My achilles heel of fear has always been ghosts. I know, I know, serial killers are much more real and much more of a tangible threat. But I mean, ghosts can come at you from ANYWHERE. Dreams, mirrors, water, dolls, houses, and on and on.
I still like to listen to scary stories before bedtime (the best time), and for a while I went through a very serious Youtube Creepypasta phase. But I am here to share with you, dear readers, the best bedtime ghosts stories you should definitely be watching: The Travel Channel’s hidden gem, The Dead Files. The Dead Files is currently in its 12th season. If you don’t have cable you can do what I do, watch very poor bootleg versions of it on Youtube.
While the show is evenly split between Steve DiSchiavi (the former NYC homicide detective) as he interviews families, digs up historical records on their homes, and effectively serves as the non-supernatural anchor to each episode’s mystery, Amy Allan (paranormal researcher and physical medium) is who truly carries the series. She is hypnotizing as she goes through her walks and figures out who or what is causing harm to the family of the week. Whether you’re a believer, a skeptic, or somewhere in between, Allan’s performance is not to be missed.
Her presence is so powerful, I have quickly developed amorous/erotic feelings for her. I’ve written a poem to express my love. Amy, this one’s for you.
The Travel Channel
Hey there, spooky girl.
Your candy crackle hair
reflects the universes before you.
Tracking predators and ghouls
trapped in pockets of time.
As you open yourself to the ether,
I open myself to you.
Just because you are a Sensitive
don’t mean that you are sensitive.
You feeling sick?
I’ll sooth your tummy
I would shield you from shadows
‘Cept you don’t need my protection.
‘Cause you’ve got spirit guides and angels
and shimmering strength.
Let me draw you a picture.
Amy, is this what you saw?
‘Cause all I see is you.
You’ll give your advice whether they want or deny.
Quests are usually embarked upon to complete a goal. But goals, once accomplished, are fleeting. The Magician’s understands that quests, like life, are not really about the finish line, but the journey itself.
I found Lev Grossman’s first book, The Magicians, (of what would become The Magicians Trilogy) in 2012 on a recommendation shelf at my local book store. Six years out of high school, it had been a long time since I’d actually read a novel, and many more years since I’d read something that reached into the corners of my soul so profoundly.
The Magicians begins with Quentin Coldwater, a highly intelligent, deeply depressed, fantasy genre fanboy, who discovers that magic is real when he is vetted to study at a prestigious magician’s college called Brakebills.
swidler15 on Youtube
In the trailer for the first book, critics were likening The Magicians to an adult Harry Potter. On the surface, this makes sense. Instead of following a bunch of magic kids on their journey through adolescence, we follow a bunch of magic kids on their journey through young adulthood. But once actually inside the book, it becomes clear that Grossman pulls from some much older roots of fantasy adventure literature, most notably, C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia.
Quentin, before beginning his hero’s journey, is a life-long fan of the children’s fantasy series Fillory and Further, Grossman’s loving homage to The Chronicles of Narnia, complete with English siblings finding a magic world through mysterious furniture, meeting talking animals, completing quests, and assuming royal positions in the land of Fillory, before inevitably returning to their normal lives once they have outgrown childhood.
Of all the moving parts that drew me into The Magicians— Grossman’s intoxicating blend of ten-dollar-words and young adult vernacular (F-bombs!), the way he details the mechanics of magic itself (lots of sexy math and physics), characters who are beautifully constructed (flawed, strong, and multidimensional), and the particular flavor of disillusionment he captures when the idealism of youth is torn by the monsters of the world— the thing that resonated with me the most was how exquisitely he draws Quentin’s deep love of The Fillory Books.
As a life-long, rabid fangirl myself (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer), I’ve never seen a fictional character whose fanatical attachment to their beloved text matched my own. Meeting Quentin felt like meeting myself.
In A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf describes the sensation of reading a novel that reflects the truth of yourself: “But this is what I have always felt and known and desired! And one boils over with excitement, and, shutting the book even with a kind of reverence as if it were something very precious, a stand-by to return to as long as one lives, one puts it back on the shelf.” I put The Magicians back on my shelf, and waited, hungrily, for more.
Children’s media has been slowly making the shift from recognizing external problems to identifying more personal problems. A program growing up with that was very good about this was Mister Rogers Neighborhood. Letting viewers know that it’s okay to be sad or mad or scared, just reminding them that there’ll be happy feelings too. Mattel, with its Barbie line of products, has recently been releasing personal vlogs from Barbie, talking openly about negative feelings and letting kids know it’s okay to reach out. …
Between being trans and being fat, I’ve felt a “double dysphoria” when it comes to my body. It’s time to spread love for the fat trans body!
As a trans man, I am often fed by the media who I am supposed to be and how I am supposed to look.
As a fat person, I am often fed by the media who I am supposed to be and how I am supposed to look.
Between the two, I really feel like I can’t win.
I have been dealing with some form of self doubt and body dysphoria for my entire life. Something about the skin I’m in hasn’t felt quite right. It causes me to doubt that people can be attracted to me because I don’t fit the categories they wish me to fit. I’m afraid I’m not “man” enough because I have breasts. However, I’m also afraid I’m not “human” enough because I weigh over 200 pounds and stand at 5’2.
i find it evident that we are built from the same sand, yet in you i see crystal and castles, crenelations through which heroes may fall, tiny stones in cream and orange and cyan and jade green, and you brush the pale seafoam waves without falling; your invisible sentinels conduct the depths themselves.
i am damp and caked and colorless. i fall apart far too easily.
inside of you, what is not pale at least gleams golden; can you comprehend that?
i stopped writing this to try and study. what does that say about you? i couldn’t focus. and that? (it was history, so maybe you’d be glad, though this is all numbers and flat striped flags, while yours is the smell of summer and the scratch of laurels and the sighing lull of the star-swept ocean, tangy tastes, golden glints, sweaty flawed bodies twisted heaving together, biting into each other’s skin and hair and lips and eyebrows, tugging, boiling and drawing blood and panting with their agony and ecstasy, though they will fade to colorless marble, punctured only by axes, or by time.)
you are an intermediary, the groaning wood that sprouts between flesh and stone, the green that litters ruins, the new shoots of life to echo the old shots of death, and all to be enclasped within hard shots of vodka, because it’s only when i’m numbed that i don’t feel your slender roots creeping, bursting through the fragile altar of my bone, cemented only with cartilage and some memory of determination.
i want to know how you do it. how you begin with a letter and take to infinity, how you build spiral galaxies with one color of ink, how you find the cracks of every gravestone, the cuts on every fingertip, and embellish them til they blaze like filtered auroras, how you make a billion shades out of cream and silver alone.
and yet your petals are still wound tight together. pricking through, colorless. you have not yet felt the kiss of any sun.
Why do I have to choose who I love when there are so many people
So many wonderful people that I cant help but to squeeze into my heart permanently
The writer. The dancer. The gamer. The painter.
Each their own. Each different. Each loveable
Dont they all deserve love?
Why must I play roulette with the deepest of emotions in my soul?
Dont tell me I have to train my heart to forget them all
When I know deep inside that love is unlimited and unyeilding
The hopeful. The depressed. The broken. The hurting.
Dont tell them that they are not enough when I cant take a single step outside my door
Without reading another page from each story that they have laid out for me
And Im just getting to the good part
No, the best part!
These stories are written in stone and every word is so deep
They are titanium in my soul
They are so complex. So perfect yet so flawed
So near but so far.
The fearful. The singer. The doubter. The listener
A home is not bright from one light
A song is not made from one note
A masterpiece is not made from one brushstroke
A soul is not saved by one person.
It is understood that love and people are complex and adapting yet one person is meant to accomodate that
One person is meant to match perfectly the ebbs and flows of the river of personality
When we know the same ship that braves the furious typhoons in the deepest ocean
Would tear to shreds on the floor of the calming shallows
The actor. The searcher. The dreamer. The thinker.
I love them all and I will not be told that this is wrong
Love can not be wrong.
I’ve been tracing back my ancestry Through the flavors of my mother’s food The fresh smell of a home cooked meal will forever make my mouth water
As my tongue dances with the flavors
Recipes passed down from generations
Delves deep into my senses as they explore,
And as they’ve begun to conquer I chew. Break down the things I’ve been fed And swallow them Break down the things you’ve been force fed and reject to acknowledge them As truth Flavors have been teaching me about my ancestry since before I was born My mother tells me About how she wanted a coffee child To hold against her vanilla complexion She told me, I am priceless. Called me her diamanté negro Her canela finá Brown sugar melted becoming my skin I’ve learned to savor myself through times and times of hunger You see These times I learned about God Watched my mother kneel Pray I’ve watched her make miracles My Goddess Creating full meals out of nothing
I’ve watched the Universe give Time after time again.
I’ve learned about my being and belonging Through plates of food that make the soul content My mother always bringing me back
Justin Vivian Bond showed what Pride truly means amidst the Trump Presidency
From the moment I first saw Justin Vivian Bond perform live, I’ve taken up the mantle of being v’s groupie, and thankfully v hasn’t shooed me away. Needless to say, when Mx. Bond performed twice at (le) Poisson Rouge during Pride weekend I was in attendance for both shows.
Justin Vivian Bond’s work is always inexorably political, for instance a central topic in v’s last Christmas show was the condemnation of rape culture, thus utilizing the platform to shine light on pertinent social issues. Mx. Bond continued this tradition by highlighting radical empathy. V asserted the imperative that queer people must do everything in their power to support other marginalized groups that the Trump administration is dead set on dehumanizing, particularly immigrants, refugees, people of color, and sex-workers.
V began the show with an invocation to those we have to thank for our existence in the here and now, both calling out to trancestors who paved the way for us as Queer people, and the indigenous people and people of color who were brutalized and died in order for “America” to exist. As the band began to play Nocturn by Kate Bush v took out v’s phone and read The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus:
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
V then devoted much of the show to sex work in solidarity to those affected by SESTA/FOSTA legislation. The first song v sang was Viking Dan, sweet wholesome song about queer love between sex workers written by the brilliant transgender songwriter Bambi Lake. The song begins, “Viking Dan was occasionally arrested for soliciting on market street” thus setting up the danger inherent in the profession due to inane criminalization laws that put people at risk. Viking Dan continues with the speaker of the song extolling her love for the titular character and her own transition. If this world were fair, not only would sex work be safe and legal, but Bambi Lake would be recognized as one of the most skillful lyricists ever, but thankfully v recognizes her as a national treasure and works to amplify her voice and broaden her audience.
During the second show, v told the story of an interaction v had with a transphobe at the supermarket. This person kept sizing v up and down, ostensibly attempting to decipher v’s anatomy, and then purposely left his cart in the checkout line blockading v and the other grocery-store patrons. Mx. Bond’s response was to forcibly make eye contact with the transphobe and slam v’s cart into the one he left, clearing the way for other customers while making a point to the transphobe that v is a force to be reckoned with. To me, that incident is indicative of Justin Vivian Bond’s method of activism; brazen and confrontational to those who attempt to oppress, while using v’s power to metaphorically clean up after others and make things better for everyone. The same aggressive bravado was present in v’s portrayal of the American Music Club song Patriot’s Heart, which has been in v’s repertoire for over a decade.
The song about a nihilistic stripper is dark and melancholy, written about the Reagan administration amidst the AIDS epidemic, thus to feel this song resonate so thoroughly in our current political climate is far from comforting. V leaned in to this collective cultural anxiety that queer people have due to echoes of Reagan’s presidency seen in Trump’s behavior. V got in the audience’s face, snarling and seducing all within the same breath, “give me all your money but don’t tell me what you’re thinking / I’m the past you wasted, I’m the future you’re obliterating / Oh, c’mon grandpa, remind me what you’re celebrating / That your heart finally dried up, or that it finally stopped working?” V casts the audience (often a cis white man) as the politicians deserving of scorn and strikes with tenacity and fervor until the last note of the song.
In v’s own words, the show was meant to celebrate “the outsider children [Judy Garland’s] legacy has come to represent- immigrants, sex workers, witches, and queers.” V spoke of how mythologizing the Stonewall Riot as a result of Judy Garland’s death erases the trans people of color who were instrumental in the uprising at Stonewall. Nevertheless, v embraced Judy Garland as a symbol to speak about the desire for belonging that binds marginalized peoples.
A running concept throughout the show was dedicating songs to the children: those who had been separated from their families, subjugated, locked in cages, and conveniently misplaced by the US government. V spoke of these children and their families striving for a better place where they can be free. Justin Vivian Bond drew parallels to LGBTQ+ people migrating from unsafe living situations to cities and communities where they can strive towards a life they want to live, made up of people who love them. After v illustrated the similarities, v spoke of The Wizard of Oz and how the crux of Somewhere Over The Rainbow applies to immigrants and refugees as much as it applies to the LGBTQ+ community, v sang the legendary song with the utmost sincerity dedicated to the children who deserve so much better.
The final, most poignant song of the show was v’s cover of the David Bowie song Rock n Roll Suicide. V admitted that this song was v’s outlet to work through v’s own sadness and anger and it showed. V imbued it with both desperation and empowerment, crying out for connection, fearlessly and shamelessly crying onstage as v pleaded to the audience with arms outstretched, “Give me your hands”.
This conclusion mirrors how the show began and synthesizes what Pride means in this tumultuous political storm, calling to the suffering and subjugated and welcoming them in as our family.
“I’ve had my share, I’ll help you with the pain- You’re not alone!”
Let’s be honest, when was the last time you heard from queer poc within the arts on a massive scale?
You haven’t and that’s a problem. But if you have, it’s probably because you sought it out and not because it was readily available to you/us.
As we begin to become more connected through the interwebs, social media, blogs, etc., I hope that we can also become more connected through our common narratives as Queer People of Color. Or at the very least become aware of the multitude of narratives there are. Therefore, (lol, I sound so formal) I am starting a “cut” where I cut to artists and/or queer poc within the theatre who are creating.
As a starting place, I have laid out some projects I have learned about and a few artists I will be in interviews. These features are only the starting point for finding a place where queer poc can find a place to belong because, if we’re being honest…our queer spaces can be dominated by white narratives. And yes, those are equally as important, sometimes, but we need more. We have more! So let’s talk about them and listen to them.
PUTTING QUEER POC VOICES FIRST PRE-CUT: A Poem for Us
Swaying beneath the words of resistance, love, unity, and freedom
I wonder if my desires will come to fruition
Is my imagination my reality
Or the truth of my dreams?
Who do I want to become, who am I and what do I represent?
It’s a constant black and forth, brown and forth of knowing and not knowing
Because we continue to grow like we have never grown before
Laying in the sun, bathing in the breath I am given
Red, Purple, Blue, Yellow flowers being sprouting from my soul
They are un contained — un aligned
Forming a ball around
Grabbing at the veins inside my forearms ripping them open
leaving room for brown and black roots that are longing to stretch down to my hands
Porque esos manos son mi vida
They are la escénica de mi sonrisa
Porque ellos are the roots that keep my spin up
Ripping a whole down my core
Is the answer to my longing for more–
black and forth…?
brown and forth…?
Besides reading really, really good writing, nothing is quite as beneficial to a budding writer’s evolving skills as following really, really good writers. Below, I’ve compiled a list of five of my favorite LGBTQ writers and editors on Twitter. I’ll link to a few of their best pieces of advice, funniest or most insightful tweets, or most exceptional written/edited pieces.
Follow these lovely folks, some of whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with personally, for queer AF humor, awesome links to pieces they’ve written or edited, and nuggets of writerly wisdom. Enjoy, and happy reading! Let me know who your favorite LGBTQ writer or editor is in the comments below.