― Shannon L. Alder
Would you know what I meant if I said I have memories that float behind my eyes; watery pictures of moments and people that stop the present, replaying themselves slowly, like looking out a window in a car, half your mind on the music, the other half on the scenery? With the dawning of 2019, there is one constant memory that does this slow-roll behind my eyes: me, standing in my public-school playground in utter disbelief and amazement that my friends and I had just realized we would be thirty-four in 2017. It was raining, and we were by the back fence. The details of this make me laugh: why thirty-four? What was it about 2017 that made us pick that long off date? Who were those friends, anyway, that stopped at 2017!?
Sitting here writing this article with a years-gone-by nostalgia curdling my insides, I am forced to reflect on the passing year: family, friends, community, what impelled us to start a blog and, of course, this memory. The one certainty for me is the need to find and give life to my voice. My wife, Aisha, read my horoscope from Naimonu James (naimonujames.com) a few days into the new year and, well, talk about a sign:
“wander within and within and within. It takes hard work and commitment to go your own way, conditioning tells us it is far too dangerous…but you are too precious to miss out on learning yourself, dear Taurus…the more you create supportive spaces, the more faith in humanity and goodness you can collect to you.”
So, I have committed to stitching together these feelings and the words that constantly swirl in my brain, because I need you – a community – to reinstate my faith in humanity and goodness. I will make sure I lay my thoughts down, like a patchwork pathway, so we can come to a gentle space together. And hopefully, it is worth it.
In the quiet, before Aisha comes home, I will share a secret before I introduce myself properly: I hope we are incredibly successful. I hope this blog is where we, as two incredible individuals, can thrive and grow and take up space we cannot seem to find room for IRL. It would make me laugh if, in 2029, I was modeling for ‘Haute Butch’ or sitting with Ivan Coyote to discuss our recent article, or maybe, just maybe, I’m invited to be the guest speaker at ‘Butch Voices’.
I am a thirty-five-year-old Taurus, which means thirty-six is imminent. I am in-love, partnered up and in it for the long haul. My love, Aisha, has a beautiful boy I am lucky to be best friends with and the two of them are pretty much my entire world. I am a gender non-conforming (GNC) person who has identified with Butch Lesbian for most of my life. I am the younger sibling to my sister who has been the most incredible, long-term support/intuitively understanding person I have had the privilege of knowing. My parents were a typical early-nineteen-seventies couple: my father was a doctor and my mother his nurse and secretary. I lived a comfortable life in a small town and, looking back, would say that it was happy, healthy and pretty ok. If I’m completely honest with you though, this is where a constant character flaw first appears; I am a hopeless romantic, idealist and generally do not acknowledge how bad shit can get. But I think this trait allows me to tell a good story while actually talking about some heavy stuff.
I have stumbled upon a term I’ve been working around in my layered brain, moving into my mouth, and seeing if it fits: multipotentialite (credit: Emilie Wapnick). I haven’t found a calling, which is evident from the atlas that is my career and educational pathway. I have a degree in Sociology and Sexual Diversity Studies from the University of Toronto, I am a certified Winery and Viticulture Technician; I have worked in warehousing for plumbing wholesale supplies, in bookstores, restaurants, and at a dry cleaner. My final attempt (for now) to achieve the picture of ultimate success – [redacted] – the stress became so intense I was ill for weeks on end. The resulting lawsuit, loss of industry and friends seems to be the fire this lil’ ol’ Pheonix needed. Oh, and I’m not allowed to talk about it.
And I am so fucking happy for it. I am sure I will address the pile I just left you with, but in all honesty, I do not want this space to be about anger. I have worked for fifteen years to divest myself of the anger naturally boiling inside me. I want this space to be about the pilot light for anger; the hurt and sadness, the misunderstanding and confusion of being anyone – but specifically a gay, GNC, female-bodied, person in this world. Hopefully, what I need to talk about resonates with you, whoever you are. I hope Aisha helps me figure out how to interact with you on a blog space because I want to know you and hear what you think about.
“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.” – Stendhal
Thanks so much,