donderdag 1 maart 2018


'i learned the truth at 17'

janis ian, a queer female singer/songwriter, wrote this song (click on link) about being weird/not-pretty, and finding out about the truth of 'never belonging' at the age of 17. it was 1975. she wasn't really ugly.

this week, a lot of us are thinking about another kid who learned the truth at 17. and even though this kid also wasn't really ugly, the truth was uglier than anyone can ever imagine.

janis ian's song gets a whole new meaning when you listen to it and think of orlando:

"And those of us with ravaged faces
Lacking in the social graces
Desperately remained at home
Inventing lovers on the phone
Who called to say, "Come dance with me"
And murmured vague obscenities
It isn't all it seems
At seventeen"

last weeks, we could learn a lot of truths about what mainstream thinks about kids like orlando.
first when it turned out police didn't think orlando's missing was enough to do everything they can. until one full week had passed. by then, we all knew orlando was not only a vulnerable black kid of 17, he was also queer and cruising. i'd say that is not really a motive for police to NOT do everything they can. in fact, it makes their job easier: social media can be used to find people, this boy was everywhere on social media, get to it! his friends had to do that job.
then yesterday, when i read comments of people everywhere in (social) media, i got confronted with another ugly truth once again. unfortunately, being queer, black, and cruising, means being extra unsafe. not only and not mostly (!) because of the cruising, but because mainstream (incl police) thinks you must be somewhere, hidden, in a dark world full of sin and crimes, a world you have consciously chosen to be in. he did it himself. he went online, he talked to other sinners, he secretly wanted to meet them. he did this himself.
he is to be held responsible for his own sins. he'll get what he deserves.
at 17.

A brown-eyed girl in hand-me-downs
Whose name I never could pronounce
Said, "Pity, please, the ones who serve
They only get what they deserve"

janis ian was a white (?) girl, and learned from a brown-eyed girl in cheap clothes with an exotic name what social difference means for being worthy of love:

And the rich relationed hometown queen
Marries into what she needs
With a guarantee of company
And haven for the elderly
Remember those who win the game
Lose the love they sought to gain
In debentures of quality
And dubious integrity
Their small town eyes will gape at you
In dull surprise when payment due
Exceeds accounts received
At seventeen

in 2018, social difference and being worthy of love are still as much related as in ian’s age. that is the truth we all learned this week. white people should follow ian's footsteps more if you ask me, and listen and learn from people with names they may have a hard time pronouncing.
for now, i am still able to gather proof everyday for the truth that being black and queer means you will be looked at with small town eyes still. heads with small town eyes thinking: 'it’s your own fault. you are a slut, a prostitute, a criminal, a sex-driven reckless hedonist*. you don’t deserve our company, our elderly homes, our caresystem, our security. it is not for you.'

this is the truth we teach kids. and even though this doesn't mean that every queer kid looking for intimacy will write a hitsong about it, and thank goddess it doesn't mean every kid will die: but at 17, they will already have internalized these terrible judgements and will already think they know the truth: you are not worthy of love.

orlando learned the truth at 17. he died wiser than any white man will ever be. rest in powerful peace, kid. we are with you.

*all of these words don't stand for moral judgements in my community.

we have to change that truth.
***help giving orlando a beautiful goodbye by doing what you can here:***

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