Silence

Woman holding poster at Trump rally. Reads: Silence = Death.

For days now I’ve seen the news reports about the Chechen concentration camps for gay men go by my news feeds, and all I have been able to do is repost. Once on Twitter I managed to express a few lines of stunned horror. Everything else has been silence, the echoing emotions ringing inside my own heart. I have not known what to say. Not in the sense that there is something important for me to add to some kind of conversation, that I am some kind of expert or have any solution, but in that I do not know how to process this inside my head. The simple concept that this is happening–my brain always wants to say might be happening, wanting so much to cling to doubt–makes me want to retreat into shadow, close the door, shut the blinds.

That’s usually when Depeche Mode starts to sing to me, asking me if I Enjoy the Silence.

This has been my struggle with everything in the news since November. The level of disaster is a blitzkrieg. It’s not possible to RESIST at the level any of us want. Irrespective of personal struggles, it’s too much for one individual. At some point we all retreat into silence, and we must indulge in self care. We must look at kittens and Star Wars trailers and get excited for new books. But there is always that nagging question. How much silence is enough? How much is too much? How much is too little?

What, in the end, can we truly do?

What I have had to do, what I have detested doing, is making choices about where I put what I put my energy into. It horrifies me that there are so many important things going past me and I must say, no, that cause is not the one I can donate to, despite the fact that it is in as much danger as this other one. It’s not where I’m putting my flag. Money and energy are finite elements, and while I can empathize all day long, I can only show up to so many rallies, can only give so many pennies. Unless I stop doing anything but resisting. Unless there is no more silence at all, only noise. And so I don’t let that happen. But I hate it, and it hurts my heart, and it has the  effect of making me even quieter, even sadder.

But this new twist, this knife they give us now.

Concentration camps for gay men.

Concentration camps.

For gay men.

I cannot abide this silence.

I can’t stand it in my heart, in my head. I can’t bear the white, searing knife that hits me every time I read the headline, see that man in every AP photo. I don’t know who he is. A jailer? Victim? Reporter? I can’t read the articles. I can’t get that far. My imagination is too full from half reports. I read something this morning about bottles. Sitting on bottles. This is as bad as the torture of gay men in ISIS, except there it fits with the rest of what horrors they do. That whole organization is a pit of darkness, of our creation and the world’s, and in my head, I can bleed for it, weep, but it doesn’t cut like this.

THERE IS A CONCENTRATION CAMP IN THE WORLD FOR GAY MEN. In a country associated with the one that hacked our election. Which helped ensure a woman who would have acted on this isn’t in command. Which helped enable a Congress who doesn’t give a shit about this. Who won’t make one move to stop it. With an Attorney General who is probably wondering how he can organize his own.

Because this is where we are now. This is where we live. In this shitty, nightmare hellscape existence where we live and laugh like zombies, pretending it is fine while it all dismantles around us. The Christian woman who checks you out at the grocery store is potentially glad and grateful men and women and non-binary freaks like you are being rounded up and tortured. She may hope it happens to you here soon.

She has allies in power who are enabled like never before to make it happen. They just put a monster who hates you on the Supreme Court.

THERE IS A CONCENTRATION CAMP IN THE WORLD FOR GAY MEN.

Keep saying that. God fucking damn, walk up to strangers and remind them. It exists. It’s a thing. We’re walking around and laughing and acting normal and it’s fucking happening. You’re reading this and a man is being tortured because he’s gay or suspected of it. Or because they wanted to put him away and this was a good excuse.

So what’s going to happen here? Is Steve King going to come for me? Or are women getting a pass? Will they pat me on the head because I married a man? Will they lock me up for being sick in the head? Will my writing become dangerous to the state? What if my daughter wasn’t nearly an adult? Would they take her away from me because what I write is pornographic? (It isn’t.)

How’s your silence?

Mine feels like hell, that’s all I know. It tastes like ash. I cry in the shower. I read too many news stories, start to shake and go take an Ativan. I let myself put some politics in Shelter the Sea and then I said it’s time for light, and so for the story I’m writing now, it’s hope and light and wonder, and it’s exactly that. But sometimes it hurts so much to write like that when I feel like this.

I will not be silent on this. I don’t know how to speak yet, but I’m working on it. All I know is Jeff Sessions could fill three camps full of people I care about, and I bet he’d like to try. And I can’t stop him. Some of those people are children. My daughter’s friends. One of them is Damon Suede. I simply think about that one and I want to rend walls and storm DC like Boadicea and make a preemptive strike. Me, it’s hard to say. I’m open about my orientation, but it all depends on what they want, right? If they asked for my silence and the trade was to keep someone I loved safe?

There are concentration camps for gay men, and we’re doing nothing. Our congress is doing nothing. Our leaders do nothing. We do nothing. Unless we do.

Fuck this silence. Carry these men in your hearts. If you’re fighting you’re own battle, if you’re struggling in your own nightmare microcosm, push out, remember there are people fighting with you, bleeding with you–you simply can’t see them. Don’t drown in sorrow, but take them where you go. Remember. Push. Speak. Pull that energy, keep waiting for your moment. Resist in whatever way is right for you, and keep sucking on that light, gathering it, because there is going to come a time when we have enough focus to do something, all of us.

Keep this fight going however you can, however is right for you. Do not die in silence.

As for that bitch at the convenience store, walk on by. You don’t have time for that. She’s a tar pit of decay and rot, and your soul deserves better. You have a better land in store, and she doesn’t get to come to our party.

In the meantime, though, if you need to cry–god knows you do–go ahead.

I’ll be crying with you.

10 Comments on “Silence

  1. It seems so counter intuitive to click the ‘like’ button on this, but how else to indicate that I have read, I have heard, I have felt and I am with you?

  2. Heidi, you’re in the same horrible position as so many of us, feeling sick inside, too often reduced to a sense of helplessness that is actually painful. Except, you have a platform and you’re using it. I figure that’s where I can be most effective, by writing stories that embrace and celebrate the diversity of sexualities within the human race that are every bit as diverse–if not more so–than the race itself.

    I have been deep into writing and avoiding the news in order to find my story, and your post is the first I’ve heard of this atrocity. In that respect, you have educated at least one more person in the evil that is, unfortunately, accepted by way too many human beings around the globe. This is something that hurts me on a personal level–but something I have learned during this long nightmare (has he really been president LESS than three months? It feels like forever) is that in order to be effective, I need to pull back a bit from all the horrible crap going on around me. My husband is a news junkie, even more so since the election, and even he understands that my writer’s mind internalizes every word I hear, to the point where it makes it impossible to ferret out the story from the nightmare.

    Thank you for posting this, but I do hope you can find your center, that place that allows you to know what’s happening, what you can and cannot do to change it, and still write the stories that, in their own way, help to change people’s minds.

    My thoughts are with you, and especially with those who are persecuted by the fear of anything or anyone different from them.

  3. I’ve been restricting how much news I take in but I hadn’t heard about this AT ALL. Thank you for posting about it. I feel like a 70 yr old ravening horror was summoned on the sly and is running the world right now.

  4. Thank you for articulating the sick dread so many of us are feeling lately. I wish I could be more optimistic, but it’s so difficult when everything is burning down around us. That there should be concentrations camps of any kind is horrendous; the fact that there is one for gay men makes my soul shrink, and I just want to howl.

    If this administration lasts four years, it will no doubt be the longest four years in history. In the meantime, yes, I will try to fight. It’s difficult, though, because I’m in Los Angeles and all of my representatives are Democrats. Maybe I should join the California secession movement!

    On a slightly funny note, my “gallows humor” goes something like this: “I hope there will be advance notice that the world is ending, because damn it, I want to eat ice cream! All the ice cream I want!”

  5. You have voiced the words I cannot say out loud. It hurts me so much just to think that such places exist and since November, it’s been one thing after another that I have to ask myself what do I focus on now while never forgetting the ones who should never be forgotten. Blitzkrieg is exactly how it feels like, but even through all this, we need to keep resisting and not be silent to the best of our abilities. Thank you for crying with me.

  6. Right there with you, sister. I feel sick all the time lately, and I don’t think it’s physical. I’m afraid, for my friends, myself, my kids. The world. Everything. A concrete plan of action is what we need here. In the meantime, simply making all the noise we can, making everyone aware of horrors like this, is something we can do to maybe help change things for the better.

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