Gay on a Budget >> Smile, It's Almost Your Time

[Play this for vibes]

I always feel so cool when I go out to eat. Lately, it’s been hard for me to leave the house, so I take the small victories where I can. I barely step outside my room because it feels to me as though I have everything I need here. I’ve got snacks, a bed, my TV, my computer, and headphones and music. It feels safer to me than the conflict of everything outside my door. People are in pain everywhere. Racism, misogyny, homo- and transantagonism, the slaughter and abuse of animals, the suffering of people who don’t and were never intended to have an equal access or opportunity–they’re all proposed unavoidable, invincible elements of our world that people accept because they think they have to.

I can’t go a day without feeling choked by it all. I don’t mean to whine or complain. I just feel, at my core, that I’m an empath who experiences reality in ways that are different from some of the people around me. When I read stories about people facing oppression, I don’t just go on with my day afterward. I wonder how they feel. I taste the injustice when I’m in their shoes. I try to carry the weight of the injustice(s) they face and it crushes me. I don’t consider this a weakness–because I think weak is looking away from unpleasantness in the name of blissful ignorance–but I know it’s not a trait I should pride myself on either. I shouldn’t be praised for feeling bad when I see terrible things, especially if and when they aren’t happening to me. Admittedly, I hate this part of myself sometimes. People are out there getting seriously marginalized by society and I’m caught up feeling bad about it instead of doing more to help.

Thankfully, I have a partner who saves me from myself and takes me to places where we can eat vegan food and feel like, for just a second, we’re safe from our problems and far from the hate-filled world that makes me want to die sometimes.

Gay on a Budget >> Smile, It's Almost Your Time Gay on a Budget >> Smile, It's Almost Your Time

Lately, I’ve felt like a disappointment. I don’t feel like I’m a good partner, son, brother, activist, or writer. I’m kind of trapped in a bubble that can only be popped from the inside, so no matter how much the world encourages me to try harder and do better and believe in myself, it’s ultimately up to me to break free. And I can’t. Something is holding me back, something deeper than all of this. Something I’m not in a place to understand because it’s probably so close to me that I don’t have the space to see it from the outside.

I know I’ve got greatness inside of me but I feel like the biggest tragedy of my life will be allowing my anxiety and depression to rob me of it. I worry I’ll be on my deathbed seeing mainstream hacks taking the spotlight when my stories really matter, when my intentions are beyond money and recognition. I want to make people feel less alone in the world. I want to use my life to make the world a better place in whatever way I can, which, for a panicked mess like myself, is writing.

Gay on a Budget >> Smile, It's Almost Your Time

I’m trying really hard to get better. I’m trying to keep my body moving and forcing myself to leave my room. I’ve started playing Pokémon Go–now that I have a data plan–and it helps me a bit. It gives me something to look at, some sort of direction that makes the world less terrifying to me. I’m not necessarily safe from the violent gazes of the people around me, but at least I don’t see them anymore.

Gay on a Budget >> Smile, It's Almost Your Time

My other saving grace has been my kitten, Mr. Kitty Fantastico. I just call him Kitty. I probably mentioned this before a ton of times, but I rescued him off the streets a few months ago and he’s been with me in my room 24/7. He can’t roam the house because of our elder cat, who is simply not ready to accept a new cat this late in his life.

For a long time, I feared he’d get to the point where’d he get frustrated and tired of being “trapped” in the room with me. I knew that day would have to come. I thought it would happen shortly after we got back from house sitting for my aunt–he came along–where he had the freedom to roam the house. But when we got back home, he was purring and snuggling on his bed and playing with his toys and resting at his usual spot on my desk while I worked. He’s… ok being with me and that makes me happier than I can explain.

My partner and I are saving up for own apartment and I can’t wait until we get it. Kitty will have a whole apartment to claim and I look forward to him being the king of a new castle.

Gay on a Budget >> Smile, It's Almost Your Time Gay on a Budget >> Smile, It's Almost Your Time

Things are far from perfect but I’m trying to get better and trying to think about who I am and why I feel what I feel. I’m making plans with my friends so that I get out of the house. I’m listening to new music and watching new movies and TV shows. I’m trying to exercise and eat better. I’m a mess, honestly, but I think I’m a good person.

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.