50 dead, 53 injured. 50 dead, 53 injured. most if not all qtpoc.
it was just yesterday that a man flagged me down at the busy corner of church and flatbush to tell me about my sins, to ask me to repent. there is a rhythm to this we learn as visible queer folks; that with some regularity we will be stopped by a stranger on the street and told we are wrong. i thanked him, returned his literature, and walked on.
and, how giddily i told my friend about it later when we were grabbing a beer before the pride party. that i, out of the rushed masses of people around had been singled out by this man, my queerness and my transness worn so boldly as a flag. i must be doing something right, i said. this queen must be doing something right. we learn to laugh at these moments as a self-preservation mechanism, as a way of navigating the very average, sharp, and incessant experience of being told that you deserve to die.
this same corner is patrolled by police, under constant surveillance punctuated with pistols. i am a gentrifier here, another person that they will use to justify this violent presence. this fact does not escape me. policing breeds policing. white supremacy breeds myriad violences.
i learn about the shooting in the worst way. a regular, the only trump supporter i’ve met in real life, bursts into the shop. have you been following the news?
and, i know he is telling me because he thinks i’m gay, because he fails to see or consider the nuances of my identity. he launches into a screed against muslims, and i ask him to stop, please stop. i don’t know about the shooter’s religious affiliation, and i don’t care. this is trump america at work. this is north carolina america at work. this is backlash.
he leaves without buying anything. a swift punch in the gut that will leave me doubled over for the rest of the day.
later, i explain affective labor to my coworker. i explain that part of our job is to manage our own emotions, to behave as though we do not experience a world, a full range of emotions outside of our labor. there are consequences for displaying our stress, our hurt, our pain.
and, that part of our job is to be emotionally available to our customers. to take care of them, to absorb their emotions, to nod and smile and offer advice.
i am performing this labor and carrying this weight. nobody asks if we’re okay.
how can i hold this sadness and not make it about myself? how can i find the balance? grieving as a queer and trans person, recognizing my whiteness, my privilege and the ways in which this event and its aftermath were both structured by and will feed into a white supremacist agenda, an agenda of white u.s. imperialism.
am i allowed my grief?
i run to the woods, i retreat. the deep and vibrant greens recharge my heart, the trees restore my breath which seems to have grown shallow today.
as i run i am pure life, body, visceral. my inhalation and exhalation deepens, which might just be my body’s way of weeping.
at night i dream america is a sea of puckered assholes pointed towards the sky, taut, anticipatory. our destruction is ecstatic, penetrative. we take immense pleasure in the fall, in the shattering of everything we’ve built this brutal fiction around.