“What do you need?”
It’s an awkward question. I don’t get asked it often enough to have answers ready either.
When I first heard of Mark Carson’s murder I instantly got a migraine. Not because I was still intoxicated and processing the events of the night before. Nor was it because I work right there and that could’ve been me. I saw his picture and knew this would become something more than I was psychologically prepared to deal with at the moment.
The first internal email came late Saturday afternoon. The troops were being gathered. We were going to march and rally to condemn this unspeakable violence. And I make a horrible company man.
The news started blowing up on social media. “A gay man was killed in cold blood? In the heart of Greenwich Village? This still happens in NYC in 2013?”
Newsflash everyone: the Village doesn’t belong to the queers any more, especially Black gay men. The Hangar is still there, but the neighborhood looks vastly different since I was an undergrad ten years ago. Between the new residents who despise the youth of color, annoying tourists and increased police presence, I try to get out of there as soon as I clock out.
Speaking of police why would I want to mourn the death of another Black gay man with a woman who endorses a policy that disproportionally affects Black/brown men and LGBTQ people of color? And it’s complicated; I love Christine Quinn. I actually like Bloomberg too, but I’m in the habit of letting people know what’s working for me and what isn’t.
The first interview I saw with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly seemed suspect to me. I’ve never seen the NYPD so quick to call an incident a hate crime. He almost seemed happy. Anything that calls for more police excites him. More police is the last thing I need right now.
By the time they started promoting the rally publicly, the peanut gallery was already fighting. “Despite what most think of Christine and her political bullshit tonight is not the night to attack her in any way. Please tonight is not the night. We need to unite and show up.”
Well when is a good time to have a more nuanced conversation?
I wanted to have one earlier in the year when Jabbar Campbell was beat by police in his own apartment, but no one wanted to have one then either. Isn’t this groupthink/no dissenting opinions BS the same thing that gets us in trouble every time there’s a terrorist attack? Have we not learned anything from that false claim of weapons of mass destruction?
By the time Loreal texted me I had an even bigger headache so I decided to stay home Monday. Unfortunately that didn’t make me feel any better.
I had to go to the supermarket to get bread. The (Black male) cashier doubled charged me for my peanut butter and I didn’t want to go back to complain. Disillusioned and uninterested, he clearly doesn’t like his job. On the corner the Negroes were taking about the usual bullshit (“ruthless mafia niggas” and such). I wanted to slam my groceries to the concrete and scream, “A man was killed Friday night. A gay Black man that lives up here. This isn’t Scarface you idiots!” Truth be told, it was just another afternoon in Harlem.
Darian asked where the LGBT people of color were. There’s an article on Mused Magazine with one comment. If it was a story about Beyonce or tops vs. bottoms there would be dozens. I suppose that’s better than Discreet City cracking jokes?
And I get it. I don’t condone any of it, but I get it. People handle stress in different ways.
Today on Facebook Persian sex master (who’s a counselor) asked for resources for talking to African American teens about internalized racism. I wanted to say, “Tell them to forget about it and if they’re brave enough, just get it over with now. Even if you get past all the internalized stuff, you’ll wake up in a country that wasn’t made for you. And it just gets harder to take as you get older because your resources will diminish.”
I hate when I get like this…all Dark Phoenix; kill, kill, kill, burn it all to the ground. And it happens more often than I like to admit.
I had to curse White Wifey out. She’s been begging for a date since she returned to NYC and I just don’t have time. “You’re smart, beautiful and you have a vagina. You shouldn’t be this pressed.” (aka leave me the fuck alone).
She got off nicely. I also cursed out my niece who has been texting me incessantly since Mother’s Day. She recently got an iPod touch and is out of school for the moment. “Go play with your little sister. Your mother spent thousands of dollars (and ruined this family) to have her so you wouldn’t be alone, go play with her.” She lamented: she wants a younger brother and prefers to hang out with teenagers. She’ll be fine: she was institutionalized a few months ago with a mood disorder and is so doped up on Abilify she won’t be giving anyone any trouble anytime soon. Besides, she’s not even eleven and is already over 200lbs. If she’s fat and ugly I don’t have to worry about her having sex in middle school and it buys me some time. I can’t fly across the country to give “the bird and the bees” talk, I have bigger fish to fry right now:
Like my loans
Or grant writing (cause these social workers don’t know how to do anything other than talk about their feelings)
Or saving this city from HIV
Speaking of HIV, another White friend who lives roughly six blocks from where Mark Carson was murdered was upset because I had to cancel on him too. I had to explain what happened.
“Wow. That’s really sad.”
Did he not hear all the queers marching down the street Monday night? Even being HIV positive, White privilege is a beautiful thing; you can just ignore things/problems you don’t deem applicable and carry on. Must be nice.
“What do you need?”
The question actually came up a few weeks ago. After we saw Iron Man 3, another female friend asked me how my father was doing. I completely forgot I told her months ago he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I often forget who I tell what these days. I would never unload everything on one person (like people often do to me). That would be unfair.
Truth is I need a lot:
I need a real vacation. The staycation was great but clearly not enough.
I need $150 to pay for associated costs related to this blog.
I need everyone to stop calling about their bullshit relationship problems.
I really needed Christina to tour this year. Desperately. She looks great though.
I need to write about Charles Ramsey, Jason Collins, Mr. Cee and everything else that has been going on lately.
I need to finish my damn thesis.
I need to drink less. All it’s led to is crying in front of people uncontrollably and that can’t happen again.
I need White people to be more aware of minority stress.
I also don’t have time to explain to them who Lena Horne or Eartha Kitt are.
I need to prepare to be the only Black person on staff again (whose job isn’t tied to a mop and bucket) and the stress that will undoubtedly bring.
I need a new primary care physician so I can get checked out for hypertension and find out more about my cancer risk.
I need us to be able to have an intelligent, elevated conversation about race and how it complicates issues like gun violence, hate crimes, etc. Cause you know, the data shows LGBT people of color disproportionally face more violence.
I need people to stop freaking out when I say things like that. It’s not the Oppression Olympics, it’s the facts Jack.
I need the media to plaster Elliot Morales’ mug shot anywhere and everywhere like they do when a Black man is accused of any crime.
I need people to stop pretending like this isn’t about gender presentation and higher standards of Black masculinity. When Mark’s friends remember him as “fabulous” we all know what that means.
BTW, I don’t need stories about Mark being harassed at his job by homophobic customers. I need to know what his favorite color was.
Mark deserves better than this.
Sakia Gunn deserves better than this.
Everyone killed by hate deserves better than this!
They deserve allies that are not only committed to the work but know what is really going on and how we got here in the first place. Complicated problems need complicated and coordinated solutions.
What do I need?
Honestly, I really just need a moment. A moment to take a breath: to reflect, to regroup. Another sex master quit her job a few months ago. She cares so much it was consuming her. She was so over it she threw her hands up and hibernated. She gets to play with babies and her dog and other happy things now. I wish I could do that.
Ultimately that’s why I didn’t go to the rally Monday night. Not because of politics, not because of any particular beef. I knew Tuesday, when the dust settled; when the barricades were removed and everyone went back to their lives I would have to return to the front lines for the next LGBT person who needed help. I called my sister, wished her a happy birthday, hung out with Loreal one last time before she goes to do HIV prevention work in Africa for two months and went to bed. I need all the rest I can get.
Because the struggle continues.