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I beg the queer people who read this that you consider preserving all the art and writing you create. That way, future generations have their own map should they face a crisis.

“In this great gay mecca, I was an invisible man still. I had no shadow, no substance. No history, no place, no reflection.” – Marlon Riggs, Tongues Untied These words, featured in both the essential text Brother to Brother: New Writing by Gay Black Men and the equally important Tongues Untied movie, describe Marlon’s discomfort in San Francisco, the city that once was known as the gay capital of the world. In a sea of white bodies, he felt the racism and the isolation that comes with being black in a world that was white and cloned. These words were meant for a specific time, at a specific place, under specific circumstances. Yet, the idea of a queer person of color being invisible in the face of white queer people, in white queer places, in a white supremacist society – unfortunately – transcends specificity and those words are as true today as they were in 1991. For any culture, history is an essential tool that that helps to support the continued survival of a people and this is especially true for queer people of color. Black and Latinx queer people need our history because history can help us traverse the future. However, our history has been neglected and allowed to fall by the wayside, especially in comparison to our white counterparts. The few times that our history isn’t neglected is when white people can make a quick buck or create a legacy for themselves. Shout out to the Jennie Livingstons and David Frances of the world. Entire bodies of work by Black and Latinx writers are either lost or hidden from the reach of the people who would benefit most from them. For example, Assotto Saint’s seminal work Tales of a Voodoo Doll is $55.00 on Amazon. Another example, the work of Joseph Beam is scattered throughout university libraries, inaccessible to most people (and sometimes even students). Though some people may disagree, queer people of color having access to the literary work of our elders aids in our survival. All the queer writers, poets, and filmmakers of color created a running record of surviving in a white supremacist and heteropatriarchal world.
Related: MARSHA P. JOHNSON’S LIFE ISN’T WHITE PEOPLE’S STORY TO TELL

Filipino culture holds a heavy stigmatization towards mental health — it is either ignored entirely, or minimized and mocked.

“Why, are you mentally ill?” My mom asked, the sarcasm dripping and oozing from her voice. I’d just handed her an article called “Cats Are the Unsung Heroes of Mental Health” to support why I wanted – no, needed to adopt a kitten into our household. “Yes, mom, I am mentally ill,” I bit back, looking her dead straight in the eyes. She knew that I was on medication for my sexual violence-related PTSD and that I’d been seeing a counsellor for over year to treat it. In the version of Filipino culture that my parents raised me on, we dealt with our suffering with laughter and resilience. Naturally, my mom’s ignorance was unsurprising. Filipino culture holds a heavy stigmatization towards mental health — it is either ignored entirely, or minimized and mocked. Anxiety? It’s all in your head. You’re making excuses. Depression? Sleep it off. You’ll get over it. While mental illness in the Philippines is legally protected against discrimination under the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, the law itself further perpetuates the stigma, using “insanity” as a blanket term to encompass all disorders.
Related: CRAZY TALK: SHOULD I GET AN EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL FOR MY MENTAL HEALTH?

What’s taken me by surprise has been the deafening silence from spiritual leaders, witches, and healers in the wake of current events.

Over the last year, I’ve seen white supremacists take over the White House, normalize Nazi beliefs and violence, devalue American citizens in struggling U.S. territories and more. Though these events seem to have happened in breathtaking succession, I can’t say I was outright surprised by any of them. As a Black woman, I was never in a position to deny or hide from America’s shadow. It’s one I learned to recognize as a child, and it was only through intense study of its depths and origins that I was able to remove myself from its darkness. What’s taken me by surprise has been the deafening silence from spiritual leaders, witches, and healers in the wake of these events. It seems that, for as much as they encourage “confronting your shadow,” or becoming familiar with the less seemly parts of your personality, they are unwilling to recognize the societal shadow that casts us in oppressive systems and beliefs. At first it was puzzling to see their weekly newsletters appear in my inbox, without so much as a mention of incidents like Charlottesville. At most, they would acknowledge a “heavy energy” and advise us to protect our own, as though white supremacy could be conquered through visualization alone. At the bottom of these emails they urged followers to book a healing or coaching session, but how could I be counseled by someone who does not witness my struggle?
Related: RESPECTING LIVING PRACTICES THIS HALLOWEEN

Afrofuturism creates stories that puts Blackness in a central role and deals with the reality of what that means in the cultures and societies that it creates.

When people think of science fiction as a genre, they're usually thinking of books about the coded fears and dreams of white men. Books that are considered masterpieces of science fiction by and large are written by them but the remedy from this pale and exists in Afrofuturism, the future as told by people of the African diaspora. I first encountered Afrofuturism before I knew what it was. The term was coined in the 90s by Mark Dery as a way to explain the collection of speculative fiction and assorted media that was created from the point of view of Black people. I read my first Afrofuturistic novel in 1993. It was Octavia E Butler’s Mind of My Mind. I would later find out it was part of a series, which I bought book by book from various bookstores as they had them in stock. It was the 90s. We didn’t have Amazon. These books were a different way to see science fiction. Never mind the most obvious fact that the covers featured a woman of color, but the stories themselves spoke of life in a completely different manner. Unlike the standard science fiction, these people weren’t “Big Damn Heroes”, they were people who weren't just dealing with their own internal and personal pressures,  but did so while navigating in a society that already distrusted them. That's what's at the crux of what this particular literary style is. It’s not just “stories that feature Black people as leading characters”. They are stories that put Blackness in a central role and deals with the reality of what that means in the cultures and societies that it creates. RELATED: Being Weird and Black Doesn’t Mean You’re Interested in Being White

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