2016: A Garbage Year

I’m not usually compelled to speak on a great many things. Like Hamilton‘s Aaron Burr, my motto has always been, “talk less, smile more”. Except without the smiling.

However, 2016 has been admittedly and uncategorically a bad year. There ain’t nowhere to put 2016 but in a trash can. Toss it out. Take it to the junkyard. Send it to a dump in the middle of the ocean and let the Great Barrier Reef deal with it.

Let’s talk trash about this garbage year.

So far, we’ve got:

  • that whack Zika virus giving babies and pregnant a hard time
  • North Korea acting a damn fool with their nuclear weapons
  • Brexit morons
  • tiny-fingered, Cheeto-faced, mangled apricot hellbeast Donald Trump clinches the RNC nomination
  • Olympics are a complete mess
  • that utterly senseless Pulse nightclub shooting
  • the lord took it upon himself to remove from us Prince, Doris Roberts, Alan Rickman, and Natalie Cole

I tell you, as written television becomes greater and more abundant, reality seems to only be getting worse. And I’m not talking about the Housewives.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, two men, two actual human people, were added to the ever-growing list of unjustified police-involved shootings. The first, Alton Sterling, shot on camera for doing a grand precise total of nothing. The other, Philando Castile, according to reports, did the opposite: everything he was told to do. But because they happened to Black human people, people who did not fit the look of what our society (or perhaps just cops) deems a “good citizen”, these two men are dead.

After the tragedy in Orlando, I wanted to tattoo a small rainbow strip on myself, perhaps purchase a Pride bumper sticker for my car, something to demarcate that I am gay and I am proud and I am not going away. Only God and FedEx know where that bumper sticker is now.

But there is no bumper sticker for being Black. My Blackness is evident when I walk out the door, when I get out the car, when I wake up in the morning. Being Black is not something I have to tattoo on myself for people to see; it is absolutely something I live with every moment of every day. And the older I get, the more dangerous that becomes.

Yesterday, I sat in my car waiting for an order from a restaurant in a very nice, very affluent neighborhood here in Los Angeles. An old woman came out to sweep her porch (as old women do) and as I stepped out the car, I thought to myself, “Let me adjust my walk so she doesn’t find me threatening.” She could call the cops and I’d be just another hashtag.

Although… wait a minute, her discomfort is not my problem. I’m not a threat for existing. I can’t be. That’s not fair. Unless I am coming toward you waving a gun in your face, screaming, “I’m going to murder you if given the opportunity!”, I should not have to think about altering my physicality, justifying my general presence just to make someone else feel 3% less antsy.

And I’ll bet you NRA dollars to cop donuts a straight, white man has never felt and will never feel that way.

In high school, I struggled with several identities. Raised in the church from my womb-escape day, I tried to be a devout Christian, but they didn’t want me because I was gay. As I got older, traversing treacherous tenth grade, I discovered it seemed the Blacks didn’t want me for the same reason. I started exploring my gay identity more, reading books—both fiction and non-fiction—about being gay, our “lifestyle”, truly immersing myself in the knowledge of my fore-kweens. As I reached prime sexing age, I discovered that, guess what? The gays? Not that fond of Blacks.

Sounds like a difficult life, doesn’t it? It was. For a very long time, I resented both sides. But as I got older, got better at being me, accepted the fact that I was never going to be anything other than gay, black, and nowhere under 175 pounds, I learned to love myself, my lips, my people, everything that is me and them. Yes, there are intracommunity flaws, but since Eve said to Adam, “bae, what you think bout this apple, tho?”, humans who love each other have been flawed.

The point is, both of my identities are under attack, constantly, incessantly. In the media and in reality, I am twice a second class citizen. I live in a world where my quotidian, day-to-day walking and breathing and picking my nose is a threat to someone’s world view. And I am tired.

I’m tired of being killed for who I have crushes on and my wider-than-thou nose. I’m tired of having anxiety attacks when I see a cop car behind me, wondering whether to text my mom “i love you” now or later (or if I’ll get pulled over for texting!). I’m tired of my fight-or-flight response activating when being hugged by another man, even platonically. I’m tired of the way things are now.

Thus, I leave you with four simple solutions: 1) gun reform legislation, 2) better police training, 3) put women in charge of everything, and 4) empathy.

Until the next binge,

Sir Windley.

 

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