Feeling Safe in Queer Spaces

A bit of context: some of this is from my therapy notes. I’ve changed his name because it’s not the goal to call a particular person out, but rather a particular behavior (that’s been called out millions of times).

Sunday morning is writing group day in Pasadena and has been for years every since I finished my first NaNoWriMo in LA. I was chatting with a fellow writer and a regular, (we’ll call her Jane) at the coffee shop that I’ve talked to a couple times before—normal for a write in. Two more writers joined our group that day: a past regular (Sauvie) and her friend. It was nice to have an expanded group! Too bad that’s not the focus of this post.

Anyway, Jane’s roommate, Michael shows up and they talk a bit while I get to doing some writing work. I’ve seen him there a couple times. He is very flamboyant (as in showy) and I believe works as a costumer or something for a theatre company. He’s loud and outspoken in a devil-may-care kind of way—which is completely opposite of me.

I got up to talk to Sauvie as I hadn’t had much a chance to talk to her since seeing her in December and wanted to catch up. But, Michael didn’t allow that. Before I could move more than two steps (she was sitting at another table about 4 steps from me), he loudly asks me if I’m single. 1) that’s kinda rude to just ask someone, 2) it’s not really your business. Mind you, these are like the first couple words he’s spoken to me. Caught off guard and like a deer in a headlights, I answer “Yes, I’m single.”

“Me too. Do you want to go out for coffee or tea sometime?”

“I’m having tea right now.”

“Well, obviously another time. I’ll give you my number before I go.”

Thankfully that was it. I barely recall that much, though I think he said something about me looking nice but that’s besides the point. My anxiety went into super overdrive maximum full throttle. I have an anxiety disorder called C-PTSD and, really, it’s not hard to get me in that maximum I-need-saftey-now mode. In fact, it’s really difficult to get out of that mode. Sometimes it takes me a day or two, sometimes a week or two, and when it’s extreme, a month (and by that time, I’m having other triggers that keep me in that state for months at a time—this disorder isn’t a fucking joke).

I had to calm down and use techniques and coping strategies just to be able to do what I’d gone to the coffee shop to begin with—write. Creativity is hard enough as it is. Add a triggering condition and it’s a miracle I got anything done. Perhaps that’s kudos to the work I’ve been doing for the last six months or so with my wonderful therapist Emily (of the same mention I’m re-working this story from).

I texted friends, I posted it to a group chat, and tried to process what had just happened. I’ll get to the thinking later as I needed to think about why this had upset me so much. The act of sharing, the act of telling someone mitigated a lot of the anxiety and helped me get through this situation. It was something I absolutely knew other people had gone through, especially women.

Once he left, true to his word, he handed me a post it note with his name in script and his number written across the top. I thought about texting him how rude his actions had been, but then he’d have my number.

But again, that’s not the point of this post. I journaled about this, I talked to my therapist but what I discovered is that this was more than just Michael being a predatory dude. This sparked me thinking about my own queer experience and how I felt so much different and outside the queer community. Why am I still uncomfortable about being queer, and why, after being out for so long, was I still struggling with this identity?

And I came to the conclusion: I do not feel safe in queer-designated spaces. I don’t feel safe or comfortable and feel like I’ll be “attacked” like I was that morning. Though as I mentioned, I wasn’t in a queer space, but I wore my pride watch band because I like wearing it—even though it is an open statement that I still equate with “I’m here, please murder me.” At the time I had forgotten I had switched bands as I do on the weekends when I feel safer. My guess is that seeing me wearing this “gave” him permission that I, as a person, had not given to him. And this argument has been about for many years: Just because I am in public does not mean I am public property. It’s a major reason why I’m an ardent feminist and have been for years.

To me, I always thought queer spaces would be safe havens from persecution based on my sexuality. For me, they are more terrifying than straight spaces. Emily made a fantastic point: there is a huge emphasis on sexuality in gay male culture (and I’d add in male culture to begin with: add hyper-sexualization, hyper-masculinity and you get a nasty mix). The fact that Michael did not engage with me as a person, did not engage at all except in a trivial, this-is-my-right male entitlement way, trigged a lot of the shame and fear surrounding my queerness.

Regular space, as someone with C-PTSD, is not safe and we need safe. Queer space is not safe. Home is not safe. Work is not safe. There are very, very few places that are safe. This coffee shop was mostly safe. Now, it is permanently unsafe. This is the same thing that happened when I went out to gay bars or clubs. Similar situations where people think my body is public. Those places are not safe for me to go to alone or without astute friends that can pick up on body cues. I’ve been told, like women have been told, it’s a complement. It’s not. It’s a violation of bodily autonomy.

For me, public isn’t a safe space and hasn’t been for a long time. And private has only a few safe havens left. As I continue to work on my disorder and learn better coping strategies that aren’t maladaptive, I’m beginning to heal and to learn to speak up for myself and protect myself. It is not automatic yet but this post is me speaking up afterward, after the situation. Then perhaps self-protection will become more automatic.

I’ve survived my whole life in fear. I’m working to give myself safety so I can thrive.

Support me on Patreon—a site for creators to connect with patrons. Your support will help me worry less about how to survive and more on how to create better art (including blogs!). I appreciate any and all levels of support. I post poems, short fiction, observations, and blogs (before they appear here).

Mental Health Awareness Month

I was made recently aware that May is Mental Health Awareness Month. The goal is to spread positive messages and end the stigma of mental health issues. This obviously hits home as I have several issues, and a history of mental illness in my family. So I wanted to spend a little time this month to discuss.

I’d like to talk a little bit about my mental health. I am doing better. In the last couple weeks, I’ve had some difficult conversations and some really tough times over the last two months, but I’m feeling better. Neurotypical is not going to happen. But being okay is the goal for now. If you’ve been following a while, you’ll know a bit more, but I have C-PTSD (or complex trauma). The following is a list from U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs:

  • Emotional Regulation. May include persistent sadness, suicidal thoughts, explosive anger, or inhibited anger.
  • Consciousness. Includes forgetting traumatic events, reliving traumatic events, or having episodes in which one feels detached from one’s mental processes or body (dissociation).
  • Self-Perception. May include helplessness, shame, guilt, stigma, and a sense of being completely different from other human beings.
  • Distorted Perceptions of the Perpetrator. Examples include attributing total power to the perpetrator, becoming preoccupied with the relationship to the perpetrator, or preoccupied with revenge.
  • Relations with Others. Examples include isolation, distrust, or a repeated search for a rescuer.
  • One’s System of Meanings. May include a loss of sustaining faith or a sense of hopelessness and despair.

I, unfortunately, exhibit each and every symptom on that list to a larger or smaller degree, but they are all present. It is very difficult to talk about, but have a name for it helped me gain some ability to deal with it. Another thing from their website mentions an inability or reluctance to remember traumatic events, and this is certainly the case for me. Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been working on poetry that touches on this very topic. It’s not reliving, but I hope it opens up the possibility to reconcile my past and learn to empower myself so that I don’t have quite so crappy a future.

Please use and share #stigmafree stories and support this month. Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. You never asked to be treated in a way that left you scarred. You never asked to have this and should not be shamed for seeking support and a way through.

Support me on Patreon—a site for creators to connect with patrons. Your support will help me worry less about how to survive and more on how to create better art (including blogs!). I appreciate any and all levels of support. I post poems, short fiction, observations, and blogs (before they appear here).


Over the past couple months, I’ve been dealing with so much. Ignoring mental health issues for so long has a consequence and for me, I had to pay some of those outstanding bills from years and years ago. Therapy is helping, and I’m working through things very, very slowly, but progress, I’m told, is progress nonetheless.

Most of my time is spent working through issues and trying to live life: not an easy balancing act. However, a few good things happened. My first chapbook, “Gymlationship,” was released by Arroyo Seco Press. I’m glad this was my first publication, as it taught me so much already, mostly that I wasn’t prepared for it. There is a lot of work and effort put into a manuscript, but so much more in marketing and talking and selling it.

I also attended my first AWP Conference (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) to great general success. Lots of networking, new and familiar faces, and of course picking up some good tips on writing life—not to mention the large sack of reading material to add to my list.

This journey is more difficult than I expected, more painful than I want to admit. I can only hope the rewards are worth it.

Take care, friends. I’ll be here, writing and working to get better.

Valentine’s Day

For many, Valentine’s Day is just another day, or if they are in a relationship, a nice way to reaffirm the choice of partner they’ve made. For some, it’s an annoying reminder of being single, or a reason to celebrate being single. For me, I am usually reminded of past trauma.

When I was 18, I was “found out” as being gay, which is possibly another blog topic (I can’t remember if I’ve written about it but the short version will follow). For two months it was a living nightmare to return home from school. I was never physically hit, but I suffered severe emotional trauma from my father’s outburst and expletives written in permanent marker on my walls. I was kicked out of the house at 18 on February 13, 2003. Every year, I’m reminded of this event because it fell so close to Valentine’s Day. For me, it is a reminder of trauma, a reminder of feeling so powerless and loathed. Compound that with never having a Valentine (outside of grade school!), and social expectations to have one, makes the day a downer to say the least.

I know my worth is not based on the above two, but the triggering can happen regardless and make my week before and/or after pretty crappy. Several years ago, I decided to change it up, and I might do it again this year. I bought myself flowers, a card, and some chocolates and was my own “Valentine.” That was probably the best date I’ve gotten. I’m laughing now, but it sounds so sad! Anyway, this year I’ll probably do the same. Because I’m broke 90% of the time, I’ll pick things up on Monday, and treat myself then after all the stuff goes on sale (including flowers).

I try my best to forget my trauma and it only hits like a train when I least expect it. Going to therapy helps a lot, and speaking about these only helps to exorcise them. I’m trying to change the future of this date by making new memories that are more pleasant. Like last weekend, I posted a bunch of valentine cars as a fun, mostly silly project. Thinking about making those for an artist who appreciated them makes this day less painful. It takes one year at a time, but I’m eventually going to be okay.

Being Social

Support me on Patreon—a site for creators to connect with patrons. Your support will help me worry less about how to survive and more on how to create better art (including blogs!). I appreciate any and all levels of support. I post poems, short fiction, observations, and blogs (before they appear here).

I wrote a blog for this week and decided to scrap it in favor of something different. A blog about my planning things isn’t that exciting. Instead, I’ll tell you about how things are going and some things I’ve done differently. I’ve been really social the last week!

Lasts Friday, I went to Chevalier’s Books in Los Angeles to hear John Brantingham read along with a few other people. I always enjoy hearing John read. He’s been an amazing support for me when I was first starting out in my career—and of course, I enjoy his poetry and fiction. The venue is a nice bookstore in the Larchmont area of Los Angeles, a bit of a drive for me, but it was worth it. I always try to support bookstores when I can. That may account for the hordes of books I have yet to read ….

On Monday, I went to Fox Coffee House in Long Beach to hear Lori McGinn and Mariano Zaro read (and to support Cadence Collective!). Always a good reading. Glad I got to see so many faces I hadn’t seen for months since my Holiday Exile (it happens).

I also attended the Ugly Mug reading featuring Daniel McGinn, Robin Hudechek, and Thomas Thomas—I always enjoy hearing these poets read, and the Ugly Mug tends to have an ecclectic open reading. The featured poets read from Ides: A collection of poetry chapbooks put out by Silver Birch Press.

I’ve also been social outside of these readings, which is rare for me. I typically limit myself to, at most, a few things a week so I don’t burn out or get tired. Or overstimulated. This tends to drain me a lot, but I’m nearing the end of the week and I still have energy. So very glad about that!

Recently, I’ve begun taking spirulina to help alkalinize my body, as I tend to be overly acidic. I’ve also begun limiting my dairy intake. Yes, no gluten, no dairy, and I’ve started to feel the best I’ve felt in a long time. I’m a little tired now, but that’s because I didn’t sleep so well last night (took a long nap and had some late-night green tea). But overall, I don’t feel as anxious or as stressed. I’ve been making sure to do my stretches as well to keep the muscle aches at a minimum.

But this doesn’t mean I don’t have doubts. I wrote a poem about this, how when I begin to feel good again, that I wait for the “other shoe to drop,” I wait for the good to end and don’t enjoy the energy while I can. I’m trying to this time. I have a therapy appointment next week and this is something I’ll bring up with my social worker. But I’m still working on being better. It’s a struggle, but right now, I have some hope. I will keep you all updated on how I fare.

How is your new year going?

Mental Health Check-In

Support me on Patreon—a site for creators to connect with patrons. Your support will help me worry less about how to survive and more on how to create better art (including blogs!). I appreciate any and all levels of support. I post poems, short fiction, observations, and blogs (before they appear here). 

IMPORTANT NEWS: I will be double-posting blogs (all social media links will now direct to this website). Please subscribe or re-subscribe to my blog!

First, I would like to thank you all for reading and following me and supporting me in my journey to mental health. It means a lot to see your comments encouraging me. Sometimes, its the only thing that keeps me going in the right direction. I have my bad days where I want to give up and just not bother with anything. But then I get a note of encouragement and shared struggle and that gives me the strength to continue on. I appreciate you all, thank you so much!

I hope that your new year is coming along well. To start this year, I was not hungover (even though I had a few drinks) and even got writing done the very first day. I’m pretty proud of myself for beginning the year in a way I wanted to. At my last therapy appointment, my social worker asked me what my goals for the new year were going to be—I told him that I don’t do resolutions, as I believe we can change slowly over time. But I did say that I wanted to work more on my writing, work on my health (physical health: eating better, working out, stretching, etc.), and continue making progress on my mental health. There isn’t much room for more, is there?

I haven’t outlined a plan yet, but I have a few ideas that should help me. Number one is stickies. I plan on putting them everywhere from “Did you remember to floss/brush your teeth?” to “Did you meditate today?” I think these reminders will help. I always get big rushes of energy and want to do so much at once, but I’m going to try to make small changes.

For my health, I’ve decided to eat veggies with breakfast. Which sounds gross, but I’ve been putting asparagus or leeks in my eggs every morning. It may not lead to totally health overhaul, but that is one extra serving of vegetables I wasn’t eating before, and to me that’s worthy of celebration. It reminds of the creed several of my NaNoWriMo friends say: that’s one more word than you had before. It’s all about the small changes we make in our lives.

What tips do you have for making new habits or reminding yourselves?

A New Year

(I will begin blogging here, and will eventually move my blogs over to this site.)

2016 is officially here. First of all, let us hope this year is better than the last. Here in America we have an election coming up. Something that’s been happening for the last few months too.

I don’t usually do New Year’s Resolutions, as I think it’s best to make small changes all throughout the year, one step at a time. But there are always things I want to do: write a little more, publish more (or send it out for publication), get to the gym a little more than I did this lat year—which should be easy since I didn’t go much this year—work through therapy, all that. And I hope this year will be a good one: full of new, fun experiences, full of progress, and of course full of learning. Though learning is not always easy.

There will be struggle, I’m sure, and some moments where life is difficult and I won’t want to work though it. I know those times will come, just not when or where. And I hope I can work through them to be a stronger person. Sometimes though, life gives us too much at once. Perhaps we’ll get some too much good!

Anyway, what are some of the things you want to happen in the next year? Did you make resolutions?

Added Publications

I’ve updated the publications menu. The Publications page is still a full list (though I have added a second link for that under the menu for easier access). I’ve also updated the links and made sure they work on that page and on the page of the work itself. Whenever I have a new publication, I will add it to the full list. In respect to the publisher, I wait before posting it on my website.

Short Stories added:

  • Blue Moon
  • Lucky
  • The Magnificent
  • Men Are Predictable
  • Second Sunrise

Poetry added (plus a direct link to my Patreon feed):

  • Converse
  • Exposed Brick
  • fading life
  • Haiku 99
  • I Cannot Afford
  • I don’t invite family to poetry readings
  • On Loneliness
  • Strings