This is an email from The Digest, a newsletter by Prism & Pen.
by James Finn
The New Year brings fresh voices to Prism & Pen as we offer a nurturing space for queer artists.
Mary-Ellen Maynard offers a gorgeous piece of science fiction, Gaby Spadaro gives us a look at internalized homophobia in femme lesbians, Elena Joy Thurston urges queer elders to share their stories and look out for Gen Z, and Mina Krane shares her discovery of asexuality. Queer Australian Christian advocate Jason Masters anchors the week with his memories of an annus horribilis.
Our regulars are back, of course, theoaknotes featuring as they roar independence from the chains of binary gender and the Othering history of philosophy.
Editor’s Picks —
Gay ParTying Almost Killed Me: That’s Not What Made Me Stop
What is ParTying? Let new P&P writer Spencer James tell you about a toxic phenomenon many gay men struggle with. I’ve had friends who let chemsex take over their lives, and I deeply appreciate Spencer’s personal take. I hope you will too.
I’d had a seizure in a bathtub full of water and could have drowned.
Now an average person would think to ask, “Wow, so that was your wake-up call?” To which I would reply, “No.” As baffling as it may seem, that was not what prompted me to get sober. I would have thought, “Oh wow, what a crazy weird thing… Gosh, I can’t wait till Friday afternoon, so I can start looking for hookups.”
The best science fiction keeps you guessing as you puzzle out world creation and root for people whose different realities fill you with wonder. That Mary-Ellen Maynard can accomplish so much with this very short story speaks to her mastery of the craft.
It would hurt like the very devil to leave them. Marvel and I gathered them one-by-one from remnants of towns and suburbs, schools and farms. They were all who remained sane outside the military outposts. They would be safer here than outside with me. I’d be lucky if I could feed myself and avoid those older adults who failed transition. Evolution is wasteful.
Our strength found in our joy.
You may call us evil, sin,
But we are not your foe.
We will march and dance and roar Until the walls fall down. We will fight for this is war, And we will win the crown.
Creative Non Fiction Selections —
Sometimes you create the Bogey Man and sometimes He is created for you. He lurks in the background waiting for those moments of personal weakness to viciously attack us from behind. He always knows our deepest secrets and our greatest vulnerabilities. Those emotional wounds run deep and some never seem to properly heal.
I chose to focus on philosophy because I loved the idea of learning about ethics and morality. What makes people care (or not care) about others. How we’re supposed to treat each other. What makes something right or wrong. How the gray areas in morality are able to be understood. How to live the best life I possibly can.
But, that wasn’t what I was actually taught by the philosophy department of my university.
They were lurking around a corner. Four of them. One of them was on a bike. I remember that worried me. Adrenaline can make a man faster than other men, but it can’t make us faster than the machines we build.
Their eyes were so young. The world had not yet marred them with experience to make them truly hateful, but nor had it taught them compassion for those other than themselves. They hadn’t seen enough to be open. Their world was small, and we did not fit into it.
The blatant hate is from the usual suspects, LGB Alliance. And then the Telegraph, only doing its duty as part of the fourth estate, honest, guv’nor, in reporting this disturbing trend… Well, that is stealth transphobia par excellence.
Hot take wannahave, Andrew Sullivan, picks up the baton, anonymises it, lest he be tied to LGB Alliance, but serves the same shit sammich.
In panic three years ago, I started writing on a transgender help/chat site. There my loneliness, caused by discovering that I was transgender, started to melt. I found others who were dealing with the same issues as me and, in some cases, worse, who wanted nothing from me. They were just willing to listen and share their thoughts and open their hearts to me, a complete stranger.
Being with a girl awakens your masculine energy inside you, but you don’t know how to handle it because then, in the mirror, you only see a very feminine woman. And you ask yourself. Maybe, I want to be a man?
You feel ashamed after she leaves your bed. Frantically, you eat and drink because you think you love it, to then realize you hurt your body because you don’t accept this significant part of yourself. You’re engaging in destructive behaviors and can’t find the reason why.
But, let’s face it. Getting misgendered as a nonbinary person is part of the gig. Very few people will look at someone else for the first time and think, “Hmm, they probably are a they. They seem like a they. I’m going to not assume in either binary direction, introduce myself with my name and pronouns, and see if they’re willing and comfortable doing the same.” That would be a goddamn dream come true, but we are nowhere near there as a society.
Danger is also an immovable part of the gig for trans, gender non-conforming, and nonbinary folks …
I am a Transwomen, I have been inside looking out in fear for many years. Enough is enough. Let us all share the stage with all women in the world. The ones being raped and killed every day, in many countries of the world.
LGBTQ people are one of the few marginalized populations NOT born to parents of the same marginalized population. Unlike many communities, we are not raised in familial groups that retain the stories and memory banks of experience. We have to seek out our elders, our mentors, our sages.
How can we give life to our next queer generation? Are you still hiding your voice? Your talent? Your wisdom? Are you a SAGE, sequestered away during this time for your own protection and that of your loved ones? We need you.
I thought I was just a late bloomer. A girl that would grow into her awkward looks, lack of popularity and feel something for a boy. But my adolescence was spent pretending that I most definitely felt what my friends felt.
At that time in my life I only knew of people being gay or straight. Move forward a couple of years and bisexuality was becoming more known, and I wondered…
We in the LGBTQ+ community represent in our ranks the sheer diversity and variation of the human condition. It’s beautiful. Even before I came out and was immersed in queer culture, I looked at the community and saw an image of how society should be — free, equal, and kaleidoscopically diverse. Never in my life have I doubted that a society built on those foundational principles is the goal towards which we should collectively strive.
Over the Christmas holidays, I kept myself occupied by sorting through the assorted crap I had stuffed into storage boxes under my bed. One of my discoveries was the pile of books I had clung to throughout university, coming with me to each of the three different houses I inhabited across my three-year degree.
One of the covers that leapt out at me was the pristine whiteness of Lionel Shriver’s The Mandibles: A Family, 2029–2047, a dystopian near-future narrative …
January 2020, I was flying home via Los Angeles from Fort Lauderdale after attending the Q Christian Conference. Two flight before boarding the long flight to Sydney, I became engaged in a Twitter war around whether the disastrous bushfires encompassing Australia resulted from climate change or arson.
By late January we heard concerns about a new virus in China that may move around the world, which became known as COVID-19. Having lived through SARS well over a decade ago when running a major project for an international IT company through Asia, I learned how dangerous some of these viruses could be.
My year with Advocacy, Covid, Hospitals, and More
A Christian business leader and LGBTQ advocate speaks out
That’s all for today! Writers? Don’t forget to Roar with some Fierce Joy with our challenge prompt, which runs until next Saturday.
Time to relax and enjoy my Sunday, folks. See you all next week.
Esther Spurrill-Jones, BFoundAPen, Zayn Singh, Ainsley L, Kathy Lee Tolleth, Brian Pelletier, Fred Shirley, Ikedi Oghenetega, neil chapman, David Wade Chambers, Artemis Shishir, alto, Sean Stephane Martin, Gabriela Penelope Carolus, Lois Shearing, b.henriques, Carl Rebeiro 🏳️🌈, Rodney Frazier, Simon, Carl Rebeiro, Brian Fehler, Deneishia Jacobpito, Chris Hedges, Ronald C. Flores-Gunkle, Kathy Lee Tolleth, Brian Pelletier, Alex David Bevan, Ikedi Oghenetega, David Wade Chambers, Sean Stephane Martin, Gabriela Penelope Carolus, Lois Shearing, Valentine Wiggin, b.henriques, Carl Rebeiro, Rodney Frazier, Simon Z. Brian Fehler, Cassie Brighter, Deneishia Jacobpito, Ronald C. Flores-Gunkle, James Patrick Nelson, Brigid Maloney, Gabriela, Presley Thomas, Evan McCoy, Loren Olson, Ken Wilson, Chandler Myer, NaNa’sworld, Arabelle J., Liam Heitmann-Ryce, Edis Rune, Prickly Pam, Dawn McGrath, Jonathan | sex & theology, Tabitha Lowndes, Emma Nwosisi, Melissa Speed, Dr. Thomas J. West, Till Kaeslin, Dave Smurthwaite, Ellie Rebecca, Zoey Milford, Edris Quinn C., Dennett, Michael Constable, Jim Martens, Stephen Foster, Kravitz M. Kristen Nadel, William Kuhn, Denisa Bogdan, MSci, Rafaela Mempin, Tre L. Loadholt, theoaknotes, Rachel Brindell, Elle Fredine, Jess Darnell, Emma Holiday, Gabe Evaristo, Joshua Mackey, Steve Alexander, Stevie Wilkinson, Andy Killoran, Nick Bundarin, ElMehdi El Azhary, Bradley Wester, Stella Luna (they/she?), Chuy G. Gonzalez, MS, Aaron W. Marrs, Zada Kent, Tima Loku, Cam, The Transgender Therapist, Sean Bennett, Ty Bo Yule, Abbie Drake, Alessia Autumn, Allen R. Marquez, Spencer James, Mary-Ellen Maynard, Gaby Spadaro, Elena Joy Thurston, Mina Krane, Jason Masters