ACCESSIBILITY VERSION - This copy has been formatted to accommodate screen readers for the visually impaired. For the full color formatted version wisit www.arttitude.org
Volume 2, Issue 1
Authors/Artists retain all rights to their work
Copyright © 2018 Arttitude
Cover Art by Armando Sebastian
Layout Design and formatting by Justin O’Keith Higgs
Copy Editing by Michelle Josette of FictionEdit.com and Sendy Monarrez
Editor in Chief
Megan M. Opperman
Victoria Lynne Scholz, PhD
Kristen Fisackerly Arnold
Justin O’Keith Higgs
Michelle Josette (English)
Sendy Monarrez (Spanish)
Opaline Mission Statement
Opaline aims to unite the academic and marginalized communities through community and public writing, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and art. Opaline works to create positive social and political change by elevating narratives from silenced voices. To achieve this goal, Opaline publishes an annual special issue featuring short fiction, poetry, drama, personal essays and visual art by the LGBTQ/Allies community, women, people with disabilities, immigrants, and other minority groups. Opaline is a program of Arttitude, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting change and acceptance through visibility for the LGBT and minority communities using art and creative writing to shine light on the narratives of those marginalized in American culture.
Visit https://www.arttitude.org/opaline-magazine for more information
Arttitude is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which serves to unite the LGBTQ+ and diverse community, local artists, academic researchers, and public and private organizations with the goal of inciting positive change and equality for all through art shows, music events, and other artistic endeavors.
Arttitude wishes to capture the narratives of marginalized communities in the form of artistic expression because it is these stories that highlight our diversity which will empower local, regional, national, and global organizations to make a positive transformation for the future. Arttitude is where the artistic community, academic researchers, and public and private advocacy organizations intersect with the goal of telling stories and inciting real and positive change for the future.
Table of Contents
Sexing and the City - Juan Munoz
Poor Cat - Şebnem Düzgün, PhD
Let the Children Teach Us - Aubrey Ann Laughlin
Imagine - Natalya Cherry, PhD
When I Have Long Hair - Armando Sebastian
As Above So Below - Armando Sebastian
Breaking Baton Rouge - Anna Bean
Looking Glass - Anna Bean
Raíces Familiares - Olinda Molinar
Sunday Brunch - Olinda Molinar
Selcouth+Meraki - Justin O’Keith Higgs
A Note from the Editor
Megan Opperman, Editor-in-Chief
It’s time to imagine the better world we want to see. It’s time to look ourselves, our country, and our world in the mirror and begin to project the image of a united and proactive community.
Back in September, two months after our 2017 Resist! issue
published, I found myself at a loss for what to do next with Opaline.
It didn’t feel like our resistance was over—still doesn’t—but it also
didn’t seem right to continue that theme into a new year. I read
Naomi Klein’s 2017 book, No Is Not Enough, where she writes,
instead of shock as we watch Trump take office, what we are all
feeling is horror: “Specifically, the horror of recognition that we feel
when we read effective dystopian fiction or watch good dystopian
films. All stories of this genre take current trends and follow them to
their obvious conclusion—and then use that conclusion to hold up
a mirror and ask: Do you like what you see? Do you really want to
continue down this road?”
In response to Klein’s challenge, the Summer 2018 special issue of Opaline, Imag[e]ine encourages our Opaline community to take a
hard look at ourselves as we work toward a better future. Opaline is
composed of an array of previously silenced voices, demonstrating
that we are stronger when we work together.
We have resisted, and we must continue to resist, but we also must begin to see the world we want to leave for future generations. In
this issue, I aimed to highlight the change enacted amongst political
and social tension. I am pleased with the responses which showed a
continued resistance along with a goal for the future. No two pieces
are the same; but each take up that call to resist, to move forward, to
A Note from the Editor
Victoria Scholz, PhD, Managing Editor
I often find myself lost in my thoughts, dreaming of a better life, but sometimes the dream turns into a nightmare—it happens more often than it used to given our current political climate. However, it is important to think positive thoughts to keep the darkness from taking over. When I accepted the invitation to be the Managing Editor for Opaline, I was elated! I love stories and fantasies and escaping reality, but I also love editing. I have imagined myself as an editor for a large publishing company, which I hope will become a reality one day. In the meantime, I am able to help those with less representation make their stories known. I am able to help their imaginings of equality come true, which, in turn, brightens the world.
While I reflect on the past year, the various issues brought to mind all surround one significant word—EQUALITY. I imagine a society in which we do not bring others down in order to reach this goal, but rather we lift up those who have different traits. Not everyone can be the best baker, but we need more than cupcakes to make the world go 'round. We need everyone's assistance to take the idea of equality from our imaginations and create a reality of it through global enlightenment.
As we close the second issue of Opaline, I encourage everyone to not just imagine how to improve our lives, but to take action to push it into an actuality. Resistance begins with imagining, but we must move forward with action. Even the smallest choice can create an avalanche of change, but it will happen more quickly with more participants.
SEXING AND THE CITY
By Juan Munoz
Cats live in loneliness.
Then, like falling rain, they die...
Tamala 2010, TOL.
Catmint is a city with more than one million inhabitants. In the last few years, its development has reached its highest rate ever: subway line improvement; umbrella borrowing and return service at the gates to foster public spirit; the lacteduct, a complex system of copper-coloured pipes which bring milk to every household faucet; anti-canine patrols; and secure hygienic control of the mice mills.
Catmint is the city that almost always sleeps; hence, all citizens have a duty and a right to contribute with a dream atom to the big collective dream. At noon, a tasty dense mist of purrs fills the empty streets. But appearances can be deceiving: do not believe that everything is calm in Catmint. The nights are full of singing, meows, and all kind of hisses you can make during catnaps or when all your six senses are awakened.
In spite of the urban legends, cats do not put faith in eternity. Their numerical counting ends at eight. Eight lives you can own; you run out after. Eight is the perfect symbol, like a cat seated in the lotus position. Octagonal Tigris Mandala art. Do not let yourself be fooled when somebody says that cats have nine lives. It is a common mistake: in fact, they are doomed, for eight times, to live the same aloof and cool life.
Ramón is a good guy. He lives in a cosy studio Downtown. He’s very neat and takes the subway every morning. He arrives at the factory, tests the quality of wool, and tells the sector manager to produce more balls. He goes upstairs to his office, turns the radio on (News with Jazz music), sits down, and takes out a blank sheet. Before writing his daily to-do list, he gazes at the portrait of his girlfriend and sighs. The morning has only just begun…
Celina is a good girl. She works at the TV station as newscaster, a tedious activity, according to her, because of feline aloofness. During the break, she stays in the dressing room and checks her cell phone. She always finds a message with a picture of Ramón pulling faces and a new twee poem he wrote at the end of his to-do list. Celina smiles and calls him back. If she does not, Ramón will sulk for the rest evening.
He often gives her flowers with a meat cake, ties bells to a red ribbon, and lights candles around it. He is sure that she adores romantic dinners, even if she is starting to find them repetitive. One time, she burst into his office wearing a wig, dropped her coat, and made love to him in the swivel chair. She knows that he could not dislike these filthy games, and that he would like them to happen more often.
Ramón and Celina have lived together for two years—“enough,” the girl cat would mention later. Their couple problems began when Ramón awoke in terror during a nap and hung from the ceiling. That annoyed Celina, who was a light sleeper. Once it was her turn to jump and to swing on the chandelier because Ramón had accidentally bit her tail.
Ashamed, Ramón explained that in his dreams he had a feeling of existing with eight legs and only one life. Celina rubbed her eyes and hoped to not seem very haggard on the TV screen the next day. When the alarm clock rang, two fidgety and bitter open-eyed creatures greeted the morning, and without saying anything they got up to sip some strong coffee. Fortunately, they could always sleep a little at noon.
One day, after a difficult coverage of the municipal election, Celina was exhausted. What she wanted the most was a tender snuggle with Ramón. But, once they had fallen asleep, Ramón shouted: “Spiders... Humans!”
“What the…” Celina muttered realizing that she had rolled four or five feet away from the bed.
“So many spiders and humans… I was among them, looking like them…” he pronounced trembling once he could free himself from the blankets.
“Come on, Ramón, we’ve already talked about this. Don’t eat so much before bed and you won’t have nightmares.”
“I ate very little…and they were so real!”
“OK, listen,” Celina said standing up, “I’m at the end of line… I need a rest…and you need to settle your bad-dream troubles by yourself.”
“Are you leaving me?” Ramón had a lump in his throat, and then he choked.
“Don’t start your manipulation games.”
She sat on the bed and gave him a slap on the back.
He nodded and dried the tears caused by the suffocation.
“I’m not leaving you,” the girl continued. “My boss has noticed that I was absentminded several times over the last few weeks… I have been making mistakes in my news reading…my whole body is out of control…I haven’t had my period…I need a rest, Ram. Only a rest…do you understand?”
Ramón kept silent for a few seconds.
“Sure!” he said trying to relax. “But…what are you going to do?” he asked seeing that Celina was getting dressed.
“Well, I’m going out and play pool with my girlfriends and spend some hours of sleep at Tullia’s home…maybe that will help me.” She went to the door and blew him a kiss with her hand. “Bye, honey, take care… I’ll call tomorrow night.”
Ramón saw how his girlfriend immersed herself in the semidarkness of the hall and closed the door gently. He got up and went to the kitchen. He poured milk from the faucet and sat at table. He imagined the pride of females beating pool balls, touching the stick jokingly, and drinking beer. He pictured Celina saying: “Hey, chicks, have you seen someone more unlucky than me? Out of all the big toms of the city I bumped into a freaky puss,” and then they all laugh and drink a toast. Ramón took the yellow pages and looked for the psychoanalyst section. He would try to find an appointment as soon as possible with a weird-dreams specialist.
When Ramón crossed the threshold, the first thing he saw was a blond Pomeranian in front of him. “A dog!” Ramón let out while all his fur rose. The image of the dog disappeared.
“His name is Arnold,” the doctor said pushing a button on his desk that made the image appear again. “Don’t worry, as you can see, it is a hologram. Arnold is a colleague of mine and one of my best friends.”
“Absolutely! Psychoanalyst dogs and cats have no war, no conflicts. That’s only for politicians and ordinary people. We are a community of researchers.”
“Yes, we hold a conference every two years in different places of the world…well, places different from the territories of Catmint and Dogwood, wherein it would be impossible. We constantly correspond, and we are friends even when we have divergent points of view…” the doctor said with a smile, even though his explanations had not managed to calm down his patient, whose back was still arched. He turned the hologram off. “Come in, Ramón, go lie down on the couch and tell me why you are here.”
Playing with one of his factory’s balls, Ramón told the doctor about his dreams. When he finished, the doctor said: “I believe I know the cause of your problem.” He retrieved a book from one of the shelves. “Eight legs…the feeling of having only one life…spiders…humans, right?”
Ramón nodded waiting for the doctor’s answer. His claws clenched around the wool ball.
“Usually,” the doctor said clearing his throat, “the interpretation of a dream needs the patient to make free associations, and little by little, as he elaborates new meanings connecting to his life, his thoughts and his memory, he finds a kernel, something provoking a kind of revelation. Do you follow me?”
Ramón felt stupid. “Sure…sure…”
“Our therapy would have taken several weeks, months, or years,” the doctor continued, “you spending your money pointlessly, and me getting bored with your manias. But there is something in repetitive strange dreams that could be analyzed otherwise. And you have already chosen this alternative by turning to a specialist like me.” He stood up and walked around Ramón. “I’m going to tell you what it likely is, and then I’m going to explain further, and answer your questions.”
The doctor sat down. Behind him, an airship advertising the lacteduct crossed the window.
“The manifest content of your dreams, the ones showing you between spiders and humans, reveals that one of your masculine ancestors gave himself over to arachnophilia.”
Ramón shook his whiskers at this gibberish.
“That means that one of your grandfathers had sexual intercourse with a spider.”
“It was common during the first Dog-Cat War. Soldiers used to have spiders as sexual pets.”
Ramón’s eyes grew bigger than ever.
“You are not the first to be suffering from this peculiar hereditary psychological illness. Spiders took revenge of those sexual abuses by injecting poison at the end of sexual act. Arachnophiles find the final spider sting absolutely exciting. The Spiderwoman kiss, as they call it…”
“Yes. A subtle poison that doesn’t affect the individual, but the species.”
“Well, Arnold and I have been elaborating a complex theory for years carried out from mythological human languages. That’s why there are humans in your dreams.”
“Sorry, you say mythological human languages, what does it stand for? Humans cannot speak!”
“These weak and tiny creatures were once the masters of the universe, and the owners of dogs and cats. Our ancestors were their pets and gradually learnt their languages, their economics, and the way of life that ended up killing them and handing the world over to us. Among the thousands of Old Human languages there was one in which humans can associate cats with spiders. It’s a play on words, or a joke…a man sees another carrying and stroking one of our cat-ancestors and asks in Spanish, one of the Old Human languages: araña? A word that has two meanings: “to scratch” and “a spider.” So, we suppose that the asker has said: does this animal scratch? But the other one answers: no, es un gato…no, it is a cat!”
“It’s not funny.”
“Yes, I know. I’m not good at telling jokes…even more so if they are jokes from mythological human languages. But as you can see, these deep and ancient structures create our dreams…and also our reality.”
“What do you mean?”
“Dreams about having eight legs don’t mean you’ll become a spider. Maybe one day you’ll stop dreaming of it. However, what is possible is that your offspring might be spiders or half-spider, half-cat creatures.”
Ramón’s gaze lost itself in an Octagonal Tigris Mandala picture. He tried to imagine one of these hybrid never-seen creatures in the infinite circles. He regretted having spent his time with this eccentric doctor.
“We have registered the first births of arachnophiles’ grandchildren in the last months. They will increase very soon,” the doctor said recognising a hint of scepticism and disappointment in his patient. Ramón walked to the door and said goodbye.
The sunset brought a soft breeze and sounds of a jazz quartet along the boulevard. Ramón stopped his strolling to listen to the jam session. Maybe their syncopated rhythm could make him forget for a moment both what the doctor had said and the remaining bad vibrations with Celina. A polydactyl tom played the saxophone with real skill, but it didn’t manage to catch Ramón’s attention.
Behind the improvised stage, there was a pet shop. Ramón approached the shop window and saw a dozen of crowed humans sleeping in the sawdust. He contemplated their hairless skin. “These weak and tiny creatures were once the masters of the universe,” the doctor had said. They looked like newborn rats or foetuses. Foetuses… He remembered that Celina had mentioned something about her period last night…spiders-scratching-baby cats…
His cell phone rang. It was a message from her. She asked him if they could meet up at Felix restaurant in fifteen minutes. Ramón replied quickly and started to run.
The dish of fried mice that Ramón ordered was inedible. Celina was very nervous. She tore napkins and didn’t talk. When she said something, she did it slowly and stammered so much so that the waitress had to ask her to repeat twice. Ramón tried to brighten up the moment telling her about his appointment with a doctor whose best friend is a dog called Arnold. But he stopped, noticing that dark clouds floated in her eyes.
“What’s the matter, sweetie? What’s wrong with your voice?”
“Ram…” She cleared her throat. “I have to tell you something… It’s not easy… I don’t want to hurt you.”
Ramón felt a hairball in his larynx, but he managed to avoid the cough. His eyes sharpened.
“When I left you yesterday, I thought I needed only time…but after a few hours I realised that I didn’t want to be with you anymore.”
Eight lives did not seem to be enough for this karmic blow. Ramón’s body staggered.
Celina shed a few tears.
Ramón looked around hoping to find a joking friend with a camera. Three seconds later he felt like throwing the fried mice into the air.
“But, you know…” the girl continued, “life is strange…and it’ll always be beyond our feelings, our desires… For some reason, I need to be with you.”
“What do you mean?” he asked with a hoarse voice.
“In this moment you and I have a reason to stay together…even if I have to confess I’m not feeling fine in our relationship… I’m…I’m pregnant.”
“Yes,” she sighed.
The male felt tore up between an uncanny remembrance and a sudden happiness.
“Maybe this baby can make our bond stronger,” Celina said almost whispering. “Maybe I’ll love you again…” she sobbed, “I don’t know, Ram. I’m confused… My job, I’ll have to leave it for several months…figure out how to deal with all this new stuff in my life.”
Ramón smiled with relief. He kissed her and said that he would like to be her child’s father, that everything will be fine.
Some weeks passed after this new beginning. Ramón couldn’t sleep. He roared in the roofs, the best city resting zones. To have a spider child that doesn’t scratch as a cat or to suggest that Celina have an abortion: that was the question. However, the girl was so happy, so affectionate. She came often to lick his neck and back, and purred, showing her round belly. He couldn’t pluck up the courage to tell her about the genetic arachnophilia. It would be like skinning her with one swipe. Then, the best thing to do would be to allow the creature to be born: spider or monster. A spider would not be so bad, after all everybody agrees that spiders were good workers in the fields of cleaning and construction. But who could take a monster? What would happen when the monster grows? Would the family be exiled from Catmint? Silence couldn’t keep these questions for long. Celina had the right to know that she was going to give birth to something that could be anything but a cat.
He told her.
Celina didn’t need much time to understand what this entailed. She was one mean tigress ready to find the swine who abused an Aranche girl, to tear him to fuzzy pieces and flush him down the toilet.
Ramón had drooped whiskers and saw himself dodging many known flying objects.
The furious female pronounced an insulting speech that can be omitted because of its length and repetitious sentences describing Ramón’s shortcomings and the fallen nobility of his family tree. However, it ended with: “When the child is born, we split up, asshole!”
After an anomalous period of gestation, a four-legged and four-tailed cute and healthy kitten was born. Celina tried to braid the tails but they were so thick that the only result was that the kid looks like a beaver. He has a funny way of toying with wool balls: instead of touching them with his paws, the kid undoes the threads to build complex geometric figures among the legs of the furniture: a trap for little animals and absentminded adults.
Ramón is always the main victim of these spider webs. He lives alone in a modest apartment of a southern neighbourhood. Every weekend he picks up his son from Celina’s boyfriend’s house—an executive of the lacteduct company.
Father and son walk along the boulevard. They listen to jazz music and see the humans in the pet shop window. Ramón wants to buy a little one for the kid the next month, but he is not sure if his apartment is spacious enough for this kind of animal, and Celina won’t accept one in her house because she has always been allergic.
While the kid plays in the playground with other children, Ramón sits on a bench to read a book. It’s about human mythology and it has been written by the doctor and his dog friend, Arnold. On the first page, they say that pigeons were a symbol of peace.
The other parents surround his kid and look at the figures he has made with a thread of wool. Everybody is very impressed. Ramón smiles and notices that nobody stares at the four tails; it could be considered a miracle.
By Şebnem Düzgün
An attic. Two middle-aged men—one sitting behind a desk writing something, the other pacing up and down anxiously.
PAUL (to himself). One makes halves, halves make one.
JOHN (agitated). Stop it please! I can't concentrate.
PAUL (perplexed). On what?
JOHN throws his head back and laughs out loud.
JOHN. On what? Are you kidding? Of course on my novel. I've been working on it for months and I haven't been able to finish it just because of you!
PAUL (tilting his head to one side). Why?
JOHN. Because you talk nonsense all the time confusing my mind.
PAUL puts his head over John's shoulder and tries to look at the pages scattered on the desk.
PAUL. Can I have a look at them?
JOHN (putting his hands over the pages). No, you can't.
PAUL. Why not?
JOHN. No special reason. I just don't want you to do so. Is it clear?
PAUL (screwing up his eyes). No, not clear. I can't see anything.
JOHN (facing PAUL's screwed eyes). Where are your glasses?
PAUL (searching his face for the glasses). I can't find them.
JOHN (angrily). You can't find them because they're not on your face!
PAUL (stops searching). I think you're right.
JOHN. Of course I'm right!
JOHN turns back hastily and knocks down the ink pot on the edge of his desk with his elbow.
JOHN. Damn it!
PAUL. What happened?
JOHN raises his head from the desk covered with ink and stares at PAUL open-mouthed.
JOHN. You ask! I knocked down this bloody thing just because of you.
PAUL. Stop blaming me. It is your fault. (He takes out a pen from his pocket) Why don't you use this bloody thing instead of that antiquity (He refers to the quill in John's hand)?
JOHN. WHY? WHY? WHY? You just ask 'Why?'!
JOHN throws the pages stained with ink onto the bare floor.
PAUL (alarmed). OK. Calm down. I'll ask no more questions.
JOHN (his gaze fixed on the distant horizon). You don't understand. (The quill slides slowly from his hand) The thing you consider antiquity is my source of inspiration. It is the only link which connects me to the good old days when there was no electricity, no machinery, and no--
PAUL. Oh John, your trousers!
JOHN (looking visibly shaken up). What?!!
PAUL. Your trousers—they are soaked with ink.
JOHN (jumps to his feet, looks at the trousers and then turns to PAUL baring his clenched teeth). Why on earth didn't you tell me it was dropping on my trousers?!!
JOHN approaches slowly towards PAUL, who is now taking small steps backwards, but suddenly the phone on the desk rings and the two stop. After a few seconds, JOHN recovers himself and runs to the desk to answer it. He clears his throat and picks up the phone.
Yes, it's me.
PAUL begins to come nearer to JOHN.
JOHN. No, it doesn't matter, but I was expecting Mr Johnson the following day.
PAUL is now beside John and he puts his ear on the phone.
JOHN. Yes, I see (noticing PAUL). Sorry, just a minute (covering the phone with his hand). What are you doing?
PAUL. I’m trying to listen, but the person on the line speaks slowly and quietly, so I can't hear anything.
JOHN (boiling with rage). PISS OFF AND LEAVE ME ALONE!!! (lowering his voice) Or else, I'll give you a bloody nose.
Horrified, PAUL withdraws promptly and JOHN turns to the phone.
JOHN. Excuse me. It's my cat. He scratched me.
Yes, I see. Around five o'clock. Thank you.
JOHN sets down the phone and starts rummaging through his drawers. Fed up at last, he turns his head slightly towards PAUL, now sitting crouched in a corner with his gaze fixed ahead.
JOHN (raising his voice). What are you doing there? Fetch me a damp cloth.
PAUL doesn't move, his gaze still fixed ahead.
JOHN (waving his hand to PAUL). Hullo! Can you hear me?
Hey, I am telling you. Stop acting like a deaf mute.
Filled with anger, JOHN rises and stands before PAUL, who is still crouching motionless. Waiting some minutes, JOHN bends over PAUL and starts shaking him violently, but nothing happens.
JOHN (giving PAUL a little slap on his cheek). Don't be such a bloody fool! Rise and talk to me! (seeing nothing happens he gets a bit alarmed and lowers his voice) Hey, Paul. Are you all right? Please answer me. I'm getting quite frightened. Paul! Paul! For God's sake answer me (continues to shake him). Hey! Wakey-wakey, you shit. That's enough. (raises his hand to give him another slap but he's startled by a loud knock at the door) It must be Mr Johnson! (stands up in a panic and starts rubbing his hands) Yes. Mr Johnson, Mr Johnson! (He wanders around the room anxiously, still rubbing his hands) What am I to do! What am I to do! (raises his eyes upwards) My God! My God! What am I to do! (the knock at the door gets louder) (to the person at the door) OK, I'm coming, (to himself) I should get rid of him. (enters the interior room hastily)
Noises from the interior. It's clear that JOHN is searching for something. After a minute he turns with a white sheet and covers PAUL with it immediately. Then, he hastens his steps towards the door shaken by determined knocks.
JOHN (takes a deep breath to pull himself together and opens the door). Good afternoon, Mr— (he can't complete his sentence as he sees a young lady before him with her eyes fixed upon his trousers).
THE YOUNG LADY (her eyes wide open). O-o-o-h my Goooood! (flees in terror)
JOHN (puzzled, runs after her). Hey, Ms! Ms! (his voice trails away in the distance)
Giggles from the outside. A pair of voices is heard behind the door which is left ajar. It opens. First JOHN then THE YOUNG LADY appears. They're smiling.
JOHN (his eyes watery). So you thought I was a murderer?
THE YOUNG LADY (smiling). Yes, of course. What did you expect? A man with trousers caked in blood. There, in front of you. Is there any other logical explanation?
JOHN (stops smiling as if he remembered something serious). Oh! I see, you're quite right. A man with bloody trousers. Well, of course, I would react in the same way. But you see, it was just an accident. I was a bit pensive and dropped the pot full of red ink. (seeing her confused face) Can you believe it! (He laughs shortly and continues with a melancholic tone) Red ink, yes red ink. I had to write my papers in red ink because the time my muses visited me I had nothing but only red ink. (showing his companion an old sofa in the right corner) Please sit down, Ms—?
THE YOUNG LADY. Please call me Liza.
JOHN. OK, Liza. Please sit down.
LIZA (sitting). Thanks.
JOHN (amiably). So, you work with Mr Johnson?
LIZA (evasively). Oh, yes.
JOHN. What do you do exactly?
LIZA (getting nervous). Oh, I'm his personal assistant. You know, I prepare his programs, answer his phones, and visit his customers when he is too busy.
JOHN. Then, Mr Johnson sent you here and he himself won't come?
LIZA. Yes, unfortunately. He is too busy nowadays.
JOHN (scratching his chin reflectively). I understand, but I've been waiting for him for two months and today I received a call saying he'll come and see my papers. (giving an agitated tone to his voice) Can you imagine my disappointment, my dear lady?
LIZA (sympathetically). Yes, I can because I myself have been disappointed by Mr Johnson several times.
JOHN (curiously). Really. But how and why?
LIZA. It doesn't really matter. (promptly) Can I see your papers?
JOHN (astonished). You? But I thought Mr Johnson would see them.
LIZA (laughing). Please don't worry. I didn't mean to read them. I'll just take them to Mr Johnson. He is the sole authority in our company to read and pass a judgment on papers. I assure you.
JOHN makes an attempt towards his desk.
LIZA (searching for the room). Where is your cat?
JOHN (perplexed). My cat?
LIZA. Yes, your cat. You said yourself on the phone. Don't you remember? You said he scratched you.
JOHN (appalled a little bit). Yes, true.
LIZA (getting a quick look at the room). But, where is your cat?
JOHN (his voice trembling). My cat...my poor cat....
LIZA (curiously). What happened to your cat?
JOHN. My poor, poor cat (sniffles twice). My poor cat... HE IS DEAD! (bursts into tears)
LIZA (tenderly). Sorry... I didn't know.
JOHN (wiping his eyes with the back of his hand). No, not important. (takes a seat beside her)
LIZA (touching his shoulder). I'm really, really sorry (with some hesitation). Do you want to tell me how it happened?
JOHN (still sniffling). Oh, awful, it was awful (putting his head on her shoulder). The same afternoon...the same room...but he was unusual (blows his nose). He's dead. I can't get my head ’round it. (He buries his head in her shoulder)
LIZA (caressing him gently). OK. Go on.
JOHN (pointing to his desk). I was there. (pointing to the opposite side) He was there talking gibberish as usual.
LIZA (turning her face). Talking gibberish?
JOHN (murmuring under his breath). Shit! I dropped a brick. (to Liza) Yes, he would talk to me. You see, I'm all alone. He was like a friend to me. He would talk. (nostalgically) Yes... He would talk. His MIAOWWW would accompany my sorrow and his MEOWWW my happiness. He was my source of comfort, my dear kitten. (wiping his eyes) I would give my right arm to see him alive.
LIZA (pitiful). Words fail me.
JOHN (looking absently at the white figure). There is nothing to say. Don't waste your breath. He won't come to me. (as if speaking to himself) I'm to blame. The facts speak for themselves. I did nothing for him. I always turned my back and cut him dead. But he was always kind to me. At least he was a good listener. He would listen till the end. I would wind him around my little finger, but he would say nothing. He would just live and breathe talking gibberish. (coming to himself) I mean his miaows and meows.
LIZA (caressing him). I see.
JOHN (relaxed). Believe it or not, he was my best friend. I'm foul-mouthed and I fly off the handle easily, but still he would break his heart for grief if I felt blue. Oh! I'm so cruel to ignore the jewel under my nose.
LIZA. Oh, come on! There are plenty of fish in the sea.
JOHN (weeping). He would like fish so much. My poor cat!
LIZA (rolling her eyes). I see, you're given to your cat. (turning to him) But for God's sake, he's just a cat. Buy yourself another one and stop biting yourself.
JOHN (furiously). I wouldn't do that. Not for all the tea in China!
LIZA (getting angry). I don't know the tea in China, (dipping her finger in his chest) but I know one thing for sure: You're out of your head!
JOHN (looking scornfully at her). You bitch. I would give you a black eye if you weren't a woman.
LIZA (coolly). So you gave your cat a black eye.
JOHN (hot under the collar). What do you mean, you idiot?!! (resentfully) I gave my cat a black eye. Phew!
LIZA (contorting her mouth). Yes, you did. If your cat was nice and soft to you, then why not? I know your type of men. You don't restrain yourself from breaking the hearts in the bag. You just take the ones who love you for granted and then smash them like a snail without feeling any remorse.
JOHN (moon-eyed). What are you up to?
LIZA (putting her finger on her right temple). Now just you get this in your small head! You can't love anyone because you're so selfish. You said yourself just a few minutes ago. (imitating his voice) “I would cut him dead but he was always kind to me. I would wind him around my little finger, but he would say nothing.” (returning to her normal voice) You see, this is the pure fact. You're SELF-ISH, SELF-ISH.
JOHN runs towards his desk only to be prevented by LIZA, who stands before him holding her arms out.
LIZA (in a mechanical voice). SELF-ISH, SELF-ISH, SELF-ISH...
JOHN (putting his fingers in his ears). No, no, stop it! Stop it! I can't bear it. Please stop!
LIZA (automatically). SELF-ISH, SELF-ISH, SELF-ISH.
JOHN (taking out his fingers). All right, you've got it coming! (rushing to the inner room) I'll give it to you. You just wait and see!
LIZA (shouting behind him). Right you are!
A few seconds later some noises are heard from the inside. It is distinct that JOHN ransacks the room for something.
JOHN (from inside). Ah, so here you are!
LIZA (hums an uplifting tune while wandering around the room). What are you doing there, bastard?
JOHN (triumphantly). Just wait and see, you little tart.
LIZA makes no response but continues humming the same tune. While wandering around the room, her attention is caught by a white figure standing in the right corner. She slowly approaches it. When she comes close enough, she extends her hand to remove the sheet on it. At the same instance, JOHN appears with a piece of rope and a wide strip of cloth.
JOHN (in terror). Don’t touch it!
LIZA (her hand in the air). What is there?
JOHN rushes towards her and, making use of her surprise, he manages to hold her hands tightly behind her.
LIZA (struggling to free herself). What is there, dickhead? What is there? Your cat, isn't it? (tearfully) The poor...poor cat.
JOHN (flushed with anger). Shut up, bloody fool! You know nothing.
LIZA sits on a chair across JOHN's desk. Her hands and mouth are tied. JOHN is at the desk bending over some papers. He scrawls something, fetches a sight, and shakes his head desperately.
JOHN. No, it's no use. I can't write anything. (rubbing his chin thoughtfully) I think it is high time to buy a new cat.
LIZA moves on the chair and murmurs quietly.
JOHN (awakening from his thoughts). What's that? (catching the sight of LIZA) Oh, is it you? (giving his voice a sham compassion) My poor kitty. What are you doing there? (opens his arms) Oh, my darling, come—come to your dad.
LIZA continues moving and murmuring.
JOHN (smiling warmly) Are you cross with your dad? (taking another murmur in response) I see you are.
JOHN leaves his desk and stands before LIZA. For ten seconds or so he looks at her, then bends close to her so that his face stands before hers.
JOHN (looking directly into her eyes). If you promise to be a good girl, I'll remove this cloth from your mouth.
LIZA nods her head abruptly in agreement. Seeing that, JOHN goes behind the chair to keep his word.
LIZA (her mouth free). You frigging man!
JOHN (wagging his finger). You're a naughty kitty.
LIZA (at the top of her voice). I'M NOT A KITTY. I DON'T WANT TO BE A KITTY! (lowering her head and her voice) Bloody kitty.
JOHN (hasting his steps towards the desk). OK. OK. Let's give up this foul play and wipe the slate clean. (sits in his chair, rests his hands on the desk and gives his voice an air of sincerity) Look, I want us to talk like two civil men.
LIZA (raising her head). Like two civil people, you mean.
JOHN (friendly). As you wish. Like two civil people.
LIZA. Deal. (moving restlessly in the chair) But I can't talk like a civil person with my hands tied.
JOHN (He gets up from his chair and goes towards LIZA). Oh, sorry! (unties her hands and squats down just before her chair) Are you all right?
LIZA (rubbing her wrists). Yes, better.
JOHN (looking directly into her eyes). I'm so sorry. (extending his hand slowly) Will you be kind enough to forgive me?
LIZA stares at his hand blankly and gives no answer.
JOHN (tilting his head slightly forward). Liza?
LIZA (looking somewhat startled). Oh, yes, surely.
LIZA reaches for his hand and shakes it gently.
LIZA (looking a bit confused). But the thing I don't understand is why you acted brutally a moment ago and you're so civil now?
JOHN (He stands up slowly and moves towards the window behind his desk.). You know, the same mortal weakness circulating in our blood and through our genes. (hesitating for a moment) I mean the brutal side of man. The monster inside us.
LIZA (rolling her eyes). Oh, don't start! Please don't talk about blood, genes, and monsters. (She stands up, goes towards JOHN and puts her hand over his right shoulder) Look John, I want us to talk like two civil people. That's just what I want. Nothing more, nothing less, you see.
JOHN (turning his back). Yes, I see. (pointing to the sofa in the right corner) Let's sit down.
They sit. Their heads bend downward as if they try to find something to talk about.
JOHN (lifting his head up suddenly). I found it! I found it!
LIZA (lifting her head up, confused). Found what?
JOHN (speaking gayly). I found the thing we'll talk about.
JOHN rises up from the sofa and hastens towards the object covered with the white sheet. He stands beside it and reaches for the sheet.
JOHN. Here you are!
The sheet drops and PAUL appears, still looking like a stone.
LIZA (horrified and perplexed, puts her hands on her mouth). Oh, my God!
JOHN (looking proudly at PAUL). Yes, isn't it magnificent! The work of a master, like a statue well embroidered by skilled hands.
LIZA (her gaze rock steady). What are you up to?
JOHN (hot under the collar). Now just you get this straight in your head! (pointing to Paul) I did nothing to him, he's just obstinate as a mule. He doesn't want to speak. That's all.
LIZA (recovering from the first shock). No, that's not all! You're a liar. You keep something up your sleeve. (pointing to the door) There, there I saw you in your bloody trousers. (She puts her hand over her forehead) What a fool I am! I should have understood. You're a murderer—a filthy monster.
JOHN (at the top of his voice). Sod the monster! Sod you, cunt! (starts walking up and down anxiously) Look, I'm at the end of my tether—I can't do anything to wake him up. It's not my fault. (a moment of hesitation) No, no it can't be. (more hesitation) No, no, no it mustn’t be.
LIZA (losing her temper). Yes, it's Your fault. (She points to the blank walls) It's His, His, His, and His fault. It's Theirs, it's YOURS!
JOHN (making a futile attempt to speak). No, it's not...
LIZA (waving her hand furiously). Shut up! I know your kind. You want to have Us in the palm of your hand and you force Us to choose between the devil and the deep.
JOHN. But I...
LIZA. No, don't say anything. (her voice breaking) WE are the ones who have to hide our light under a bushel and who have to say, 'As you wish.' No, I don't give a pig for YOUR frigging wish. WE have our wish, yes WE have.
JOHN. But you...
LIZA (waving her head and finger). No, WE are not tilting at windmills anymore. No, WE aren't.
LIZA and JOHN, facing each other, don't notice the twinkle in PAUL's eyes.
LIZA (still furious). WE don't want to be the black sheep of OUR race. WE don't want those who say, 'Do this!', 'Do that!' every two or three words.
PAUL moves his legs and hands.
LIZA (shouting louder). WE don't want to fall into reveries but to work OUR finger to the bone to make a better world!
JOHN. But I...
PAUL moves his head.
LIZA. But YOU're wrong! WE suffered a lot because of your whimsical desires, but it's time to let the last laugh out.
JOHN. But you don't see...
LIZA. I see quite well and know mine is just a drop in the bucket, it's water off a duck's back with YOU. But WE want to break YOUR stupid norms segregating the whole humanity.
PAUL puts his hands on the floor to erect himself.
LIZA. It's all water under the bridge. WE are not your puppies, your cats, your ducks, your slaves anymore!
JOHN. But what are you talking about? Who are you talking about? Who are WE and who are YOU?
LIZA (her eyes sparkling and penetrating). WE are--
OUTSIDE (shouting loudly). CATHY, CATHY, are you there?
LIZA (shouting to OUTSIDE). You can bark till the cows come home. (to JOHN) You ask who WE are. Listen, WE are--
OUTSIDE (shouting louder still). ELIZABETH, ELIZABETH, ELIZABETH, ELIZABETH!
LIZA (shouting to OUTSIDE). You shan't touch a hair of my head! (to JOHN) And you, just hear WE are...
LIZA notices PAUL walking towards OUTSIDE slowly.
LIZA (moon-eyed). But you are...
JOHN (not noticing Paul). But WE are...
LIZA (determined to continue). Yes, YOU are..
OUTSIDE voices grow louder and louder and they all shout, 'MISS JOHNSON, MISS JOHNSON, MISS JOHNSON!'
JOHN (listening to the voices). Who are they shouting to? Who is Miss Johnson?
LIZA (furiously). They're shouting to me. They're shouting to US!
JOHN (bemused). But who are you?
LIZA (her head held high). I'm Elizabeth Catherine Johnson. The bisexual daughter of Mr Johnson. A being condemned for her sexual preference. A person claiming the rights of the oppressed. Now you see who I am! (picks up the sheet on the floor and throws it upon JOHN's head)
JOHN. I can't see! I can't see!
LIZA (laughs with her hands on her hips). Can't you!
PAUL (from outside). LIZA, LIZA!
LIZA (turning her head towards the door left ajar by PAUL). Coming! (getting a brief look at JOHN, who is struggling with the sheet) Poor, poor cat! (Still laughing, she leaves the room)
“Let the Children Teach Us”
By Aubrey Ann Laughlin
“Why don’t they like us, Mom?” asked my innocent seven-year-old son as we marched past a group of protestors with signs reading “Homosexuality is a sin!” and “Selfish hateful people murder babies in the womb.”
“Well, buddy,” I began, saddened that I needed to explain why such prejudice exists. “These people don’t believe it’s OK for Julie and me to love each other. They’ve been taught that it’s wrong for two men or two women to love each other like we do, so they are holding signs saying it’s not OK for us to be who we are. But that’s not what Julie and I believe. We love each other a lot, and we love you, and your brothers, and your daddy, and Daddy’s girlfriend, and all of the people in our big modern family.”
I watched him silently take in the scene, reading the signs as we walked past. He took my hand. “I love our family, Mom,” he whispered, bringing tears to my eyes.
It was hard not to feel the sting of disapproving glares from those picketers as we walked with the Queer Families of Southern Oregon group in our local Pride parade. I felt the old wounds of growing up in a very conservative community where I was taught the same thing every Sunday for over thirty years—that my sexuality was a choice, and I merely needed to make the right choice, which was heterosexuality, of course. However, I discovered early on that I gravitated toward women when it came to my love life, and that led to two decades of inner turmoil and a long process of coming to terms with myself.
I kept my first two relationships a complete secret, as did the women I was involved with, and I felt nothing but pain, guilt, fear, betrayal, and isolation as a result. The first one ended after a year, when my “friend” (we never called one another “girlfriends”) started dating my brother, who was virtually my best friend. He had no clue. I lost my two closest connections, and there wasn’t a single person I could tell. I was depressed and despondent for months—I literally could not smile or laugh. It was the lowest I had been in life.
A year later, while attending a conservative Christian college (which will not be named), I fell into another relationship with a woman who lived across the hall from me. It followed the same pattern—secrets, lying to friends and family, feeling guilt and shame, and a fear of being caught, as we would have been kicked out of college and shunned. However, this one had the added stressors of her eating disorder resurfacing and me feeling internally split and suicidal. She blamed me for our relationship, which she had become resentful about (even though, ironically, she made the first move in the whole thing). We felt stuck together in our secrets for better or for worse. In this case, for worse. These unhealthy interactions at both ends (I am no saint) continued for three years until we graduated college and she moved back to the East Coast.
Three months later, I met the man I ended up marrying. He was sweet, responsible, and safe. According to what I still believed at the time, I had been in “impossible” non-relationships up to that point—relationships that were doomed the moment they began. Here was someone I had symbiotic energy and interactions with, and after all, didn’t I just need to make the right choice to be settled and happy?
We got married about two years later. I had never had sex with a man until our wedding night, and he had not so much as kissed another woman (or man) before me. You can imagine the weight of a seemingly irrevocable decision crashing down on me on my own wedding night! I learned to squash red flags with lightning-fast reflexes for many years, because for all other intents and purposes, things were quite good with us. We were best friends, communicated well, nerded out on a regular basis, traveled the world together, lived overseas, and had two beautiful boys together. Many people called us the poster children of a good marriage.
So it was no small thing when I started to come to terms with who I was and realized what it was likely going to cost me—my marriage, my family, most of my community (as they were very conservative), my belief system, and my good reputation in the eyes of so many people who would inevitably see me as the “bad guy” in the equation. Mark and I had many stressful conversations surrounding sex, as that component just didn’t work for us after I stopped suppressing those red flags. I always felt guilty when I was withholding sex or some sexual experience from him, but also felt as if I were compromising my very soul when I would engage sexually. Conversely, he felt self-conscious, depressed in spirit, and less than fulfilled with our situation, and he felt guilty when I would cry after sex. He never pushed anything; to the contrary, he was suppressing his own spirit and sexual drive for my sake, and I knew that was not something I wanted for either of us.
I cannot say how thankful I was to be with someone who wanted my best, as I wanted his. We amicably dissolved our marriage of eleven years, assumed joint custody of our boys, and even moved to a new state together. There were plenty of emotionally trying times and subplots that are for another time, but I cannot be happier about where we all are today. I am incredibly fulfilled with my current partner, as he is with his own. We all get together for birthdays, picnics, parties, and fun days together. We are sharing our first Thanksgiving together this year. Our boys have felt nothing but an increase in love from the growing families that they are a part of.
And this is truly where my hope lies—in this new generation that is being raised in more open and accepting times. Today’s kids remind you that anyone can be a friend, and it really doesn’t matter what race, religion, gender, or socioeconomic status they are a part of. Prejudice is not inborn; it is taught. And so many families today are not just teaching “tolerance,” which is really a benevolently prejudiced word, but are teaching acceptance of all people and even a deep appreciation of those differing qualities, backgrounds, and experiences that make each of us unique individuals.
It warms my heart when LGBT parents show up to the open houses at their local schools and are greeted with smiles and hugs from their community. It brings tears of joy to my eyes when my kids’ friends tell them how “cool” it is that they have two moms and a dad. And it makes me believe again in the goodness of humanity when I see allies standing up for their LGBTQIA friends and family members and marching in Pride parades to express how proud they are of their children, brothers, sisters, father, mothers, and friends.
Will my kids face prejudice and even hatred simply because of the family they are a part of? Sadly, I am sure they will. But will each of them be the kind of person who helps teach others how to celebrate what makes each individual and family beautiful? Of that, I am also sure. They are overflowing with love.
And so I close with this—don’t lose hope, friends! We are moving in the right direction! I see it every day in my own children and their friends. Let us learn from the children what makes our world, our families, and our communities truly great!
By Natalya Cherry, PhD
Union United Methodist Church in Boston, MA, a Reconciling Congregation (meaning they affirm LGBTQ+ full inclusion even as our denomination has yet to resolve its divisive struggle over issues pertaining to human sexuality), where my colleague and I worshiped on Sunday, November 19, 2017 while attending the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion at the Convention Center, blocks away. We were blown away by the diversity of the congregation in every way, and by the warmth of the welcome. I believe this "Imagine" banner—the words for which I shall type below, as the photo isn't perfect—is intended both to describe the church AND to draw attention to a recurring conference they are seeking to co-host for the community at large (see report on first gathering less than a month later: https://colormagazine.com/imagine-community-conversation-union-church/).
The banner, suspended from the steeple, reads:
a place where your story is sacred
a place where diversity is celebrated
a place where resistance is faithful
a place where God is love
When I Have Long Hair (2017)
Oil on canvas, 40 x 30 inches
By Armando Sebastian
“Mira que si te quise fue por el pelo, ahora que estás pelona ya no te quiero”.
Cuando tenía 10 años encontré un libro con una de las pinturas de Frida Kahlo: ella tenía el pelo corto, vestida de hombre y había una leyenda en la pared donde decía que ya no la querían. Esa imagen se me quedó muy grabada. Al paso de los años me convertí en adolescente, y recuerdo que nunca quise dejarme crecer el cabello después de saber que era gay, como si el cabello fuera símbolo de feminidad o algo así. El tiempo pasó; hace unos años, ya de adulto, decidí dejarme crecer el cabello como un homenaje a Frida y a mí misma. Ahora encuentro poder en lo andrógino, mucho misterio, siento libertad. Por eso, cada vez que peino my largo cabello pienso en esa adolescente tratando de cambiar, pretendiendo otra realidad por todos los perjuicios y la ignorancia que aún existe en nuestra sociedad. Ahora solo quiero ser, existir y amar sin la necesidad de un nombre o una etiqueta. Eso es lo que soy, un SER.
“Cuando no tenía pelo me quería mucho, ahora que tengo pelo me quiero mucho más... mucho mucho más”.
As Above So Below /2018
Oil on canvas, 48 x 36 inches
By Armando Sebastian
“Esa presencia, el otro yo, está en el cielo, en el cielo o en el infinito, pero el infinito me da miedo, pues la idea de que allá arriba nada tiene fin es aterradora, y después descubrí que aquí abajo todo tiene un final”.
De niño siempre me sentí diferente de los demás, como de otro mundo. En mi barrio algunos chicos me llamaban el marciano burlándose de mí. En lugar de ofenderme con ese nombre decidí aceptarlo. Pasaba mucho tiempo solo, así que encontraba maneras de divertirme. Construí un mundo imaginario en el que me sentía seguro, aceptado y sin burlas de nadie. Como es arriba es abajo; le tenía miedo al espacio y a las estrellas, pero después se convirtieron en mis amigos y me olvidé de la ignorancia de los de aquí abajo.
Breaking Baton Rouge
By Anna Bean
I have claimed the lives of twelve victims now.
Come and show me who the next one will be.
I am Nature’s Assassin, so hungry.
I disperse and go freely where I please.
No chain can hold me, no trap can either.
I go as I please, no longer contained.
I have broken free of every hold.
The tops of dilapidated houses,
The bottoms of overturned cars,
Ripped up dreams, and shattered hopes
Will be all that’s left of your precious city.
But don’t fret, my child, there will be redemption.
Those lesser than me try to escape me.
Only those strong enough can dare to try.
They use boats and drive oars inside of me.
They try to block my path but I find more.
I cannot be contained nor defeated.
I am The Vindicator come to life.
My mother has called me to take revenge.
I will not rest.
I will not slumber.
By Anna Bean
Candlelit dinners overlooking France
Ferris wheels always going ’round and ’round
Rollercoaster seats that are upward bound
Horse-drawn carriages, all around they prance
Partnership on ecstasy at a glance
Arms mobilizing in sync with the sound
Arms reaching out to greet what has been found
Forgetting the waiter’s name, which is Lance
Eventually, the candles burn out cold
And the Ferris wheel crumbles to black ash
The rollercoaster crashes, it’s too bold
And the horse turns into a flaming ass
But now I see what we had was worn, old
It’s time to switch to a new looking glass
By Olinda Molinar
I am the generation who came in search of work,
From welders and ordinary housemaids.
I am the places beyond these borders.
It looks odd to most but home nonetheless.
I am the cactus that stays year-round,
The grass that is not always there (but greener than ever when present).
Yo soy piel besada por el sol y ojos cafes,
De Torres y Molinar.
I am stubborn and strong-willed,
From "Levantate y sigue adelante!" And "Nunca Conformarse!"
I am from those who believe going to church every Sunday,
will not save your eternal soul.
I have Texas and Aztec ancestry,
strong coffee and old traditions that seem silly to outsiders.
Salsa so hot that you cry just preparing it,
Food rich in flavor but lacking a proper measurement of ingredients.
Alcohol that will grow hair on your chest,
Family rich in everything but money.
From the past that never stood in the way,
The family that my great-grandfather lost.
In an old album hidden away are the pictures that hold meaning no one would understand.
A man who loved a woman,
A journey that brought me here today.
I am the times that no one saw coming,
From family that was built from scratch.
By Olinda Molinar
Chicken served with the sermon that is still fresh in our minds.
Homestyle green beans passed along by someone who you sit next to but do not know.
We are in groups that huddle together like penguins in search of warmth.
Gazing upon judging eyes every Sunday afternoon.
They hold words that pry and consume your every move.
Words laced with spite and smirks that make your skin crawl.
Like children who share a father but as he turns away,
Our love and smiles fade.
The same people who skip church in pursuit of something more joyful.
When sin takes a hold of the mind,
We focus closely on what the person beside us is wearing and not the Holy Spirit.
Like robots we still pass the corn and Grandma’s potatoes along,
Pretending that the building we are in is what makes us a "family."
The homemade greens and apple pie is what catches our attention.
The word we should crave is left on the back burner,
The smell of sin is what bring us through the door.
Selcouth+Meraki - Justin O’Keith Higgs
Please note, in the original publication, these images appear throughout the document in full page spreads to mimic the flow of a magazine. For ease by screen reader users, they have been gathered at the end of the document in the accessible version.
TITLE: PRIDE (2018)
Model: Mickey McCray
Body Artist & Photographer: Justin O’Keith Higgs
TITLE: TRANS-Perfect (2018)
Model: Alixander Boyland
Body Artist & Photographer: Justin O’Keith Higgs
TITLE: The Epitome (2018)
Model: Marcel Kimbrel
Body Artist & Photographer: Justin O’Keith Higgs
TITLE: HER Love (2018)
Model: Merisa Marie Rodríguez Concepción &
Photographer: Justin O’Keith Higgs
TITLE: FREE TO BE (2018)
Model: Jorge Montinel
30+OPALINE Body Artist & Photographer: Justin O’Keith Higgs
TITLE: WE ARE LOVE (2018)
Model: Steven Alexander Harris & Charles Benavidez
Body Artist & Photographer: Justin O’Keith Higgs
TITLE: QUEEN OF THE DARK (2018)
Model: Tori Sims
Body Artist & Photographer: Justin O’Keith Higgs
was born September 29th, 1995 and has been writing since middle school. She took a hiatus from writing until college, when she decided to branch out and expand her creativity. She is pursuing her teaching degree at Jarvis Christian College. She believes that with the help of her mentor and the support of her college and home family, she can get through anything that life throws her way.
was born in Monterrey, Mexico. Not quite a decade ago, Sebastian decided to begin his career anew as an artist in Dallas, Texas, where he now resides. His work can most closely identify with the genre of magical realism. Sebastian’s child-like fascination with the folds of cloth, texture of insect wings, wallpaper stains, or color of bird feathers in an enigmatic way leads us to explore questions of identity and gender. Manga, ex-votos, and 18th-century art inform and inspire his work. His paintings represent a fusion of religious iconography and magical realism.
Aubrey Ann Laughlin
has an M.A. in Comparative Literature from San Jose State University and is a published poet, academic writer, and photographer. She has been a poet in residence with Lehigh Valley Vanguard and has her work published in Elephant Journal, Poetry Quarterly, Lehigh Valley Vanguard Collections Volume Seven: Writing the Femme (Volume 7), Convergence: an online journal of poetry & art, The Waggle, Haiku Journal, and Aelurus Journal. Aubrey is a teacher, writer, and speaker at interdisciplinary conferences on literature, poetry, spirituality, LGBT studies, and psychology. She lives with her partner and her two boys in Southern Oregon and currently teaches literature online.
Juan Munoz (Juan Ignacio Muñoz)
was born in Colombia, 1979. He studied in Canada where he obtained a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature with a thesis on cyberpunk. He has published short stories in French and Spanish language in some important SF magazines such as Solaris (Quebec), Axxon (Argentina), and Cosmocápsula (Colombia). In 2013, he won an international award in poetry. He returned to Colombia to teach literature, English, and French in the Amazonian region. Currently, he teaches in Medellí.
Natalya Cherry, PhD,
is the Assistant Professor in Methodist Studies and Theology at Brite Divinity School in Ft. Worth, having received degrees from Georgetown University (BA, English) and Wesley Theological Seminary (MDiv), both in Washington, D.C., as well as Southern Methodist University (PhD, Religious Studies - Systematic Theology). An ordained United Methodist clergyperson who served twelve years in full-time pastoral ministry in the Susquehanna Conference of Pennsylvania, Natalya and a colleague went off the beaten path during last fall's Annual Meeting of her guild (the American Academy of Religion) in search of a historic but inclusive worship service in Boston. Discovering the vibrant, racially and ethnically diverse, LGBTQ-affirming congregation of historic Union UMC was a delight. The young divinity students and alumni of Boston University School of Theology who led the worship service in the absence of the senior pastor, legendary Civil Rights figure Rev. Dr. William "Bobbie" McLain, reminded her of her own seminary days under Rev. Dr. McLain's leadership when he taught at Wesley in Washington, D.C. They embodied the holy imagination that the banner featured in the photo describes.
Şebnem Düzgün, PhD
was born in Ankara, Turkey in 1989. She graduated from the
Department of English Language and Literature at Ankara University in 2011. She received her MA in English Language and Literature at the same university in 2013 with her thesis on the study of the relationship between human being, society, and universal power in Herbert George Wells’ The War of the Worlds, Doris Lessing’s The Making of the Representative for Planet 8, and Maggie Gee’s The Flood. In August 2017, she was awarded a PhD in English Culture and Literature at Atılım University for her dissertation entitled “A Study of Utopic Discourse in Sarah Scott’s A Description of Millennium Hall, Florence Dixie’s Gloriana; Or, The Revolution of 1900, and Fay Weldon’s Darcy’s Utopia.” Her research interests include utopia, dystopia, science fiction, women’s literature, feminist theory, gender, psychoanalysis, and ecocriticism.