#for myself and for the selves i used to be
Mahmoud Darwish, from Memory for Forgetfulness: August, Beirut, 1982 (tr. Ibrahim Muhawi)
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Anyone can help!
(Real pen the last picture)
It is important for EVERYONE to know how to help ANYONE. Not everyone can give them selves their medicine under every circumstance. Be educated, help out.
In the last year, i have gotten about five new violent allergies from foods i used to be able to eat. Next time i eat a fruit, my throat could close. I may not be able to inject myself. My boyfriend and i played with my trainer pen for like 30 minutes. He knows how to inject it. I know how. This is important.
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Artist Spotlight: Gianni Lee
Gianni Lee is a visual artist, fashion designer, music producer and international DJ who started gaining popularity through the viral success of his mixtapes as well as his streetwear brand Babylon Cartel. Lee uses painting as a language to tell the story of a people fighting for their home and their existence and his canvas and color choices are a platform for him to express inner-feelings on issues he can’t put into words. He tells stories that speak about social issues in America and abroad and we had the chance to honor him and his work in 2019 at Art Basel. We caught up with him recently to discuss more of his background and beliefs so check it out.
If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
I don’t think I could limit myself to words. Words are hard for me. I’ve always had trouble and that's why I relied so heavily on imagery and color to get my point across. If I could describe myself in hues I would say aqua blue, matte black and cherry red.
When you hear Black Excellence, what or who comes to mind?
Me, you and anyone else Black who wants something out of this world but also wants to give something tangible back to this world while they are living on it. It’s no special look, walk or talk to me. It’s just real Black people living their truest and best selves, free from discrimination and judgement.
The traumatizing experience of a Black man being wrongfully accused of a crime is unfortunately common in the U.S. How has this inspired your work and advocacy?
Let me first say that I think Criminal Justice Reform is needed and is imperative in this country. I can’t stress that enough. The continued policing of Black bodies in America is a problem and must be addressed. It’s a revolving door of bullying and I always feel slightly pressured with the responsibility of addressing it in my work as a black man. The past, the present and the future of it. We need to know what was, and we need to openly discuss and plan what CAN be. Generational trauma is real and we are dealing with it everyday, that same trauma inspires my work. It’s a direct line to our ancestors that I’m speaking through and I’m only the vessel.
What brings you satisfaction in your work?
My satisfaction is always the finished product and the reactions of people when they first see it. I’m competitive with myself so I always want to push my limits and do something better than the previous piece. I’m in this constant battle with my future and past selves to see who can bang out the most iconic painting. It’s like a weird time travel fringe art film. I probably wouldn’t watch it because it would suck.
Tell us about how you got started in the arts.
I got started the day my Mother enrolled me in this special education arts kindergarten called Moonstone. We learned everything through the arts as a foundation. I remember I got into a fight at school and my punishment was to draw exactly what I did wrong and present that drawing to the class followed by an apology. Shit was wild in Kindergarten.
What’s your most unforgettable professional memory?
I can’t really think of any, but I don’t like getting paid for projects late. The times that I did, it made me feel like I was at the bottom of the totem pole and my presence and contributions didn’t truly matter because this said company is not paying me on time.
Black Excellence means celebrating every and any Black experience. What experiences should we shine more light?
All things in the African Diaspora. All cultures, religions, customs and communities that never see press or the light of day. All of these things have been stripped from the history books and under-reported. If only we know the extent of our heritage and just how powerful we were then and are currently. It all starts with education and we need to know who we were to sculpt who we can become.
What can we look forward to from you in 2020?
More projects, more exhibitions. This year I told myself I would open up more and show just how dynamic I can be as a creative. I have a solo show coming soon, I’ve been preparing and painting for it and I can’t wait to display that new body of work because it means a lot to me.
Photos: Aaron Ramey, Jade Lilly
Check out Gianni’s latest collaboration with Levi’s right here and stay tuned for more details on his solo show coming soon.
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2020 was an uncomfortable year that forced us to accept parts of our lives and selves that we normally refused to make peace with. As we transition into 2021, I will find peace. Peace in knowing that I am magnet attracting everything that is meant for me. I am positivity, I am love, I am protected. I am accepting this year as lesson and opening my arms for the blessing that is about to enter my life. December and 2021 will transform me into the best version of myself. Universe I am ready, guide me.
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Mary Oliver, Blue Horses; “Blueberries”
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All I want is silence, for myself and for the
selves I used to be, a silence like the magical cottage in the forest that lost children find in fairy tales.
Alejandra Pizarnik, from Extracting the Stone of Madness: Poems 1962 - 1972; Extracting the Stone of Madness.
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“I imagined myself as Frida to Diego, both muse and maker. I dreamed of meeting an artist to love and support and work with side by side... We used to laugh at our small selves, saying that I was a bad girl trying to be good and that he was a good boy trying to be bad. Through the years these roles would reverse, then reverse again, until we came to accept our dual natures. We contained opposing principles, light and dark.”
― Patti Smith, Just Kids
(photo: gerard malanga)
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Adonis, from Selected Poems; “A Piece of Bahlul’s Sun” (tr. Khaled Mattawa)
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Understanding the importance of Self Care
I was recently having a conversation with a follower. (She can decide to identify herself or not) We were talking about self care and it’s importance. We KNOW we are supposed to. We’ve read the amazing articles that @instructor144 and others regularly post. So we have access to great ideas on ways to take care of ourselves, especially when unowned. I use to think it was a woman thing to suck at self care, but I think I’m realizing it has more to do with a submissive personality. When there isn’t anyone to serve, and therefor keep us in balance we often end up serving pretty much everyone around us. (Mad respect to those sub types that don’t struggle with this, I watch you.. and I admire you’re abilities) We serve our children, our bosses, our co-workers, our parents and extended family, we serve the parents on the soccer team, even exes sometimes.. Hell, I’ve even been known to go out of my way at the grocery store to help someone find an item they should have asked an employee for.
It’s our nature, and as long as it’s reigned in, it’s a beautiful thing. It is what will eventually draw the right Dom to you. There are times when using these skills can work for your benefit. I know I use my nature a lot at work, it is good for the company and therefor good for me. There is nothing wrong with wanting to serve and do for others. UNTIL it is taken advantage of or it starts to deplete you and suck your energy out. Some people are energy vampires anyway, and serving these people is not healthy for you. It does you no good to serve others to your own detriment. If you’re doing for others so much that you feel frazzled, disconnected, exhausted, like you can’t keep up or do a good job... you are doing too much.
What I often tell myself, and what I told my follower, is we have to think of our future selves as someone to serve. That person deserves our love and care in order to be her (using female pronouns because this applies to me and I’m a woman) best and healthiest self. For that matter, her future Dom will appreciate that she isn’t worn so thin. Serving myself isn’t an easy concept, somehow serving my future self makes more sense. It’s setting myself up for success.
I try to set little reminders for myself to do something nice and relaxing for myself. I can’t say I ALWAYS follow through, but it’s part of building good habits and learning to put me as a priority at least part of the time. When that toxic ex calls and you wonder if you should answer.. ask how this serves my future self. You have a vision for where you want to be, does this help you get there? Of course not.. he’s toxic. In this case he is looking for a way to sabotage any success and happiness you have, so it actively works against your future self. It is ok to block toxic people from your circle so that you aren’t tempted to serve them. (Whenever possible, some scenarios are impossible) If you don’t have the energy to bake 6 dozen cookies for the bake sale... say you are otherwise obligated. (That obligation is to yourself) Or just don’t even answer the phone if that’s what it takes. (Saying no is SOOOOO HARD) Too exhausted to pick up an extra shift at work... I’m so sorry, normally I would, but I made plans this weekend. You don’t need to tell them that your plan is a bubble bath or a glass of wine and a book. You served them all week as you are supposed to according to your work schedule.. now you’re serving your future self. I KNOW it is not easy. But it’s important.... let me rephrase.. it is THAT important. Don’t steal from your future self. Don’t handicap her. Don’t set her up to fail. You wouldn’t ask anyone else to sacrifice to their own detriment, so don’t ask your future self to suffer for your current you’s bad habits.
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Adonis, from Selected Poems; “Celebrating Al-Ma’ari: II. Days” (tr. Khaled Mattawa)
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All I want is silence, for myself and for the selves I used to be,
Extracting the Stone of Madness: Poems 1962 - 1972; ‘IV. (1964) Extracting the Stone of Madness,’ by Alejandra Pizarnik tr. Yvette Siegert
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extracting the stone of madness, alejandra pizarnik / the carpal tunnel of love, fall out boy / the beer, kimya dawson / rip 2 my youth, the neighbourhood / dialogue between an ai and a poet, @demasc / birds hover the trampled fields, richard siken / questions for ada, ijeoma umebinyuo / flowers on the grave, the maine / portrait of fryderyk in shifting light by richard siken
[id: 1: “All I want is silence, for myself and for the selves I used to be” 2: “Got postcards from my former selves saying, "How you been?"” 3: “First I cried for him, then I cried for me / Haunted by the ghost of the girl I used to be” 4: “R.I.P. to my youth / And you could call this the funeral” 5: “me, you, anyone, me again. nobody is the same person they were five seconds ago / that sounds painful / people kill their old selves all the time. sometimes the old ones are mourned, but there’s no funeral” 6: “Take a body, dump it, drive. Take a body, maybe your own, and dump it gently. All your dead, unfinished shelves and dump them gently” 7: “Mother, / I have pasts inside me / I did not bury properly.” 8: “And flowers on the grave / Of the child that I used to be” 9: “How much can you change and get away with it, before you turn into someone else, before its some kind of murder?” /end id]
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one of the best parts of medically transitioning is being able to be pretty again. i really like feeling pretty & feminine, but before transitioning physically, to make myself attractive in this way meant being mispercieved, misgendered, & subjected to unwanted heterosexual attention & harassment from men (still happens sometimes but a lot less)
for me, transitioning has meant being able to reclaim femininity & beauty in an empowering, genderfucked way. being able to have long hair & wear dresses & still be androgynous is so wonderful & so me. before, to even have a chance at androgyny, i had to dress as masculine as possible and hide my body every way i could, just to counteract how i naturally existed. it was a miserable form of imprisonment that i was trapped in for most of my life. having a body that isn't dischordant with how i feel i am supposed to be is something i will never take for granted.
of course, my body has always been mine even when it didnt match up with my gender the way i needed it to. i sometimes miss having boobs cuz theyre just nice to hold when ur chillin (ppl with boobs yall know what i mean), & i sometimes miss my old voice because i could do a really good impression of the chamberlain skeksis from the dark crystal, & these r silly things but theyre genuinely things that my body gave me joy with and i am sad to have lost them.
obviously the positives outweigh the negatives so so so much, but i do mourn the loss of my past selves in terms of my body as well as my mind in the past stages of life i can never return to. i am grateful to move into the next phases of my life with this body i have made myself.
im thankful to have a body so capable of changing, & that is now able to truly be the physical manifestation of my spirit. i am so happy to be able to use my body to express myself in ways that were restrained before transitioning, my voice & my hair & my clothes & everything else. i can dress pretty & slutty & girly & manly & handsome & weird & normal & no matter what i do i always feel & look like me, which is not something i always had the privilege of experiencing.
so ya basically im prettyboy ✨
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Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
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I Don’t Regret Any of It
As long as I can remember, I’ve been infatuated with girls’ clothing. For me, it was as much about shoes than it was anything. But then, it all expanded into clothing of all varieties. I don’t think I’ve ever regretted these infatuations, which in my opinion, are more deeply involving than a fetish. There has also been this unique feminine spirit about myself—a girly disposition. I don’t regret that either. To be clear, I’m not what some would call camp, limp-wristed, or a swish. That’s not a horrible thing and I sometimes come across that way out of my natural countenance. My feminine spirit is really more of the way I think. Whatever it is, I don’t regret it at all.
So, I’m a boy, a male, a man, masculine in stature. I was born that way. And you know what? I don’t regret that either. I’m satisfied with my bits and the lack of other bits. Sure, I didn’t have any say in that matter, but that’s my feeling and I don’t regret it. And just to be clear, since I have such a high regard for others different than myself, that is in no way to diminish the emotions of a boy or girl (maybe you) who feels they were born the wrong gender. For all of us, I wish that we could thrive in life as our unique selves without regrets. And if there happens to be any regrets, that we would have such a perseverance about ourselves, that we would not simply survive in regrets, but that we would thrive out of them and beyond them.
I don’t regret that I worked out today in a testosterone-boosting fashion while wearing my overly-girly workout clothes. I don’t regret that I shaved my beard, but then my chest and underarms, and afterward, slathered my body with a fruity-scented lotion. I don’t regret that I’m at work right now (on a break, btw) wearing burgundy panties underneath my ladies’ blue jeans or that my sneakers are deliciously female. I don’t regret that when I return home, I will be busy in a home remodel project, dressed partially in a few women’s items. And I don’t regret that when my wife and I finally settle in for the night, we will most likely watch a cheesy “chick-flick” of my choosing with a red wine in her hand and a whiskey in mine.
No regrets. I was born a boy. I am a boy. I will always be a boy. I am girly by choice. I am feminine by passion. And I am pretty sure that I will always be effeminate in my heart.
Have a fabulous weekend, my girly friends!
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My True Self can not be pushed away, over and over again, and not expect it to return with even more intensity. I do exist. My unique self does exist. I will not wear a mask anymore to blend in because of your fears or your twisted dogma.
My Gender does not center around my crotch or a desire to be abused, be sub human, or be humiliated for yours or my entertainment. I must respect myself, my right to exist, and my dignity as a person.
True Beauty is in the soul, not this flesh that ages over time. Beauty in flesh is fleeting and subjective, like the leaves on a tree, here today and gone tomorrow.
Please respect us, the LGBTQ community, and give us the dignity to live our lives in peace, work and live as our true selves among the living.
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Adonis, from Selected Poems; “Celebrating Childhood” (tr. Khaled Mattawa)
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Tony: hey strange? This might sound like a strange *finger guns* request but could you come to couples counseling with me?
Stephen: what? why?
Tony: when I first met my therapist, he assumed I had a boyfriend and I was too awkward to correct him
Tony: and when I kept saying ‘everything was fine’ with him while the rest of my life is on fire I knew I had to switch it up so we started fighting three months ago. You cheated on me but I’m willing to forgive it cause I love you and I did become neglectful of our relationship so I partially blame myself. We have a trip to the Bahamas coming up and I want us to be back to our normal selves by then-
Tony: so anyway will you come?
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Genuinely, I think what makes me so sad about One Day at a Time being canceled is that I’ve never seen myself be so represented within a show and for them to just cancel it despite its devoted fans just imply (or reveal) that they don’t actually care about us and our experience.
and it’s not just about seeing a Latinx middle-class family in America.
It’s about seeing my mother through Penelope, seeing their strong badass selves who aren’t afraid to clapback, seeing their amazing work ethic and brilliant parenting skills, seeing that they don’t always have everything together but that they’re trying, seeing their brutal honesty, seeing their sarcastic and sometimes dark sense of humor, seeing their infectious joy but also seeing how they deal with depression and anxiety, things that I didn’t even know my mom dealt with until I was in high school. (When I first saw Hello, Penelope I sobbed through the whole thing and after, because up until then I never really thought about what that must be like for my mom and it made me give her the biggest hug and tell her just how much I love her and am grateful for her.)
It’s about seeing her complicated relationship with my Nana, her own mom, through Penelope and Lydia. seeing how they love each other so much but don’t always see eye to eye, how both Lydia and my Nana have a hard time understanding their daughter's mental health and why they take medication. seeing my mother’s belief that she’s not often good enough in my Nana’s eyes. How seeing both of them being goofy and dancing together is one of my favorite sights in the world.
It’s about seeing many sides of my Nana through Lydia. Seeing them survive health scares, seeing their joy in cooking for the family (I showed that one scene of Lydia dancing while making breakfast and putting up a picture of the pope to my whole family because it’s so much like Nana it’s scary), seeing they’re love for Jesus and God, seeing them sometimes struggle with English but feeling like their accent sounds like home, seeing that they’ve had to learn to become more accepting (But for my Nana it first happened with her own son, my tío, as he came out before I was even born and I know it was a slower process but it’s hard to imagine them ever not speaking again), seeing their love and passion for their heritage and spreading that to their grandchildren, to me.
It’s about seeing myself through Elena. Seeing an awkward, gay latina who’s passionate about society. Seeing us be confused about our sexuality and having to understand what that means for us. Seeing our fascination with our heritage, seeing our inclinations to be unapologetically ourselves, seeing us be self-conscious over how it’s not always obvious that we’re latina, seeing our dark hair, our glasses, our lighter skin, seeing our shame for not knowing enough spanish, seeing our relationship with our sibling (well for me siblings).
It’s about that and so much more, that even for people who don’t necessarily see all of this in their own families, this show covers so many important topics that need to be addressed especially in the climate of our world today. It does so seriously but still with humor, it does so naturally in a way that never feels forced. The characters have depth, they’re real, they’re genuine, they’re beautiful, they’re funny, they tell amazing stories and you can’t help but fall in love with each and every one of them. They handle issues so well and although those same issues make life seem scary, this show leaves you with a sense of hope and love that is hard to compare to any other sitcom, any other show for that matter, and it can continue doing so if people let it.
I showed One Day at a Time to my family because we are represented within it, but also because this show leaves me feeling so much love for my family and those around me and I wanted to share that with them. I just wish with everything I have that people see the good this show does and save it because these characters and storylines deserve to live on, we deserve to live on.
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Not Outside Yet? That’s Okay
We all crave for further expressions of our feminine natures, something more than a few inconspicuous feminine items. We want to take our femboy selves outside, maybe at night in something deliciously feminine. Then, into daytime with the sun shining down on our cuteness. Maybe into public places or around friends, dressed unmistakably as a woman would. We want a greater sense of who we are and a better sense of acceptance by the people with whom we would share a fuller vision of ourselves.
I think many of us would like to be as girly as we could possibly be outside the comfort of our homes. Maybe I speak for myself and not everyone, but I think I can say this all for at least a good portion of we passionate seekers of femininity.
There’s no doubt that so many of us girly boys are on varying levels of outward expression (wow! i use that word a lot). Even the ways we try to express ourselves are so very different. Then, there are also our levels of comfort for when, how, and where we express our femininity. For some girly boys--and this can include myself in some ways--going outside in a girly fashion is outside the comfort zone. It’s too bad that some people claim that as being cowardly.
It made my heart happy the other day when I saw a meme on “National Coming Out Day.” It read something to the effect of “Not ready to come out? That’s OK.”
I want you to know that it’s perfectly fine for you to experience your femininity in the comfort of your home. Never feel like you are less than worthy by staying private. If the timing is ever right, or when the timing is right, you can make that bold step then--and it might even be in heels! Who knows?!
My favorite part of you is that you share in our mutual love and admiration for girliness. No matter where you are on the spectrum of public expression, you inspire me--and I hope I do you too.. If this means letting yourself go all girl inside your home, private, alone, and in secret, then go for it and don’t be ashamed. This girly journey needs to be a comfort trip, not a stress-laden one.
Much love to you all,
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