Safe Spaces and Dangerous Places

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At sixteen, I coward into over-sized sweatshirts during class so that no one could bother me. The soft cotton felt like a womb that isolated me from the rest of the world. A world in which two high schools took my attendance because one of them already knew my secret. In one of them I came out to a group of boys.

“Hey, kid. Are you gay?” one of them asked from the back of the room. Him and his friends all sat on the edge of their seats, waiting for my answer.

“Yes.” I said. The one kid laughed and turned around. My lips felt numb. I just told a total stranger my sexual preference and now that whole class knew. My stomach rumbled with nervous energy. A kind of energy that vibrated throughout my body for the next couple of months, as I skipped school and stayed in bed, shivering.

I needed to get away from everyone. My parents considered sending me to Harvey Milk High, a school in New York meant for LGBTQ teens. They considered this because back then any other institution seemed a threat to my mental health.

Day and night I imagined kids beating me up in the corner of a classroom. Any classroom that provided a safe space for their hatred. The locker room where no adult ever checked on students. The side of a trailer that the school never used after Hurricane Katrina blasted through the campus. The tennis court, band room,  or even the courtyard where one student got beaten up during lunch period. No on interfered until the hitter got in enough punches to give the victim several bruises to heal over the course of a few months.

I feared this even though I laid in bed a couple of miles away. So I never went back. Another school opened its doors to me. One with a whole body of students that never asked about my sexuality. A place where no one could suspect anything other because of my “shy” personality. I would just sit quietly until the last bell rang.

At sixteen this option might feel the most logical as fear installs itself into every body movement. It plans out everything from getting to school to eating lunch to someday starting a Gay Straight Alliance Club. A club where straight people could hug a gay person without any reprimanded by their friends. Friends that write “lesbian” on a teachers walls because she hosted the first club meeting. Friends that start rumors about two guys initiating intercourse on the stairwell between classes because they became the first gay couple at school.

I ran the club until my senior year and by then I made enough friends to no longer need a place to feel safe with people. I could wear a rainbow belt on campus without thinking about the violent repercussions it could potentially stir. Boys no longer seemed like a threat because a ton of them talked to me in class. We talked about poetry, guitars, and television shows. I made friends.

 

 

Take A Pike

In the early 2000’s a yellow-paged book came into my possession. “The Last Vampire” by Christopher Pike slipped itself over the backseat of a traveling bus. I retrieved the soft cover novel and started reading about a five-thousand year old vampire, called Sita. In a matter of days the story came to an end. I passed the book back over the seat and waited for the next one to come through. 51WS2P2XR2L

Jackie, my dealer, supplied the novels to several people in class. A small group that used the books as inspiration for their own novels. We traded composition books full of vampires that lived in Egypt during a time before pharaohs, similar to Sita’s background. She lived in India where an evil spirit inhabited her dead friend and started the vampire lineage.

My version mirrored this heritage as the protagonist summons a spirit to revive her dead friend. This started the lineage of vampires to encroach the human world but without the promise of eternal life. A vampire would live the expected lifespan of a human but with superhuman powers, like telekinesis. I gave these stories to friends that gave them back with confused looks.

“If they don’t live forever then how are they still alive?” they asked, flipping to the front page of  my story. I saw that it began in modern day times with the same character that lived a thousand years ago. Somehow this plot-hole never occurred to me. I needed to revise the story.

I changed my vampires to infinite creatures of the night in exchange for their telekinesis. This allowed my protagonist to flourish with also a goal in mind. She needed to keep her life eternal while recovering her superpowers. I found something new and interesting about the story that kept me writing and reading stories.

Christopher Pike continued to inspire me as his characters often dealt with deadly matters. In the “Chain Letter” series, a group of friends submitted themselves to a mysterious contract that forced them to commit embarrassing acts in exchange for the send’s silence. This deal stretched over the length of three novels. I finished the last one in my dad’s car while on the way to high school.51YXS2N1PSL

At this point all my friends found different clicks of people to engage with. I ventured into the art department where I found the terror of commitment. Turning in a disfigured still-life embarrassed me more than an incomplete one. I turned in sketches of men with only half a face or two-legged elephants. Although earning a passing-grade they left me feeling ashamed of my inability to complete things, similar to Pike’s characters.

The unknown meant the unwillingness to find out the mysteries ahead. I needed to charge ahead through the gray between contoured lines and blank paper. I needed to stop fear with perseverance. This allotted my imagination to find a balance between the real and the unreal as projects completed themselves. Because the thing about art is that it only exists as it is made.

I still struggle with the ability to sometimes follow a professor’s instructions to finish a story. Sometimes my projects amount to nothing except fine detail and little character growth. These things matter little and a lot. Art needs time to grow , and I’m willing to make more deals with myself and others, in order to see that happen. After all, writers need readers as much as I want the next vampire installment from Christopher Pike.

 

The Aftertaste of a Dream

 

Four years ago I got rejected from art school in New York City. The experience left me stranded in the middle of Florida with two best friends. We gathered our strength together in order to help one another. A flock of hands lifted one us out of a broken heart and into the art studio, where they learned to give into their emotions with by studying them. A flock of hands pulled one of us away from a small town, where everyone believed that a medical degree led to happiness, and into the vibrant city of Orlando. Each of them found a way to believe in themselves again while I wondered where to start.img-thing.jpeg

I switched majors, from art to writing, but still felt aimless. New York City no longer appealed to me since Orlando became my home. Its craft coffee shops, literary clubs, and hipster bars resonated with my need for culture. I no longer felt the craving to taste other cities, but I still craved a dream.

One of my friends went on to graduate and moved to a different state. The other one got married and continues to study art at the same university that I attend. We still help one another get through the hard times. Although, not all hard times call for the attendance of friends. For example, I felt the bitter taste of rejection the other night and thought of New York City. After several seconds it dissolved into something sweet. My teeth grinded against one another in anticipation for the next sample of rejection. I needed to taste something like it again. Maybe I’ll go to grad school. Maybe I’ll intern at a radio station. Either way I need a dream again.

Crossing Paths

I saw Phillip walking towards me from across the courtyard. He wore a grey shirt with matching slacks that made me envious. The clean-cut style never suited my scrappy nature. Frayed jean shorts and midriff shirts mesh well with the hipster places I like to visit off campus.

“I like your outfit,” I said to him. He thanked me before inquiring about my day. I told him about the hours spent prepping for a presentation. He told me about a job interview that would take place the following day. We continued this banter until the subject of love popped up.

“I met someone,” He said. cc9e8c9cc85ef28eb6d06bd717a43e2as

“On Grindr,” I said and nodded.

“No, in real life. Not everyone meets on Grindr,” He said and laughed. I felt a hard lump in my throat. Of course people met in real life because only shut-ins, like myself, rely on technology for romance. This might sound sarcastic but I assure you that my love life depended on both OkCupid and Grindr in the past.

In fact, my first boyfriend and I met in a chatroom. We exchanged flirty texts before exchanging emails. The fifty-miles between us seemed the length of a shoelace with modern technology. I spoke to him every day until the breakup happened. Then I switched to Facebook and found someone new to write to.

Fast forward to present day and I still rely on text-message-introductions with men. Meanwhile, Phillip told me about meeting this guy in a club via eye contact. The idea of two people meeting because of an energy exchange confused me.

“He saw me and we started talking,” Phillip said. The simplicity of this sentence made me feel envious. I swallowed the lump and curled my fists. We soon parted but I carried the feeling with me to work later that same day.

I served couples their food with a firm hand. Glass plates clacked against the tape tops. Silverware pelted against the wall above the dishwasher. The shift ended with me slamming chairs on top of one another outside the restaurant.

“Excuse me, is this place any good?” a square faced man said to me. He stood a foot away with another man behind him. I nodded and continued stacking.

“Do you think my friend’s cute?” He said. The other man laughed and walked closer. His bubble butt and thick arms interested me.

“Come on, he’s not gay.” the friend said. I rolled my eyes. This comment might flatter some macho-homosexuals but I’m fully aware of my flamboyancy. My graceful walk and soft voice come at the expense of being “outed” everywhere I go.

“Yes, I’m gay.” I said and stacked another chair on top. flirting.jpg

“Would you go on a date with my friend? He’s a great guy but he always goes out with assholes.” the square faced man said. I smiled and told them to come back next week.

“Is something wrong?” the friend said. I wanted to tell them that they both seemed drunk.  They kept touching my face and elbow. Only drunk or insecure men think I’m incredibly sexy. Of the which I prefer the insecure because then at least they’re being sincere.

“Oh my BMW just pulled up,” the square faced man said and climbed inside with his friend. They rolled down the window and asked me my name. I told them. They told me theirs.

The night ended like any other with me coming home alone. I logged onto Grindr looking for a conversation. Profile picture after profile picture zoomed by. No one said hello. If maybe I could learn how to play the game outside of this app then I would find someone. Someone a little drunk. Someone a little too touchy. Someone a little bit more than no one.

The Pie Hole

IMG_2308I’m sitting in a Pie Shop with a cup of coffee, a time of the day when all my best ideas are sleeping. They curl against the corners of my mind like cats do in their favorite parts of the home. Some have chosen the bedroom where I store my most intimate memories.

One of them is of an ex-boyfriend that turned on the radio before taking a shower. He called me in, took my hand, and we danced. I remember my naked tummy wiggling against his before spinning around. It was one of the most joyful experiences I’ve ever had with a lover.

I’ve kept that moment underneath the bed in a shoebox. Next to it a sleeping cat lies. If I woke it then maybe a story about two boys that snuck around town in search of places to kiss would unravel. Some of the strands have sewn themselves into Closet Case posts. However, finding a new purpose for this memory will take work.

I’m a writer that’s in their infancy stage. Moments like this, coffee and pie, is the time that I like to reflect on my aspirations. They are lying all over the place but part of finding them is by looking back on old times. I think that what I have to gain this time from reflecting is that I love writing love stories.

Two people that are solely themselves when apart, but combine to make an ultimate personality. That’s what I like to read about.

Until next time,

BoyKitsch

Noble Phoebe

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Dear Friends,

Today has been a delightful one. I am putting the final touches on my literary paper. It’s about the speaker’s self-discovery in “Theme For English B” by Langston Hughes. I’m having a lot of fun with it. Meanwhile, I’ve finished reading Catcher in the Rye for my pleasure reading list. It’s an insightful novel that most people get to read in High School or Middle School. However, my opportunity never came along due to a constant change in class scheduling.

Here is a favorite quote of mine :

Here’s what he said: ‘The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.

I love it because of how it compares the novel’s characters to the protagonist. Holden is forever criticizing the “phoniness” of the boys and girls he meets. I say that because they are consistently avoiding their conscious desires with meaningless talk. This to me makes them children, yet ironically Phoebe is the only one Holden prefers talking to. They talk about celebrities (The Lavender Bar), the theater (Sally), or avoid talking altogether (The Wicker Bar). Phoebe, however,  is the only one willing to ask her brother about his life.

I think this makes her a noble character and person. She is a ten-year-old that knows what she wants. She wants to be Benedict Arnold in her school play. That goal might seem simple but it’s honest. Everyone else trades in their desires for attention like Hollywood deals (D.B) and a normal life (Sally). I’m not sure where this puts Holden on my scale but I’m glad to have read this novel.

-BoyKitsch

Logging Off

When I first started blogging my attention was immediately drawn to gay blogs. I wanted advice on finding romance because I reasoned that gay romance is different than heterosexual. Experiences can be similar but the pieces belongs to a different cultural-puzzle.

A piece of it is the Grindr App, one that has helps spark conversations between non-heterosexual (I say this in light of transexuals, bisexuals, etc.)  men since 2009. It has personally helped me gain the attention of men that were perhaps too shy to meet in person. Not to say all pursuits were welcomed.

Recently, I had an encounter with someone whose profile expressed honesty. He wanted a person to be direct with their wants. I thought to myself, a reasonable request. Not all men can be straightforwards and thus has been a problem in previous relationships. I’d rather someone tell me they are “looking” rather than have me type twenty texts thinking we are “connecting.”

Me:Looking? 

Him: No.

Me: Cool. Neither am I. 

We continued small talk. It was all me telling corny jokes. I wasn’t trying to impress him but ya never know when a corny joke might hit a sweet spot.

Him: Let me be rudely honest I don’t care. I am looking but not for you. You are too short for me.

I logged out leaving a few bitter words which I now regret. The conversation hadn’t been my first turn-down but it left me wondering why I logged on day in and day out. Entirely, the app is a community of  men that choose to log on. They are NOT the only men. I think this is a good phrase worthy of being slabbed on some LGBT pamphlet.

Coming out of the closet wasn’t easy so I turned to Internet Cafes instead. There I promptly made as many fake names as someone named Madonna wishes she could. In the end though there was nothing to gain except fake boyfriends that didn’t make me feel any more loved or accepted. So I deleted them all and found a GLBT center called Compass with the fortunate help of my parents.

It’s been eight years later and I’m sure boys soon to be men are turning online to come out. As I’m sure men are turning on to “get off”. They both are looking for something that probably lies within the same arena. Quite frankly though I am not concerned about either at this point. Somebody different is who I am becoming with online anonymity. I don’t like that person.

I’ve logged off.

Ready, Set, Done

Today’s Daily Prompt was about anything I wanted to discuss. I chose a short-story by the looks of it. Please read, comment, and most of all enjoy. Oh, also subscribe!


She found me when no one else was looking. In the paper, three weeks back, the headline read DEATH BY POPULAR DEMAND. There were quizzical looks everywhere from the grocery store to the inside of college libraries. Neither man nor scholar could figure out what the title meant by first glance. So on they read.

The story told of a dead twenty-four year old boy and his ultimate demise. He wasn’t special by the looks of the newspaper photograph but the words on the outside spelled A-r-t-i-s-t. Five years of art school had instilled in him a kind of confidence not found in books. “He loved the world and so himself.” became a popular quote from the printed piece. The boy had said this to practically all the university professors.

It was a tragic story of how he was found on the fifteenth floor of the Heart Studio Apartments. Paint mixed with blood on a canvas that framed suicide. I think that’s when people decided to stop looking for me. Another artist gone too soon by his own doing.

“But I knew that you wouldn’t leave.” she said upon finding me. My consciousness was barely stable and so I thought her an angel. A real angel with fluffy wings when later I’d discover it was hair.

“They took you away because what you had to offer was something much bigger than a mural or scholarship. On your canvas was a theory of worlds. Universes hidden in bristles, disguised as brushes. I think you broke the laws of time. My dear sweet Amin.”

The Next Academy Award

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I can tell the day is still fresh even though I woke up late. The man in front of me, ordering a triple shot late, is without any wrinkles in his business suit. There’s something about him that’s different from the ones back home. The stripes on his back are bold thick black lines that glow with a grey outline. When he puts a hand in his pocket the pants hug a hard body.

He pays for the coffee. I pay and sit down to start my homework. Only two minutes later my eyes end up studying a couple in the corner of the cafe. I figure this is as good a time as any to daydream about my future.

I decided to enroll myself back into college but still am without a goal in mind. Like a trophy or Academy Award, maybe it’s easier to go through the motions of labor when there’s the possibility of a reward. Except, I’ve been in that frame of mind before and it got me nowhere. If anything I feel that this blog has reaped more possibilities out of my future than school ever has. I discovered newspapers that are looking for my point of view. I’ve opened up about myself for the good and bad, and I’ve learned more about myself.

So what do I want next? I want to finish school just to finish it. A bad grade can be a bad grade but that doesn’t mean I haven’t learned anything. Don’t get me wrong I still care but it’s different than before. I don’t think school has all to offer. I have all to offer if I just keep trying. Maybe some people envision romance or a fancy suit for their futures but I want my writing.