Tales of the City

My first found family was Armistead Maupin’s More Tales of the City, the second in the series, when I read it in high school.  The series took place in San Francisco, on the fictional street of Barbary Lane, at building number 28.  It was an apartment house owned by Mrs. Madrigal, who grew marijuana and dispense wisdom to her tenants.   In More Tales’ pages, I was introduced to characters that were diverse and inclusive.  Mary Anne was the Midwest middle class.  Brian was the womanizer who wished to settle down; the romantic hero.  Most importantly was Michael Tolliver, Mouse to his friends, my first impression of homosexuality presented as a normal.  I was captivated by how easily and zeal that Mouse navigated heartbreak, taking it in stride.  Mouse believed he was meant to find love, and that it could be found the very next day just around the corner; he was my gay Mary Tyler Moore.

As I devoured each book in the series the cast grew to include all forms of intersectionality.  Mrs. Madrigal’s daughter, the bisexual hippy Mona Ramsey came and went as she searched for her father.  Edgar Halcyon, who first was Mary Anne’s boss then became Mrs. Madrigal’s lover.  His daughter, DeDe Halcyon-Day, and her lesbian lover the model D’orothea Wilson offered opportunities to view the more affluent and art-centric San Francisco.  Mrs. Madrigal’s own mother, a brothel owner, appears towards the end of the series.

Tales of the City series offered a deluxe view the real world, through a fictional lens, demonstrating that groups do not exist in isolation.  Rather, they exist shoulder to shoulder, helping and loving, other groups.  Tales of the City celebrates the connectedness of humanity.

Entelechy Prophect Dream

Nico slowly walked barefoot through a reflective cave, where different living images of herself stared back at herself.  As she moved through the labyrinthine cavern a pinpoint of light appeared, and acted as guide, growing the closer she came to her exit.  As the light overcame her, Nico stepped out onto the balcony of a morpheous-house, constantly remolding itself like a sandcastle, looking out across panoramic views of a deep-sea valley of green and red mercury.  Nico made her way to the ocean’s large beach, which she found covered in a chilly fog.  An unfamiliar young man stood before her; his hair was messy, with alien brown eyes, but was dressed in Sect garb.  The young man was gored.  The ocean’s waves behind him gave off gentle silver illuminating shadows.  The moon’s sky journey sped, searching for its apex before driving into the fathoms, repeatedly, unlit it became a comet.  He let go of Nico, looking over his shoulder he evaporated in a gray mist.

The ocean’s waves gave off gentle silver illuminating shadows.  The moon’s sky journey sped, searching for its apex before driving into the fathoms, repeatedly, unlit it became a comet.  He let go of Nico, looking over his shoulder he evaporated in a gray mist.  As he disappeared from view, his disturbing far away green-glass eyes that did not belong in his face were the last to leave her.  Nico bit her lower lip, unable to describe life only as apathy.  As the calm polluted the area, a slowing tik-tok filled the air until it stopped.  Her hair fell around her face as she covered it with her trembling hands.  She hasn’t once had a night since then without him appearing in her dreams, either as the primary topic or as a haunting peripheral.  She cried, running from the ocean into an orchard that lined a grass path, and when she came to the river she pulled her night gown to her knees and crossed.  The trees on the other side were wet the past rains, and matted Nico’s hair as well as soaking her skin; the wet hid the tears that now streamed down her face.  Nico ran to the far side of a disintegrating Aeoli, continuing up a hill to the crumbling Temple with crooked stairs, supervised by the Seer Who Never Speaks.

Behind the Temple was a cemetery of disintegrating tombstones engraved with forgotten names.  Nico turned left through sculpted gates into a formally landscaped terrace surrounded by foreign weeping trees, that increased the sense of distance between her and Aeoli. To the south was a parterre garden of pink, white, and blue flowers, encased a wrought fence, enhancing the feeling of complete seclusion.  There a waterfall which filled a pond near the largest apple tree.  This time rather than flowing into a pond, it emptied into a great and silent mercury ocean.  A great and gorgeous woman rose from the mercury sea a distance from shore.  The woman was covered in exquisite jewels, but otherwise was completely nude.

“I am the daughter of Fortitude,” said the woman approaching, “ravished continuously since youth.  I am the sister of Understanding and Science; and the Single Light Star oppress me.  They cover and desire me the infinite appetite; for none that are earthly have embraced me, for I exist robed in the mist of the Circle of the Stars.  My actions come like a zephyr, and are sweeter than lamprocanos dew.  My garments are from the beginning, and my dwelling is in myself.  The Fifth House know not where I walk, neither does the Ninth Fields understand me.  I am deflowered, yet a virgin; I am sanctity and am not sanctified.  Fortunate is embraced by me: for in silhouettes I am thorny sweetness, and in the day full of gratification.  My company is a symphony of many symbols and my lips sweeter than health itself.  I am a harlot for such as ravish me, and a virgin with such as know me not.  For lo, I am a loved of many, and am lover to many; and as many as come unto me as they should do, have entertainment.

“Purge your paths, Soot of the Light, and wash your feet clean; bathe in the holy, and garb in righteousness.”  The nude woman’s voice echoed, “Cast out your withered flower seeds, and burn their chaff; abstain from company of the besmirched, and then will I dwell amongst you; I will bring forth generations, and they shall be of comfort.  I will open my legs, and stand enflamed before you, that your love is towards me.”  The closer the woman became the clearer the words she chanted became: “Oh my darling, my darling…”

When the purple woman’s feet touched the sand beneath the water, the binary suns sped up their axial spinning, and the Aeolya Belt vacillated in its rotations.  Uncontrollably Nico embraced the strange woman as mother, and the sun came closer, so that Nico could see its orange halo and destructive flares.  The clouds blew across the sky as if blewn by a hundred kilometer per hour winds.  Behind Nico she could hear buzzing like a mosquito.  The sun continued to rise searing the sky, stretching shadows until they turned grey.  When the suns reached their apex, the moon rose followed by blue noiselessness.  Mother’s hands pushed Nico from the noise, transforming into white silence, which in turn encapsulated invading sounds of Aeoli.

From behind Nico thunder clouds formed and advanced.  The clouds swirled and formed horrid images, absorbing the stars in its path.  When the clouds covered Nico they opened up releasing rain that dissolved the home around her, leaving only great ocean.  Nico held her breath as she collapsed to the ground.  She cursed tasting fear.  Then the ground opened and took Nico in.  The tree leaves encased her body, sealed in place by marching ants.  As the ant bejeweled cocoon fell over Nico’s face she saw the sky go black, and she was then blind.  Mercury leached from the walls filling the cavernous ground.  Nico smelled burning flesh, bones, and abstraction.

Nico woke late that morning, a pillow cradled between her arms, and sweat coated her warm body.

Felix’s Evolution

When Felix was originally created, in elementary school, I garbed him in the standard blue and gold X-Men uniform.  As I grew through school more “personality” was injected into Felix’s costume through individualizing his presentation.  Until, by the end of middle school Felix was dressed pop-punk: urban military boots, jeans, half un-tucked t-shirt, and bomber jacket; because the 90s.  Being 13 years old, and knowing nothing of bad-assery, I had Felix chew bubble-gum; a big no-no in my house growing up.

Going through high school, Felix’s costume became a simplified bodysuit again with a hoodie over it, a set of cybernetic goggles, a thigh-strap for pouches and guns, and urban boots; because the late-90s.  At the end of high school, Felix had ditched the pull-over, but attached the hoodie to the bodysuit.  The boots gave way to padded soles on the body suit.

By the time I entered college, Felix had evolved from clown to trouble-maker.  Felix had begun as a fun character, evolving through the storylines into a stylized character.  Initially appearing as the jokester in Generation X, Felix grew to become a morally ambiguous character that juggled numerous facades by the Utopia-era.  I gave-in and gave Felix a green satchel bag, bringing him to full homage status.

Verve (April 2017)

Life is a sedentary treadmill.  I am paralyzed by intense feelings of shame, that my existence is brought into question should I open myself, to create a bond through self-expression, leads to being ignored and thrown away.  Life requires experiences that provide a potpourri of emotions, and not the safe experiences that fall into the lap when home and being at work and exercising and reading.  Instead I created discord between routine and goals, which breeds familiarity as a crutch – an exhausting a platform that lack of change.  The intention of structure is to create a framework for risks, avoiding repeating past cycles of self-abandonment, bending backwards to create a new personality that is more accommodating.  What didn’t lead to being ignored was compliance to the needs of others.  It is easier to serve another than to assert myself.  Overtime I have made the masks I wear for acceptance the expectation others have who I am, in relation to them.  Should that mask be revealed to be false there is a second me underneath with different wants and needs; I will be seen as duplicitous.  I am terrified that my masks will be seen not as made for survival, which has grown into a core fear that my identity would bring about rejection from others.

Identity in Separate Baubles

Art by Sachin Teng
Art by Sachin Teng

Being homosexual has consistently been present in my life, beginning when I was 9 years old when AIDS entered my consciousness, putting a dark stigma became attached to being homosexual.  The original facts I had about homosexuality came to me through knowledge about AIDS, gleamed from the deaths of Anthony Perkins and Robert Reed, effectively connecting homosexuality with death, separation, and sensationalism.  With limited exposure to healthy examples of homosexuality I stumbled into a stagnate malleable inauthentic identity, designed for avoidance.

As I grew up I struggled with the idea that there was something false and untrue about my place in the world.  In reaction, I created a false self that wasn’t defective or flawed.  I diluted or ignored parts of myself that I thought would alienate me from those around me.  When a false-self was created I ceased to be an authentic human being.  The psychologist, the late Alice Miller calls this “soul-murder” – shame that leads to believing that I was a failure. Self-contempt, isolation, and a strong sense that I was untrustworthy accompanied each other until I believed I was a failure. Shame became my core identity, shutting me down to human relationships, living in hopelessness, and locked in a set of very unhealthy beliefs. Continue reading “Identity in Separate Baubles”

Felix Masquerade

I dreamed of super-powers to be like the mutant X-Men, just as I had dreamed about being like the other boys in school.  I didn’t understand why I had to feel alienated and alone from everyone in my school and home; why couldn’t what made me different be celebrated the way athleticism and super-powers were? The character, Felix, I created was originally purely escapism, a way to join my favorite mutants as I read their new issues.   Over time he developed as I grew, becoming a character that I armored myself with in new and boundary-pushing situations.

The original power I grafted onto Felix were my wish fulfillment, liberating me from the conflicts I had with homosexuality’s shame.  Originally, I gave Felix shapeshifting abilities because I’d be able to become anyone other than myself.  With shapeshifting, I’d reflect the popular students throughout middle and most of high school, avoiding the lonely and isolation prophesized by television and movies.  Changing my appearance, Felix could literally become or match anyone’s desire, gaining the perfection that I had desired.  Being able to shapeshift I’d have more tools at my disposal to make my goals and fantasies match my outside.

Felix was eventually given telepathy as I struggled to juggle the various facades I had created to navigate interactions.  Telepathy ensured that the forms I took would be ideal for whom I was interacting with, removing the guess work about how to be part of the group.  I’d know exactly what to say, be prepared for what others would say, and always have a funny quip to keep grace.  Having the correct words, I’d be able to give the illusion that I was known without having to go through the painful experience of not exposing my queerness.

As I began to fully explore what differentiated me from others, I added the final super-power: teleportation.  Felix would be able to truly escape any situation that was uncomfortable; I’d be free to be away from ticky-tacky suburbia and be where the different, foreign, and unique are celebrated –  New York City, home to many of Marvel’s superheroes and faraway from the mundane.  By this time Felix stopped becoming escapism and became the armor for every day, designed to masquerade as popular and fleeting.  Felix had become the mysterious character whose silent smile spoke, so that I didn’t have to expose myself to isolation and alienation.

Lamprocapnos

Lamprocapnos [Bleeding Heart Flower] 03“Pele’s Boys”

From the volcano top

I hear dreams like thunder

Exciting the liquid chaos deeply in me

Matching my heartbeat

Your smile becomes my sun

When I suck your tongue

For lava glistens in your eyes

 

Underneath your rain

Treble and strings make melody

Bass and horns make flowers bloom

Tickling every nerve of me

Creating tiny sparks

Imitating missing persons –

Oh, how I love those little Sparks!

They massage my every muscle

Destroying or giving me wings?

 

Where’s the new rain?  Where’s the new rain?

 

“Poppy Garden”

I lived in a common poppy garden

But when I ran from that courtyard

I tore down the walls around

The razor I keep in my mind

Making my brain polluted with torrents –

I’m stupid I’m tragic I’m defenseless

I’m ashamed at my lack of pain

 

In honest moments I can’t lie,

You had brought out what I thought was the best of me,

But when I’m left to dream alone for a thousand nights

Is when havoc contrives tears at dawn,

Mixing with critical thoughts of my own –

(So run now)

I am deconstructed glass I am too frozen for love,

I am characteristics unbecoming

I am the thorn in your side –

I clip my wings to be free

What Comics Mean to Me

avengers_youngbabyx_02It’s always been easier to say, “I enjoy comic books” then “I am gay.”  In school, comic books sheltered me from isolation growing because they offered a world to escape into that was more acceptable than homosexuality.  The differences I had from other boys was easily masked by the label “geek.”  I welcomed being considered a geek because it allowed me to avoid being ostracized as a “sissy.”  The popular boys were my superheroes, the ones that I modeled my failed mimicry after because they embodied acceptability, which I could not do on my own.

Away from school, comic books provided a space to explore my queer identity, which has allowed me to state my queerness with greater confidence.  Prior to comic books, queer experiences shown in TV mass-media were rooted in pain, neglected, and isolated.  Comic books offered the first examples of characters who took their uniqueness, and amplified them to create identities that were admired.  The loud personalities of super-heroes demonstrated to me that it was possible to be accepted for brashness.  Super-heroes, like myself, hid their true self behind mild-mannered civilian identities.  A world was opened to me where underneath the mask I created in school the true self was possible to be celebrated, and accepted, for its accomplishments.

School Homosexuality

Being homosexual has consistently been present in my life, beginning when I was 9 years old when AIDS entered my consciousness, putting a dark stigma became attached to being homosexual.  The original facts I had about homosexuality came to me through knowledge about AIDS, gleamed from the deaths of Anthony Perkins and Robert Reed, effectively connecting homosexuality with death, separation, and sensationalism.  With limited exposure to healthy examples of homosexuality I stumbled into a stagnate malleable inauthentic identity, designed for avoidance.

Feeling distant from classmates and peers, particularly the boys, began in elementary school when I didn’t want to participate in the same games and activities.  Middle school proved to be a more complicated time because as boys were discovering girls, I had no interest in them.  What I did find more appealing were the boys in my grade, who became the subject of fantasy and infatuation.  The more popular the better.  I equated popular-by-association with acceptance into the societal norms.  There were no boys to roleplay intimacy or boundaries; everyone’s burgeoning masculinity was too fragile.  Back then ‘gay’ was a pejorative for ‘stupid,’ ‘sissy,’ ‘girly,’ or ‘less than.’  With group acceptance as the primary goal being labeled the outsider was unacceptable, so I kept any suspicious ‘gay’ buried through comic books.  For other students, their exploration didn’t have many venturing far from home, keeping them safely in the group.  My search for identity would have had me travelling far into the realm of gay-other, which at that time was predominately found in the character Jodie Dallas, from Soap reruns on Comedy Central.  Jodie Dallas was a sad sack that never was taken seriously by his family, and was unable to find happiness with another person that was similar, whom he could divulge his thoughts and feelings to.  Jodie Dallas was ridiculed and dismissed every time he came out.  He was also constantly alone, single, and nearly friendless because his homosexuality separated him from his family.  This was still a typical and normal portrayal of homosexuality in the early & mid-1990s, and Soap was from the late 1970s.

Fearing the concept of isolation, I steered far from the queer identity, and built a wall safely hidden beneath goofball.  A lack of interest in sports was chalked up to geek, safely hiding within the group.  I ignored the adventure of exploring a gay identity, and embraced the descriptions that avoided me being ostracized into the group with the more flamboyant homosexual boys – the ones labeled “sissy.”  So, when a girl asked me to be their boyfriend I said yes, lacking the vocabulary and experiences to know that it would be an ill-fit.  I withdrew and couldn’t muster the interest to mimic boyfriends I saw modeled on TV, and waited for the inevitable implosion.  When she did call to break-up I didn’t feel relieved, or even numb – I simply went about my afternoon watching cartoons.

When I left school, I spent the rest of my life un-learning the group mentality.  I wondered what about who I was that was unacceptable.  My identity was separated into different baubles, guised with adjective-derived masks to fit in, and denying myself a confidante.  By refusing anyone I could divulge to because I am scared that if anyone knew my real fears, secrets, and thoughts, they’d not like me.  And that there is no possibility for repair. I felt punishment was warranted. I imitated to the expectations of others when I should have been fostering an identity to grow into.  Inclusion was predicated upon adopting various skins that brought me affection and attention.  My not being seen combined with its created a spiral of neglect and ignored are bound with being loved.  Compliance allowed me to go unseen, a self-imposed inability to label that I was homosexual.

Verve (March 2017)

I have felt I don’t belong at the adult table – adulating, relationships, and work, comes so much easier to everyone else.  Their lives, and without actively comparing, are filled contentment, belonging, and legacy.  If I could just get a roadmap to eat, pray, love my way to those things I know the rest would fall into place, emotional security would follow.

Everything outside my goals feels foreign to me, as if I’m faking everything until I can be home and secluded.  The real word doesn’t hurt but it increasingly feels like something I’m not a part of.  There is a dissonance between how I perceive the world, how I want the world, and the way the world truly is.  I am more comfortable going through life seeing the fantastical and the speculative.  For example, when I am walking to the store and it is twilight and the lights are just turning on, and there is a warmth as the sky turns purple with twinkling stars.  To see that as less than a magical experience, and the opportunities that arise, saddens, and removes me from my neighbors.

I began feeling the greatest distance between myself in elementary school.  It was during this time that I began noticing that I was different from the world and the rest of the kids, particularly the boys.  Children are acutely aware of the differences amongst each other, particularly when there’s one who doesn’t participate in the same activities and games.  I imitated to the expectations of others when I should have been fostering an identity to grow into.  Inclusion was predicated upon adopting various skins that brought me affection and attention.