Let me tell you that I can’t stand text messages that ask how I’m doing among the horrors of our everyday existence. There’s nothing more surreal to wake up in the weird space between sleep and wake to a disaster. It makes one question if one is actually awake and alive. Since I have no sense of what the hereafter really is, each time it happens it haunts me a little bit, or prepares me for the moment where my mind and soul might make that transition into it.
These moments happen at breakneck speed these days if you have the misfortune to be in possession, or forced to bide time with a screen these days. The way we connect with humans via “telephones” or if we still happen to have televisions, there happens to be some sort of way to be informed by the worst this existence has to offer us constantly.
That’s where I was on a Sunday morning in June last year. The rectangle with the green inquiry sat languid on the screen, Mom asking me if I were okay.
“Okay about what?” I stared at the phone, traditional morning mucus blurring my vision, therefore my perception of reality, sinus ache as always. Long before I have moments to pause, in this saturation of information we now call reality, I knew the best thing was to move from the text messaging app to some sort of media access to figure out what the hell she was talking about. It must be a real something if it warrants a text at the dawn of a new day.
Therein lied yet another horror, numbing on a different level than the rest. Unknown number of dead. Now we know this turned out to be 49. Another 58 will live with those moments as long as they draw their breath. I get on a number of levels why Mom texted in the early hours of a Sunday morning to ask if I were okay.
Just a Saturday Night that bled into a Sunday Morning the week before, I was one of 3 LGBTQ identified DJs spinning at Sugar Town, Portland’s finest Queer Classic Soul Party. I’ve been more or less fully “out” since 20 years old, but it decidedly has taken me a long stretch of time to really find community space that I’m comfortable, nevermind thrive in. I have always found most comfort in 60’s Soul Music, and the spaces that offer the overlap of supporting Queer Identities that happen to love this rather important genre of music that also speaks to my place in the African American Diaspora are few and far between.
I think the ache of reality of that any “safe space” can be invaded is even stronger now. We’ve seen in the last 8 months especially the anger, rage and violence that walks hand in hand with our “progressive” utopias. There seems to be a fading sense of safety, then again if I live in my own practical reality of being, I’ve always known to be ready to run. There’s always going to be the reality that strife of someone will be projected outwards on others, there’s nothing one can really do once that boil of puss pops, oozing over any sense of serenity that’s been established before.
I can still wish that when I visibly show up to share the music I love with others, to watch people try to catch that good foot, to sing along with the music that it can-could be all torn apart by blades and bullets in fleeting moments. There’s my own level of safety speaking too that I haven’t encountered such a reality yet. There’s plenty of others that have less defenses between being able to access moments of joy midst the mayhem of this existence.
It took me long enough to find those spaces, as we know, and as I’ll repeat, so many of the spaces that are “safe” spaces aren’t all that safe for everybody. The fact that our safe spaces are breeding grounds for addiction first and foremost is a complicated reality that goes hand and hand with dancefloor liberation. Sexual Liberation comes with heavy handed rejection of other humans and/or faulty boundaries that result too often in sexual assault.
Now 35, I feel like I’ve seen it all. Looking over the heartbreak that ripped at Pride Season last year with the Pulse Massacre, I’m hoping that there’s a renewed call for love and healing to happen in these spaces, that we enter these spaces a little less buried in our own realities and continue to open ourselves up to sharing these spaces more holistically. That we continue to openly here the needs of how we can continue to make these spaces joyful, open and loving for everyone, that we don’t punch back at change that’s more or less going to come whether we like it or not. Hopefully, this Summer will make you radiate more than before.