Stud Struggles: We Just Out Here Trynna Function

Studs/dykes/butches/bois/masculine-presenting women and the like: Throw down your PlayStation controllers and raise your picket signs because enough is enough! How many more cookouts, conversation parties, kickbacks, baby showers, and other events must we attend where the conversation quickly and unnecessarily shifts focus to our very private business? Business that in no way involves the stranger asking and likely isn’t even relevant to the vibe? Soon as we walk in, it’s like game night to these people and I will no longer be played with. I cannot tell you the number of times I have been minding my own business enjoying very casual conversation before being asked some of the following foolishness at the function:

“How does strapping work?”

“Do you strap or do you get strapped?”

“So, why not just be with a guy?”

“YOU want to carry a baby??” 

“So. Question about strap-ons…”

“Do you like head?” (And proceeding to not offer any)

“Excuse me sir…oh my bad yo. HAHAHAHA”

Can I eat my honey BBQ wings in peace? Is the sex life you imagine I have more popping than what you should currently be doing on a handstand, sis? This is a party! There is a time and place for people to ask queer women these questions, I’m certain. However, I would appreciate the opportunity to finish my Prosecco and two-step with my friends without being interviewed by a bunch of bored, tipsy, nosey individuals. Please do not ask me about my bedroom activities in front of the potato salad! Please respect that I am uninterested in disclosing my plan to conceive children with a stranger I just met in the club. Please understand that you are NOT low when you use a tipsy game of Never Have I Ever to ask if I also enjoy dick. This is what happens when there isn’t enough food at parties. Mouths find less productive ways to keep busy.

I came here to get lit, and these recycled questions are not it y’all. Please consult YouTube for any questions you have for the community because the information is plentiful. The site is booming with women willing to explain themselves to anyone watching. I know masculine women are quite interesting and very fine, but I also know that people (women, men, etc.) can make conversation with us that does not include sexual harassment and other invasive inquiries. Especially in environments that offer free or discounted liquor! So with that said, if she didn’t volunteer this kind of information, please refrain from harassing that gay lady at the Rona cookouts I know you’re having. Find a snack and keep it pushing.

Dear World,

Black women deserve happiness and to live as much as anyone else. Recently, Breonna Taylor was murdered by police and Oluwatoyin Salau was sexually assaulted and murdered. She was know as Toyin and protested passionately for Black lives. Breonna was an award winning EMT- a highly physical job. There was another woman put in a dumpster. Another women was killed by her partner. Another woman stalked by an old partner. Another woman physically assaulted because she denied advances in the street. Another women tone “checked.” Another woman cat called. Another woman called a bitch. Another woman called a hoe. Another woman fat shamed. The list is infinite if the transgressions against Black women. We exist in world where racism is steadily chasing behind us while sexism is waiting at the sanctuary.

What is the value of a Black woman’s life aside from being a man’s peace? Where is the justice and passions for Black women who put themselves last and the world first? Where is the warmth and cuddle for a tired, head hung low Black woman? Who will protect me from the dangers of the works without trying to censor me in some way? How can I live my life freely? Am I not valuable unless I’m doing something that is valued by another person?

Existing in this body, in this space, in this time is not easy for a woman like me. For Black women, existence is not easy or valued. Our existence is expected because we have to be “strong.” We have to be a pillar. But my dear world, we are tired. We are weary and quite frankly, sometimes we get scared. My existence shouldn’t come at a price, loophole or conditions defined by patriarchy (which Black people have adopted and use against certain members of our community).

We deserve to be happy, joyous, carefree, and most of all, we deserve to live too. We are tired of being defined by stereotypes or tropes or pain. Let us define ourselves. Let us live the best way we see fit. Black women don’t have to fit your criteria for womanhood or Blackness to be deemed valuable enough to live.

This is an open letter to the many people who see through us or past us. I am the “ratchet Black women.” I am the Black women with long nails and lace fronts. I am the Black women who love anime. I am the women who love to create. I am the Black women who listen to Erykah Badu. I am the Black women who listen to Beyoncé. I am the Black women who studied tirelessly to graduate college. I am the Black women who come home from work with aching feet. I am the Black women who love thee Stallion and proudly stick their tongues out while they dance. They are me and I am them.

Black girl magic doesn’t just mean letters from the divine nine or a graduation cap. Black girl magic encompasses the girls from around the way, the girls with flowers in their Afros, girls in college, girls who love other girls, trans girls. Please let us live and see us for who we are and not what we can do for you.

Sincerely,

A tired Black girl who became a woman.

Sickness, Suicide, & Sensuality …

In my adult life, I have become what seems like a grocery list of mental/emotional issues. everyday is a new adventure down the rabbit hole of what has become me. everyday is a new endeavor managing and evading side effects of mental illness. with that being said, the last two weeks of February were the absolute hardest. Mercury was in retrograde, I was full of phlegm, and having a major depressive episode. It was the worst I have  had in a long time, almost resulting in suicide. I laid in my bed, tears falling, throat sore, and soul hurt. In thought long and hard about the reasons why my life just wasn’t worth it anymore. I thought about how easy it would be for people to move on if I died.

I’ve had this feeling before, where everything would be better if I wasn’t. I’ve teetered the line between life & death before but I haven’t since 2015. I called that progress until Feb. 2020. Maybe it was the flu, dealing with other people children daily, and the constant worry about the future. Either way, I was going through the blues. The surprising thing that kept me somewhat steady was an upcoming Vixen Camp.

Vixen Camp is a class or more like a series of classes exploring sensuality and manifestation through body movement. The instructor, Ciera Adair is a vibrant sunburst with a soothing aura. Ciera has crafted a traveling dance company that promotes getting to know the body, redefining sensuality, and using the power of movement to manifest.

The class started with Adair explaining that choreography wasn’t important-step by step to the “T”. She said, “Y’all know I don’t give a fuck about choreography.” The important thing was doing what felt right to the body, my body was important, for once my body mattered. The movement, the wants of what my body needed was important. The room was dimly lit with a single spotlight. We began with simple movement. Our bodies were getting used to the space. This was a constant theme throughout the entire class as well as be present in the moment. Two things I am rarely ever able to do. The class lasted about two hours.

From the moment I agreed to go, I was biting my nails and gulping hard because I have the sensuality of a rotten dragon fruit and trauma related to my body. For years, I neglected understanding my body and how it relates to my feelings/ mental-emotional issues. Vixen camp brought that to the forefront of my mind but in a subtle and delicate way.I spent time in the class slowly chipping away at a shell that has been built. The class challenged me to move- from simply walking with my chest out to a backwards twerk move on the floor. Adair said something about sensuality- “it’s not super femme.”It doesn’t have to be sexual or for other people. She said, “We dance for ourselves. I’m no t here to show you how to dance for a man. You dance for you.”

In the two hours I spent I learned to move to music, spoken word (surprise performance from the Jennifer Eden), and to let my guard down. I gained a small appreciation for my body and doing what feels right for my body in the moment. It was a therapeutic experience for me. I felt re-balanced afterwards. It helped me think differently. It helped in anchoring my depression and anticipating opportunities to come. I am anticipating taking another class but I’d have to be alive for that. At the end of the previous month, I was sick, suicidal, and searching for happiness. On the last Friday of the month, I regained my strength, my energy, and a new curiosity for life. Whether or not you have depression or body issues, I would suggest taking a workshop. It’s fun, restorative, and gets you in touch with your body.

Catch Vixen Camp updates and Ciera’s adventures on Instagram.

 

Routine we practiced, ^^ above.

 

*Photos and Videos courtesy of Ciera Adair.

Depression Has Been Kicking My Ass for Over a Decade …

I don’t know about y’all but I was a timid kid. I was agreeable and I didn’t cause much trouble in school. I was labeled as a “good kid.” I got great remarks on my report card and praise from teachers. At home, I was either quiet or had spurts of talking too much. For as long as I can remember, maybe around age 7, I had spurts of sadness that lasted days or fits of irritability that lasted for days. Of course, growing up in my household, “there was no reason to be sad.” I was a child and children were supposed to have one emotion- happiness. I did my best to keep up with that, although I had my first thought of suicide when I was 8 years old. I thought about shoving a knife into my stomach- childish, I know but I didn’t tell anyone. I learned pretty quickly to not speak of those things; I learned to mask what I was feeling. I used to play with Barbie dolls, and oddly enough every time I played with them, I ended up mentioning something related to sadness or suicide. That was unintentional.

In school, I was labeled “weird” and “smart.” I was also accused of having an attitude problem because needless to say at times I was moody. Something was always wrong but I didn’t know what and I wasn’t sincerely being asked either. I just thought I was weird, like everyone said. As I grew into being a preteen and teen, my “weirdness” grew with me. In middle school, I was rather shy and hid myself. In high school, my 10th grade year in particular, I noticed something was way off. There were days when I felt extremely upset. I didn’t want to get out of bed and I just felt like I just couldn’t that day, whatever that was. I had teachers who were obnoxious, peers who were annoying, friends who I didn’t want to bogged down, and I’m sure there was some boy that was on my kind. My school work made me incredibly tense. I stressed everyday about something. I was asked, “how and why could someone your age could be stressed?” But by this time, I thought I as just going through teenage girl mood swings. I was pushing my “weirdness” and “sadness” to the back of my mind to pursue other things that made me feel happy for the moment. I graduated. I started college. The beginning of college was one of the hardest times in my life. I felt so miserable. I felt so drained before my classes even started. I was not enthused or anticipating this newfound journey. I watched as the girls bounced happily around the campus and there I was, watching them bounce around me. This was the second phase in my life when I started to randomly cry. The first time I ever cried randomly was when I was 6 years old.

Bouts of tears has become normal by the time I was in college and it was here that I became addicted to working. It was here that I realized something was off and it was here that I discovered therapy. After that moment, my spiral into therapy started but so did the spiral of my life. I learned after 2 therapists and 2.5 years that I was depressed. I have major depressive disorder and of course, it invited its friends: anxiety and a form of PTSD. I was surprised slightly. I had small glimpse of my life leading up to that moment, starting with childhood. That was in 2014-2015. Here I am now, on the brink of 25, still battling and still hoping. Hoping that when I have my highs, they last forever. A high is when I don’t have to nestle the sheets and cocoon myself in the morning. A high is making plans with my friends and following through with them. It’s making jokes, waking up on time, being somewhere in time. It’s going to the gym. It’s looking the mirror and smiling. It’s planning my outfits. It’s planning effective lessons- yes, I’m a teacher. It’s saying, “hey, my days wasn’t so bad after all.” It’s not feeling life the world and life is just happening around me. It’s a lot of things that don’t always happen.

So what does depression look like for me? It’s:

  • Forgetting
  • Being irritable
  • Not writing
  • Not reading anything
  • Wanting to stay in, all the time
  • Not doing my usual things
  • Extremely upset
  • Extremely sad
  • Waking up late
  • Waking up but not getting out of bed
  • Getting to work 15-20 minutes late
  • Feeling inadequate
  • Wanting to sleep all day
  • Crying
  • Not meal prepping
  • Not putting effort into my work or assignments
  • Not seeing my friends
  • Over eating
  • Not eating
  • Not talking
  • Crying after almost every conversation

Depression and the lows I have look like a lot for me. They can last for days, up to a week. Then comes the high. I envision myself as a scale. I’m trying to find balance but it’s very delicate. A lot of things throw off the balance. A lot of things are triggering.

I think about my battle with depression because a new decade is starting soon and I’m turning 25 next month. Depression has been kicking my ass for over a decade and I am tired. I don’t want to see myself as the confused, sad 7 year old I was. I want to move forward optimistically but also realistically. Living with depression is not easy. Living with anxiety or PTSD is not easy. It is not something that you can ignore- I did that all my life and it got worse. (I have stories about that. I’ll tell y’all that later. Whew). It’s not something that you can just “pray” away. (I am a Christian and understand the complexities of being a Black Christian. However, I am a realistic Christian.) It’s not something that you can smoke away- didn’t try that and I really don’t want to. You can’t drink it away- fell down that rabbit hole. And you can definitely not sex it away- no comment here.

So the question becomes, what’s am I going to go after being beat up for over a decade?

I have to remember to ground myself. But I also have to remember that in a way, I just started confronting these things. 2013 until now seems like a long time but it really isn’t when you’ve ignored the issues and the root causes for so many years.

Yes, depression and it’s friends have acted like lunch money bullies for most of my entire life. Yes, I have been stifled and made regretful but there are some lessons that came from this. So, I’ll be a work in progress for some time but that’s okay too. I’d like to apologize to my friends everyday, but I’m sure they would get tired of hearing , “I’m sorry for…”.

With a couple months left in the year and a birthday on the way, I am going to make strides try to alleviate stresses, triggers, and whatever else I can. I am going to work hard to focus on what make me happy and what makes me smile. It’ll be hard work but not as hard as living with depression for about 18 years.