Can I fast-forward to the point where I’m fully surrounded by people who find my heightened interested in activism and justice to be an asset instead of a hindrance? Does that point even exist?
I long for the day that I’m immersed in a circle that finds my heightened interest in activism & justice to be an asset & not a hindrance
— WhiteGayze™ Slayer (@angryblackhoemo) October 27, 2016
I’ve touched on this before, but as someone who might jokingly be called “newly woke,” I’m finding myself in a place where I’m owning how much I value social justice and activism in a way that I hadn’t, previously. Truth of the matter is, I’ve felt strongly about social justice and liberation for myself as Black, Queer person, even before I knew what the term “social justice” was. But just after the last year or so, I’m finding myself more fully invested in advocating for justice in more substantial and far-reaching ways.
I didn’t grow up immersed in the intersection of Blackness and Queerness…nor did I grow up in social awareness and activism. They’re all things that I had to go out and find and/or stumble upon on my own. And moving to Chicago played a big factor in that, as did finding my way back to spaces in social media like Twitter. I feel like I’ve grown a great deal in a very short time (I would NOT have been cool with calling myself “Angry” just a year ago…even in jest). It’s given me a much greater sense of clarity in how I view the world, but it’s also come at a price.
I’m finding myself in a weird and frustrating place right now. Communities, spaces and even friendships that I once held dear don’t offer the same kind of safety that they once did, for me. That feeling that I have to hold so much of myself back, just to avoid the disappointment of it being met with a dismissive, negative and/or apathetic response, continues to weigh on me and, sometimes, it makes me wanna shut down completely, save for platforms like Twitter—one of the few places I feel comfortable sharing any given thought that enters my mind without fear of it being met with any of the aforementioned crap (granted, trolls and headass people are an issue, but they seldom bother me to the same extent). I look at my interactions on Facebook now and how different they are from just a couple of years ago…the amount of friends lost, the amount of engagement that I’ve seemingly run off by becoming “too radical,” the diminishing inclusion that I feel in some social circles…it’s all obvious and palpable.
It’s not even about needing an echo chamber of constant agreement—just feeling like my activism (which is such an important part of me) is valued and respected. But as it is now, I have this cloud over my head, where it feels like the collective response is “Ugh…there he goes again,” anytime I open my mouth and say anything.
In the last few months, there have been so many times I wanted to go out to some of my usual hangouts or socialize with some of my friends (some of whom, I considered family)…but then I’d remember that these are largely the same people who make me feel like I have to hold so much of myself back…these are the people who cite my valid anger and frustration as a reason to dismiss my viewpoints…these are the people who make me feel like just opening my mouth makes them suck their teeth. Not to mention, I have to also watch them steadfastly hold onto their oppressive views, no matter how much I explain the far-reaching, negative effects. Then I start feeling resentful. Then my anticipation to see them diminishes. Then I just end up staying home (…or, y’know, getting laid or something).
Maybe it was never true safety and I was just tricking myself into thinking that it was—obviously, the fact that I’m now having to second-guess relationships with people over the simple fact that I center Black Queerness and value real, intersectional justice speaks volumes. Maybe it was true safety, but reflective of where I was, previously…and that safety just doesn’t translate to who I am now. Maybe I’m just paranoid and overreacting. Regardless, the end result is still the same. I’m in a place where I’m questioning so many things that I once held dear—friendships, my participation in the leather community, which bars and venues I wanna continue going to…everything. I feel like my world view and activism have evolved so quickly that nothing else in my life has been able to keep up with it. That now it has me in this weird state of limbo, where I don’t too much care to be in the spaces that I was once in, but I also have no idea of where I’m going next…or even where I wanna go next.
Then there’s dating. I’ve long resigned myself to the possibility—if not strong likelihood—that I’ll never experience finding love. And I feel like all of this is big part of that. Granted, as I’ve long said, I’m perfectly content with being single, as that’s far better than feeling like I’m stuck in a relationship that I settled for. But I can’t pretend like it doesn’t bother me, at least to a small degree.
It’s easy to say “Well they’re just bad friends who didn’t need to be in your life, anyway…just get rid of them!” But that’s the thing…I’ve seen so many friendships/associations fade in such a short time. It’s generally the best thing, sure, but it’s also overwhelming when that reality catches up with you. It makes you feel uncertain and unsettled. You have a hard time getting close to anyone and trusting people because you’ve now adopted this survival mindset of just waiting for the other shoe to drop. It becomes that much harder to let someone in because you’ve already prepared yourself for the likelihood that they’ll eventually be trash to you at some point and you’ll have to cut them off, or they’ll cut you off…just like countless others.
Just sucks feeling like expressing things that are not only important to you, but are consequential to so many, makes you an “inconvenience”
— WhiteGayze™ Slayer (@angryblackhoemo) October 27, 2016
On another note, I even feel like this is a big factor in what got me fired from my last job. My priorities and views are rapidly changing in a way that has me feeling unsettled and unfocused. And it absolutely spilled into the quality of my work…and it was noticeable.
Good thing is, I’m finding those organizations and other spaces that are giving me an outlet to re-calibrate and center myself, and my views are generally welcomed instead of discouraged. I don’t have that same air of resentment when it comes time to go to a function or socialize in those spaces. And not to mention, I can do that exploration in safety of not having to wade through extra bullshit. I feel like (or at least hope) all will probably well in maybe a year’s time or so. But getting there will be…interesting.
Of course, I’ll probably have gripes with those spaces by this time next year, as well. We’ll see.
Such is life. 🙃