Untitled (a poem)

you fucking left me, you left me on the train
i saw your eyes glazing over while that man wrapped his thick fingers around my neck and tried to take my humanity from me.
i watched you look away, i watched you pretend like it wasn’t happening
what the fuck is wrong with you?
i will not be another Kitty Genovese because
there have been far too many of us already

people talk about phoenixes,
but what they don’t really remember is like Mama Butler said, we gotta burn before we can rise and well I have fucking burned so many times I have fire in my blood instead of haemoglobin.

those horrible clawing fingers and those vile words are not perceptions
that is why every slur, ever dirty look is like a dagger in my soul
they are facts in my life, that shit happens
how do you tell someone that you’re sorry?

i gotta rise above,
we, all us Kittys, we are all phoenixes
there is no other choice, no other road
i take my rage and hide my face
i spit truth because i cannot lie
i cannot die

because you left me on the train.
and my life is worth so much more than that

(c) 2013 T.G.


Community Alert: Hate Crime in Downtown Portland Last Night

On August 6th around 9-10pm a Latina woman was assaulted by a group of White men after she refused to acknowledge their initial harassment of her. They punched her and also threw garbage including beer bottles at her. The crime occurred on Stark and 13th Avenue in downtown Portland, OR. If you can identify any of the people in the photos or have any other information about this crime please contact the Portland police's non-emergency line @ 503-823-3333.

I’ve had some interesting epiphanies this week, as usually happens during this time of year. I am seeing myself in new ways. I forget that despite my strong identification with my roots and my brown-ness, my skin color allows me White passing privilege and most people don’t identify me as POC. Overt racism towards me usually occurs when I “out” myself. The micro-aggressions (and actual aggression) towards me may have more to do with the fact that I don’t wear clothing and accoutrements that are stereotypically consistent with my perceived gender (male) and that this also makes me “visibly” queer.
It’s funny that I have thought more about and agonized over my brown-ness and neglected to consider this other facet of my identity. Maybe it’s because I am more comfortable with my appearance and fashion choices. I need to think about my White-passing privilege more and how that intersects with my more “visible” differences. 
(p.s. masculinity/femininity are social constructs and I will make them into whatever I desire)


United States of What?

Both of my parents came from working class backgrounds and rose out of their class level. They taught my sister and I the value of hard work, community involvement but also to be critical of the status quo.

It is through those lenses that I developed into an adult, and when I discovered that the American dream was a lie, I admit it stung. But I took my existential anger and channelled it into advocating marginalized people and deconstructing the interlocking systems of oppression that keep the great White capitalist hope grinding the rest of us into oblivion.

Today however, I woke up exhausted. The news lately has been nothing but awful. The government is spying on us through organizations that are supposed to protect us, there are still wars raging in Afghanistan and Iraq (and one soon to come in Syria I fear), the Supreme Court just crippled the Voting Rights Act, and freedom of the press is slowly eroding away with the criminalization of whistle-blowers. I don't recognize my country anymore.

I am angry. I am angry that I feel like I have to be careful what I publish, that I still don't have health insurance, I am angry that anti-Semitism is on the rise, that mixed-race families in my city are getting swastikas spray pained on their property, I am angry that I could get fired if my boss found out I am queer. I am angry that I voted to re-elect Obama and he has betrayed us.
I don't feel safe here.


Invocation for strength ~ Moonrose Shaundel Angeles

Isis. the rainbow of sapphire mysteries
you are the calling I hear from
the wind in my bones.
oh mother of life
begotten from your womb of light
we rise now out of the masculine death
that is jehovah's enslavement
in the fullness of sweet woman's blood
and fairy rage--
our touch blossoms.
like the tides of earth, we are strong to come again.

i believe in the goddess
the movement for life.
thorned by our genderless
brightening for our powerless
and suckling our struggle.
by the rose in my chakras
i tap the androgyne.
with you our love is revolt
with you we are each
atoms of significance.

my lover of amazons
my triumph of faggot witches.
feed us the lunar nectar
between the poems and tears
between silence and celebrations,
and guide us to destroy
the machinery that alienates us.
then shall our captors parasite
upon themselves.

oh Kali
the source the destroyer the
return: in pain's dignity
your face is behind our faces.
we are strong to come again.


Community Alert: White Supremacist Literature Found in Milwaukee Neighborhood

KATU News broke this story earlier this week when a Milwaukee resident found these racist fliers left on cars along SE International Way. The pamphlets are mostly in Spanish and probably being used to target Latino immigrants for intimidation. They lead back to a White supremacist group. The Milwaukee woman who found them, Dinah Davis, told reporters she was horrified and that she wants the group to know they're not welcome in her neighborhood.

Please be aware and stay safe. Report and White supremacist activities to your local law enforcement officials, the media and Rose City Antifa.


It's Not Just Ice Cream

I rail about gentrification a lot, I know. I live in a city that is rapidly gentrifying around me so it is difficult not to. There have been many big issues that came up in our local media because of this, such as the bike lanes on Williams Street and leaving out Black community leaders in "urban development" projects.

I've alienated some friends recently because of my staunch stance on gentrification. Many of them don't understand why it's a bad thing. They only see the clean streets, the shiny new buildings and posh businesses that gentrification brings. The rest are inconvenient truths.

I got in an argument recently and was told  "it's just ice cream". Well, the thing is...it's not just ice cream. It's an entire row of expensive businesses like a shoe boutique, a posh ice cream store, topped by overpriced concrete lofts that no one from the neighborhood will ever be able to afford...all this where once a grassy knoll stood and people sunbathed, played music and sold their homemade goods. The ice cream represents something completely different for me, not just a fun new eatery to check out. I have to live here too. This is not the city I want.

I have lived in Portland since 2005 and I hardly recognize it lately. The gentrification of the city has been kicked into high gear with new businesses and building popping up every week. The new Portland has lost it's backbone. It's more friendly for the masses of upper Middle class White families flocking here. Rents are skyrocketing (when you can even find a vacancy), food is becoming more expensive and of course there are very few jobs. The livability for those of us who were here before is plummeting. The very fabric of the city is changing. For me and others, it's not about the fucking ice cream.


No sé exactamente como yo siento en este tiempo. Estoy malquistando a unos amigos con mi punto de vista. No pido disculpas porque su cultura me malquista a mi. Estoy creciendo más y más radical. Pero eso me gusta. No quiero ser una persona que queda mirando todo lo mal pasar y sin hacer nada. Estoy cansado de los sistemas de opresión. Estoy cansado que me digan que debo relajarme. Que "solo es helado". Para mi, no los es. Es gentrificación, es capitalismo matando, es homofobia, es racismo, es misoginia. Quiero romper el sistema que nos dejan fríos. 


"It's a wonder I haven't abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart."


Classism & Homelessness: The Last Great American Prejudice

I want to foreword this post by saying that I do not believe racism, sexism or homophobia have been eradicated from our society I just believe it is less societally acceptable to perpetuate those prejudices than it is to be classist.

Recently I found myself questioning this idea of the acceptability of classism. I was a at gathering where there were few people I had met before. The conversation turned to homeless people, as Portland has a very large homeless population due to the availability of many social assistance programs and a vibrant street culture. A popular pastime of Portlanders (it seems) is to share stories about homeless encounters and generally bash the homeless population over drinks in a cosy atmosphere.

The partygoers exchanged various tales of how awful homeless people were here and how terrible it was to walk to work and run into someone begging for spare change. They waxed on how these people were just taking advantage of society, how they were lazy, how they were undeserving of human interaction.  The equation of negative interactions being much worse than what it is like being homeless is disingenuous, selfish and disgusting. I admit I have become desensitized to this bashing, but that evening the length of the sport became so protracted that I made up an excuse to leave with another friend of mine who afterwards shared his feelings of disgust about the attitudes of the other partygoers.

What fascinates me is people’s inability to conceptualize homeless people as people. They reduce them to nonhuman entities worthy only of revile and ignoring. I find this highly disturbing and problematic, especially as it has become so easy to fall out of your class now. There are many people who are becoming homeless who were middle class before. Foreclosures, banks, mental healthcare, job scarcity and a rise in living costs have all contributed to this. I think this is compounded by American society’s “bootstrap” idealization of success. People are measured by how well they survive on their own. We put very little validity on helping others and creating community. I say “we” but I really mean White upper-middle class capitalist Christian thinking (there are numerous communities in the United States such as Native Americans and Jewish people which are the opposite).

I have known people in my life who have become homeless temporarily or for long periods of time and I tried to help them in whatever way I could. One of my friends related to an acquaintance of mine that I was the only person he had known in his previous life before he had to sleep under a bridge that actually still spoke to him and acted as if nothing was different. I remember him still. I treated him with dignity and respect as I would treat all people. My friend was a homeless person. Homeless people are after all, people.

I encourage you to think about that next time you decide to join in some bitching about how annoyed you were that someone asked you for change. Keep your classism to yourself.


Marriage Equality & White Gay Hegemony

It may come as a surprise to many of you, but I do not support marriage equality. I do not believe that entering into a heteronormative economic institution should afford some people more benefits and rights that others. I should not have to be married to receive cheaper healthcare, to get tax breaks or to adopt children.

I also have a HUGE problem with the Human Rights Campaign. They have an incredibly shitty track record. The HRC has a long history of ignoring trans* issues, outlined in Monica Robert's article "Why The Transgender Community Hates HRC".

On top of this the HRC began to compare marriage equality to that of civil rights, which became very popular during the 2008 presidential election, even garnering this cover article in the Advocate. Not only is this highly problematic, it denigrates the experience of Black Americans & other communities of color. LAGAI writes in their article "Marriage and Racism and Queers", They equated the history of slavery and the fight for civil rights for African Americans, the internment of Japanese residents and citizens, and the struggle for justice for Latino workers with the struggle for legal recognition of gay marriage. White Europeans exterminated millions of Native Americans, and killed at least two million Africans who were abducted and thrown in the holds of ships to be sold as slaves. Slavery was legally maintained for over 200 years. White supremacy was maintained through terrorism (including lynching), as well as law. Legally enforced segregation persisted until the 1960's. Although nominally able to vote after the Civil War, African Americans were effectively disenfranchised everywhere in the u.s., and legally disenfrancised in much of the south. The Civil Rights movement was about overturning this systematic legal oppression of African Americans, and thousands of people were injured and hundreds of people lost their lives in that struggle. It is absurd to casually equate this experience with the experience of not getting state recognition for a marriage. (2008, LAGAI.)

To this end, the HRC really sticks their fist in their mouth by ignoring the plight of queer people of color, trans* folk, poor & rural queer folk and homeless queer youth. Despite the beginnings of the gay rights movement steeped in justice for the homeless, the transgender community and spearheaded by queer people of color, the new gay rights movement is upwardly middle class, heteronormative & White. This needs to change. We cannot truly liberate ourselves this way.

The HRC is also responsible for many campaigns that try to paint marriage as being about love (NOH8 etc), when really what we need to realize is that marriage has existed for thousands of years as an economic institution that reduces women's value basically to chattel. Marriage was economic before it was ever religious or about love. Marriage is about money. Activist Neila McLeod sums the institution of marriage up best: The institution of marriage represents a legacy of brutal sexism, based on control of women's bodies and lives by men. For most of the history of the concept, wives were essentially (if not literally) slaves to their husbands. Marriage is an agent of the dominant cultural narrative that says women are social extensions of men whose sole purpose in life is to serve men and produce (male) children. This is slowly changing but this change necessarily represents movement away from the narrative created and propagated by marriage. Marriage is necessarily anti-woman. I believe the cause of liberation for all people (not just "equality" for some) depends on dismantling all systems of institutional power that serve to divide and oppress us. Queerness is (or should be) a direct challenge to these systems. I refuse to be for the privileges afforded the ruling class. A movement for inclusion in a definitionally oppressive system is not a movement for justice, it is a movement for assimilation. (McLeod, 2013).

The HRC does not have my support. Nor do I support marriage equality. I support equality for all human beings, and that is how we will truly be liberated.


Workplace Microaggressions & PTSD

I was excited to start a new job in a well-paid position. It was in the field I enjoy most working in (mental health) and worked not only with private insurance but also our state's low income program OHP. I was really enjoying the atmosphere of the office but then I started noticing things that made me feel really uncomfortable.

During my training, one of the staff members told us a story about how she was alone on a street and there was a Black man walking towards her and how "Sorry to say, but I was scared". The trainer kind of made fun of her for it which was a nice way to defuse the situation. The folks at the training were all pretty cool despite that and never made weird comments about race or sexuality. They also warned me about my future office manager.

Once working my office manager asked me some inappropriate questions about my sexuality based on stereotyping my clothing choices. She also asked me about my religious beliefs which is also inappropriate (and illegal) when she invaded my desk space and noticed a keychain with a khamsa on it. On top of that, this same person made rude comments about "Mexicans" and how she was frustrated by their accents. This came up a few times. My coworker knew about my biracial background and corrected her but to no avail. You really can't win when people think they've got a right to say something. What was ultimately distressing was many people in the office's unwillingness to help people with thick accents. I know that phones can make hearing people more difficult, but it is no excuse to not help a person get the care they need because you have a more difficult time understanding them. Chances are they are having issues understanding you too. This is especially problematic for people seeking mental health care.

Not only did these situations arise, but the manager created an unsafe atmosphere for us to work with her negativity and her emotional dumping. I ultimately ended up quitting after two weeks. I told the supervisor during the exit interview about all of this and how I felt I could not work under those conditions. She surprised me by informing me that complaints had been made against that manager before. What doesn't surprise me is that she is still with the company.

New studies have shown that micro-aggressions (homophobia, misogyny, racism etc) can lead to PTSD in the long term. This is something I want to investigate in my research on therapy and PTSD. I have encountered ignorance before in the social work/mental health fields but nothing this blatantly illegal or negative. Have you had similar experiences?

Here I lie,
At the feet of the Empire
Naked, starving and furious.

I scream prayers
Upon the ancestors
And set fire to the night.

Here me O my people,
It cannot know our hearts
Nor our true names.


Cultural Diversity & Portland's White Heterosexual Middle Class Monoculture: An Open Letter to Meg Descamp

Dear Meg, I recently received a copy of my alma mater's alumni news magazine and your article "Is Portland really Portlandia?" angered me. I am frustrated especially in light of the recent Blackface incident in North Portland. You detailed a "cultural diversity" here in our city that I don't agree with. You wrote, They [the young professionals] are committed to Portland and to all the city has to offer: cultural diversity, natural beauty, and a progressive political and social climate.The irony-cum-hypocrisy was especially poignant with the photo of all the lily-white faces at Ms. Tunstall's sewing factory. Seriously?

Please explain to me how a city that is 76% White is culturally diverse. A city where Mars Hill Church, an unabashedly homophobic and sexist religious organization set up shop in what was once a hippy heartland (the Hawthorne neighborhood). How is a city progressive when it can't solve its issues with homelessness, rampant gentrification and when the police force has admitted that it racially profiles? How can a city call itself "liberal" when it consistently votes against police accountability and statutes to assist the homeless?

The "cultural diversity" buzz phrase really angers me the most. Portland is home to a large DIY, sustainable/green, crafty organic type of culture, but it is still a monoculture practiced by mostly White upwardly mobile Middle Class heterosexuals who want to dye themselves as unique and progressive. It's still just a monoculture.

How does that qualify as diverse? That is not diversity. Bike lanes, pop-up shops and organic grocery stores are not diversity. This is especially true when they are here to serve the monoculture. To call Portland diverse insults the experience of the poor, the people of color and the queer folks who have to somehow exist within the phobic, classist and Whitewashed culture that Portland has created.

Please stop ignoring us.

A community member.


Chely Wright & Memories of Coming Out in the South

I just finished watching "Wish Me Away" the documentary about country star and lesbian activist Chely Wright. It was an amazing film and I recommend it. It did however bring up a lot of emotions and memories I haven't thought about in a long time.

I grew up in the Bible Belt like Chely. My hometown is small and not diverse in regards to religion. We were mostly Protestant (Methodists & Baptists) with small Catholic & Jewish communities. Of course people recognized that word "homosexual", that negative connotation. That slur. But nobody knew anyone gay.

Watching Chely coming out was almost physically painful. I remember when I came out to my parents. It was horrible, but it wasn't insurmountable in the end. We still talk and we still love each other.

Flashforward 10 years later. I'm a college graduate. I have a job. I'm in love with a wonderful man. I come home to visit my parents and visit my dad's office to say hello to all the folks that work there with him because, well they're family too.

There is one lady I am particularly excited to see, Patty. She has always been a bit of a Black sheep and encouraged me to be myself. She likes Star Trek, used to rock a nose ring and doesn't like the government. I thought we were almas gemelas, except she's not who I thought she was as it turns out. I remember watching her face turn to stone when I explained to her that my "friend" wasn't a friend but my lover, my one, my man, my boo, my everything. She stated that she loved me always and would respect my "lifestyle choice".

I hate that phrase. My brain turned off for the rest of the conversation. I don't remember how I responded. I felt betrayed and angry. It was worse than coming out to my parents, because despite my mother's hysterics I knew that things would be okay. This time however, things would never be the same. I have never spoken to her since. I lost a friend. Sometimes the truth hurts.

I know now that it doesn't matter. I have a plethora of friends and family that are still by my side. They're not judgemental. They are good people. They're good Christians (or Jews, Pagans, Muslims etc) in that they love regardless. I'm very thankful to have them in my life. And my love is stronger.


Microaggressions: Fat Hatred

Last night I met up with a really good friend of mine at a posh restaurant downtown. She brought along another friend of hers whom I'd met before, and that was cool. I'm a friend with that person on Facebook. However, I am not sure how I feel about her because I've seen some posts that collude with White privilege or posts that are very anti-fat. Tonight was the last straw.
She proceeded to talk about her new gluten diet, how she dropped ten pounds on it (she wasn't fat to begin with) and how great that is. I just pretended to be interested and nodded a lot. Wasn't really that big of a deal. Until dessert.
My friend and I decided to split a really rich (delicious) piece of cheesecake. The other chick wasn't going to order dessert (naturally). After we ordered the cheesecake, she told us a story about her trip back from D.C. and how she was in the Houston airport and how fat everyone was in Houston. She said that she could hear them having trouble breathing and that they were "4 times her size" (not difficult when you're skinny.) She thought it was "so funny" how all the fat people in the airport were getting rides on a cart from the terminal to the baggage claim. When she found the gate for her flight to Portland she said it was all skinny people and "Yay she had found her people." The skinny people.
She kept looking at me when she was telling this story. I was the fattest one at the table. I'm usually the fattest person in my group of friends. I am healthy, I am a fast runner, I don't use a lot of salt or sugar, I go to the gym 4 times a week and I could probably bench press that idiot. I ate that fucking cheesecake because fuck diets and fuck making yourself feel better by making fun of other people. I am not sure if I will be hanging out with this person anymore. We are saturated with fat hatred in society and I definitely don't need to be around it in my relationships.
Check your thin privilege, but pass the fucking cheesecake. 


Portlandia Needs to Check Its Privilege

I've always had the sneaking suspicion that Fred Armisen, SNL darling and co creator of Portlandia, was a smug dickhead. I was right! 

Armisen, who ironically admits to living in the posh Pearl district (a-not-so-Portlandy neighborhood), was recently interviewed by the Willamette Week. The interviewer asked some tough questions of Freddy, which was right on, but he gave mostly non-commital answers. When pressured about Armisen & Brownstein's safe, if not unrealistic portrayal of Portland, this eloquent gem caught my eye: Armisen states,"In fact, that's kind of like, you know, our world, for a lack of a better word. White people, sort of like privileged people."

Let me stop you right there, Armisen. First of all, White people (in Portland) are not "sort of like privileged", you're definitely privileged. It is a privilege to be able to go about ignorant of people of color's experience because your city happens to be overly White in it's racial makeup and segregated otherwise. Second of all, I live in Portland, I'm not White and I can safely say the world Portlandia portrays is not my world. Those people, those characters, are the folks me and my friends (and yes, some of them are White too) don't want to be. We make fun of those people. We don't associate with those people. We try to be aware of our privileges, White, economic or otherwise.

I think the big problem with Portlandia for me personally is that you have the opportunity to make fun of ignorant silly White Portlanders but you choose not to. You can tackle gentrification, you can tackle subtle racism, you can tackle micro-aggressions and cultural appropriation: that shit happens here. Why not make fun of it? That is a way to subvert it. I think I'm giving Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein too much credit though, that they'd actually use their "art" to do something revolutionary. They choose not to, to play it safe, because they don't want to offend their target audience: White people.

Grow some balls, Portlandia. Until then, I won't be laughing at you.