COLUMN | DECEMBER '17

...Y'ALL!
 
 
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@PICASSOMOORE

I got a column y’all. I deserve this. I deserve a lot of things that I have yet to receive, but we can talk about that in another edition, an edition that will definitely exist because as stated… Mama’s got a mutha FUKKing column. It wasn't supposed to be this. The idea was initially a weekly pop culture breakdown, but now I’m supposed to give more “me.” The original concept seems fitting because I am pop culture. Not in the “I embody it” sort of way, more in the “you are what you eat” sort of way.


My editor (I have one of those y’all) says that an aspect of my writing, and I presume me, is performative. He referred to me as a character. Those adjectives are like Lena Dunham and Janet Mock’s friendship. I don’t know how I feel about it. Or rather, I feel just, so much about it. It contradicts everything that we already know about the two parties and also just feels generally annoying. Any mention of their kinship and I just picture Lena draping Janet on top of all of her problematic-ness like she’s Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility. Just the idea of them having breakfast together makes my hands cold (that's bad y’all). I demand an explanation and more insight into their inception and development. On the other hand, the prospect of a true and empathetic friendship between two titans of the zeitgeist with seemingly opposing everythings, makes my hands feel like they have a thick cock in them (that’s real good y’all).


Just those words, you know? “Performative,” a “character.” Part of me feels seen, through a hazy filter, but still seen. I feel flattered to have been studied and dissected but enraged that my pages have been combed through and my skin has been sliced open. His words felt just like Lena and Janet, but I nodded and agreed with him because I wanted this column. I deserve it.

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I’m sitting in the staff cafeteria at IKEA. My computer is open. I have nothing on the page, and the draft is due on Tuesday. It’s Tuesday. My lunch break ends in forty-three minutes, and I keep alternating between two distractions. Gazing at the Brooklyn skyline and checking Instagram. I’d much rather be sitting in a sleek office in SoHo, looking at whatever is out of the window there. I’m sure the view is pretty similar to views out of every other window in New York City, but still, I’d rather be there, because “there” is an office job where I get paid to be thin and sip iced lattes from cute cups while selectively replying to emails from other thin latte sippers. There, I’d be friends and lovers with all of the models and “influencers” I follow on Instagram as opposed to envy-stalking them. How do I apply for that job? Alas, I’m here, disgusted with the view out of the window, trying to put more “me” into this story, but what’s more me than a hastily written piece that I vomited onto the page?


Let’s call it art or at least, just my process. If my editor (the one that I now have y’all) gives a lot of notes or seems suspicious about my work ethic that’ll be my lie. I’ll pull a January Jones and hit him with a blank stare and the words “I’m very particular about my process.” Maybe that’ll work. If not, I’ll pull out my failsafe invention: bring up my childhood trauma (patent pending). See? I’m doing it now. It works in all sorts of situations. Getting attention, getting out of things, getting free things, and most handily padding out a column that you had days to work on but never touched. I’ve got nothing to write about so lemme just bring up something big and hope it’s SO BIG that people don't notice that my effort is small. Raped twice, thrown onto the streets at fifteen for queerness, lived in my car for three years before moving to the city, currently in a shelter for queer youth in New York, struggling with sobriety, using sex as self harm, eating disorder, mental health problems for days, childhood conversion therapy, physically abusive father, mentally ill mother, blah blah blah. Did it work? Are you still there? Is this good writing yet?

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“What could this be?”, “What am I gonna say?”, “What's the point of this?” I look out the window and hound myself with questions that remind me of Katy Perry’s singles, basically just the same thing over and over with slightly different phrasing. Then it’s back to distraction number two. Instagram! I follow an account that’s just a mood board of outfits from Sex and the City. It’s pointless, I know, but I love it. But isn't that okay? Why does everything need a point anyway? What's the point of that? I’ve got it! Maybe this could be like one of Carrie Bradshaw’s columns. Maybe I’ll just put some bullshit on the page and then ask questions highlighting the words “love” and “aren’t we all” and “in a city like New York” at the end. Maybe I’m the black queer Carrie Bradshaw. Maybe I’ll take her formula and improve it. Maybe I’ll write about how my life is the black queer Sex and the City; a spinoff that I’ve been in imaginary talks with HBO to executive produce and star in (if you steal this concept I will sue you to death).

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Imagine:

Sex and the Shitty (A proposal to be read in the voice of whoever does the voice of Mufasa):


A young black boy with a dark past moves to the Big Apple to make it big, fall in love, and figure out if he wants to keep bottoming or buy a vagina. If he buys a vagina, does he want one because it’s what he wants or because the men he wants want pussy? Does he even want men? Sometimes he eats pussy, but only trans men and AG’s, so does that make him a straight cis man? Or a trans lesbian? Or just a very messy confused ho with daddy issues? Girl, he don’t know.

Admit it, you’d watch that show. You’d read that column, because even if it was pointless it’d be an adventure. A very black, very queer adventure. As corny as it is, maybe that's enough. Maybe you, the readers of this column, and I are going on a journey together. Because after all, aren't we all just looking for love in a city like New York? Yeah, no. That’s bad, I know, and Carrie was always a little annoying anyway.


Lemme try this:


My mother is an asshole. She threw me on the street, which sent me spiraling into addiction and led me into the arms of my first rapist. I actually hate when people use asshole as a pejorative term. Some people like assholes, you know? It’s very gender normative. Language is important and when we so frequently equate negativity with the anal cavity, we foster ideologies that contribute to sexual shaming. Queer oppression comes down to even the smallest of micro-aggressions in our everyday interactions, and in order to create real change and to have true sexual liberation in our society, we must change not only our more obvious tendencies towards heteronormativity but also our colloquialisms.



How about that? I could do a whole Roxane Gay sort of thing. Start with a personal revelation that feels super intimate and then make my way into cultural critique. Use my personal experiences to make my political views more impactful. I love when she does that. It’s like a personal essay and a Viola Davis award acceptance speech all in one. Lots of sad shit followed by a thunderous call to action. Do you think my editor would be into that? Would you?


What if it was something like this:


I was in the shelter for thrown-away baby queers. The stenches of oppression, feet, and weed were baked into the air, and I was tired of the bullshit. Envy-stalking boys who moonlight as “influencers” on Instagram helped to both lift me out of and push me deeper into depression. I was in the middle of feeling like a Lana Del Rey song when I discovered a white boy with multi-colored cigarettes hanging out of his lips (I’m almost sure he had jello injected into them). I felt entitled to his lifestyle and jawline so I hunted down the magic sticks that would surely turn my life into a Mert and Marcus photograph. I just knew that once I had them, my skin would clear and Anna Wintour would invite me to the Met Ball. As I left, I informed the “Youth Counselor" (who once asked me what LGBT stands for) that I’d be coming back home later. I chastised myself for using that word; “This isn’t your home,” I reminded myself.

Walks are never just walks for me. I think too much, and that makes walking feel like I’m at a shooting range. So many triggers. Heading from Washington Heights to Harlem only takes a few minutes, but it’s like beaming to another galaxy. All of a sudden you fall into a blackhole and you're someplace else. After showing ID at the smoke shop and being denied the multi-colored keys to my happiness, I began shouting about Madonna, ageism, and other bullshit. I threw money at the man behind the counter and stormed out. As I exited the shop I slid a pair of knock-off Tom Ford sunglasses that I stole from a street vendor in SoHo onto my face. My big, fat, pimply, non-Mert and Marcus face. I thought of the deep space expedition that I was about to embark on; all the planets I would pass again, each in various stages of being colonized. Then I remembered my destination. Tears filled my eyes, I turned back around and re-entered the shop. Humiliated, I mumbled “I need that back.” He rolled his eyes, indifferently handed me the cash and said, “Pull it together sweetheart.” I swear, I’m trying.


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That has a good mix of everything right? The whole New York adventure and some bullshit about ageism and social justice but with something else… Me. I could do that. I could do me. I could lean into all my messiness. I could come back, and with each new entry, I could just tell the truth. I could finally stop trying to do the same thing as someone else doing their thing and just write my fucking life. Would that be good?


Could that be the character that my editor mentioned? Me? I don't think so. I don’t think it is, or I am, because characters are crafted, and in order to craft one, you need autonomy. They exist as part of stories and facilitate plot points. You need control to develop a character because characters are meticulous. That’s not me. I am so not in control. I’m just out here. I cry in public, I rant about social justice to strangers who piss me off, I milk my trauma 24/7, I use sex to escape, I fluctuate between eating my feelings and part-time anorexia, I contradict myself and my fundamental ideologies, I spend every dime I make even though I’m literally homeless, I obsess over the adjectives that my editor uses in passing, and I write my column the day it’s due on my lunch break.


Speaking of which, I have four minutes to get back down to the floor to help white gentrifiers buy couches for their newly discovered planets, so I should probably wrap it up. I finally have a column y’all. It’s mine. Not Carrie’s, not Roxane’s, not anyone's, but mine. I don't have a plan and I’m not in control. I’m not gonna try to be either. Imma do this instead. I’m going to write about my week. About all the mundane, tragic, traumatic, fantastic things that happen to me, and in return, you'll make me into one of those boys with jello lips (@picassomoore on everything, y’all) and give me the attention and affirmation that my mother and father never did. Deal?


This will mostly be me complaining, mixed in with some envious shade thrown at Selena Gomez, some juicy contradictions (if I were a Starburst, I’d be the pink one) and some ranting about intersectional inequity. So here we go. At this point I recommend playing the first 3 seconds of the Zoey 101 theme song when Britney Spears whisper-moans “Are you ready?” on a loop, and then checking back next week.


If my editor asks, I’ll call it art. Or maybe I’ll call it my process. You know what, let's just call it my column. I have one y’all !!