollar bills.

More and more I’m wondering if I’m making the right choice. I’ll probably only know the answer when it’s too late to make a change. But for now, not waking up at 6 feels pretty great.