Thursday, February 24, 2011

Paranoia Ain't Paranoia If Its Real

Since realizing that meth and I had a fucked up and abusive relationship almost six years ago, Miss Tina and I have been on again/off again lovers. Like anyone that has ever lived through or seen another go through "battery syndrome," it is always shocking but rarely surprising when an individual returns to a lover that is abusive. The comfort of the familiar and the numbness that comes with it do not require the courage to face the unknown and our own internal tapes that tell us that we deserve no more than the abuse we receive at the hands of those people and things that purport to love us.

A couple of weeks ago, my partner was struggling with some of the areas in his life that are challenging for him. In general, he is an amazing, well adjusted, smooth sailor that has done his share of living and figured out lots of things for himself. He's 13 years older than I am, so he has had plenty more time to figure lots of things out. But, like most folks, he has some work still left to do. In this particular case, he was struggling with some issues that impact both of us. In general, we are both very loving and patient with each other when we come up against those places where we know we each have work to do. In this particular instance, I only had so much emotional fortitude banked up, and it ran out.

Now a well adjusted and right-thinking person would have perhaps gone nuclear on his partner, perhaps thrown some shit around, broke a dish or two, and raised some Hell. Perhaps a rational person would have gotten angry but then sat down to help work out an effective solution that allowed for his partner to have the space to work through his shit while also getting the support he needed so that his shit didn't overly impact my mental health.

Oh no! Not my crazy ass.

Instead, after about a week of being angry and bitter, I know want to be in YOUR SHIT...WATCH THIS!

You think I am joking? I totally arranged a hook up that was going to include a threesome with Crystal Meth, and as I left the house to get high, I literally thought to myself: I'll show you!

Lord have mercy if that isn't the dumbest line of thinking possible. Let me break down that thinking for you into what it really means: Because YOU pissed ME off...I am going to go out and do some shit that is only REALLY hurtful to ME. So because YOU fucked up, I am going to go out and do something in response for which I am going to pay for the consequences.

Now math has never been my strong suit, and I hate word problems, but even I know that 1+Stupid=Dumb As Hell.

Since then, over the last few weeks, I have been full on struggling against my addiction. It has owned my ass in a really scary way over the last few weeks. Thank God I finally reached out to a good friend of mine, also a recovering addict, who, over the last few days, has been the angel I needed to get me to where I need to be. Thank you KF. I love you for it. For those of you that are concerned, I am fine now, I will be heading back to therapy, and KF and I will hitting up some CMA meeting together. I know this dance. It's old as hell at this point, and I am well aware of the things I need to do in order to keep on top of my mental health. There are also request that I have made of David so that our relationship is strengthened by him doing his work as well. If necessary, I will find a therapist willing to move in with us.

But all of that is really just the backstory to the real drama.

Over the years, I have, when partying met guys that I felt knew more about me than they should have. In fact, I have met "random strangers," via various hook up sites that have been very poor actors and about as see through as a lace thong, and so did a poor job of masking the fact that there were things that someone had told them about me. Queens will gossip, especially Meth Head Queens, and since coming out as HIV positive a number of years ago and making sure to include that emblazoned in my online ads, I really could care less about rumors that persisted from an earlier time in my life when I was basically in denial.

The shitty and scary thing was that this sort of moment kept happening despite where I lived geographically. In this Internet age, it isn't difficult to keep track of and fuck with someone via the web. With the ability to embed secret files and programs into graphics, encrypted communications, and a whole host of other sneaky freaky tools, if a computer savvy individual with a grudge or a crusade decides to e-stalk you...there is very little you can do about it. I thought, though, that living my life as rightly as possible, even when relapsing, by disclosing my status, letting folks know if I am dating someone, etc, I figured that I would be able to short circuit whatever rumors happened to be out there about me. Plus, Hell, I never had any hard proof that my interactions with these various men were anything more than a combination of my personal guilt at using heightened by meth fueled paranoia.

Then came this latest relapse. I was meticulous in my various disclosures. I was honest, up front, and clear about just about every possible aspect of my life. It didn't matter.

After one particular hook up, when I noticed, again, some strange behavior in the other person that was consistent with past behaviors that indicated that this person "knew" or had been "told" information about me. I had also noticed, in the past (and this might get graphic ya'll), some really strange behavior where an individual would, ostensibly, place a finger in my anus, but then would do this weird thumping thing with his other hand just outside of my anus while press, from the inside, against the skin...just as you would if you were breaking open something.

The first time it happened, I thought...stop being paranoid freak. The second and third time it happened with other people, I also let it go. When it happened again and consistantly, and I began noticing very strange purple stains on the insides of my jeans I got very fucking suspicious. When I caught a guy actually placing something in my anus after which I ran to the bathroom and saw that, indeed, the skin inside of my anus had turned purple, I knew that something was motherfucking up.

At that point, you'd think that you'd cut your losses and realize that despite your transparency, someone somewhere had decided that they were "Righteous Tweakers," and you were a "Tweaker of Sin," and they were willing to do whatever to keep you from doing what they do.

Just like my Mama, when you tell me I can't do something, it just makes me want to do it more. So, our dear Tweaker Crusaders upped the ante. They changed strategies. Instead of using a purple stain, they began using a solution that is meant to be used externally but when applied to internal tissue causes enormous swelling, effectively sealing up your anal cavity except for enough space for doing your toilet time business.

How do I know this? This last time I connected with someone the dude had a little bottle of solution that was curiously out of place amongst the lubes, poppers, and other ointments. After being in a compromising position, my stomach and booty started to feel funny, so I ran into the bathroom, sure enough, once again, my anus (and I am talking about the inside basically the colon) was swollen to the point of starting to portrude, and let me be clear that NOTHING had happened at this point to justify any type of swelling. It's one thing if you have gotten your back banged out by a big dicked cholo that treated your ass like a low rider, it is quite another to have a .5% solution injected into your anus as some sort of Tweaker Retribution. As you can imagine, I was understandably pissed and dipped the fuck out.

I had a great conversation with my friend Shelly about all of this, and she fucked up must you be to decided that you, as a drug addict, have the power,privilege, and moral righteousness to physically attack another human being. By all means, if I were not disclosing or was in some way acting in a malicious and damaging manner, I would chalk this up to a justifiable community response. But that was not what this was.

Of course, in the end, the real point is that by NOT relapsing, I don't have to worry about any of that shit. Simple solution, right? RIght.

And if that shit wasn't actually enough, these Tweakers have hacked my computer and iPhone. For years, I felt like I was being remotely surveilled, which is how various folks in various cities have reacted the same way when I have relapsed. But, again, I never had solid proof to back up my meth fueled paranoia. Now I do. This last week, I noticed my computer acting strangely. Then I discovered a program called iSteg on my computer along with a PDF explaining how to use it. iSteg is a program used to hide secret texts inside of PDFs and image files. It was from a website called, to which I had never directed my browser. When I finally was able to load the website (my webbrowser was being manipulated to keep me from it), I found it to be a small, personal website with several homemade hacking programs and two firewall programs. I downloaded the two firewall programs, which then allowed me to see just what was going on with my computer. And lo and behold my paranoia was absolutely justified. Before my eyes, I watched as a individual that lives within as block of me was attempting, and sometimes succeeding to connect to and manipulate my computer.

Let me tell you, after feeling paranoid as fuck for years and thinking that I was losing is nice to have confirmation. Now I am bitter as Hell and ready to kick ass.

My first priority is to take care of my mental health and smack down Miss Tina. But TRUST that now that I have an address and am fairly certain I know who it is, and should I see him on the street, he better sure as hell make sure that I have taken my meds...because I am ready to fuck him up or get put down trying to do so.

I trust my instincts almost always. And, I will continue to do so from this point forward.

And, just in case my hacker is reading this, that moral high horse you have been riding...must have kicked you in the head. Get sober. Clean up your life, and get the hell out of mine.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Revolution and the Middle East: Why the U.S. Should Stay the Hell Out of It

This morning, on Facebook, a conservative gay that often times comments on my wall posts, made a comment today, when I posted a status that was celebrating Tunisia, Egypt and now Bahrain, that "Egypt was easy because they didn't want a bloody coup on their hands. Some of these countries will now be bloody (and some have been). Think about where we would be if we backed the FIRST Iranian protesters last year instead of standing by, timid..."

First of all, I don't believe the U.S. government was at all timid during the Iranian protests. I think that Obama understood the politics and reality of the situation. Also, comparing the uprising in Iran with what has taken place in Egypt and Tunisia are not valid comparisons. Very simply...the uprising in Tunisia and Egypt worked. Iran failed.

As I said to this gentleman on Facebook, I do not deny at all that the Iranian people have the POWER to overcome their current government. And, should the people of Iran rise up and throw down the Supreme Council, I believe the U.S. should immediately recognize whatever new transitional government is formed. It is going to take sacrifice by the Iranian people, and it is going to cost lives. The people rose up once before and threw down the Shah. I believe that, specifically, is why their uprising took place and failed.

It took place because, to the young people of Iran, the revolution of the 1970s, was disconnected from their personal narratives in that they did not live through it. Like all human beings that inherit history but were not around to live through the history, we relate to it differently. As a black American, the Civil Rights movement resonates with me deeply. It gives me a sense of pride and an understanding of the power of people. I look back at that time and think about the unity of community, the folks unafraid to take to the streets and face dogs, water hoses, lynchings, and police brutality. It makes me want to grab everyone I know and form a new human rights peoples army and march off to Washington or Selma or Minneapolis or, better yet, Wall Street. I wonder why our elders aren't marching off with us, leading us, taking us where we need to go.

Of course, right there, is part of the dissonance. I look at the Civil Rights movement from a distance of history and from a vantage point that has been privileged by the work that has gone before without having had to experience any of the pain that went with it. For those folks that fought the fight during the Civil Rights era still bear the scars, pain, and knowledge of exactly how far the state is willing to go to maintain the status quo. That memory is often and can be paralyzing.

I fully believe that the reason that the Iranian uprising was not successful was, in part, due to the memory of the overwhelming repressive actions taken to maintain the Shah's authority. To face that sort of repression once, and survive, is an act of heroism. One is no less of a hero if the idea of facing that sort of repression again is too much for the spirit to handle.

So those beautiful young people in Iran rose up against the Iranian government...but, unlike with the Shah, the movement was limited, isolated, and was facing a modern state with all the powers of social control at its command along with a willingness to roll tanks over angry students if necessary.

Also, if we had intervened during the protests last year, the Iranian government would have had all of the fodder they needed to paint the protests as a U.S. backed attack on Islam and the Islamic Republic of Iran. That would have absolutely galvanized the ultra-conservative base that props up the regime, and Ahmadinejad would have had absolutely no qualms about blowing up a few city blocks in Tehran to wipe out protesters, if it meant retaining power and upholding the Supreme Council. And, if the uprising last year would have been successful and the U.S. had backed the protesters, whatever regime would have come into power, no matter how legitimate, would have been seen as a tool of the U.S. That would have made it continuously vulnerable to reactionary forces and given them a bullet-proof platform to fight against any democratic progress AND, if they manage to regain control of the government, institute such draconian state controls that any movement for democracy will be put far out of reach for the next 30 years. Don't believe me? I got two words for you: Tienanmen Square.

And let's be real about why the U.S. can not intervene in any of these tremendous and powerful uprisings taking place in North Africa and West Asia. It is directly a result of the United State's fucked up, suck ass, imperialist ambitions and actions in the Middle East...when moments like this arrive...when the people are rising up to demand change from their government (or to overthrow their government)...the U.S. has neither the standing nor the relationships within these legitimate pro-democracy movements that would allow us to support grassroots democratic movements. Historically, it has not been in our best interest to support democracy anywhere outside of Europe and North America. Folks living in the underdeveloped world are not stupid. They understand that many of their most oppressive leaders have been able to hold onto power because of direct support from the United States. The Shah of Iran, Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, Manuel Noriega, Papa Doc, Trujillo, Fulgencio Batista, and the list goes on and on of the dictators that the U.S. has supported that have used the most despicable means of social control on their own people.

We should absolutely recognize, immediately, any real movement for democracy in a country as it is happening. When those movements are successful, we should move quickly to offer aid and support for the new governments. We should offer quiet aid packages to the new regimes that will help support them through the transition. The U.S. should send send CIVIL delegations from the U.S., from places like the Liberty Tree Foundation/Center for Media Justice/FairVote, and other democratic practice NGOs, as teams of experts to help work with the new regime in setting up new institutions that will help preserve and expand democratic practice as it makes sense for the countries where nascent democratic movements are taking place. But our government should stay far far far away from these movements and from the new governments....unless we want to see them brought down in bloody civil wars and arch-conservative backlash movements.

The bottom line is that I fully believe that it is up to the people of each country in the world to bear responsibility for changing their ruling regime. In almost all cases, I absolutely oppose any foreign intervention in the self-determination process of nation-states, including the use of violent resistance to the state, including guerrilla actions and civil war. There is one notable exception to this rule. I believe that anytime that there is evidence of genocide, there is a moral obligation and a human rights imperative that ALL nations, especially developed nations, have the right and obligation, without permission from the particular nation-state sponsoring the genocide to intervene and do whatever is necessary to protect those being "ethnically cleansed."

Outside of that, I truly believe that, even if a regime is propped up by the U.S. or whatever other world power, the ultimate responsibility for confronting and changing a repressive government is the responsibility of the people living in that place. Real democratic practices requires a ground up process that has only ever proven effective by being developed through a revolutionary process that has cost innumerable lives. Name for me ONE single country in the entire world that is a stable democracy that did not arrive at democracy through a process of war, revolution, popular uprisings, and social agitation by the undeserved. Democracy is only powerful when the people choose it because it is the best vehicle for their well being.

I am super heartened by the popular uprisings taken place right now. Some have already been brutality smacked down while others are clearly headed for or have achieved some level of victory. The worst possible thing that could happen right now would be for the U.S. or any of the European powers to intervene in these organic processes. Let the people fight their fight and find their own voice, and when they reach out to the rest of the world in friendship, let's be ready to give them the support they need to walk tall down their own democratic path.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

RuPaul's Drag Race: Get it together!

To quote my best friend, Bebe Zahara Benet, the winner of the first season of RuPaul's Drag Race: GET IT TOGETHER!

I have been watching the third season of RuPaul's Drag Race, and while I think the caliber of the queen's improved over last year's dismal and largely untalented pool of talent (with a couple of notable exceptions), the unnecessary and community damaging drama of this year's season is really reaching the point where I am ready to walk away from the show.

Let me tell you why.

To begin with, the near violence on the show between the drag queens is really fucking out of control. In the first episode, when the two queens up for elimination had to lip synch for their life, I thought Phoenix's crazy ass was going to draw blood. RuPaul made it clear that her behavior was unacceptable....and then two episodes later Mimi Imfurst loses her fucking mind and PICKS India up and slings her over her shoulders.

Let me be clear. I know Mimi. We are acquaintances. I do not know her well, but she has been in my home, and I respect her drag artistry. I know that these shows are edited in a particular manner, and I don't believe she is as whiny and clueless as the show makes her out to be, but when she put her hands on another queen, I was done. It wasn't funny. It wasn't ok. And she deserved to be booted from the show. Love you girl, but that is the Lord's own damn truth. Don't put your hands on another person without their permission. You don't know what that person has lived through or what burdens they are carrying. As a survivor of intense physical assault, I promise you that I wouldn't have screamed when you picked me up, I would have put you in the motherfucking hospital and that is no damn joke. PTSD is nothing to play with.

Up until this current episode, I was LOVING on the South Asian Drag Queen Raja until she opened her mouth to talk shit about Stacey Lane, and, in particular, using Southphobic bullshit about listening to bullfrogs and sipping iced tea on the back porch. Let me be clear with you Raja you dumb heifer, if not for the radical, life threatening and courageous social justice work of SOUTHERN folks, PARTICULARLY queers and people of color, tranny South Asian half-assed drag queens wouldn't have a fucking chance in this world. LEARN SOMETHING before you open your fucked up mouth and start marginalizing people from rural and southern communities. How about that?


It is Black History Month. Hey you know WHY we have Black History Month? Because MY great-Uncle Carter G. Woodson, FROM THE SOUTH, made it happen. Hey Raja, did you know that Stonewall only happened because BLACK SOUTHERNERS had shown the way? I am so fucking tired of folks from outside of the South perpetuating stereotypes of Southerners. I am from northern Minnesota. My Dad is from southern West Virginia. The most welcoming place, besides Minneapolis, I have ever lived is ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA! More friendly than New York, more friendly than the Bay area, but dumb bitches like Raja say shit on tv that reinforce and re-marginalize southerners that continue to lead us forward.

Hey stupid ass you know about Southerners on New Ground (SONG?). Do you know about the Suzanne Pharr, and now Pam McMichael, both queer women to lead the HIGHLANDER CENTER in New Market, TN? Do you know anything besides how to tuck your tiny little dick into your ass with a little duct tape? I hope Stacey Lane shoves your ass in a Fry Daddy and eats you on stage.

I am pissed.

The South is going to rise again, but this time it is going to be queer people of color that rise up and claim their due and then beat the shit out of dumb fucks that run off at the mouth on national television.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Creating Change: Claiming My Place

For the last week or so, I was back home in Minneapolis. This trip was specifically to attend the Creating Change Conference. Creating Change, for those of you not in the know, is the largest gathering of LGBT organizers in the world, and it happens each February in a different mid-sized U.S. city. The conference is comprised of two days of day long institutes, plenaries, and hundreds of workshops. It stretches from Wednesday-Sunday, and the 2,500 people in attendance reads like the Who's Who of the movement for queer liberation.

This year was my 10th Creating Change conference since 1998. To give you an idea of where the conferences have gone, I have been to Pittsburgh, Oakland (twice), Atlanta, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Denver, Miami and a couple that I have forgotten. Good grief.

When you first attend the conference, almost universally, you are overawed by both the content and the names that are walking about. One of my proudest moments was being yelled at by Barbara Smith at my first conference. Yes, THAT Barbara Smith of Kitchen Table Press and the Combahee River Collective. If like me in 1998, you don't know who Barbara Smith is...then you need to Google her now. Fierce. By about your third or fourth Creating Change, if you have continued your work in the movement, you start to realize that though the workshops and plenaries are powerful, the real work happens every day, all day long, in the hotel bar.

Let's be real...the hotel bar of every Creating Change IS the cigar smoke filled back-room of the LGBT movement. As I explained to some straight friends recently, power politics of the HIGHEST degree in the queer movement takes place during this conference. It's a case study in the way that American movements work in the non-profit industrial complex age. And what's even more mind numbing is that while some folks exude an essence of "player," power and access only have a superficial correlation to your current job title. In fact, your personal work is often more greatly valued than whatever position you may currently hold, and since most people at the conference change jobs like I change condoms during the conference, what pays your bills is often far down the list in terms of the access you might have.

I started attending Creating Change when I was a youth of 21 years old (and I had just turned 21...the conference used to happen, annually, in November). For the last 13 years, as I have worked within and outside of the movement, I have still been fairly awed by the conference. There are names and faces that would make me stutter and stammer, and while each year I have enjoyed fairly strong access to the decision makers in the movement, I still felt like one of the whippersnappers trying to figure things out and listening to whatever the hell Mr. Russell Roybal told me about what was REALLY going down.

I heart me some Russell. Yes I do. And I appreciate all the opportunities that he has provided me over the years.

But this year something different took place. For the first time, I had people walking up to me (that I didn't know) saying the same sort of things that I STILL say to folks...things like..."I READ ALL YOUR SHIT AND I LOVE IT!" Basically, I found myself in the shoes of the people that I have often found inspirational. I had people that knew my name, knew my work, read my blog, read things I've written in their college classrooms, and heard me speak at this or that place.


I also felt extremely and totally humbled AND really very scared. And I mean both of those things.

Let me give you an example. I just finished writing my first novel. I am in the process of reading the whole thing through for the first time, and there are things that I wrote that are really very smart...(hold on...this isn't as egotistical as it sounds)...and while reading what I wrote I seriously could not 1) remember writing it, 2) understand where the poignancy came from, and 3) I fundamentally don't believe that *I* actually wrote it. Now I KNOW that I physically typed the words but there is a part of me that still believes those tapes that say I am not actually smart or fierce or beautiful or strong enough to have written those things.

Ain't life grand.

So, when these people came up to me and were saying these sorts of things, I got scared because I felt like a big old fraud. I was/am afraid that they are going to find out that really....I don't know what the hell I am talking about, that I make up half the shit I say, and that the other half is something I probably got from Wikipedia. Don't you laugh at me.

As the conference went on and person after person (almost always young people), said the same sorts of things, I thought to know what need to start believing in yourself. If these strangers can believe the things you put out in the world, don't you think you should?

Yep. I should.

The clincher for me was the fact that I got to present Mr. Kenyon Farrow with an award from Queers for Economic Justice at their annual event. If you don't know Kenyon, and if you don't Google HIM now, then you and I aren't friends.

Let me say that being asked to present someone that is at the core of what it means to be a progressive, radical and transformative change maker was humbling and a shock to the butt. I thought to myself (after I got done crying in front of a hundred people)...that if I am good enough to give an award to Kenyon, then I must not be those things that those tapes inside tell me.

So, this blog is my way of saying that right here and now I am going to go right on ahead and believe that I am smart. I am going to believe that I sometimes have something valuable to say, and that I am worthy of the leadership that has, from time to time, been entrusted to me by my peers.

Thank you all for helping me see myself better.