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Why I Will Never Take Part in the “Day of Silence”

How can you possibly initiate change when you’re unwilling to speak out against oppression and injustice?

Despite the obvious contradiction, countless LGBT students participate in the Day of Silence every year. According to GLSEN, the backwards rationale behind this vow of silence is that it is meant to “[bring] awareness to the silencing effects of anti-LGBTQ name-calling, bullying[,] and harassment in schools.” Essentially, LGBT students attempt to bring attention to the silence that’s been forced upon them…by being complicit and remaining silent. Ironically enough, GLSEN does encourage readers on their page about the Day of Silence to “make [their] voice heard.”

And that’s exactly what we need to do.

We spend the other 364 days of the year being silent. Whether out of fear for our jobs and/or safety at the hands of anti-LGBT bullies or out of plain old uncertainty as to what to say, we spend our whole lives being submissive and quiet in the face of discrimitation. Our comminity is full of closeted LGBT youth and victims of physical and verbal attacks who are scared or unable to speak out. What we need is not another day to be quiet — another day to wordlessly endure harrassment. What we need is to stand together and speak, because at the heart of any movement is the willingness to talk.

“If you are silent about your pain, they will kill you and say you enjoyed it” — Zora Neale Hurston

Uncategorized

To My Good Friend, Natani

A bit of background for you:

Back when I was still in school, I took speech and debate class. It was the only class that I can truly say I enjoyed. Giving speeches was like a drug. It was horrifying in the best way, like a roller coaster or a horror movie but so much more addictive. However, because of my constant absences, I was only present for a small handful of speeches. My speech/debate teacher was more than willing to exempt me from the presentations I didn’t have ample time to prepare for, this being one of them. The prompt she gave us was “write a speech arguing a point.” I came back the first day of presentations. Everyone had had a week or so to prepare their speech outlines. I was buried in make-up work from other classes, so I was planning to sit this one out. While I was in the back pretending to listen to speeches about Hillary Clinton belonging in jail and why you should sleep without a shirt on, though, a boy stood up to give his speech, which he clearly had not prepared at all. He stood up there for three minutes and gave a poorly-planned argument about how the media was turning men gay and gay men are weak. It was after hearing his speech that I decided to give my own.

From my anger came this speech, hastily titled “Representation in the Media Fiction”, as the eraser on my pencil was work.

I know it doesn’t show at all in the transcript, especially given how much of it I’ve forgotten over time and how much of what I do remember was made up on the spot, but this was by far the most emotional and the most successful speech I’d ever given. My biggest regret is that I didn’t record it.

I’ll be honest, my voice broke towards the end.


If you ask a child who they want to be when they grow up, there’s always a chance they’ll give you an answer like “Princess Elsa” or “Superman.” While most of us realize that we cannot, in fact, be princesses or super heroes, it’s no secret that we hold our favorite characters on a high pedestal. Young people in particular often look up to the characters they love as though they are real, tangible human beings and not just the products of someone’s imagination. In addition to being brave, loyal, and kind, however, these characters often have a few other characteristics in common. The majority are white, although African American and Latino characters have become more commonplace in recent years. They are also well-built, physically and mentally capable, and heterosexual. Even among the majority, certain characters are typically given certain roles. For example, redheads are often super villains or annoying, tag-along younger siblings, and blondes are depicted as shallow or unintelligent. In the real world, not everyone is light-skinned, able-bodied, and mentally stable. This is why representation of all groups, not just the majority, is important in fiction.
Firstly, people tend to like characters more who remind them of themselves. People can relate more to characters who share certain traits with them, such as gender or race, and the unique struggles that come with them. For example, someone who’s lost a limb might relate to Edward from Fullmetal Alchemist; a young girl who watches Teen Titans would probably prefer Starfire, Raven, or even Tera to their male counterparts.

In addition to just liking certain characters, children often look up to and are almost raised by the characters they see on TV. They turn to Blue and Steve for help solving problems, to Doc McStuffins for morals. When these characters all follow a certain formula, it creates a sort of cookie-cutter effect, where only certain types of people can be heroes and any deviation from this formula is wrong or bad. Transgenders, for example, are usually either the butt of a joke or villains, such as Cassandra from Doctor Who. Never do you see a mentally ill lead or a wheelchair-bound protagonist; those roles are reserved for fair-skinned, outgoing, physically fit characters.

I still remember reading TwoKinds for the first time on an old iPod touch in eighth grade. I was fascinated by Natani, the female-to-male assassin brother. As time went on, he became less a fictional character and more a friend, one who I couldn’t live without.I watched him bandage his chest with a newfound empathy. I shared in his despair at being locked out of men’s facilities. I’d always thought that I was broken. It was Natani who taught me that I wasn’t alone, that there wasn’t something wrong with me. Everyone deserves that validation. Everyone deserves to look at a character, a good, heroic character, and say “hey, that kind of looks like me.”

Finally, diversity in fiction isn’t just important, it’s common sense. The real world is diverse. Even this class is diverse. Look around. We have white students, black students, mixed-race students. We have gay students and straight. Guys, we’ve got a tranny in here. Now look me in the eye and tell me that the real world isn’t diverse. You can’t. Because the fact of the matter is, real life is diverse.

It’s been said that what doesn’t bend breaks. If the creators of fiction cannot bend to a growing, diverse audience, then they will break. Thank you.

Fanfiction

Fine [Kuroko no Basuke]

Title: Five Times Kuroko Pretended to be Fine, and the One Time He Didn’t
Fandom: Kuroko no Baskuke (Kuroko’s Basketball)
Characters: Kuroko Tetsuya, Kagami Taiga
Pairings: Gen
Word Count: 1,111
Rating: T


1

He can still remember the pencil sharpener if he tries hard enough. It was an orange one, small and faded badly with age, and if he hadn’t smashed it when he had, fed up and trembling too hard to be bothered with the too-small screws holding the blade firmly in place, then he surely would have thrown it away.

He regrets it come morning, of course, because the lines on his wrist are painfully clear, bright red and too swollen to be cat scratches, but being invisible has its perks. He makes it halfway through practice under the radar, until he moves to pass to Kagami and the redhead hesitates. Kuroko’s almost certain he’s gotten away with it when Kagami dunks on Shinji, but the power forward approaches him in the locker room before he can slip away.

“What happened to your arm?” Kagami asks, gripping Kuroko by his jersey.

“I fell in a rose bush, Kagami-kun,” Kuroko replies. Kagami must be convinced, because his face softens, and he lets his teammate go.

From then on, Kuroko wears sweatbands.

2

He tries too hard not to think about Kagami as the forward scarfs down the third of six cheeseburgers, because if he does, he’s certain he’ll vomit his soda. Still, he’s almost impressed that the other boy can eat as much as he does and not get fat. Sure, he’s heavy, but with Kagami, it’s all muscle. Kuroko glances at his arm out of habit. He’s not good enough; he’s pale and scrawny and his ribs are showing faintly through his skin, anyone can see it, but it’s still not enough. He wraps his thumb and forefinger around his right wrist.

“What are you doing?” Kagami asks. Kuroko lets go of his arm hastily, like he’s been caught by his mother with one hand in his pants and wants desperately to deny it.

“Nothing,” he says.

Kagami holds out one of his burger in offering.

“You should eat something,” he says.

“I ate a big lunch,” Kuroko says. He tells himself it’s not entirely untrue, because he did eat a big lunch, once. It just wasn’t at all recently.

Kagami doesn’t persist.

3

He doesn’t hear Kagami come into the locker room. He wasn’t expecting it, of course; practice is long over, and Kuroko’s been alone for at least half an hour, a small mountain of food spread out on the floor at his feet and still more stashed away in his locker. He has his back to the door, and he almost chokes on a potato chip when Kagami taps him on the shoulder.

“Why are you here?” Kagami asks, sounding equal parts puzzled and amused. Kuroko doesn’t look him in the eye. The floor is a mess of apple cores, candy wrappers, chip bags, and half-eaten snack cakes. Kuroko puts down the bag he’s working on and shrugs.

“I lost my house key,” he says.

“Then where’d all this food come from?”

Kuroko doesn’t answer. He stands up quickly. He can’t bring himself to stay there any longer, his cheeks burning under Kagami’s gaze, and anyway, he can feel the bile at the back of his throat.

If Kagami hears him heaving in the bathroom, he doesn’t say a word.

4

He’s never been one to skip practice before; he shows up even sick, and on more than one occasion, Riko’s sent him home the minute she catches sight of him, pale and clammy and shivering violently.

So of course he’s not surprised when Kagami and Shinji burst onto the roof, followed at the heels by Tetsuya #2. He slips his blade into his pocket before either of his teammates can see it and pulls his sleeve down over his bloodied arm.

“Come on, Kuroko,” Kagami scolds, seizing him by the wrist and all but dragging him back down the stairs. “Coach has half the team out looking for you.”

Kuroko’s cuts sting horribly under Kagami’s iron grip. He squeaks a bit, gritting his teeth.

Nobody hears him, though.

5

He’s not sure why he does it.

He doesn’t really want to die. At least, he doesn’t think so. But his blade’s vanished somehow, and someone must have complained of ants, because his locker’s been cleaned out, and Riko gives him a slap on the wrist for it; before he really knows what he’s doing, he’s lying on the train tracks, and between the insomnia and his eating habits, he’s unbearably lightheaded, and his eyelids are so heavy it hurts.

And then Tetsuya #2 has to go and ruin it, barking loudly enough to wake half the neighborhood and pulling frantically, almost violently at Kuroko’s pant leg until someone calls the police. Kuroko laughs it off, tells the paramedics that he fell asleep by accident. No, he’s not suicidal. Yes, he’s sure. No seizures. Yeah, he’s anemic. No, he doesn’t have an eating disorder. No, he doesn’t need to go to the hospital. He’s fine now.

Just fine.

5+1

And then one day he’s not fine. He’s sick of it, of not being fine, and he’s done pretending that he is. The whole team’s there — they’ve just won another game, and it was Kagami’s idea to go out for dinner — and Kuroko eats. Everyone’s eyes are on him, even Kagami’s, but he’s so done, so not fine, that he doesn’t even care. He doesn’t know half of what he’s putting into his mouth; hell, he doesn’t even realize he’s been eating until his stomach gives a painful lurch and he stands hastily.

“Excuse me,” he mumbles.

He makes his way to the bathroom, vaguely aware of his team’s gaze on his back. He doesn’t bother closing the stall door behind him, never mind locking it, just drops to his knees in front of the toilet and shoves his fingers down his throat. He doesn’t care that Kagami’s standing in the doorway, dumbstruck, or that the rest of the team is probably close behind; he just kneels there, gasping and sobbing and trembling violently, whispering “help me” like a mantra, until Kagami crouches down at his side and wraps his arms around him.

“It’s okay, Kuroko,” he murmurs, running his hand through the smaller boy’s hair. “You’re okay.”

He’s not okay. There’s vomit on his hands and his arms are covered in scars and he can’t stop shaking, can’t stop crying. He’s so completely not okay that it hurts, and he tries to say so between shuddering breaths, but he doesn’t need to. Kagami knows.

So he buries his face in his light’s shirt and bawls.

Fanfiction

Bluff [League of Legends]

Title: Bluff
Fandom: League of Legends
Characters: Twisted Fate, Graves
Pairings: Graves/Twisted Fate
Word Count: 2,075
Rating: M


“Two tens.”

It’s a lie and you know it, and Fate’s poker face breaks into a small grin when you open your mouth to say so, egging you on, daring you to call his bluff. For a moment, you want to punch him, but you curl your fists at your sides instead, pluck the nine of hearts from your hand, and slap it face-down in the center of the table.

“Nine,” you growl around the cigar in your mouth.

You don’t know the third person at the table. It’s a lady, no older than eighteen, her hair in two braids, a demented grin plastered to her face, and you wonder how and why Fate chose her of all the bar’s patrons to swindle into a game of bullshit. She’s childish, at best, and you’ve stopped calling bull on her; she bluffs every other turn with the same maniacal laugh, seemingly to Fate’s amusement.

“Three eights,” she giggles now, slamming three cards against the table. You glance at Twisted Fate across the table. He meets your gaze, his eyes glowing cyan, his cards resting against his bottom lip, and offers a small smile.

Cheat, he mouths.

This is a waste of time, you think.

“One eight,” Fate says.

You narrow your eyes. There are two eights in your hand.

“You ain’t told the truth all game, have you?” you ask, letting your gaze drift from Fate to the girl and back again. Fate sets his cards on the table in front of him and cracks his knuckles.

“I never bluff,” he says.

“That’s a bluff ‘n its own right,” you mumble. You reach over and flip Fate’s card over. Eight of clubs.

“Told ya,” he says. You swear under your breath and take the cards into your hand. It’s the middle of the night, and you’re drunk but not wasted. There are plenty of things you’d rather be doing than playing cards with a psycho and a cheat, and truth be told, you can’t wait for this game to be over with. If losing means speeding things up, then you have no desire to win.

You flip through the cards and your suspicions are once again confirmed: this girl hasn’t told the truth once.

“Ace,” you say. You set the ace of spades on the table and sift through your hand.

“Two kings.” The girl puts her last two cards down and grins.

“Bullshit,” you say. You don’t have to check, and she knows it. She pouts and scoops the cards up.

Fate brings his cards to his lips again like he’s thinking hard about something. You watch for longer than you’d care to admit as he runs the hand slowly from his top lip to his chin and back to the corner of his mouth again, then pulls a card away from the rest with his teeth.

“One ace,” he says, holding the card between his middle and index finger. He makes a show of setting it down, running one slender finger across the edge before he pulls his hand away and rests his thumb on his cheek.

“Two aces,” you say. You’d deny it in a heartbeat, but the card sharp looks almost attractive, his feet propped up on the table, his fingers drumming boredly on the wood, one hand tangled in his own hair. Scratch that: there’s no “almost” about it, and when Fate looks up and his glowing eyes meet yours, you look away quickly and pretend to sort your hand.

“Take a picture,” he remarks, pulling his hat down over his eyes. “It’ll last longer.”

“Shut it,” you say.

“A two,” the girl says.

It’s Fate’s turn to call bullshit. He flips the top card. It’s an ace. It takes all your willpower not to groan. Fate laughs and brings one hand to his forehead.

“Nice try, little lady,” he says. The girl looks irritated. You catch her start for her gun, then think better of it, and you tighten your own grip on Destiny under the table.

“It’s gettin’ late,” you say. Twisted Fate looks unconvinced, raising an eyebrow as if to say “you can do better than that,” but the pigtailed girl yawns as if in agreement and leans back in her seat, steadying herself with a foot on the table. Her combat boots look brand new, and you wonder if Fate’s planning to steal them. You doubt they’d fit him, and anyway, they’d be impractical, but they’d fetch a decent price, in their condition.

“It’s only midnight, partner,” Fate protests. “Tired already?” He smiles and pulls his bottom lip deliberately beneath his front teeth, worrying the skin until it breaks, lapping at the blood when it does. You swallow and try to will away the heat pooling in your stomach.

“Places to be,” you reply, setting your cards down. “You win.”

Fate glances at the girl as if hoping she’ll object, but she’s already snoring. He sighs and stands.

“We just gonna leave her?” you ask as he turns to walk away.

“It’d be rude to mug her in her sleep, wouldn’t it?” he asks.

“That ain’t what I meant,” you sigh.

There’s a different boy working the tavern bar than when you first came in; he’s a blond kid, short and soft and blue-eyed, and he offers you and Fate a nervous smile. Fate drops a pouch of coins on the bar and says a few word to him, then starts for the stairs.

“Deck’s rigged,” you say, catching up.

“Hm?”

“You have five aces,” you say.

Fate turns on the top stair and smiles that Cheshire Cat smile of his; he produces an ace of spades seemingly out of mid air and taps it against his hat.

“Is this your card?” he jests, slipping it into his pocket.

“You’d better not pull somethin’ like that when it matters,” you grumble, following Fate down the hall. He stops at the last door on the right, pulls it open, and bows dramatically.

“It ain’t illegal if nobody notices,” he says.

“Hm,” you grunt. Illegal’s got nothing to do with it.

The room’s small and slightly more well kept than the one at the last tavern you slept in. You set Destiny down by the window, and Fate drops his boots unceremoniously by the door.

“Who’s sleepin’ on the floor?” he asks. There’s one bed against the far wall, its sheets fresh and free of wrinkles, and you eye it longingly.

“I’ve got a gun,” you say at last.

“I’ve got our money,” Fate replies.

“I’ve got a gun,” you repeat.

You won’t pull the trigger on him, and he knows it. The first time you encountered him in the League, a gold card twirling in the air above his left hand, a confident smile on his lips as he pushed up mid lane, you were all too happy to leave your support to fend off the enemy AD carry in favor of putting a bullet hole in Twisted Fate’s chest. Somehow, it’s different when you know he won’t be back half a minute later with a cocky grin and a flick of a red card to exact his revenge. You can’t kill him here, even if your fingers do twitch at the sight of his exposed neck when he shrugs off his coat and drapes it over the bathroom door.

“Guess it’ll be me, then,” he says. He’s got another card in his hand — blue, this time, and you wonder idly what he’s up to — and he runs it across his lip. “You let me have the bed last time we slept in one of these,” he adds.

“Was that before or after you abandoned me?” you hear yourself ask.

Fate sighs.

“Malcolm,” he says, and your fingers twitch again at your name on his lips, “you aren’t still —”

There’s something satisfying about punching the other thief in the jaw. His head snaps back, and his beloved hat falls to the floor dejectedly. His eyes flash red so quickly you aren’t sure if you’re seeing straight, and before you can hit him again, he pulls a gold card from his pocket and flicks it at your chest.

“Easy, hotshot,” he drawls, walking a slow, thoughtful circle around you. In that moment, you want nothing more than to lunge at him, to bash in his skull with the barrel of your gun, but you can’t move. When the stun wears off, you turn to grab Fate’s throat, but he’s quicker; the next thing you know, he has you pinned against the wall with a red card dangling lackadaisically from his lips.

It occurs to you that he could kill you, if he wanted to.

“You wanna try that again?” he asks around the card. He’s close, dangerously close, and you can feel his breath on your face, warm and ragged and laced with blood and booze, and his knee is pressed against the front of your jeans and —

The card drops from his mouth and hits the floor, forgotten.

His lips are on yours before you can protest. They’re rough and bloody and familiar, and you don’t push him off until he slips his tongue into your mouth.

“Fate,” you hiss. He grins sheepishly, but he’s unsteady on his feet. He sways a bit, and you seize the opportunity to reverse your positions. His eyes widen in drunken surprise as you slam him against the wall, pinning his wrists above his head.

This is a bad idea and you know it, but you can’t bring yourself to care.

“You bluffed,” Fate breathes.

“What?”

“You didn’t play any aces last round,” he says. He struggles against your grip, but you hold him firmly to the wall. Leave it to Twisted Fate to be concerned about cards at a time like this.

“Funny,” you growl. You pull him into a kiss, rough and urgent and angry, and when he pulls away, gasping for air, you bite his bottom lip. “I recall you bluffin’ that round, too.” Before you can remind yourself there are at least half a dozen reasons you shouldn’t do it, you’re pushing Fate onto the old, creaky mattress and starting on his belt buckle.

“You ain’t too tired, partner?” he mocks.

There are bloody crescent moons on your shoulders from Fate’s nails when you’re done, and Fate’s throat is dappled with bruises.

“You gonna be around come mornin’?” you hear yourself ask. You let Fate have the bed in your beer- and afterglow-induced haze, and you’re starting to regret it; your back aches enough without being squashed against the hard wooden floor.

“Course,” Fate replies. He throws his hat in the air, catches it, and sets it down on the bedside table.

“Bluff,” you mumble so quietly that you aren’t sure if you actually said it. You must have, because Twisted Fate peers over at you from the bed, and for once, you can see his eyes, dull green and full of hurt that looks almost genuine.

“I never bluff,” he repeats.

“You didn’t play an ace,” you reply. “You had one. You played the four of diamonds instead.”

Fate sighs and rolls over so his back his facing you.

“I love you,” he whispers. Your throat tightens at his words. “And that ain’t a bluff.”

The bed is empty when you wake up. You tell yourself that you aren’t surprised, that you were expecting this to happen, but you can’t deny that it hurts all the same. Fate’s clothes are gone from the floor, and his hat isn’t where he left it; the only indication that he was ever there at all is a Jack of hearts lying on the bed atop the sheets, smiling sadly back at you.

You want to call Fate’s bluff, to yell “bullshit” to the empty room until your voice gives out, but you don’t. You busy yourself polishing Destiny’s barrel instead. Maybe, you think, and of course it’s the hangover talking, but maybe if you don’t call bull, then Fate’s lie will somehow be true.