Tag Archives: LGBT

Thoughts on Weekend

I’ve been meaning to see the film Weekend for a few years now and I just finished watching it. It’s a 2011 British film about two men who meet at a bar on a Friday night and share a profound weekend that stays with them.

The most intriguing aspect of the whole film was its dedication to realism. It almost feels like a documentary. The blueprint for 2013’s Blue Is the Warmest ColourThere is zero romanticized melodrama. No Hollywood shimmer. No love-lorn filters, no soundtrack, or any music to tie it all together. It’s all in the organic performances, the direction, the editing. (I would say the writing, but the actor said most of it ended up being improvised.) It’s as if someone decided to record their entire life with a camera and just happened to capture this one beautiful weekend with a man they had just met. It feels like real life captured on film. Even Blue had low key radiant cinematic vibes.

It raised a lot of questions for me as a gay, hopeless romantic. I identified with both characters’ personality wise. I’m confident, crass, and open in the way Glen was, but I’m also shy, romantic, and I have self doubts like Russell. I keep my private life private mostly because I’ve always been single.

When they first made eye contact with each other at the bar, Glen dropped his gaze and went to the bathroom. Russell followed him there. When I saw that, I thought “That’s me. That’s exactly what I do.” But not quite. It becomes evident that Russell followed Glen to pursue a hook up. I don’t follow men to the bathroom. I don’t follow men in the club hoping to hookup. I follow men because I want to initiate conversation with them and get to know them. When I see someone who catches my eye, I ponder the possibilities of their curiosity for me. I like to follow and see what happens, hoping they see my value. Maybe one of us would be brave enough to start speaking with the other.

Seeing how swiftly their relationship manifested over the course of a single weekend made me wonder if I would ever experience anything similar in my adult life. I know it’s not something I can muster, rather something I would have to experience and stumble into. Like Russell, I want to be in love. I want to be in a relationship. I believe standing up and proclaiming my love for a man is a radical act of love and a “fuck you” to naysayers.

I’m 24 years old, wondering why love is so elusive. I don’t go on dates because I’m not asked on any. In my experience, it never works out when I initiate and ask a guy out. Typically, the guys who make me want to initiate, are the ones I feel are out of my league— guys I feel like I need to prove myself to. It’s a subtle chase and overspending of energy, rather than a balance of mutual interest. When I’m asked out, there’s a comfort in knowing they’re interested enough in me to make the first move and see what else there might be.

I’ve been trying to stay in my own lane, work on myself, and just let it happen when it’s supposed to. But I still struggle with letting go. I’m slowly learning the art of patience, which to me means no more swiping, no more texting, no more making the first move. Move along and let him come to me. Weekend is a stunning film that shows how unexpectedly powerful a connection can be, even for just one weekend. Thank you for the beauty.

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Seeking Faith, Building Hope.

Pt. II: Something brilliant happened in my church today. Something unexpectedly cathartic, freeing, and re-assuring. Throughout the years, my church has mostly avoided discussing controversial topics such as gay marriage and abortion [pretty much the only possible controversies the church needs to face]. That’s what I liked about it and still do. Out of all the Catholic masses I’ve attended in the history of my life, I’ve never experienced forceful condemnation for anything. As a gay church goer, I never had to hear “if you’re gay, you’re going to hell” or “Being gay is a sin,” and I am thankful for that. I’m thankful that the people in my church have enough grace to let the audience have a place to worship and pray and not have to be subjected to powerful political brainwashing. My church always focuses on the faith aspect, having it and living it. It stays black and white, pure and simple, which lets us all have our own minds outside of the church; It was always more focused on the message of the readings and praying for others and ourselves. During the homilies, the priests and speakers would connect the gospel readings to our present day– equating the values and lessons learned from the Bible and applying it to our lives for the moment and how to best live our lives moving forward.

But earlier today, for the first time ever, my personal favorite priest and speaker, Father Bausch, actually said the words “lesbian, gay, and transgender.” [I do wish he said bisexual.] It was like a Lady Gaga “Born This Way” moment for me. To hear those words in my church, where I go for communal worship, was a blessing. His whole homily was about addressing how to live on with Catholic faith in an ever changing world, a more secular world, a world that acknowledges that not all Americans are Christian, a world that has begun to acknowledge LGBT individuals as equals in society. Fr. Bausch, said “let’s get right to the nitty gritty.” Let’s get our hands dirty. I was nervous about what he would say. I was waiting to hear contempt and condemnation for this new queer and sinful generation. But it never came. Instead, he listed strong, encouraging statistics about Catholic families and their views on marriage, family, and homosexuality. Concerning our growingly secular society, he said that Catholics worry about passing on their faith to their children and grandchildren. How could they when they don’t go to church? What happens when my son brings his girlfriend home and they want a bedroom of their own? He discussed the effects of capitalist lifestyles. He mentioned divorce, reminding us that our church teaches he who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery on his first wife. And she who divorces her husband and marries another commits adultery on her ex husband. I was glad that he discussed divorce because it’s an issue that LGBT supporters bring up to Christians who think gay marriage is immoral. Kim Davis, who refuses to issue marriage licenses (breaking the law in the process) to same sex couples, has been married four times. To all the Christians who disagree with gays getting married, if you ever get divorced and re-married, I probably won’t judge you, but know that if I do, you judged me first.

For the sake of accuracy, I won’t list the exact statistics, because I don’t remember them. But he did say that many “Catholics view the traditional marriage of a man and a woman to make for the ‘ideal family’ but that ‘other families’ are fine too. Single parent families, divorced families, infertile families, and gay parent families.” Those are actually his paraphrased words and he had no qualms in saying so. He began closing by saying the church has always transitioned along with the times.

“We’re living in unusual times, with an unusual pope, one who has ambiguous views on gay marriage, in a society that is more secular and Christian suppressed, and we have to deal with this.” Christian suppressed, meaning socially religiously suppressed, which is a good thing since Americans are made up of more than just Christians. We are also Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhiest, Atheist, and so on. He said, “the Vatican Senate has formed to this new pope and the new world that we live in, a society with lesbian, gay, and transgender realities.” He hopes the Senate will be able to reach out to us no matter who we are. To hear those words come out of his mouth without a tone of disdain gave me so much hope for my place in the church. I hope to always have my faith, but being supported in my church would mean a great deal. Everyone knows the views of the Catholic church are very archaic, but the anointing of the wildly refreshing Pope Francis has been a welcome disruption for the entire world. Pope Francis not only met with the infamous Kim Davis, but also his gay ex student and his partner. The Catholic church is extremely slow when it comes to transitioning on any kind of issue, but to hear those words reflecting the deeper importance of Fr. Bausch’s homily today has rejuvenated me and my faith. His homily may have been one little pebble step in the right direction, but it’s still one step in the right direction and I’ll take it. Thank you Father Bausch.

Pt. I: Last Sunday, I was with my family and a million other people in Phildelphia to have mass with Pope Francis. It was an unbelievable day and sort of felt like how I imagine the end of the world to feel. Endless crowds of people with their families, waiting in line, the city a mess, and stores abandoned. As we waited in line to enter the public square where mass would be held, there was a particular looking man, dressed in a suit and wearing unfamiliar pins, standing in the middle of the crowd carrying a clipboard. He was asking for signatures for Catholics to be able to teach marriage in schools as defined by a man and a woman. I was instantly disappointed. But immediately after he said what the petition was for, a woman said, “I can’t sign that. I disagree. I think everyone should have the right to be married.” And another woman, who was standing right in front of the man, whom I was standing next to for hours, also immediately reacted. “Love is love. I believe in that. We have different ways to think and I respect yours, and I just need you to respect mine.” The man was spitting the regular Catholic rhetoric: “There’s one human nature, even from a biological standpoint. God created one man, one woman. That’s the true nature. That’s the one truth.” He’s wrong though. God has actually created billions of people throughout history, millions of which were LGBT 🙂 Thank you to those women who spoke up for me and all LGBT! With Pope Francis, these women, and Fr. Bausch’s homily today, my faith in the Catholic community is slowly restoring.

Now I leave you all with my favorite worship song of the moment.
I will call upon your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine.

Beautiful photo by: https://instagram.com/p/0_kewVmZsO/?taken-by=godsfingerprints

Good news! I’m STD Free!

Yesterday I faced one of the most nerve-wracking moments one could endure. I received my STD and HIV test results at a local clinic. I tested negative for everything, thank God, and thank you to everyone that sent me love and prayers during that whole process. Every time I find myself in that position of getting checked and being worried, I turn to my friends for support. The last time I was tested was August 2014 and I only had one partner between then and now. Nonetheless, I was still terrified about the possibility of contracting something, HIV in particular. As a member of the gay community, I still have that underlying fear towards AIDS. I’ve noticed that the LGBT community is more pro-active about sexual health and getting tested. Many of my LGBT friends have been tested before. But shockingly, many of my straight friends have never been tested even once. What I want to know is why isn’t there a larger discussion about getting tested? And why aren’t straight people as wholly pro-active?

For weeks on end, I developed an obsessive superstition to the numbers 2 and 11. When you take a rapid HIV finger prick test, if the result shows one line, you are negative for HIV. If the test shows two lines, you are positive for HIV. Thus I became heavily wary of those numbers and any sign of doubling. When I looked at a clock and there was a 2, I would keep looking back at the clock until it was no longer there. Whenever I did my Insanity workout, I wouldn’t look at the screen if I knew there were two seconds left. If the time displayed double digits like 7:44, I looked away as quickly as I could. Looking at the pause button worried me. Ironically, when I stepped into the room where I was tested, the person who tested me noticed an extra chair in the room. “Why do I have two chairs in here?” he wondered. After taking one of them to the side, he said “I have two garbage cans too.” Two, two, two, I thought.

My mind had been plaguing itself since my hookup in December. Underneath everything I was experiencing, Christmas, New Year’s, my birthday, looking back at the semester, re-igniting my love for the Walking Dead and catching up on Glee, my fear of HIV lingered. I never had a completely free moment because underneath it all was this possibility that I had something. Although I was sure my one night stand was protected, not all parts of it were and I could never be sure of my partner’s true status. It gave me comfort to know that he had gotten out of a 6 year relationship (I stalked his Instagram to confirm) and that he was just as paranoid as I was about getting sick– he asked me nearly 6 times if I had anything and I assured him I hadn’t.

Being a gay man, I worry that the idea of HIV will always haunt my sex life; paranoia will never cease weaving in and out of my sexual experiences. HIV/AIDS has become so synonymous with my identity as a gay person, that once I let that fear creep in, once I start getting paranoid about having something, or questioning if the condom remained intact, it permeates throughout my conscious being. No matter how many times my friends tell me that I’m fine and have nothing to worry about, I still submit to the fear produced under the connection between HIV/AIDS and being gay. If I was straight and didn’t have sex with men, I would feel much more confident about not having contracted something. If I was a woman that practiced safe sex, I wouldn’t feel half as fearful as I usually do even though the intercourse I had was protected. I don’t know if gay men are statistically more promiscuous than straight men or women, but I know that as long as a vaccine or cure has not been developed for HIV, it will remain a problem that the gay community will feel uniquely tied to.

I think I have to accept that for the rest of my life, I will always be scared of contracting HIV; that taking an HIV test will never not be a source of anxiety. Being a part of such a sexually charged community only exacerbates the dichotomy of being sexualized and living by flesh and sparkling vanity, and the fact that we are more susceptible than any other population (besides the transgender community) to be infected with HIV. The gay community worships SEX. We worship feeling worshipped. We treasure feeling beautiful. We treasure the beauty of gay sex. But at the same time, we must also treasure our sexual health. We must treasure feeling sexually empowered and sexually responsible. Because of this intense focus on sex, I oftentimes feel alienated from the gay community. On some level, it reflects some part of me, but I also experience contradictory dissonance. I desire to feel desired, but I also revel in the remaining fragments of my innocence– the pieces that make me unique. What I’m hoping for is that no matter how much our society likes to shove sex down our throats, we remember to always play safe.

HIV Does Not Discriminate

Whoever you are reading this, if you are sexually active, you have a responsibility to yourself and to your partners to know your status. Taking the test takes real courage, but if you have been stressing out over getting tested, you owe yourself peace of mind. Plenty of universities have free rapid HIV testing events. Go to them! Bring your friends or your partner(s) and take the test together. I remember when President Obama and his wife got publicly tested for HIV in an effort to reduce the stigma of getting tested. Although we may be afraid of taking the test because we fear the unknown, it’s important to develop support systems among friends to make something as formidable as being tested into an action that promotes love and taking care.

Top photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/london/75148497

thoughts at night/hopes for the world:

i never again want to hear or see acts of hate. I never again want to hear: “death to jews.” “death to arabs” “palestinians don’t exist.” “once born a man, always a man.” “adam and EVE, not adam and steve.” collective blaming on the black community. “marriage isn’t your right because of your sexual preference. “the purpose of marriage is to procreate.” “i’m not attracted to asians/ they’re just not attractive, ew ur an ugly asian.” gay men are not REAL men.” “i’m not a feminist” “men need to be the heads of their households.” “islam is a cancer.” “why aren’t muslims denouncing terror?” “not all muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are muslims.” “slavery happened hundreds of years ago, the president is now black, get over it.” “she was asking for it/ she drank too much/ what was she wearing?” slut shaming. bringing down girls. “boys will be boys” as a way to disregard responsibility. classism. racism. the anti-semitism behind the “need” for zionism. apathy for the environment/ mindless littering/ the cigarette out the window.

i want a peaceful society of equality and communal support. i want to live to see the eradication of inequality. to see same sex couples embrace each other freely wherever they please. to see men caring for women when they’re drunk and vice versa. to see more men of color and several women as POTUS. to see beautiful ASIAN movie stars win Academy Awards (for non stereotypical roles). to see noteworthy, honest representation of all ethnic groups on television. for families torn apart by immigration reunited. for prisons to educate and rehabilitate. for jews to be able to live anywhere in the world with love and not face hatred. for that fucking wall in Palestine to come crashing down. for Israel/Palestine to be binational, removing Jewish privilege and forging true equality. for famous people to be OUT without fear, for LGBT to be recognized as valuable humans. and lastly, i want to see my parents and close friends at my future wedding to a man.

Single Life So Real

It’s hard not to care when it’s something I’ve never had. I’ve never been touched, or loved, or kissed by someone who meant it. Who wanted to feel what it was truly like to see inside me. Never looked at like I was the most brilliant person to ever enter their atmosphere. I never had anyone step into my own and break me down, introducing me to the purest version of myself. Behind the makeup, behind the pretty, behind the weirdness, behind the ugly.

I’ve navigated through different channels in search of this one thing. The tragedy is that I’m 23 with no history of a physical genuine affection. Just “likes” on Instagram or compliments on social media. But at this age I am wise enough to know that the path to something real is not this vacuous. It is not designable. I cannot devise a plan for a man to fall for me no matter how many dates I ask him on, or however many pieces of myself I show him. It has been and will always remain a mystery. And no matter how many times I tell myself or feel as close to the reality that I am not as in love with love as I was, something reminds me again that I am. It’s in the message of a song or a photographic moment that transports me into the crystal vaults of my heaven and cotton daydreams of lying in bed with the perfect man God intended for me all along.

Candied fevers of love line the recesses of my fantasies. I sway to the beat of lovers unloved. I carry my weight in skin tight jeans. Hold me dearly if you already know how. My gaze is radiant in the sunlight as I ponder once upon a dream. My limbs are seashells on waves of sand, but the ocean is where I want to be. Lilac lovers, I’m a lilac lover too, looking for the one on the streets of France. But the one who looks is never found when all he does is roam around. If you stay in the place where you should be, he will find you there eventually. Not virtually, OkCupid, Grindr, or Tindr. I want to hear from him that I’m “mine.” If you don’t get what I mean, never mind. I’m only waiting to be found, but I’m not waiting anymore. Not for the men who want skin then leave to the door. I mean more and I’m everything, and through him I’m adored. Crown me, I’m a king; immortalize me with a ring. Beating white heart, I write the lyrics that you sing. For serenades that cascade queer Valentine understanding.

Happy Valentine’s Day to me and to all the single individuals out there right now, especially those who have never found love. Today means nothing, and even if I had a boyfriend I wouldn’t care about it as much. But the single life remains real and I remain the realest single bitch alive.

Kuhl Leila (poem)

We are all tragic hearts
Lost in the desert night,
Broken from centuries of pain and I’m afraid there’s no cure.
Your loving can’t heal me,
But it’s a first step,
To feeling the way I deserve and the happiness I never found,
Not in the simple pleasures of shai or smelling your jasmine.

The movements in the ocean and glimmering of the stars
Beg me to return,
To the land of the cursed and the burned.
But I left with their matches
Before they could light me,
And the tears fell like waterfalls
When I saw it was my family, who held the flame,
To restore our name and reclaim drops of fame,
In the skies with angels, pools of champagne.
They swirled me lost and they lost me,
For I realized who they were:
Prosecutors of my love.
Saints for freedom but jailers of mine.

Shim el yasmine and pour its scent on my heart.
Rub it in my skin and soak it in my hair.
Because the nights that I need you are when I hurt the most.
And I need your naked on top of me,
To shield me from the ghouls of home
That terrorize when I’m alone.

Habibi, shim el yasmine
And the perfumes that pour from the holes of my heart
By the bullets of Israel, and of my father and my brother.
My own tears cannot forgive
The pain stolen from my mother’s eyes,
When I left the house in the dark of night.

The truth is that I’m scared
And only you can understand,
Because no other heart knows me like yours.
When I meet your parents, I’ll hug them with my hello,
Embracing our new world.
Slowly uncover me, falling into you.
Habibi, bidi iyak kuhl leila
Kuhl leila bidi iyak.