Burn Out

If someone gave you five minutes to speak to an audience you had an interest in, what would you say to them?

This thought exercise has always been important to my understanding of what I know and how the best way might be to share that message.  I wrote essays and speeches starting in the 1980s, even if I knew I would never share them with any audience, and in many ways, my daily blog posts have been just another version of that exercise.

Today is the local Pride festival in the park, a huge fundraiser for our local lesbian & gay centre.   This is the biggest deal of their year, bringing thousands together and making money from vendors and sponsors.

If I could stand on stage and have that audience for five minutes, what would I want to communicate and how would the best way be to share that?

There was only one trans event planned for this pride season, Trans Power held at a local gay bar.   The last Facebook blurb the committee published about this event turned me cold:

Capital Pride
June 10 at 5:30pm ·

Headed out to Trans Power at Rocks? Check out the special PRIDE Drink menu, and try a special PRIDE cocktail from our Platinum sponsors, Ketel One, Hendrick's Gin, 1800 Tequila, Grand Marnier, Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, or Viniq - something for every taste!

That may be a fine blurb for a dance party.  One trans event, though, and urging to people to buy premium booze reminded me how the much the young, politically correct staff  are completely disconnected from the real lives of transgender people in the region.

In my experience, they find transpeople to be flaky crackpots who don’t know how to play the game and be members of the group, iconoclasts who demand their own individual freedom of expression.   For them, this means transpeople can be marginalized as freaks, even though for me, that rugged individualism is the defining and best part of people strong and bold enough to claim their own heart in the world.

We don’t need an injunction to buy top shelf hooch.  We need people to understand we are the icebreakers who have always lead the way in claiming freedom beyond gender roles that said, for example, that men should never love men and women should never love women.

Standing in line at Walmart yesterday, the cashier liked a dress a mother was buying for a young girl, who looked to me to be about a second grader.  “She is going to Pride tomorrow,” mom explained, and the cashier hoped that she had sparkly rainbows to wear with it.

Pride has come a long way from the riots outside Stonewall to the point where it is a family festival full of music and clowns in elaborate dresses who kids love.  When the teenagers next door figured out I was trans, they once chased the car to get a look at me only to be disappointing that I didn’t look like a contestant on Drag Race.

The hugely enlarged audience means both that there are more allies “standing up for gay people” as the local pride co-chairs explained on a video yesterday, queers, transpeople and bisexuals not being considered, and it means that the producers of these events feel the need to simplify these events, pulling back the queer to serve the commercial.

I remembered my experience with a youth group vigil where I felt the real torment of queer people was trivialized, reduced to something that could be dealt with by hugs.   This kind of mainstreaming of real challenges feels shallow and dismissive to me, marginalizing people who don’t play the pretty game of fitting in.

So, if I was given five minutes on stage at Pride, how would I make my point?

Self-immolation.   It can mean any suicide for political purposes, but in this century it mostly means killing yourself in flames, soaked with flammable liquids.

I would stand on that stage, douse myself, flick a Bic, and turn myself into a human torch.   The cameras would show the outline of a human body written in flame, but everyone there would always remember the acrid stench of burning flesh, a scent burned into their memories.

What else would break through the expectations and assumptions of all the partiers?   Would words alone tell my story, make me heard?   Would words make people come to account for why one transperson felt so erased that they needed to burn themselves to a crispy pile melted onto the stage at the festival?   Would words break through into the media to spread the message, or at least the questions, wider?

It’s the year of the celebrity tranny.  They even have one at the local event here this year, showing their sensitivity by bringing in a headliner who can out a fun face on while making people think they are being open.   You get to be a celebrity tranny by playing the game.

Self-immolation is not playing the game.  It is making the burning hell that transpeople go through manifest, the world where they are erased in the process of pounding them into normalcy, even by those who give lip service to being their allies.

I have spent too long trying to be heard and reflected in the world and I am burned out.   Being burned up may be the only way to get a message out in an unforgettable way, stuck into the insipid social media gawking of the world.

The negative reaction would be amazing.  My act would be more proof that transpeople are mentally ill and deserve whatever abuse they get, proof that we are self-centred and indulgent, because nobody should ever do this to the poor children.  I would be dismissed, marginalized, and demonized.

At least, though, I would be talked about.   It might drive a few people to ask how someone can get to this point, a few people to actually engage what I have been saying for so long.

If you are going to go, why not go in a ball of fire where you can be hated, but cannot be erased?

I have tried words for a long, long time (1997).  I have tried being polite and gracious.  That hasn’t gotten anyone to really do the work to engage what I am saying in the world.   I try harder and harder and seem to get farther and farther away from breaking through.   People tell me to play their game better, but the limits of that strategy are written on my body.

What could I do to break through?   What could I do but burn through?

Life, Love, Surrender

And, in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.
— John Lennon

How do you explain love to someone who doesn’t know how to live inside of it?

Love is such a powerful force that the term has become overused and cliche, to the point of becoming mush   You can call any sensation love, be it attraction, fornication, desire, projection or manipulation and people can’t argue.

I have worked to embody love in the world, to act from love.   If God is love, I want to follow God more closely.   I give love and I teach love in the world.

To anyone who doesn’t understand what love is, who doesn’t assign the word the same meaning, that can sound trite or high handed or saccharine.  That’s why I never used the word love much in my writing, instead talking about continuous common humanity, about valuing hearts, about discipline and practice, about surrender.

They are all, to me, part of love.  My search, my quest, my work was about love.  Love and the call for love runs through all my words, the ones set down to explain and encourage, the ones set down to wail and weep.  My love reaches out, my love goes deep, the two sides revealing the same.

But isn’t human life always about love and the call for love?

Don’t you want somebody to love?
Don’t you need somebody to love?
Wouldn’t you love somebody to love?
You better find somebody to love.
— Jefferson Airplane

The point of the work, beyond all the deconstruction and reconstruction, beyond the analysis and the therapy, is love.

The surrender we are asked to make in the world is the surrender to love.

Love is always the underpinning to bliss, which is one thing that makes bliss different than sensation.

Love is the path beyond fear, the way to selflessness.

The secret goal of all healing, of every path to recovery, understanding, healing, actualization and empowerment is the goal to make people more loving.

 You have been a wonderful audience.  If I could love, I would love you all.
— Kiki DuRane (Justin Vivian Bond)

The core of love is always respect.

Dismissal, arrogance, judgment and aloofness create distance between you and the world.   You cannot love anything at a distance.

The most profound distance we hold is the distance between our the constructed worldview we hold and our own desires, feelings and knowledge.

If we believe that our head knows better than our heart, that our nature has to be suppressed so our head can take charge, we don’t respect who we are inside.  Instead of working with our nature we fight against it, because we don’t respect our handmade truth

What we do not respect we cannot love.  If we can’t love ourselves, who can we love?   Being present and kind to our own heart is the place where love has to start.

To give yourself over to love is an insane and precious thing.   It requires giving without expectation of any reward other than the satisfaction of loving.

The desire to be loved isn’t loving.   Projection is not love.  The wish to change someone into who we imagine they can be, into our vision of a perfect partner, is not love.

For me, a hero is someone who pushes past their own comfort and self interest to bravely do the right thing rather than just doing the easy thing.
— Callan

Love is heroic.

When we love something, it provides a centre for everything else we do.  It is impossible to love everything and everyone we come in contact with –dirty jobs have to be done and unpleasant people dealt with — but it is possible to do even that which we don’t love with love in our hearts rather than with bitterness, resentment, judgment and loathing.

Choosing love is choosing to give ourselves to the world, to get outside our own fears and do the loving thing.

Love demands amen.   Unless you bless something or someone, you cannot love them.   You don’t have to agree with all their choices — who agrees with everything?  — but you do  have to affirm and value them.   People can tell the difference between loving comments and the urge to control something as a projection of the way we imagine it should be.

When you love, you support the best in someone, even the challenging best, and you tenderly hold the worst in them, the unhealed and messy bits that reveal they are just a another human.

 Love can build a bridge
between your heart and mine
Don’t you think it’s time?
— Naomi Judd

When you love, you let something outside of you into your heart where it becomes part of you.   You put them ahead of yourself, finding ways to live in connection.   Learning to let someone in and not lose yourself is hard, but not letting anyone in is much worse.   It’s hard for women to stop loving people, even if they can’t live with them.

Love is not logic, it is poetry.   It is not in the text, it is in the context, the subtext, the verse.   Love isn’t what the writer cranks out, instead it runs around between the words, propelling them with sparks that can only hint at the pyrotechnics of the heart.

The only thing more important than being there and caring for other people is to make them feel cared for.  That means, simply, making them feel loved.

You don’t do this by being sweet, you make them feel loved by making them feel seen, valued and engaged, even if that engagement is challenging to the parts of them that are not yet coming from love.

Don’t tell me what you hate, tell me what you love and will sacrifice for.

Love is not about the object we love and how they will save us.   Special relationships are not about love, they are about fear, about the desire to be fixed by something outside of us, to get better without doing the hard work of learning how to love.

It’s 30 months today — 2 ½ years — since my final parent died.  I gave them love, enough to give them many times “one more good day.”   Since then, I have loved,  searching for some way to connect with real, present love from other people in the world.  I have kept a record of that search here.

Love is the story.