I have been silent for a lack of better words and for that alone I must ask for forgiveness.
Know that I do not speak for everyone. I lack the capacity to speak on behalf for anyone nor do I feel qualified to do that. Those of you who are already familiar with my habits, whether from my previous writings or direct interactions, can agree that I am often quite wary and cynical about everything.
There is a bitterness that lingers deep inside me. My journey has taken me quite far, with its share of positive and negative experiences, just like anybody else. I have found in this journey both wisdom and insight that are often unknown to those outside of this lifestyle. It is the kind that will never be replaced by anything else in this one lifetime.
But it seems that there is now a shadow over the horizon.
Everywhere it seems this world has gone mad – mad from anger, from grief, and from fear – leaving behind only the embers of bright memories that slowly burns away. It seems that our nature leads us to unavoidable conflict, an inevitable clash between self-integrity and the capacity to embrace and foster the people around us.
In such conflict, I have seen the rise and fall of entire Houses and brotherhoods, the mourning and absence of potential; the ending of friendships, partnerships, and divide that separates whole communities apart from one another.
During those moments, people act dismissive, becoming absolute and stubborn, turning a blind eye away from those that do not agree with them. They forget the means of compassion, opting for ignorance and apathy – a kind of cruelty that is beyond mere sadism and savagery. In anger and grief, as the saying goes, blinded to the world around them.
I am not unfamiliar to that feeling of anger and grief as well.
After all I, too, have loved and lost.
When the fires died down in June, even as my friends fought with one another, I have said nothing. Even at the town hall gathering, when every bit and nuance urged me to stand with flag in hand, I ignored the call. I ignored it when there was outcry from my friends abroad and my friends at home.
I ignored it because it was easier, less painful.
I ignored it for selfish reasons, for the very reasons that have often left me questioning my vows and my oaths. I ignored it because I was angry and afraid like anyone else.
Perhaps that is why people tend to leave all this behind. We give in to those feelings, often when we are at our worst. Despair is powerful emotion, capable of driving out all forms of reason, trapping us in that darkness. I can see now why so many Elders turn away or flash that smile of knowing, that smile of admiration to spirit and perceived naivety.
But I will not be silent any longer – a person can only admit their faults once and hope only to correct them.
Through the stories passed down by Elders, through my own experiences, I have often been warned against the storm in the horizon. More often than not I have taken some measure of comfort whenever I’m told that I’m being too dramatic, too quick to assume the worst, but like some kind of a waking nightmare that has been made into an awful reality.
I reiterate, I do not speak for everyone, but there is no arguing that there will be many who will be affected within this climate of tension – that if the world beyond brings with it a return to those days of bigotry, ignorance, and hate – I am all too prepared to answer the call.
It is easy to dismiss this as small talk, to argue that things cannot be as bad as they seem, but to that I cannot help but ask if that is the kind of talk that stems from privilege or willful ignorance – that one can easily say that they are not as risk for being queer, for being a minority, for identifying differently – that is is easier to stand aside and do nothing.
Or that, worst of all, to say that our community is not at risk. To argue that because we are remote, that we are obscure and shrouded in secrecy, that we could not be affected – that’s bullshit. The very possibility of that occurring, no matter how far fetched it seems, is far too great of a risk to dismiss or ignore. That is vigilance, that is the creed of every flag bearer and every Elder and every person that have experienced them.
If it means that I must stand with my flags in my hand, facing off against the ignorant, to serve as a reminder that there are still those that are prepared to take a stand, I will gladly answer the call.
If it means that for every outcry, every moment of anger and grief, I am to stand in bold defiance against those that would sooner ridicule and scorn us for our emotions, I will gladly answer the call.
If it means that for the next four years, I would put myself at risk to add my voice to all the others, to witness and to watch and to remember each act of injustice; to pass those stories down, to recount to whoever is willing to listen so that it won’t happen again, I will gladly answer the call.
This is not the time for silence. It is not the time to turn a blind eye, to remain comfortable, or to let one’s guard down. It is not the time to give in to that shadow of anger, despair, or grief. It is not the time to share mere sympathies and do nothing. The call has been made – not necessarily by those we know – but those that share those bevy of experiences.
I do not believe that this journey is a selfish one. A community is not built overnight nor are relationships and friendships either. It is fostered and nurtured with great patience and care.
The pain that we feel when those foundations are broken is a human kind of pain. Once we lose the ability to love and care for one another, this journey becomes a bleak and meaningless one; once forgotten, it can never be replaced. Our ability to love, to have our hearts broken, and still to love again is masochism in its truest form.
That is courage. That is strength.
Remember that feeling.
Remember that it exists and that it is beautiful and rich, powerful and irreplaceable.
Remember and that feeling transforms into a different kind of emotion – the kind that drives away that shadow ahead, that feeling of uncertainty.
It is a powerful emotion and it is not an unfamiliar one. It has and always will be a light in the darkness.
It is the feeling of Hope.
Do not forget hope. Do not forget the very things that make this journey a wholesome and unique one, no matter how difficult or painful that becomes. When the time comes to answer the call, I know deep down inside, your heart will be in the right place.