Friendship: Then and Now

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Recently, a close friend of mine, whom I had associated with for over five years, decided to end our friendship. I am not upset by this turn of events; the truth is, the association was a long-time in circling the drain. Simply put, each of us had simply gone in two different directions and life paths. So, in a way, this is liberating since it frees me from the psychological anxiety of interpersonal conduct.

Many people would not take this happening as mellow as I did; others may rant against their former friend and perhaps swear ugly accusations or vendettas. I, of course, felt otherwise and as though this was a natural culmination which needed to happen. But, it should be said, that my history with people was not always so straightforward; indeed, when I consider my past associations, what I notice is a stark uneven quality. A quality which I now hope to sketch out in hopes of connecting with anyone who has undergone the same ordeal.

I will talk of several different modes of friendship which cover different aspects of my life. Some deal exclusively in cyber-space while others are handled in the real world; each section is a vignette and will explore a different understanding of friendship.

 

~

 

Elementary School: Coerced Association

                Elementary school (grade school) is an interesting period if for no other reason than hindsight; it is the period that you do not think very much of at the time, but is fondly remembered during the first trying weeks of middle school where you realize, in the social anxiety fest of meeting new students, that the safe and secure pastures of K-5 was the location of your comfort zone.

Looking back, I had three different friends in elementary school: David, Chris, Jacob.

David was my first friend. We had bonded over our mutual delight of violence; I still remember that day in first grade where we repeatedly drew Christ’s crucifixion because we loved to make it violent and adorn the landscape with spikes. We did many things together and were inseparable nigh. I would give him Pokemon and some Yu-Gi-Oh! Cards and we would joke around on the bus.

But things did not last much: around the third grade, we began fighting. At first, it has to the trading card but soon evolved into him being jealous over me befriending a new boy, Chris. Although I had only originally bonded with Chris due to his love of my trading cards, after a while he gained an affinity for me and we started hanging out as friends, not just as ‘kids who only like one another for the things they own.’ David was pushed out of the picture; although there was something approaching a kind of reconciliation, things with David never again reached their pre-Chris status—simply put, I was the subservient friend in the relationship and David was bossy; Chris was more equalitarian and treated me less as an attendant and more as an equal.

But, Chris was also a year ahead of me in school. So, there was always this black hole during the class. So, I bonded with another student, Jacob. He and I enjoyed writing stories together. We would design a universe and split our short stories evenly between one page of writing and one page of illustration. He sat with me on the bus during field trips and we also had our desks next to each other. It was a great time; and although I never truly felt like he was a good friend since I honestly didn’t know why he liked me, it as likely simply my own insecurity which troubled me.

In elementary school, I only truly began feeling comfortable during the fifth grade, just as sixth grade loomed. So when the year ended and I ‘graduated’ to middle school, everything which took so long to make, was destroyed.

Middle & High School: Coerced Loneliness

                I didn’t adjust well to middle school. Everyone I knew from elementary school was divided into different wings, and we barely saw one another; drifting happened… I did not respond well. To cover a lot of time, I will just say that in order to cope, I simply refused to attend. Obviously, this behavior made it difficult to learn the curriculum. I was held back twice and isolated myself, only making a couple of contacts whom I faded from associating with as time moved on. I was alone. And that was the way it remained for the remainder of my time in day school; by the time I dropped out, and was studying for my G.E.D, I eventually began to wonder what happened to those old friends I had and ponder if they may be interested in hanging out with me.

Internet Hoopla

During my lonely time studying in night school, I reached out via Facebook and Myspace to some of my old friends. Contacting them was awkward. I was awkward. I didn’t know what to say. To be honest, I didn’t really know how to interact with people online, what some of the slang meant and whatnot. So, the internet helped but what I remember realizing was something that though simple, was deep: in the years I had been missing in action, they had had lead their own lives, lives which featured those meetings of new people and growing up without me. Part of the reason why I found it so hard to relate to them was because they have had a time going through high school and finding themselves as adolescents. Their subjectivity was alien to me, as mine was to them. The void that was temporarily filled, opened back up, if only a bit.

 

~

 

Now that I have offered some brief remarks on my school day interactions, I wish to offer some memories on the decline of friendship.

Daniel: A Gamer

Danny was one of my early online friends; he and I did the sorts of things which you could expect two young Queers to do; though based largely on me advising him and just talking about video games, the friendship was complicated because I eventually grew feelings for him that were never returned. Although the friendship did not breakdown due to our different standings on affection, but rather my own behavior while intoxicated (talking about suicide and depression and the like, as well as begrudging him into a forced obligation), his disassociation was hard to take; upon finding out the Fall I had returned to university that he had blocked me from Steam (out chatting platform of choice), without so much as a message why he no longer wanted to associate with me, I took his rejection hard and nearly drank myself into a coma. Our friendship, though only ever based through the internet, was a long lasting one which had, over the course of around four years, had traversed many an obstacle. I was not well with this happening for a long while. It was the secretive nature of how the friendship ended, that bugged me—during our interactions the previous year, he never informed me that he felt uncomfortable with my actions, nor did he ask me to change my behavior in regards to him; in fact, I did try to isolate him from my actions via encouraging him to go to bed when I got bad. But, he never confronted me on what disturbed him; instead, he waited until the summer break, when he knew that I would not have an internet connection, and removed me from his life. I supposed that I should have suspected something when he didn’t text me over the summer, but I always assume the best in people and had presumed that he had difficulties of some kind and perhaps lost my number. But, he didn’t and under the cover of technological night, had removed me from his life. Though I attempted to apologize via cell, he would not respond.

Justin: False-Friend Obsession

In terms of university contacts, Justin is likely the only person whom I could have honestly called a friend. But all of it was based on pity for my depression and loneliness. First meeting during a summer event at university before we entered as first-year students, I got eyes for him right away. Once the school year began, and the water separated from the oil, I gained an audience with him as a friend by helping him out one day with his schoolwork. From there, I tried to deepen our relation by email and sharing in our mutually shared interests. Well, as time went on, and I sent messages which I regretted and apologized for, and he forgave me while still pitying me, one day I simply gave up and sent him a level-headed, non-hostile message asking him if my accusations—that he was only friends with me because he pitied me; he never responded.

I still feel unsettled by these events, over a year later. I had not held feelings for a guy like I did for him since middle school, but, like middle school, I was destined to be rejected, not only as a lover but as a friend.

Morgan: On the Christian-Secular Redux

                I met Morgan during my internet hoopla spree; part of this spree was discovering my identity as a gay man. At the time, I had joined a support forum for gay youth. A little later, Morgan joined. At first, he and I were on opposite spectrums—he, a Christian (Methodist), and I, and atheist. We butted heads in the religions forum a lot but managed to find some common ground.

We became Facebook contacts and would keep in touch that way. However, I am not a person who has a stable emotional life and after a protracted period of us not talking, I deleted him, with a bunch of other people I knew from day school (this was what I called ‘the great purge’). Some years went by and I decided to search him out and friend him once more; we exchanged some messages and became FB friends again. I was surprised to learn that during his time in college, he abandoned his religion. Things were good, for a while, but one day he deactivated his FB account and would not respond to the email that I sent inquiring why. Then, one night, after having a bit too much to drink, I sent him an angry, accusatory email. This earned a response from him (level-headed) which had boiled down to the following: he was entering a new time in his life and wanted a fresh slate.

I wasn’t among those he had deemed important enough to retain; though that was the truth, it was still hurtful nonetheless. As of writing, I have yet to respond to his original response as I simply do not think a response is needed: I accept his proposition and must accept it as truth.

Chris: A Causality of Distance

He was one of my oldest friends. Aside from David, who did come before, Chris and I spent the latter half of elementary school and the whole of middle-school together; for a time, he was my best friend. I would spend many a night at his house and we would stay up late playing video games and talking. Together, with his brother and his friend, we would have a grand old time just fooling around. But, as my depression grew and I felt increasingly confused about my place in the world while my absences piled up, I distanced myself from him. Finally, when I stopped going to school entirely, I dropped out of contact. Though we would eventually, close to a year or so later, reunite on Facebook, things simply were not the same. I would be the one to put in the effort to call him and text him… but never he to I. During my so-called ‘great purge,’ I deleted him from my FB account thinking that things had reached their normal end—for a brief time, we were close, but that time had ended and now we each had our own direction to go. I didn’t even know him, anymore. Better to let the past remain where it thrives and not in the future, where it withers. I will always remember Chris.

Lucien: a logical conclusion

                Soon after I met Chris, I re-acquainted myself with Lucien, a friend who had been there in both elementary and middle school, but not in my general sphere. Actually, we had met again when I had been out for an evening walk; since he had lived close by on my very same road, my walking trail had gone by his very house and one day, while some guests were leaving, he saw me walking and ignited contact.

From that moment on we planned many a weekend together. Indeed, over the course of the next five years, we would be very close—this young man is, in fact, the subject of this piece’s opening lines, the boy I had known for five years who had recently distanced himself from me. Instead of talking about how our separation happened, I will simply re-post what I had commented on my FB:

Unfortunately, today seems to be the day that a long term friend of mine (one in real life, mind you, not the internet) has decided to end our friendship, a 5+ year association; recently, he deleted me from Facebook but the signs were there before as he didn’t acknowledge anything I tagged him in and nor did he respond to my private messages asking him about his life.

I do not know why he refused to respond to my entreaties, but I suspect it has to do with either the content of my FB postings (in which case, he may just want to withdraw from FB), since we never really talked much about politics and whatnot in real life; or, the other reason could be that he no longer wanted to handle or be in the way of my depressive episodes. As he has remained silent on his course of action, I can only grasp at straws.

I supposed that I should be upset, but I am not.

Honestly, each of us has just gone in different directions: he, a blue-collar worker, and I, an academic; even a couple years back, we never had much in common and there were moments where I needed to ask him to talk about more serious, relevant issues than the sort of abstract humor we usually conducted; I had told him that it was simply hard for me to spend so much time with him, and yet not having anything concrete to talk about during that period: I liked joking around and playing video games, but there comes a point where discussing current events and real life needed to make an entrance. He agreed and things during the last couple of years have been swell; but, university happened and it grew increasingly hard for us to get together.

Lately, I have, admittedly, been distant– I did not make any great efforts at getting together (provided, transportation, financial matters, and simply scheduling made it hard) but neither did I talk with him much via cell due to both my irregular service and my own psychological hesitancy in contact. This, in addition to my own (recently), intensified battle with depression, and how it has put him in some difficult personal emotional situations, may be why he has selected this path.

It has placed me in an uncertain spot. On one hand, I feel that it would be a concession to my depression should I let this friend go, but on the other hand, with my own studies intensifying and graduate school being a real possibility for the future, and subsequently, it meaning a time when I will not be able to see anyone from Maine except for on special occasions, I feel that with everything considered, it could have ended far more acrimoniously.

I mourn the loss but it is a part of growing up and defining your own personage. One one side, I have lost a good friend, on the other, I almost feel liberated in my deepening isolation because it releases me from the psychological stress associated with talking with him on the phone and planning a get-together– it means that I can go forward in life knowing that the past is passed and the future is golden from this point forward, in that, I am able to press forward.

Well, there is still grey areas to fill in so maybe I am making too much, but there has also been no effort on his part on establishing contact or informing me of his non-communication (he was always the better at maintaining contact; my phobia prevented much proactivity on my part). At any rate, I will treasure those moments with him and wish him the best in his future; hopefully, everything works out for him and his decision.

If this is not defined as ‘self-explanatory,’ then I do not know what is.

~

Why do you make friends? Because you are forced: the situation you are thrust into, whatever it may be, such as, during elementary school—and like middle and high school, or like the job you toil in so as to avoid eviction—you are forced into association with people for a quarter of the day, five days a week, or more, for the next twelve years (or life). You have to find someone who shares your interests, or at least, doesn’t hate you or mind you hanging around.

So, what did I learn from all of these experiences? I have some extrapolations which should clarify my views.

Meditation 1: Be proactive, not Overactive

                When making new friends, whether you are a student or an adult, the key to building friendships is not to be overbearing. There is a difference between sending a few emails and spamming. Generally speaking, unless someone is greatly put off by you, they will not mind you asking them or messaging them a few times to hang out or do something sometime, especially if it is for a shared interest. What puts people off is the over activity, where you spam them nonstop with the same request every time you see them. Although it can be difficult if you are desperate to make a friend, remember that every interaction you make registers on them on some level; if the only thing they are registering is you single-mindedly perusing a certain interaction, then that tells them very little about you the person while telling them a lot about your personality. Interspace your desire for quality time with some small talk. Don’t give up trying to do something with them when their schedule is busy, but neither incessantly hound them. Maintain a good distance between reality and the future; if you try and rush things before the burgeoning bond between you two matures, then it will make you look either manic and odd, at best, or mentally unstable at worst.

Meditation 2: Best-Friends forever do not exist

                I know it seems like a downer to say that BFFs aren’t real, especially with all the media which likes to say otherwise, but it is true, they do not exist. Yes, good friends whom you have known a long time and are close to, do exist, but to take that concept and extend it to absurd lengths with the BFF concept, or even best friends, is simply ridiculous.

In some measly twenty-something years on this planet, there have been three different people that I have called my ‘best friend’ at one time or another. All of them are no longer my best friend. Why is simple: life happens. In something as loaded as existence, where you, as a person go from a young person with (likely) little life experience to a full adult with their own existence and history spanning decades and decades… how can you think that any one person will be able to sympathize with you (even if they have the time to do so with their own life) throughout the vast changes which transpire over the course of you living and changing? Throughout high school college, a job or career and the building of that occupation, of you maturing and possibly starting a family or seeing someone, of you moving to new cities where seeing someone you knew from back home, or wherever, and then gaining new hobbies and tastes and interests… the list goes on; assuming that your BFF remains as you knew them from your time together, and, perhaps, takes up your new interests with you (something that is both unlikely to happen as well as, if it did happen, a clear sign of co-dependency) , how could you expect that you two are still ‘compatible,’ that is, still share the same interest and personality traits which brought you together in the first place? Exactly, there is no reason; this fairytale idea of BFF, where two close persons know each other for life and never tire of one another’s company over the years, is just a premise for melodramas and comedy films. Good, long term friends exist, but they come and go.

Meditation 3: Friends are Ephemeral

During my first year in college, I briefly talked with a consoler there about how to associate with other students. A remark of his made an impression on me; though incredibly basic, something which should be known by everyone without thought, it had never really occurred to me precisely because it is so basic. He said that my friends at university would likely change semester to semester depending on my friends’ schedules. At the time, this allowed me to conceptualize my exteriority and making sense of my reality enabled me to find some degree of inner peace to the troubles which had been plaguing me.

But this bit of information, this advice, is also applicable to really anyone: the people in your lives have their own thing going on and are only going to be able to associate with other people to the degree that they are free and find you compatible enough with them that they wish to share in your company. Many of these friendships will blossom as quickly are they fade since they are based on momentary collisions and random exits; you meet one-another for but a short time (a week, a semester,  couple of years, etc.) and then, through a vast agglomeration of factors and variables, are torn to new directions depending on your respective goals and hopes.

Losing and gaining friends, when considering these factors, thusly becomes just a part of life—you associate with those whom you find valuable in some regard, and then are forced to part with those friends and make new ones depending on your circumstances. Lacking friends or lacking close friends is therefore not a rejection of your value as a human being, but just an indication that other factors in your life, or your target friend’s life, are preventing you from realizing a friendship (a busy schedule, professional or recreational obligations, etc.). Lamenting a lack of friend or close friends serves no one save your own self-doubt and simply does not match up with reality; perhaps there are personal issues which many people, save a select few, find it hard to put up with, but there is additional variables to consider as well, many of which you have little to no control over as you prepare to live and lead your own life.

Meditation 4: Leave the Past Where it belongs

I am not going to tell you to never reach out to people you used to know; sometimes, checking in on people and getting to know what they have been up to, will result in fantastic premises. But, honestly, most of the time, it will not. For the most part, I am of the opinion that the past should be left where it is—in the past.

Friendships are odd. You meet people and then, for whatever reason, you fade away and find new people. When considering whether to reach out to someone you used to know, you have to ask yourself this: “Why did we stop seeing each other?” More often than not, the reason was because that you either, didn’t, and never did, share much in common (really think about this), or because you diverged on what brought you together in the first place, or, additionally, because something came between you two and conflict ensued.

The thing about time is that it exacerbates difference (both positive and negative); as the old saying goes, time heals all wounds. In terms of the first two reasons why you and the ‘blast from the past’ that used to be the person you associated with, should think twice before reaching out is the following—do you really believe that someone you fought with, or someone whom you never shared many interests with, is going to be different? With the passing of time, do you believe that your interests will collide or that the altercation which drove you apart will have healed? I supposed that there is always a chance, but one has to be realistic and remember that although people do certainly change, and time does heal some wounds, you have to consider the plethora of other variables as to what may have happened in the interim, and what did happen between you and how things may not even be worth touching on again.

Everyone is haunted by the ghosts of their past and the point is to move on, not to befriend your ghosts in the hope of becoming ‘best bros’ with your demons. If you hold onto the past, then you cannot move into the future; it is such a cliché but a cliché for a reason. If you constantly ruminate on what has happened, then you become paralyzed and do not undertake the necessary actions to actually triumph over your past. The point is to be your own exorcist and rid your body of the need to re-do the same thoughts over and over again.

 

~

 

Well, those are my remarks on friendship. Perhaps in certain places it was overly negative or preachy, maybe in others still, it was an inspiring moment. Whatever the case, however, those are my own idea on what friendship constitutes.

As always, feel free to share your own experiences and ideas regarding friendship and friends in the comments.

A Short Guide on Long Distance Relationships

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Being Queer also means being alone; or, at least, this is what it means for many of us who were born in rural areas and lacked access to diverse peers. One way we managed to surmount this loneliness was through long distance relationships—we found a nice guy online and took things from there, substituting communication for physical presence.

The issue which came, however, was the difficulty in maintaining these relationships. Many people find that these relationships eventually break down. Why? For several reasons, reasons which I will talk about while giving my own thoughts and experiences; although I am far from an expert in this area, I have had my own long distance relationships and have had substantial time to muse on them. So I share my musings with you in the hope that you will take something out of it.

 

~

 

Jealousy and Romance

                A long distance relationship is essentially a compact, an agreement between two people outlining their desire to be with one another despite vast distances. However, part of this agreement is the human factor: eventually, one person or the other may meet another person whom they see a romantic future. One of the first details hammered out when discussing the details of the long distance relationship with your partner should be how dating is handled, whether the long distance relationship is a de facto relationship and all newcomers are shunned, or if the long distance relationship is more of a ‘forcing,’ something which acts as a substitute until either the two of you meet, or you find a local guy.

Sex is much the same way; early on fidelity should be established. Meaning, whether it is okay for each member in the partnership to have sexual encounters in the flesh: is your long distance relationship going to be comprised of emotional and sexual monogamy where hookups with strangers is not allowed—i.e., considered cheating—or is the relationships one which allows for hookups with the understanding that as long as an emotional factor doesn’t develop, it is an acceptable substitute for sexual activity with your partner?

In this sense, time plays an important role because even the fiercest romances can burn their selves out if left at the long distance angle. I would strongly advise planning a meet up during the trial period of being together; you should discuss with your partner how and when you two will meet and perhaps even consider calling the long distance relationship off if you find that you two are repeatedly unable to meet (since this would mean that something is likely profoundly wrong with the relationship). How the dynamics of breaking up or remaining together are to be handled is of paramount importance.

Trust and Suspicion

                I am going to be direct here: unless you and your long distance partner trust one another, it is just not going to work out. If one of you is constantly looking over your shoulder and suspecting the other of cheating on you with somebody local to them, or filtering online, or what-have-you, the entire relationship is just not going to work out. Being suspicious of the other is going to produce drama and conflicts which do not need to exist; it is going to rip you two apart (hence the need for there to be a frank discussion on what is acceptable and what it not acceptable when it comes to sexual activities). Each of you should be more than ready to have a frank discussion on limitations but more than even that, be prepared to trust that the affection which exists between you two and trust in what you have; after all, there is no use in fretting over your partner cheating on you if you have no way of either controlling him/her or even knowing—assume he is loyal and if everything works out, then the mutually trust built by each of you will persevere.

Sexual Activity

                Obviously, you and your partner cannot physically get together for romance. However, there are one or two widely known ways to stimulate that erotic appetite. One manner is sexting—both with pictures of genitals as well as with sexual instant messages being sent back and forth between you and your partner (usually these messages describe a fantasy scenario which you and your partner build, but can also directly pertain to sexual intercourse). The second option you have is to go onto Skype, or a similar webcam mode of communication, and, well, sexually stimulate yourself on camera for one another. I’ve done both in my time with my own long-distance partners and each session was, from what I remembered, always the highlight of the day. With proper communication, long distance loving can be a decent substitute for the real deal.

Communication

                Talking, when and how often, is going to be extremely important in a long distance relationship; it will be up to you and your partner to figure out how much you need to communicate and through what medium. For instance, it should be delineated when, and if, texting, Skype, Facebook, calling, or other social networking is a mode of communication; do you want a form of communication which resembles a ‘string,’ where you each simply respond to messages when you have the time and there is a constant stream of information to chat about, or would you prefer several protracted periods of communication where several times during the week you call one another on the phone, while during those space of time which are not reserved for communication, you have to yourself without the expectation of communicating? Figuring out and maintaining, and adjusting as needed, how and when you communicate is going to be the cornerstone of your relationship.

When to Break it Off

                A vital component of any long distance relationship is knowing when you need to break it off. As I said earlier, defining the parameters of your relationship will be vital for a healthy long distance bond, but part of this understanding also means knowing when ending the relationship is better for you then continuing to participate. As a general rule of thumb, I would say that prime examples of when to break it off are when either (1) your partner has been repeatedly, and without care, breaking the established rules of your relationship, and appears to have little interest in altering his/her behavior, or (2) when you find yourself apathetic to the relationship itself, and feel that the relationship simply isn’t going anywhere, like you two will never meet despite being together for a long time, or when you find yourself presented with new possibilities for personal relationships and simply feel that it would be better for you to explore in order to fully realize yourself. You should talk with your partner about these feelings and your relationship. A long distance romance, emotional, sexual, or otherwise, is a hard effort to keep together. You can be rest assured that if one of you is suffering then it will not endure; at the end of the day, it is better to be happy then it is to remain in a loveless bond with someone whom who only share shadows with.

 

(Okay, that is all I have for the moment; if you have your own experiences with long distance relationships, then please share– I may edit this post to better reflect the actual experiences of those and where mistakes could interrupt the flow of love, so if you want to share your own time in these relationships, feel free to post below. You never know if your engagements will help!)

Beating Back the Demons: Some Tips on Living with Depression

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Depression fucking sucks. No need to moderate our language here: it sucks big old donkey balls. There you are, minding your own business, when BAM, it hits—a wave of lethargy and emptiness draining the color from your world and motivation to get up in the morning, making your world one of ‘going through the motions’.

There are different forms of depression: mild, moderate severe, Bi-polar… but each have something in common: they make life difficult. Some people lose the battle and take their own lives. Others live with it in an uneasy truce. I struggle with depression and so I understand the feeling of never-ending strife. Like there is no end to the war and you will always be either dependent on pharmaceutical aid, drugs, or alcohol. It is not a happy situation to be in.

This guide doesn’t exist with the presumption that it is a superior guide to the plethora of other such guides on self-treating depression out there. However, it does hope to do two things: (1) give a down to earth perspective on treatments and various self-help methods, and (2) provide a platform where others can share their experiences of depression, treatments, medication, and the like. The points contained in this guide are, one the one hand, provisional: they are but my own experiences, while on the other hand, they are open to criticism and input from other persons struggling with depression.

This guide is meant to be interactive—please leave a comment below; feel free to discuss your general feelings, struggle, and experiences about any aspect of living with depression: to how medication makes you feel, to how your cope without medication (if you take medication at all), and what you think triggers a particularly severe episode; feel free to even pontificate on the philosophical ramifications of depression. I figure since this “guide” will be me running my mouth, it is the least I can do in return to you, dear reader, for taking the time to devour the lines.

So without further ado, let’s begin!

 

  1. Some Tips for Living with Depression

Take-up a physical activity.

                As has been said in many guides over the internet, and by many commentators in the mental health complex, physical activity helps release serotonin (the so-called ‘happiness’ hormone): this in turn wards off some depressive thoughts and moods and feelings. To get the full benefits of this release you have to, what in traditional parlance, is known as “working up a sweat”. Only when you have gotten a real physical work-out will your body produce serotonin.

Now for the real question: does this actually work?

Yes and no. Yes for the fact that working out or walking will produce serotonin which will, in turn, take the edge off of a depressive episode; but that is the devil in the details—at best it can only lessen the impact of a depressive episode or temporarily lift you up for a little while. It will not have a real (lasting) impact.

In my experience, when handling a major depressive episode, rigorous activity only blunted the emotional deluge while numbing my body. During such harsh moments the work-out did help but only minimally. Outside of depressive episodes, where I handle the everyday effects of depression, my work-out activity (fast-paced walking), though helping when done on a regular basis, lost its edge if I didn’t consistently perform said activity; additionally, much like an addict, every once in a while I found that I had to increase (sometime dramatically) the amount of walking I did to receive the benefits.

Now, it should be mentioned that I enjoyed walking even before I found out that it released serotonin. So that helped to a degree as well: of course one is going to be happy engaged in an activity one enjoys. I would sometimes walk as many as fifteen miles a day (that certainly helped with the serotonin!)! While I do not do so much walking anymore, not with academic work eating up so much time, one has to consider that though an effective activity, physical activity will only ever be a crutch in a hard time and at best can only serve as a distraction. One shouldn’t expect it to have a significant impact one living with depression; this being said, I would still recommend taking up such a physical activity since it will help at least some, in addition to keeping you in the health zone.

Music and Art and Hobbies

I have found that art and having some kind of diversion helps. With me, it is music and theory. Mostly music, though. I enjoy listening to the track and finding its emotional and psychological resonance; when I do so I feel as though I am connected to something a bit greater (though not in a spiritual or religious sense). The same can be said in terms of theory (both academic and philosophical): when I read and study texts and investigate society and how it might be changed, I extend myself to new horizons and make my voice be known—I contribute to knowledge and the discussion pertaining to that knowledge and so make myself greater than I am alone. These things give me meaning in an otherwise un-meaningful world. They augment my personage and give me a kind of closure which, although not chemical, does help me through those instances which try and strip me of my voice. Capitalist society is superb at alienating us from each other, even as social media connects us more than ever; this, of course, exacerbates depression and causes us to feel isolated when, in reality, there are others… they are just difficult to find. Understanding how you work in relation to the arts, crafts, and intellectual traditions of the world, and then finding your place, should you desire, in those traditions, may be a useful way to find some deeper meaning to an otherwise blank existence.

  1. My Nuance of Living with Depression

Do I take Medication?

Many people living with depression take medication. Some are forced to take it, others do some voluntarily; some find it helpful while others don’t. Whether or not to take medication is a question everyone living with depression has to grapple with at one time or another. So any long-time reader of this blog may be wondering if I, as a Queer Liberationist, take medication.

The answer is no, I do not. The reason can be boiled down to simply the fact that I do not want to become dependent on it; I don’t want my body to barely function should I run out of doses and have a day lost to mental dysfunction. Additionally, being a creative person, I find that while depression is no walk in the park, it does influence my academic and creative outlooks: my disposition allows me access to perspectives normally closed off to the medicated or non-depressed.

I am not saying that because of this depression is a gift, or even a “blessing in disguise”, but that I value the methodology of my mind as it currently exists and wouldn’t want to jeopardize that ability because the negative aspects are intensifying. I prefer to be able and find coping mechanisms which eschew pharmaceutical help. This isn’t because I loathe “Big Pharma’s” business practices (they are much like any other large corporation with a monopoly) or because I hold incorrect conspiratorial views on vaccinations or New Age homeopathy medicine. No. Although I view medication as being highly valuable in many situations to many people, the flip side of this ease is—as I said before—dependency. I simply enjoy creating my own methods of survival instead of finding one in a pill, one which alters my brain chemistry.

Do I Self-Medicate (illegal drugs, alcohol)?

If I am honest I must say that I do, on occasion, self-medicate. When depression has hit hard and I feel paralyzed, as though I can’t or don’t want to do anything, I have been known to either take a few prescription strength painkillers or to down some glasses of high-purity liquor. However, I rush to add that self-medication comes along with the same guide as medication: dependence. Whenever I self-medicate I am careful to ensure that my usage doesn’t evolve into an addiction. Because of this I only self-medicate on occasion, and not every time a depressive spell hits.

Would I recommend self-medication?

Painkillers and alcohol run with increased risks of medical consequences which are otherwise absent from prescription based medication. Alcohol dependency is both an expensive and cancer causing cause of death worldwide. People react differently to alcohol and it has a tendency to overwhelm someone’s life and destroy relationships. Much is the same with painkillers or any mind-altering or numbing substances. Due to these risks I would say that only use self-medicating techniques when recourse to other forms of help are not available. Do not utilize self-medication as a cure all miracle every time you suffer a bout of whatever ails you. If you do drink yourself into a stupor or swallow a few pills every time an episode hits then expect to become an addict in a short while. Only self-medicate as a last resort and sparingly. Be aware of the dangers which come with using drugs and alcohol. The negative effects will sneak up on you, so don’t think you are somehow immune. Be smart about how and when you self-medicate and don’t think you are above the chemical hardwiring such substances have been known to induce.

Views on professional help

Personally, I am conflicted about mental health professionals; not because I feel their career is irrelevant, but rather because of their tight connection to the state and the pharmaceutical industry. Although I did enjoy those times when I was able to discuss my issues with another, qualified individual, such sessions never got very far since I refused to take medication—if you refuse to take medication, then you will find yourself at a dead-end fairly quickly since you are, to the professional, refusing part of your treatment plan. Additionally, with professional help comes the attached legalism: you have a record, essentially, under surveillance via your consumption of medication and usage of mental health professionals. It is easy for assumptions to be made and for your history to be used against you (or it is to me, at least). I would prefer to avoid this baggage. Why pay the funds to receive, at best, if any, treatment, especially when said treatment will give you that background which may, or may not, hinder your future? I would not go as far to say I see all such professional services as pointless; on the contrary, they are capable of helping immensely for many people, but that for me personally, I see such services as more of a trap than anything else. If you find yourself at the end of your rope, then perhaps said services are worth looking into as they could help you greatly… but perhaps not.

  1. Alienation and Connectivity

I am an introvert. Social interaction does not come easy to me. And yet, here the contradiction lies, for humanity is a social animal, and though everyone, bar those with mental disease, has their own toleration when it comes to interaction, everyone does need interaction—to a degree.

This does not mean any interaction but rather very specific interaction, interaction which completes you as a person. Now, ‘completes’ is a strong word. So perhaps it is better to say ‘adds depth.’ The point is, you need more than the cold nothingness of the void. And, as I said, here is the contradiction: capitalist society is an expert at tearing us apart and alienating us through the mode of accumulation; our social interaction becomes devalued, as a means to an end—profit, while everything else is pushed to the wayside. This is doubly so for Queer people, who experience alienation not merely as the alienation of their labor, but their identity as well; add in mental illness, something which is strongly regulated and scapegoated (think of a mass-shooting, now remember the inevitable ‘blame the mentally ill individual the media pundits play), and you have a third layer of alienation.

If you are stuck, if you are caught between a rock and a hard place and don’t know how to get out, think of the following: why? What role does alienation play in keeping you glued to this abyss? More than you think; to overcome alienation is a difficult task because we are alienated everyday through not only our surplus-value being appropriated by the capitalists, but by our class position: when you lack transportation, when you are dependent on others, when you lack funds to ‘move up in the world,’ when you can’t do what you love, when you don’t have access to those individuals who may help you cope… what can you do?

Very little alone. You need others. But, as was just mentioned, how do you find others, especially when you lack so much? The big picture is to participate in a mass-revolutionary movement which seeks to violently overthrow alienation—however, we are focused only on the small picture, and that is to find your muse, that noun—person, place, or thing—but let’s say person, who identifies with you more than merely a friend.

Your muse is not merely a friend, though. It can be a combination of people, support groups, online communities, hobbies and art, and emotional and psychological fulcrums and the like. But primarily, it is people: people who perhaps you don’t consider well enough to be buddies but individuals who don’t run away from you when you begin discussing suicide (as a concept or personal contemplation), people who not only listen to your stories of daily struggle, but maybe share their own as well; muses become an integral part of your life because they are part of the same assemblage you are a part of—struggle under alienation. Muses are other introverts (for me, anyways), people who feel the sting of capitalism more acutely than those individuals who have privilege within the system—muses are not merely friends because friends do not always understand your struggle; muses are ‘friends+1,’ fellow travelers on the road to a better life.

I will give a simple example from my own life.

One day, while in the university cafeteria, a woman sat down across from me; she asked if she could sit with me (something she would repeat every time we eat together). The funny thing was that I did not remember her… yet, she knew my name and asked to sit with me; perhaps we had a course together. IF I thought hard enough I seem to maybe recall that class, but perhaps it is merely false memories. Regardless, she was a kind woman and as we conversed together; as we conversed, and told her of my research with Queer Marxist theory, and she told me of her ambition to be a filmmaker, I got this fuzzy feeling in my head. Thankfully, it was a nice fuzzy feeling.

The feeling is complex because it was built over time: she did not forget me and I did not forget her, despite my bad memory. Unlike with other students, who if they talked to me, it was never more than for a fleeting while and for but a day, this interaction, innocuous in the extreme, and built on truth, was based on difference, I think she was rather conservative, and yet respect; we listened to each other with manners and allowed one another to speak. Our banter was not juvenile diatribes (unlike a lot of what you see on university campuses).

One day, as we were discussing things, specifically, how interpersonal friendships, she told me something fairly personal: I won’t repeat here what that activity was but let’s just say it was something which society at large would view as ‘deviant.’ I replied to her that I didn’t feel it odd at all, because you never know when others will leave you. Upon my saying that, she got this smile on her face; it wasn’t grandiose or sentimental, but peaceful and sincere, it was a smile which said, ‘someone who understands.’ I was honest in my remark since I have plenty of ‘deviant’ habits myself and just because the wider society looks down on certain behaviors, does not mean they are wrong.

I remember this moment and speak of it now in relation to muses, because when I had these brief luncheons with this woman, I felt my despondent mood lifted. Here was another individual who was not like the others: she was courteous, polite, not obtuse, and she had her quirks which others would frown upon if they knew. We had a link.

We were only ever acquaintances. We never hung out. Honestly, I never even learned her name. But I can honestly say that I enjoyed her company far more than any other student. She was a muse for me. Someone who, though not a close associate or someone who I would call if my life was falling to pieces, she was a person who made me feel less alone—we glimpsed at each other’s deviances and found them refreshing.

Muses can take many forms but they all share a single frame, to help you. They help you pierce the alienation, if only momentarily. These people are difficult to find, yes, and more often than not they are only people you stumble onto, but that is the point: you stumble onto them during your everyday routine. They require you to have that minimal level of interaction which is needed, however painful it may be, to help you help yourself (and while doing so, helping another).

 

~

 

Well, this is the end of my guide. As I said at the start, I am not saying this is the ‘end all’ guide or your one-stop shop for dispelling depression, or that these tips and stories will even help, just that these are the things I have experienced as a young man living with depression, and they have brought me both help along with a degree of comfort. So feel free to share your own thoughts and to help me make this guide better or to just add your experiences. Per the norm, I hope this helped you to some degree, made the darkness seem less monster filled, or just gave you a smile for a second. Till next time.

What Do You Want?

So this is a content question for anyone who is a longtime reader of this blog or who just happens to stumble upon it and liked what they have read: what kind of content do you want to see in the future? There are many different approaches and with so much to choose from I thought it prudent to ask you, my loyal readers. I have made a short list below but if you have an idea which is not on the list please comment and make your voice heard.

1. More political posts regarding the Queer movement in the U.S and Internationally (such as the weekly queer project updates and theory regarding liberation).

2. More posts pertaining to youth help and empowerment (such as the gay guide to high school and the anti-cyber bullying guide).

3. More personal stories from the blog master’s childhood and adolescence (ex. “coming out: the inner war“).

4. Shared posts from other blogs accompanied by mini-commentaries on the shared post.

5. Video content (such as both shared and original Youtube videos).

6. Podcasts dealing with the issues above (specify).

7. Investigative journalism of local events (such as the various report backs from activist happenings).

8. Media reviews of a Queer nature (such as the homosexuality in Death Note post).

9. Interviews of other online based Queer oriented outlets (ex. the youth pride project interview).

The above are possibilities which could be done in the future. As I said previously, if there are other options which I have not covered please comment below.

I am planning on branching out on my content, on moving beyond merely posting articles. While this will still be the primary content on the site I am interested in doing more than merely writing. So I will be learning the ins and outs of how to do some technological things I have not done before. Hence why this post exists: to see if there is a preference to what kind of content people would like to see the most of. If I get a handle on what content is the most popular then I can devote more time to learning how to create the content people like to see.

Please vote by commenting below.

Being Realistic: Reactionaries and their Language

Not too long ago a prominent ultra-conservative radio show host defended Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law by claiming that the Russian government is simply being “homo-realistic”, that they are accepting the reality of homosexuality and taking preventive efforts to stop an “unhealthy lifestyle”. Reading this excuse for blatant bigotry brought me back to reactionary politics in general and reminded me of the “Race Realists” who pander the same dribble regarding Colored Persons.

                Among reactionary strata this line of thought is not uncommon. Rather it proliferates as capitalism decays and the progressive tide gains in strength. The reason why is simple: because it doing so the proponents are able to take a “moral high ground”; through rejecting the climate of change they claim they are not rejecting change itself, per se, but rather being realistic about the future, about reality.

                The “Race-Realists” claim that interracial couples threaten the “superiority” of the White man, that other races are not as intelligent or creative as Whites. Backing up this claim they are quick to say they do not hate other races but simply wish to see their own race continue[1]. In this light much of the same can be said of these “Homo-Realistic” individuals: they claim to love gay people and because they “love” them so much they must be honest with them and inform them of the sinful, unhealthy lifestyle they lead. As part of this deranged logic they claim that their love shines through by denying questioning youth gay affirming icons and imagery (the understanding that without such constructs in sight they would develop “normally”).

                As Leftist we must realize (as most of us already know) that both of these “theories”, and others like them, are nothing but junk. They are not legitimate worldly outlooks and as such do not lead to proactive results. The end-result of granting such theories a safe place to grow is uncontested misery in the form of depressed, suicidal youth and ashamed racial minorities.

                Make no mistake- there is no such thing as being “Homo-Realistic” or “Race-Realistic” .Each concept are excuses for bigotry. There is no reality to race or homosexuality. Both exist exactly as they appear: varying Melatonin levels and biological roots; skin color is simply skin color and sexual attraction is blasé. Neither determines the intellectual capacity or heath standing of an individual


[1] The “White Man’s Burden” pseudo-theory can be considered an outgrowth of this line of thinking when previous defenses fail; they claim that it is the White man’s burden to help civilize and uplift the other races and that in return these people must acknowledge the actions taken towards them as “positive”. This was largely been a justification for Imperialism.

Chadzworld: Queer Youth Support Site

(Please note that this entry was written during a time when the site now called Chadzworld was called Chadzboyz. For any Queer youth finding it difficult to overcome some personal obstacles I emplore you to check out the following site and get some of the help and friends which you deserve)

– – – – –

During your time on our great planet called Earth, you might ask yourself the following question: why should I join the chadz LGBT Teen (although we welcome all ages, assuming everyone gets along well with each other) Support Forum? The answers are many, and during the course of our journey together I shall illuminate them for you.

                Community

                Here on chadz you will find a community unlike any other. This is a community built from the ground up with caring individuals; with people who honestly about you as a person, and not just a “poster.”

                Most recently I underwent a period of short, yet extreme, depression. This was triggered from my less than stellar experience at a local Gay Pride Prom; I had discovered that I was among the very few real singles there. I watched as all the other participants became tender with one another, and greeted each other in groups. Most came with their partners, and those who didn’t, came with a group thereby making things very awkward if you wanted to talk with someone. Everyone knew each other and was happy, while I remained alone.

                I walked away from that dance more depressed than I had been in months; I fumed and raged prior to slipping down deep into the pits of misery. Yet, there were those who cared. Those who decided to go above and beyond the call of duty in assisting me in feeling better.

                When I had “fumed” I had posted my feelings of sorrow onto a frequently visited thread known as the “Vent Thread” within the “Advice Couch forum (a great place to go if you need help). I wasn’t expecting a response, yet someone cared enough to attempt to cheer me up. What followed was several days of messages filled with hugs and consolatory gestures.

                The affection this young man showed me is by no means uncommon behavior. Everyday people here lift one another up. This is a forum of people, not posters; this is a community.

                Diversity

                Here on chadz, we have a unique cast of characters to meet everyone’s needs. Whether its political, hobby related or any other craft you can imagine, we have ‘em! Chadz has people from many different walks of life, and many, if not all of them, would be more than glad to share their experiences with you (if you only joined that is!).

                While currently Chadz is a bit lacking in female members, this is something which we are aiming to correct. Within our newest site version we have feminine pictures for our lesbian members, and have been increasing the amount of attention given to issues of the womanly gender. However, the only thing which will really allow the lesbian community fly is by strong, proud young woman (perhaps much like yourself?) from enlisting in our army of diversity!

                This is the same situation which we have found our transgendered brethren and sistern in. However, while shorthanded right now on great people like these, you can assist us in turning chadzboyz into a place where all are included just by joining and sticking around to help your future comrades when they inevitably join. After all, everyone needs a welcoming committee and I believe you would make a fantastic one!

                Safe Place

                I am proudly able to say that you will find no other place on the internet that is safer than Chadz GLBT Teen support forum! Don’t take my word for it though, just see what our embers have to say!

                Chadz has provided a safe haven for me. This site is where I can go and know that nobody is going to tease or bully me (like what happens on other sites). Everybody is nice and helpful. Being in the coming out process requires a ton of support which Chadz has helped with.

                Quite the endorsement, eh? You see, here on Chadz the majority of our members are young people just like you. Some are locked in “the closet,” while others are prancing around free. Some have life partners, while many still search. We know and understand your life, so we know where you are coming from. Here we understand the feeling you get when a boy you liked has offhandedly mentioned his girlfriend, or when a “butchy” lady comments on a man’s “appendage” in a very heterosexual way. We feel your depression and pain, because we have been there ourselves. Never will you hear, or suffer, degenerating words of hate or shame. We love each other here and that’s the way Its always been.

                Fun

                However, not all is serious on Chadz, for we also know how to have fun! There is so much joking and good times that you would need a planet sized box to fit even a small portion of the total joy.  In the words of one member who has been here for years, “…there are some absolutely hilarious comments, topics and threads which never cease to amuse me.” A small taste of the total hilarity.

                Within this little community of ours we have what we call the “Fun House” forum. This is the location where much of our good times take place. Game threads, such as “The Story Line Game” and “The Word Challenge Thread, are abound in this area and I can almost guarantee that you will find something that will make you laugh till milk shoots out of your nose (whether or not you are actually drinking milk!). Then we have the Culture Scene forum where any full member can post their literary works (such as poems and short stories), discuss current books and authors, and other mind provoking topics of concern to the world of books. Following this is the “Show Time” forum where one can talk about movies, actors and anything related to the world of films.

                Support

                You might have already guessed so, but we are big on supporting one another. As previously stated we care about each other in the way only a community can.

                However, sometimes we need more than the kindness of a single soul. Sometimes we need the whole of the community to help us out. On Chadz you will find two support forums: “Advice couch” and I “Need Help Now.”

                The Advice Couch forum is for moderate problems or questions. Minor things such as what to wear to a dance, whether or not a boy likes me and so forth are usually the order of the day, but this depends entirely on what your outlook is. If you think its minor than it goes here, but if you believe it is major than feel free to use the other forum.

                The I Need Help Now forum is intended for more serious problems. Depression, suicide, homelessness and so forth are the types of situations encountered here.

                You are free to use both forums as much as you need to. When you post your query will be answered as soon as humanly possible by one of our members. But wait, the help doesn’t stop there! Here on Chadz we also employ a crack team of advice givers we call CAT (Chadz Advice Team). All’s you have to do is send them a message to a member with a bold Pink username and they will reply with their advice when they are able to (usually this process is very quick, a couple days at the most).

                And again! More to come! Chadz also has a forum called “Your Health,” an area where you can post your questions about sex, masturbation, STD’s and other diseases, proper condom use and any other questions you might have. If it is related to your body in any way, this is the place to go!

                Remember, our members will go to any lengths to help you, just listen to these brave individuals speak….

                “I enjoy helping the members here at chadz, because of the good things this site has done for me. I get a good feeling from helping out the guys, and in return there is always someone to chat to when I have issues or need to talk things through :)”

                And…

                “Well I’ve been here since 04, and the one things I’ve seen is I’m nowhere near as alone as I thought. I met some great people, gained the confidence to come out.”

                And…

                “Basically it’s helped me to meet others who understand my situation and don’t judge me for it. It’s good to have somebody sympathetic to talk to once in a while. Other sites I’ve tried seem only interested in compatibility with other members and what your personal preferences are, and people seem really judgmental. Definitely not that way here.”

                How much more convincing do you need in order to join our community? More?! Well, don’t worry, because I have more!

                Intellectual Debate

                Perhaps you are an intellectual who is looking for a mentally challenging debate? Well, look no further!

Chadz is home to two major hubs of discussion. The first is “World Events” where anyone can debate the happenings of the world and their personal political beliefs. In short, this is the location to discuss all the news stories you hear about in the media. After all, sharing your opinion is as American as apple pie, right?

The second forum is known as “World Religions,” where topics concerning spirituality are placed. Anything related to the supernatural as its place here. Religions, cults, gods, atheism and more reside here. Join now and engage others in a heated, but respectful, debate concerning the spirit (or lack, therefore).  One member said the following about the world religions forum,”.. .but it’s absolutely true. I’ve actually grown in mt atheism as a result of the world religions forum :-bd Again that is true. And it’s my number reason to thank Chadz.” A great and a half to be sure, find yourself through debate!

                However, Chadz LGBT Teen Support forum is all about mutual aid on the religious bigotry of the zealot. Within the reliions forum you will find several threads whose main purpose is to help, as a Christian, understand that the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuals. To further illuminate check out the threads here, go to the support section of the website, or just send our resident religious scholar NewMorning a visit. He would be more than glad to answer any queries you have concerning homosexuality and the bible.

While much of our content in religion has to do with Christianity, this doesn’t mean we do not have the time of day for Judaism, Islam, or Buddhism/Hinduism. Rather, it simply means that we have a lack of those that adhere to those particular faiths. If you happen to have knowledge on the true meaning of these religions, and are able to interpret them in a fashion that reveals they do not condemn same-sex attractions, than please get your topic up for others to read! We strive to include all in our community, so please share and hang around for potential brothers and sisters.

Friendship

I cannot even begin to describe all the ways in which the Chadz LGBT support forum has helped and given me friends. Here on Chadz, our members are looking for others like you to talk and hang with; they want to share their life with you and be there when things get bad. One member said,” Further more, Chadz is a great place for friends. I’ve finally made gay friends thanks to Chadz. Chadzboyz has successfully created an accepting community which I feel a part of which mean so much to someone who doesn’t exactly fit in at school or home.” Remind you of you?

I myself have made dozens of friends while cruising around the forum and I can safely say the friends I made here have been my greatest safety net; strong and thick as the day is long these people’s words and companionship are. Trust me when I say that you will meet people here that you will remember, and perhaps even communicate with, for life. Who knows, maybe even your soul mate is here waiting?

                Well, there you have it! A great deal of the reasons to join us and our wonderful community! So, what are you waiting for?! Click on the “FORUM” buttom in the upper right-hand part of the screen and sign up; start on your career to online happiness!

The Queer Project Report #5

The fifth entry.

I have not updated this sub-project of mine for a while so it is natural for comrades to not have a deep understanding of what this post incorporates. Simply put this sub-project is simply a weekly symmetrization of events examined from a revolutionary Queer perspective.  While when I started this endeavor I regularly updated every week events caused me to peter out until I all but abandoned consistent updates. Such is the past, however. I am not back and willing to re-start such periodicals. While I cannot promise updates every week I will certainty try to provide at least a couple of updates per month.

~

The biggest news story of week has undoubtedly been the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, on the 11th.  This event caused sensational speculation as to the reasons with many not accepting the given reason of the Pope’s advanced age. Marking the first resignation in 600 years this is a dramatic event.

Personally I do not see this has anything truly historic, not at least, for Queer people. As always we can hope that the next pope is more Queer-friendly, less chauvinistic, and embraces science instead of pseudo-science. Yet there is a decent precedent that progress of any kind is slow to non-existent, especially when some of the recent contenders for the new Pope are as equally reactionary as Benedict was.

Currently there are pro-gay catholic groups and other liberal religionists who sent lukewarm congratulatory messages to the Pope on his decision. They do this to mask their own displeasure with his policies. This is a typical ploy on the bourgeoisfied portions of the working class in order to seem respectable.

Yet it is not my position as my position is that the man formerly known as Pope Benedict the XVI is an arch-criminal responsible for the deaths of thousands of queer teenagers and juvenile rape. His dark-age positions on modern life have no place in the current century. It is precisely because of his words which untold numbers of Queer people suffered and are denied equal rights all while his cohort of pedophile priests have their way with young boys. He is a monster and in an ideal world would be tried and convicted of crimes against humanity.

Such statements are loaded but are reflected well in our society. Perhaps this is nowhere better seen than in Sullivan Indiana High School where a splinter group of bigots sought to create a parallel prom barring Queer youth from attending. The group, which has it reasons for doing so rooted in religious superstition, was comprised of some students, parents and even a teacher. The quote which caught the attention of the nation was spoken by Diana Medley who answered she didn’t believe gay people had a purpose in life when asked about her attitude towards homosexuals.

While their efforts to build this alternative prom were justly shut down by school officials it is a testament that theist garbage still maintains a stranglehold in contemporary American society. This, of course, means that revolutionaries have much work to do in combating hatemongers who use the sacred cloth of religion to justify their actions. It means we must redouble our efforts at building radical anti-capitalist theist groups while our militant atheist shock troops do their best in combating general supernatural discord.

Yet not all assaults on Queer people directly involve religion. Sometimes the evil is rooted in religion but expresses itself in a more secular or agonistic manner. This is relevant within the comic book industry where on the lust for profits have turned formerly pro-gay DC Comics to hire anti-gay writer Orson Scott Card to pen the new Superman comic. Card, who is best known for his masterpiece Ender’s Game, is also a board member of the anti-Queer National Organization for Marriage (NOM). A spokesperson for the company sleazed his way out of explaining the rationale behind the move by simply saying any messages within the pages of the new comics is not the position of the company itself but rather that of the individual writer. This is an expected ploy on their move to cover up the glaring fact there is no deep meaning behind their actions other than the craving to make a quick buck off of the high sales this combination will produce.

Stretching further we can see such morals taken to a still further extreme within New York where on the 14th of February, three gay men were found dead. While some days later the police announced they believe caught one of the assumed several killers, the fact that deranged individuals still feel confident enough to stalk and kill gay men says volumes about how much work still needs to be done.

None of these stories are a coincidence. They are all indirectly connected in that the anti-Queer bias still prevalent in Western society is alive and well. The special role played by religionists and other reactionary groups prone to bigotry cannot be over-looked. Theist dogma has spread its claws deep into the psyche of conservative and ignorant citizens. As revolutionaries we must recognize that the more we fight for genuine progress, and the more archaic values relating to gods dissipate, the more virile religionist violence will assume.

Fast Food Favoritism

Graph depicting statistics among fast food workers.

 

I was on Facebook recently (a mistake, as always) and came across an Ageist picture. In it was a graph containing data on the ages of fast-food workers. The results read, “Contrary to common belief, teens represent less than 12% of the low-wage workforce. Over 60% of low-wage workers are 25-64 years, many with families to support”. The illustration is typical of “adult-centered” media in that it assumes teenagers do not have families to support and that all teenagers only work a job for extra pocket-money.

How do young people operate in capitalist society? As appendages to their parents or guardians? As consumers? Both? They operate as people (shocking!), more to the point, if they are workers than they operate as members of the working class, who, regardless for reasons of employment, should be entitled to the same amount of wages as their older peers make.

This ignores the fact that there is a great percentage of whom who works to make a living (another shock!). There are people, such as in the Queer community, who for reasons relating to discrimination are forced to move out of their parents’ homes and into an apartment of their own. Because of this they are desperate for employment. They are looking for a livable wage. Yet the claims made by the chart go in complete opposition to this fact and reduce all to a simplistic, and highly Ageist, conception that all young people are mindless consumers, while all older people are mindful workers (forgetting the older people who hold a job but might live with roommates, subsidized housing or are simply, for whatever reasons, to continue living with family; thus, their Ageist concept is further negated).

Furthermore the picture implied that if teenagers did, in fact, make up the majority of the workforce than they shouldn’t be paid a livable wage (after all, if they are simply going to spend it on commodities than why should they be paid good money?). This is a false dichotomy: one cannot say, out of moral principle, that workers of one age demographic should be paid more simply because of age and assumed life obligation. If you are advocating for a living wage for fast-food workers than ditch the liberal whining and treat the workers are workers, and not as abstract demographics which have “more importance” than other such groups.

It is unfortunate that even some anti-capitalist groups have taken to circulating this picture, but with the lack of a powerful youth international it is not surprising that young peoples’ voices are devalued and slandered. So in this sense comrades must make a thoughtful self-criticism of their Ageist tendencies and be willing to learn how to walk hand-in-hand with their younger comrades.

Overcoming Obsession: outgrowing infatuation with straight peers

As you know, there is something about being a gay teenager that your heterosexual counterparts could never understand: longing for someone they can never have. By this I mean a sexual attraction which will never bear any fruit; no relationship, not even a friendship. This is something almost exclusively unique to the gay identity because, for the most part, heterosexual youth are able to freely express their sexual attraction not only without fear of attack but with a reasonable chance that their interest will be, in some form, returned.

Homosexual youth not only are unable to express how they feel sexually but are pigeonholed to a closet where their innermost feelings are kept a secret. Undoubtedly you have felt this yourself. You have felt an intense want for someone of your same gender yet have been unable to tell them or even to get over such feelings yourself.

Many gay youth go through this ordeal, me included. It is almost a rite of passage at this point because so many of your gay peers undergo the very same struggle. Each and every time is a hard stranglehold to break with many hours of painful realizations to achieve.  In this article I will attempt to help you overcome these feelings by using my own stories as an example.

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When I was in the troughs of adolescence and had next to no ability to control my hormones I had crushes on many guys and obsessions on many more. It wasn’t something unhealthy, just indicative of a teenager’s desire. Many youth undergo this haelstorm of emotions and it is perfectly normal. Yet, there was one guy, in particular, that caught my eye more than the rest. I’m not sure why but this young man took an ever present place in my thoughts from the first moment I met him.

I was in the 7th grade when I met him yet for years afterward he would be on my mind. During the entire school year of our original meeting I would stare at him whenever possible, try and glimpse at his underwear (baggy pants were very popular back than) and attempt, very pitifully, to engage him in conversation. This was all well and good until I entered night school.

For those of you who do not know night school is Adult Education (I entered when I was sixteen) for individuals who are not adjusted to the day school schedule.  Some enter it because they prefer it over the rigors of day school. When I entered I was free from this other boy’s range. For a time I thought I was free of and my sexual attraction problem was over.

I was wrong, of course. As time passed my thoughts gradually returned to him. Eventually it became unbearable. I would spend all night moping, depressed that I never knew his sexual orientation. I was consumed by the thought that if he was gay, it is important to recognize that I knew of no such tells to say that he was gay; I would be missing out on my soul mate.

As my depression grew and my desire to have some sort of contact with him grew, I scattered through my old school books and searched out any shred of material that might help me in locating him in real life. At this point it didn’t matter: one way or another I had to find out.

What I devised was scouring through the phonebooks. I was searching for a number to call. He had a name and a place of residence, so surely he had a home phone number. I located several possible numbers and called every name which had even a remote chance of him being listed among them. My efforts paid off: I found him.

At the time I didn’t have the courage to ask him about his orientation, I barely was aware of my own, but I did manage to cop out a thread in which if he ever wanted to talk he would have access to my number. I had sown the seeds for communication.

Unfortunately he never did call me on anything. Never. As time passed I grew depressed once again and the same feelings of massive insecurity returned. Then, when I finally came to terms with my own sexual orientation, the thought that I was missing out came back at full blast: I knew I had to definitively find out what my friend’s orientation was.

I have had enough with the dreams, with the ceaseless worrying about missing out, and just the plain old guilt from keeping such feelings locked inside. I was lucky at this time though for by now my family had an internet connection, and I a new computer, hence I was able to sign up for a Facebook account. Surely, I reasoned, he would have a FB profile page. Everybody seemed to and it was my only shot to communicate with him via private.

So I signed up and hit pay dirt: after some time of being on, and after an extensive search, I located his profile and friend requested him instantly. After a few days he accepted. With me being as happy as a gay kid could be I immediately set out to talk with him. So we chatted about writing, video games, and interests. That is, until one day where after gathering up a bit of bravery, I wrote out an email. This email asked the question that I had been meaning to ask for years: Are you gay, because I have feelings for you?

I would be disappointed when he responded: he wasn’t gay OR Bisexual (he had taken it onto himself to include Bisexuality). Yet, I still won some: we remained friends (even if it was only on Facebook).

Right after I received his answer my tired mind was put at rest. Though I was depressed I finally obtained the much sought after answer to my most burning questions. I was free to peruse my life without fear of missing out from a great guy. Though the dreams in which we were a couple persisted for some time even those eventually dwindled the primary rush had been overcome.

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When I was dealing with this emotional turmoil it is safe to say I lived in a nightmare. My existence never ended and on more than one occasion I dreamed of sleeping but never waking up. Yet, for all its difficulty I overcame my love and established a regular connection with my one time obsession. I did this through many stages of realization, stages which I now wish to share with you.

Relationship Impossibility

When you have a sexual attraction to a heterosexual chances for a committed relationship are zero. No matter how hard you try you cannot change the fact that the object of your affection is heterosexual while you are homosexual. Any arranged relationship is prone to unmitigated failure. Knowing this I knew it was in my best interest to try my best to forget about my obsession and instead focus on finding a gay lover. This way my need for intimacy would be met and it would be in a healthy manner.

You owe it to yourself to find a partner which loves you for you, not an idol that consumes your time and energy simply for existing.  

Satisfaction of Knowing

When I was depressed over my obsession a great part of my sorrow was attributable to failing to understand the orientation of my idol. When I did finally uncover who my idol was sexually, a great part of my worry was eliminated. Yet, this was only possible due to my desire to know who my idol was sexually. Had I never asked the question it is likely I would still be despairing over remaining mired in ignorance.

Because of this it is vitally important that you find out what your idol thinks of you. Asking is a difficult process to be sure; it is not something to be taken lightly. I would highly recommend you do some “detective work” and uncover how your obsession reacts to gay issues. If he is supportive than ask him about his orientation and of your own feelings right away. If you think he isn’t supportive of queer people, and seems generally homophobic, than hold off on asking him his orientation until such a time where he appears to be in a position to answer bluntly, yet not abusively.

Inability to Escape

Possessing an overwhelming attraction to a guy you can never be with is a heartbreaking event. Sometimes, especially if the guy lives nearby, it may seem like an attractive option to move as far away from the other guy as possible. This is not a sound move. An important fact to remember when considering such a hasty action is that no matter how far you move that no matter how far you run away, you will always be in possession of your attraction. You cannot overcome obsession by distance; you overcome obsession by contact and realization.

Realization

By realization I mean epiphany; a great understanding suddenly achieved by sharing intimate life details with a trusting individual. Through such means I have been able to shed light on parts on my conscious which have ultimately made me a better person. I shared my inner torments over my obsession with a trusted gay friend I had met online and through lengthy conversation I was able to realize that I was not alone; that my struggle was also felt by many of my gay peers.

Such thoughts gave me strength; they gave me the tools to understand my own inner torments and, by extension, understand how to solve my intense feelings in a constructive, mature manner.

Clues, Hints, and Stereotypes

A method one can use to help stop such obsessions before they begin is understanding that simply because the idol of your affection shows kindness towards you does not mean he has an attraction towards you. Taking this further, it is important to remember that stereotypes are exactly that: stereotypes. If your idol shows one or two of the typical gay stereotypes it does not mean that they are gay. Many straight guys can be as flamboyant as the gays you see on TV and yet still be heterosexual. Indeed, this is also true for your fellow homosexual: a gay guy can be a tough, muscle bound, football player and yet be interested in other men. Just because a person has some traits glorified by the mass media it is not a “tell” of who they are sexually. If you understand this than you can know that the single actions of an attractive person is not any all revealing cue for you to follow and unwind.

Because many gay youth are unable to fully do away with their obsessions due to hopes that their crush may be gay, an impression given to them by vague stereotypical behavior, it is prudent to be aware of such inner thoughts and combat them with reason: tell yourself that no matter what the other boy might have did or said, such mannerisms are not proof of his presumed sexuality.

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There you have it. I sincerely hope that my words have assisted you some, even if only a little. I want you to peruse happiness and find that loving man you deserve. Before you can do that, however, you must be able to come to terms with your own obsessions, idols, and unhealthy desires. It is hard, I know, but you are capable of doing so; you just have to take it one step at a time.

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