A year and a day ago today, thousands of lives, including my own, changed. This past month, I wrote a brief piece about the impact from that change in my life and in the life of my friend (referred to by his chosen name, “Franco”) for Artborne. (Read the .pdf version here!)
If you read no other part of this article, then please at least read this quote from Franco:
The tattoo was a way for me to contribute, even a little, to help our community rebuild … There’s a sense of feeling like I have to do something or give my life meaning because I was left alive of it all in the general sense. The feeling that there were and are people out there who hate us so much that they’ll commit these heinous acts. That a place meant as a safe space, meant as a place where you can truly be yourself, can get ripped away in the span of one night.
As is wont to be with virtually all things, the internet populace is two-party opinionated on the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why: either it’s the worst thing that’s ever happened with regards to showcasing death by suicide in the media, or it’s the most moving call to arms for suicide casualty awareness and youth mental health support.
Scene: February 2017, yours truly + 20 other virtual strangers in an office pod on the second floor of an office building (occupied by Somos Orlando, a latinx outreach program for LGBT folk, families and allies). We are in an 8 hour workshop for mental health first aid targeted specifically to the youth. For 8 grueling hours, we observe interviews with suicide survivors (who go graphically in depth with their stories), we practice mock interventions in hypothetical scenarios that gradually increase their severity with deeper and deeper involvement, we even go so far as to facilitate mental health crisis scenarios by simulating auditory hallucinations—a colleague and I sit this one out, because this scenario hits just too close to our own special sense of unreality.
These past two weeks have been a whirlwind. There are some fun and very privileged opportunities that I’ve been able to secure, and I’m very excited to share those here in the next coming weeks; but one of those things I can share right now is my StoryCorps session with the inimitable S. Elizabeth of Unquiet Things, Haute Macabre and, of course, Skeletor is Love fame.
But more than that, Sarah is an incredible friend and ally to me, to our local death community, and to our intersecting communities, which is exactly why I invited her to be my proctor for our local public radio station’s call for persons looking to share their stories about the wake of Pulse; this was cheekily called ‘Taking Your Pulse,’ which is a much more affable moniker than ‘Death in the Gay Den’ is, but I think it hits the same tone in terms of being reflective while still feeling the aftershocks of disbelief.
This post is a slightly modified version of an essay I submit for my theology course; the name of my late priest has been censored for his privacy and for mine. If you recognize the man in the photograph or the church, and/or if you know who my parents are, and/or if you know where I am attending school, I’m imploring you NOT to make any contact that would identify myself or the content of this post.
Over the course of the terminal weeks of January and the start of February, my parents have sent me at least a dozen shipments of large boxes containing clothes, objects, memorabilia, photo books, actual books, trinkets and clippings. In one of these boxes was a tabletop font (a small, crude ceramic angel holding a baby Christ enveloped around a manger) and an envelope containing a taped together newspaper obituary, a photograph and a note written on an index card.
Last Sunday, I fully intended to post. I didn’t see myself falling off the wagon so early on in my posting regimen, especially since I was only posting on a weekly basis. I had topics scheduled out for at least ~3 months and hoped that between now and then enough inspiration would strike to keep the longevity of the blog rolling.
I also thought I had already experienced the shock and heartache of everything that Nov. 8 foretold. I had already set my sights on how ugly things were going to get and made adjustments thusly. My partner and I set up goals and credited our deadlines. We developed a ‘2 – 5 year plan’ to get out of trouble without landing in more trouble impulsively. We shifted our career and academic aspirations to be more productive and reactionary. We got married. We signed all manner of directives. We planned for the likelihood of trauma.