Valerie’s letter and making dragons
Originally written a few days after the Pulse Shooting on June 12th in Orlando, FL
Over the past few days, I have seen my friends mourn, some for the first time that I have known them. It’s impossible to ignore, especially when your Facebook is nothing but young adult queers taking baby steps towards seemingly tolerant, and maybe even safe, future.
Right now, I want to hold my friends and cradle them until the tears coming down our faces are absorbed by the broken earth we are standing on. The pain came at us like an arrow to the gut, and every single homophobic comment and microaggression directed towards us over the years became solidifed and act as concrete weights we hold in our hearts.
I want to tell them that I love them. And if you are reading this, I want to tell you that I love you. I feel your pain and fear, and I’m so sorry that I can’t take that away. I wish I could.
As a young(er?) person, I took solace in geek culture. It was my tiny little sanctuary when I thought the reality of the grander world was a little too much and needed the support of dragons from Alagasia or magic from Hogwarts.
I thought a lot about Valerie’s letter from “V for Vendetta” on my drive from work yesterday afternoon.
***Spoiler Alert if you have not seen the film***
Let me back track: in case you are not a huge nerd like I am or tend not to watch sci-fi thrillers with underline themes of political anarchy, “V For Vendetta” takes place in a dystopian future, run by a Hitler-esque dictator/chancellor who keeps a firm grasp on London’s people through police groups, cameras, and biased media. His rise to power was a result to having offered a cure that mysterious virus that was killing innocent people in London. Spoiler alert: he released the virus in the first place. After his accession to power, he ordered a wide purge of deviants and sent them to imprisonment camps. One of the prisoners of the camp survived and became a vigilante.
Valerie was one of the prisoners in the camp (not the vigilante) and during her imprisonment, she wrote down her life story on a scrap of toilet paper and hid it in the cell wall. In her letter, she writes about her life as a young queer woman, her painful experience of coming out to her parents, but eventually finding happiness in her partner, Ruth. She goes on to write about Chancellor Sutler’s rise to power and eventually, the capture and killing of society’s deviants, eventually capturing Ruth.
***Spoiler Alert Over***
The speech held me in a time where I felt confusion and isolation, and it gave me strength and security in a way that I couldn’t describe. If you haven’t heard the speech, I suggest watching it on YouTube.
I could recite that speech verbatim by now, and while I don’t always need it, I carry that speech wherever I go.
The speech gives me power because it was a symbol of rebellion, even when everything else was suffocating. There was isolation and pain, but even thought that, Valerie found a way to make herself live on in words and give the people after her a symbol of solidarity. Even when she was dying, she didn’t let her captors erase her.
I sort of feel that right now. I feel rebellious and defiant. It took many years to gather up enough power to say “I don’t care because I’m still going to be here .”
I don’t want to this event to erase the last few years of struggle, and knock me back into compliancy because it’s easier to be compliant than to resist.
But at the same time, I also feel nauseated and exhausted. Sad. Scared.
But we, as a community, are stronger than that. And we have more nurturing love to offer than hate.
Here is the part where I plan to take the sludgy feeling in my chest and mold it into a tiny dragon. I will place it on my desk, so I can look at it every day and be reminded that Omar Mateen will not make me feel a victim anymore. It will be right next to the Pop! Vinyl patron saints of my desk, Michonne and Holztmann, and it will sit there as a reminder to myself and to those around me that every time you try to kill my spirit or my heart, I will turn around and make it into something beautiful, constructive, and untouchable.