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On Mental Health

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

But we don’t need awareness.

We need mental health acceptance.

The media shares more than enough stories about famous people’s struggles with mental health and, otherwise, often conflates mental illness with bigotry (e.g. mass shootings perpetrated by white supremacists are often whitewashed in the name of “mental health”).

We never hear of how suicide is the leading cause of death in the US, or how 1 in 4 Americans will experience clinical depression, or how minority stress, trauma and pressure makes it difficult for Black and Brown people to self-report and undergo mental health treatment.

The point is that May should be about more than awareness, it should be about the acceptance that we have, as a society, a problem with mental health stigma.

Awareness campaigns are strictly for when people aren’t already aware, but we are aware, otherwise, ableism wouldn’t be so rampant in American society.

We are just willfully ignorant about the state of mental health treatment and the accessibility of mental help.

That needs to change.

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Being Asian/Pacific Islander in America

Today marks the end of Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage month.

And I see that America still doesn’t give a fuck about us, but that’s okay, I guess. After all, we have all been conditioned, by both the media and those who make these rules, that if you’re Asian, in particular, in America, that you should be the following:

  • Obedient
  • Model minority
  • Quiet
  • Impotent (in more ways than one)
  • Hard-working
  • Wealthy
  • Meek
  • Weak (physically and in our political will)
  • Strong as in “smarter” because of genetics (wtf even is that?)

What Asians Need To Do

The worst part is that many Asians in America just accept this reality that we must live with the trauma of model minority and minority stress to fit this cookie-cutter, white-supremacist derived definition of what it means to be Asian. In this way, we don’t get to write our own narrative, and refuse to do so, because it is politically and personally advantageous for us to be “good Asians” that fit a stereotype. At the same time, when we don’t fit the definition of a good Asian (which starts with basically being the Asian version of a white person with cishet, enabled, and wealthy privilege), we are shunned by our own communities because we are not socially acceptable.

One of the major problems with our Asian community in America is that we choose to willfully ignore the needs of those who don’t fit the model minority myth strictly because of our community’s colonial mentality and preference for all things “white”. Thus, we accept that our narrative should be written for us and that we must fit in rather than stand out as a community. We also glorify “traditional values”, like gender norms, homophobia and transphobia, that were exported to our ancestors. There is no better way to honor our ancestors, who suffered under colonialism, than to show love for all of us. Asians are not a monolith, we can be Yellow, Black or Brown, we can be queer, trans or intersex, we can be enabled or disabled. Our community is as diverse as any other out there with all of the nationalities and microcosms that compose the Asian diaspora. We can no longer stay silent or complicit on issues of racial injustice, acceptance for queer/trans/intersex people, or for disabled people. We must stand strong in solidarity with our fellow Black and Brown people, with whom we have a rich history of advocacy and activism. We must stand strong for all queer/trans/intersex people and disabled people who have always existed within our communities.

We can no longer allow ourselves to be used as convenient, obedient pawns for white supremacy, we must dismantle that system in solidarity with our fellow non-white peoples.

For Non-Asians and Non-Pacific Islanders

Do not use Asians as scapegoats.

Specifically for white and white-passing people:

White people need to stop using the financial “excellence” of Asian people, or other Black, Brown and Yellow people in general, to foster your ideas of a model minority. White people also need to stop acting as if it’s okay to say “I’m into Asians” or, in the white gay community “I’m not into Asians, etc.” because racial hang-ups with dating are also a symptom of white supremacy and you need to stop acting as if it’s okay to fetishize people based on their race or ethnicity. Nope. Asians are not your fetish, your thing, your model minority or your scapegoat.  I am not a willing pawn and participant in your system of white supremacy.  I am not to be considered your ally in the oppression of my Black, Brown and Yellow people.  I am not your “banana” (and don’t you dare use that slur).

Another thing, the class privilege that many Asians do have is because their parents immigrated to the United States after attaining a massive amount of education, wealth, or both.  This is existing generational wealth that they and their families already had.  This also happens in Black and Brown non-Asian communities, in spite of your ancestors’ attempts to take away wealth from communities of color.  This privilege, however, will NEVER replace white privilege and all of the perks of being white.  We will always be trying to keep up with white people, in terms of our human rights and society’s assigned worth to us as individuals and communities.  And, so long as white supremacy and its many vestiges are in power, we will never have equity with white people.

Besides, I come from an immigrant family with parents without those professional qualifications, it was merely a series of strokes of luck that my parents made it to America, and that I was born and raised here.  And, because I have the privilege of being American, I will use it to ensure that the systems in place to coerce communities of color into enforcing white supremacy will be dismantled.

Anyway, stop your bullshit assumption(s) that Asians cannot face racism, classism, or discrimination.  “Not all white people” are bad or even believe this system should be in place, but many of the people who I have experienced discrimination from were, guess what: white.

Specifically for Non-Asian people of color

Non-Asian people of color need to stop stereotyping Asians as model minorities. Not only does that put us in a position where we feel as if our issues don’t matter in the scope of racial justice, this toxic belief is derivative from white supremacy. By claiming that my appearance relegates to me and allows you to assume that I have “model minority privilege” is the willful ignorance of the fact that my skin is not white, my eyes are not bright, and my facial features do not match those of a white man. By all accounts, I am a person of color, I am also a proud Pilipino, queer, autistic, and disabled man and I am not your scapegoat either. I am not the enemy and I do not choose to be allied with those who want to back white supremacy and keep it in place.

For Everyone

Understand that we are also oppressed in this same system of white supremacy and that, even if many of us have wealth and light-skinned privilege and choose to leverage that instead of fighting for liberation, many of us understand that this system is rigged.  However, we may also feel powerless to do anything about this system due to the discouragement that within general movements for social justice.  For instance, I have stated before that because I felt invisible because I’m Pilipino, gay and autisitic, and someone with white-passing privilege who was also queer and autistic simply scoffed at the idea just because of the apparent lack of credibility I have when it comes to oppression olympics.

However, that does not mean that light-skinned privilege, wealth privilege (which I definitely do not have), and the ability to pass should not also be dismantled, this just means that, as an Asian and Pilipino person in America, I should not be judged based on stereotypes of privilege that I don’t have.  Furthermore, it is solidarity, not white supremacist-fueled segregation, is the key for liberation for all Black, Brown, and Yellow peoples.

Fuck model minority expectations, bring back traditional pre-colonial Pilipino and pre-colonial Asian culture, and include Asians and Pacific Islanders in conversations about race.

Originally for publishing at https://chris.city

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Pulse

This visual poetry project is dedicated to the victims of the Pulse massacre who lost their lives during a simple night out with loved ones and strangers, forever embedded and united in history on that tragic night.

On June 12, 2016, a horrific attack on the Queer and Trans communities took place at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, FL.  As a result, 49 lives were taken, culminating in the largest mass murder on American soil since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  I created the following poem and subsequent artwork in memory of the lives lost in this massacre.  Everyone named died too soon at the hands of an anguished gunman.  May they rest in peace and power and may their deaths not be in vain.

Lies
Guise
Lives
Lost

Lost
Us
Great
Costs

But It
Became
Our Hope
So Came:

The Start
Of Change
After
Rampage.

Did we sin?
Feared by kin
We were in
Peace within.

Queer and Trans,
Black and Brown –
Hate entrenched
Scorn renown.

Dead queer bodies
With melanin
And martyred by
The fear within.

Radicalized
He terrorized
And fantasized
The genocide.

Loud, rattled and dazed
In dark, clouded haze
They hid as they gazed
Amidst their last days.

Queer, Trans, day-to-day,
Discrimination
Of our condition.
Now these bodies lay…

This drawing was created in memory of the Pulse victims.  Featured are 49 black shapes in memory of the 49 souls we lost in this massacre and 53 white shapes in memory of the injured survivors.  Together, these 102 shapes create the body and foreground of this drawing.  Additionally, featured in the background are other shapes presented in the colors of the rainbow, in honor of the queer and trans communities against whom this attack took place.
Unfortunately, as of June 12, 2017, two of the survivors have also passed away due to external circumstances.

Featured are the faces of the 49 victims of the Pulse massacre, with their images layered on top of one another to simulate the haze of this attack and in honor of the queer and allied lives we lost at that fateful night.

This is another digital composite of the faces of the victims, overlaid on top of the drawing I originally created for this project.

This image is a more somber tribute to the victims.  Similar to the two composite images above, the faces of the victims have been presented in grayscale, with the only color in this digital collage due to the drawing on which their images have been overlaid.

 

The following is a list of the names and ages of the victims of the Pulse massacre, provided by the City of Orlando:

Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old

Amanda Alvear, 25 years old

Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old

Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old

Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old

Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old

Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old

Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old

Cory James Connell, 21 years old

Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old

Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old

Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old

Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old

Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old

Frank Hernandez, 27 years old

Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old

Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old

Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old

Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old

Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old

Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old

Kimberly Morris, 37 years old

Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old

Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old

Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old

Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old

Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old

Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old

Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old

Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old

Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old

Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old

Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old

Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old

Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old

Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old

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Polly Tommey won’t judge parents who murder their disabled children. That’s part of the problem

Autism is not a death sentence and autism should not be the basis for forced euthanasia.

Left Brain Right Brain

Let’s just jump right to the video clip. Because it needs no introduction, it is just so wrong:

The speaker is Polly Tommey. Polly Tommey has a long history of bad autism advocacy. When people think of the autism parents who just do advocacy wrong, they are thinking of people like Polly Tommey. She’s been a voice in the “vaccines-cause-autism” movement for a long time. She’s worked with Andrew Wakefield (whose unethical actions in relation to disabled patients at his hospital lost him his medical license. To name one of his many failures). This in itself demonstrates bad judgement and poor reasoning. Recall that Andrew Wakfield fictionalized an account of a parent murdering her autistic child, framing it as an act of love.

But the low point of Polly Tommey’s advocacy career came when she and Andrew Wakefield “helped” a family in crisis. They were working on a reality…

View original post 1,055 more words

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I Lack Of Smiles

You dare tell me to smile –when they and I can’t reconcile!
Because the others don’t see me as one of their brothers
But rather something that they soak and clean in lather
My soul fits in a bowl of shame
My heart’s tearing apart
My everything– it’s shattering
Why must I take precautions about unbeknownst conditions?
What is this curse that only seems to make me worse?
I do not understand this simple, shear lack of demand
To try to know just who I am and then giving a damn!
My soul is cold, is that the goal? 
To make my mind a hole?
I “never smile” – it’s been a while, but don’t blame that on me.
It’s evident, you see, that if it were all up to me,
I’d choose only to be happy since I’ve got nothing to lose.
But also see that happiness won’t cure the loneliness
The feelings deep inside of me are ones I can confide in
While those outside may wonder what is happening inside

I “never smile”- since happiness and I don’t coincide!

Finished as of May 30, 2014

from Blogger http://ift.tt/1EeSxUW

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The Day

I want to see the day when
I can look at others in the eye.
I want to see the day that
I can actually be myself.
I want to see the day
where I don’t need to dream for comfort.
I want to see the day when
I can proudly say “Hooray!”
I want to know that
feeling of sincere security.
I’d like to finally help
myself so I can be of service.
I want to change the world
so those like me don’t have to worry.
I’d just like to know that
my existence is really worth the wait.
I like to think that one day’s probably going to be tomorrow
And I like to hope my
suffering will finally end today.
I just like to think that
maybe what I feel’s not really real
But I do like to take
denial as my full reality.
The worst part is that no
one else who’s there can even help me
But I feel as if I don’t
even have friends there anyway.
It’s as if my whole
existence is a trivial pursuit
And God just put me here
to suffer – hope that no one follows suit.
They claim that I’m either
faking or that I just want attention
And apparently I’m really
“well-off” when that’s just not reality.
I don’t get the words of
comfort – rather they just want me mute
And so what then?  Do I find a gun, aim for my head, and shoot?!
If they only saw inside my
mind – the darkness and the demons
Then maybe they would know
exactly why I want to hide.
If only they could see the
light, the pureness of my heart,
Then maybe they would see
I’m worth the effort after all.
Buts and maybes are not
real – to my dismay
Their acceptance isn’t
something for which I’m willing to pay.
I would rather live off
nature – away from this society.

But the truth is that
they’d like to see me there rather than here.

Originally written on December 26, 2013

from Blogger http://ift.tt/1h9WcZN

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Closet Dreams

I feel as if there’s no escape for the closet that once
trapped me.
The pain that never goes away, it seems to add up every
day
It’s something that’s too much for me – no I don’t want
to let you see!
It’s everlasting either way no matter what you do or say.
Please, please allow me to be free for once at last!
Please just take me away – lest my acts leave you aghast!
In shadows I will hide as I have no one to confide.
And though our paths may coincide there’s nothing that
you can provide.
I know it in my heart that pain will make me so much
stronger
But I can’t seem to tell if I can take it any longer!
There’s too much loneliness I feel to act like I can
linger.
I wish that I could leave this place by the quick snap of
afinger!
Since when I do – I know it comes with better, grander
tidings.
There’s nothing more that I would like than basking in my
findings.
To rediscover everything, a worldprecious like diamond
rings.

Alas, I’d gain my right to freedom.  At last, I’d fly beyond
my wings!

Originally written on May 30, 2014

from Blogger http://ift.tt/1JhuzHM

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If I Have Gay Children: Four Promises From A Christian Pastor/Parent

True Christians are just like this, wow. 🙂

john pavlovitz

KidsFiltered


Sometimes I wonder if I’ll have gay children.

I’m not sure if other parents think about this, but I do; quite often.

Maybe it’s because I have many gay people in my family and circle of friends. It’s in my genes and in my tribe.
Maybe it’s because, as a pastor of students, I’ve seen and heard the horror stories of gay Christian kids, from both inside and outside of the closet, trying to be part of the Church.
Maybe it’s because, as a Christian, I interact with so many people who find homosexuality to be the most repulsive thing imaginable, and who make that abundantly clear at every conceivable opportunity.

For whatever reason, it’s something that I ponder frequently. As a pastor and a parent, I wanted to make some promises to you, and to my two kids right now…

1) If I have gay children, you’ll all know it.

My children won’t…

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Struggle
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Learning Moment 1 – Struggling with Yourself.

Struggle

Struggle a combination of confusion and the depression that comes with it.


 

Every day a part of me feels as if I have to put on a mask and portray a persona that makes myself seem alright.  I’ve told others things like this before and it seems to be a continuing narrative.  You know, the one where I’m always a victim and others are always winning while I never seem to get a piece of the damn pie that I only want because someone else has it – in fact, everyone else has it and not one of them considers that maybe I want it.  But here’s the truth, maybe I don’t want it.


 

I remember in elementary school when I used to believe in the Christian idea of God that I was always teased every day for being oversensitive and not one day that I can remember was without a single tear coming from my eyes because of the fact that everyone teased me for being different, from liking the company of girls to crying a lot (something even my teachers couldn’t deal with) and I felt so alone and one night before bed, I prayed and prayed that I’d be popular.  To me, even, it sounds ridiculous that I’d even do such a thing, that I’d believe in a God who would help me do something like that but then again, when you’re 9 years old – you tend to be selfish, especially when you feel like everyone’s always against you and you’ve always had that sort of social awareness about how things are supposed to be and yet, your life is burdened with the fact that your life wasn’t as perfect as it should.  I didn’t live a fairy tale, I still don’t live a fairy tale – I’m broke and my family’s not exactly “well off” and then I’m also gay and have autism in addition to a bunch of other disorders.  For some reason, I thought that people online understood but I’ve found that they care about as much as people did in real life.  To them, and to everyone else, I was just this kid who didn’t matter – pretty sure that’s how it still is.  And for some reason, I feel like I needed this attention to feel like I matter, I still do, and it’s really strange to think that after years and years of having to hide who I am from other people that I still don’t get the fact that attention doesn’t matter.  It’s like every day I progress a little and I regress just a bit more.


 

I have no idea if it’s my childhood issues or what that makes me the insecure person that I am.  What’s even more surprising is how unstable everything in my life has been and how much of a constant I seem to be.  I’ve always been told that I’m a hard worker, a good student, and really creative.  Anyone would think that even though I go to a community college, still, that I really shouldn’t be suffering.  The most surprising thing anyone should know about me is that not a month goes by that suicidal ideation isn’t present.  Most days it isn’t, some days it’s just terrible and I feel like I need to cry, like I need a hug, like I need to do something to take it away but being the person society thinks of me, I don’t get any help at all.  Anyway, I have no understanding for why these thoughts come into my head to begin with, especially knowing that I fully do accept who I am as an individual, both my qualities and the very person who I am.  I accept the fact that I’m gay and very much want to be as much of an advocate as I can be, the same goes with me being autistic, an Asian-American, and even as someone who society would suggest is “ugly”.  I guess it’s one thing to love and accept who you are, but it’s another to say that I feel as if others do so as well.  The truth may be that I don’t or that even if I do, it’s limited.  And so every day is another struggle, but every single one reminds me too that I’m a survivor: of depression, of oppression, of many of the malevolent things that others want to do to me.


 

I do struggle with myself, I will acknowledge that and even accept it.  But in life, it’s all about struggle right?  About going through stuff and then about facing it head on and being a success afterwards.  I have no idea when that moment will come for me, but I am looking forward to it and if you face this same kind of situation, I really hope you do too.  In the meantime, I suggest doing something you love to do, even though you’re the only one who’s willing to listen to yourself.  I mean, I love writing, but my friends could care less about what I write about or that I even chose to do it – all people want to be is happy and they want to pretend that showing this type of emotion is bad, we’ve basically cast any form of negative emotion as evil, even to the point that sharing your negative thoughts about yourself is considered a “plea for attention”.  That’s not how things should work, not in reality anyway.  I will tell you that for me, writing about my experiences and struggles is more reparative than anything else.  These last few articles that I’ve written (and probably this one) has had no comments, but I think that it’s important to write about these things because even though I know others will try, they won’t be able to capture it in the same way I do.  I’m not better than anyone else, but maybe I just stopped caring.  Oh well.


 

I’ve written these same type of articles since 2012 on this very blog (though with a long hiatus) and I’m still doing the same thing!  Honestly for some of us, it takes a few times around to realize a lesson that we learned.

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Different Minds. Different Kinds.

Image

 


 

If you’ve read any of my other blog posts already, then you’d know I have autism. If you haven’t, then you do now! Autism is considered a psychological disorder of the neurological/behavioral realm. What that basically means is that our minds work differently from the norm. Instead of being “neurotypical”, we do think differently simply because our minds work differently.


Despite the reality that difference is not deficit, society as a whole still views us as mentally incapable. That means that when we don’t fit the given stereotype, we’re often told things like how we aren’t actually autistic or that we’re just complaining over nothing. In a sense, if we’re capable of walking and talking, we don’t need help. Now here’s the thing, those of us with autism who do need assistance should definitely get it, whether or not we can walk and/or talk. Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that individuals of all walks of life are affected. But whether or not we can contribute to society some great contributions or we need help from that same society, our humanity remains the same nonetheless.


Too often in any movement, we want to glorify our most outstanding members in order to make it seem as if we’re normal. We are normal, but we don’t have to prove to anybody that we’re human beings, they should already know it and accept it. As hard as it is for some to hear that their child has autism or that their friend may never be able to live without assistance possibly for the rest of their life, it’s even more difficult for the individual with autism to feel as if they’re a burden. If you’re a neurotypical, stop and think for a moment how it would be like if you needed others’ help for the rest of your life. What would YOU do? As much self-loathing as could come from such a situation, there’s also the opportunity to help these individuals lead successful lives. Autism is not a diagnosis for the purpose of putting someone with it in a box, it’s one that’s given in order to help such individuals gain accommodations in order to fulfill their potential. My autism diagnosis came with a hopeful note, that I am worth it and that those who disagree can basically screw off!


We need autism acceptance not because there’s nothing wrong with individuals with autism, but because what is wrong can easily be fixed without trying to radically find a “cure” or a “cause” for that matter. We have people like Jenny McCarthy believing that vaccines cause autism while groups like PETA use autism as a ploy to promote their agendas, in the case of PETA, their “Got Autism?” campaign is one that believes that a vegan lifestyle deters such a diagnosis. I’m a vegetarian, not totally vegan yet, but I doubt that going off milk will do anything more than make me spend more money trying to get nutrients in addition to what I’ve already cut off by refusing to eat animals. These perceptions are damaging, not only for kids who, due to their parents’ fears, will have to abide by that same ignorance, but also for individuals — the kids and adults with autism who want to be seen as equals, not a source of fear!


People with autism can contribute to society, directly or indirectly, if their neurotypical counterparts will be patient, kind, and optimistic. Autism acceptance is about two things, awareness of what autism really is in order to deter stereotypes or fear from allowing those with such a diagnosis live up to their potential, and acceptance for those of us who have autism.


 

(NOTE:  This post was previously published here by the same author)