**Editors note: This is a piece written by a close comrade about his own experiences with wartime violence, sexual assault, IV drug use, and domestic violence. I feel it adds an important voice to the community discussion about the traumatic repercussions of patriarchy in our communities so I wanted to repost it here.
Why I’m Angry
Anyone who knows me knows I’m pissed. I’m just generally a really angry person. Lately, my writing hasn’t been particularly angry, however. I’ve been trying to be thoughtful, with lots of well-considered analysis and hopeful critique. The things that we tackle day-to-day don’t just require rage, though that rage may be well-deserved. We need to really understand the problems that we face as a society and as a species– oppression, privilege, resistance, stigma, shame, capitalism, repression… these require thought and subjective understanding. Not just personal, but political.
These posts have led some strangers to question, why? Why do you call yourself One Angry Queer? My posts lately… just haven’t had my usual indignation. They have had, I like to think, a level of sophistication, of finesse.
This isn’t one of those.
I’m going to tell you why I’m angry.
I’m really fucking angry I grew up poor. I’m angry that poverty led me to live in an economically depressed area, generally, where I didn’t have access to the kind of education I others did. I had to get jobs in high school, and I’m angry that I was distracted from what I needed to do to “get ahead” in our society. I’m angry that, when it came time to graduate high school, I didn’t go to college; I was too poor and so I joined the military. I’m angry that military then sent me to a country I never thought I’d visit. I’m angry that I contributed to death there. I’m angry that while I was there I saw dead bodies that I’ll never forget; I’m angry that I once stood over a dead Iraqi woman in her twenties who had been shot in the head. I’m angry she was shot in the head. I’m angry I was ever there. I’m angry any of us were ever there.
I’m really fucking angry that this destroyed my life for so long. I’m really angry that I couldn’t handle my feelings about what I did and what was done to me and I’m angry that I didn’t feel that I could handle them out in the open. I’m angry that in my society, men are stoic and don’t talk about their bad feelings. I’m angry that in my society, gay men are supposed to be happy all the fucking time and go out and drink cocktails and hey, maybe do some blow and then we dance and entertain our straight girlfriends because my goodness! Gay men are such a good time all the fucking time.
I’m really fucking angry that I then descended into the madness of drugs, slowly and surely over the course of years. Coke at first, and then when I stopped doing that… occasionally that devil of a drug methamphetamine. It wasn’t bad at first, I was using here and there, sometimes months between uses. A weekend warrior! All under control! Of course, I’m angry that meth culture is largely without condoms and I’m really angry that I fell for that shit, oh boy am I angry, because now I have HIV and I might have it for the rest of my life and good goddamn do I hate taking those pills.
I’m really fucking angry that HIV exists. I’m angry that so many of the elders I could have had in my community are dead and they’re dead because Ronald fucking Reagan wouldn’t admit that we existed back then and just let us die. I’m really angry about this because I might not have gotten it if we had just addressed it back when it fucking started. We might have a cure right now, but we don’t, and I’m angry about that because the reason we don’t have a cure is profit margins and political expediency andgay folks are icky. Instead I’m taking these pills and I’m angry that I have to find insurance to pay for these pills and I’m angry that thousands of people don’t have the privilege I do and they will die because they can’t pay for these fucking odious little pills.
I’m really fucking angry that I have the shame and internalized stigma that I have about HIV. I’m angry that I haven’t been the insertive partner with someone in months and months because I largely date seronegative people and I’m terrified of giving it to them. I know, oh so rationally, that because I’m undetectable it’s almost impossible for me to give it to someone, especially using safer sex practices. I’m angry that I can’t accept that easily because every day my fellow queer “brothers” tell me I’m dirty and reject me and tell me “Drug and Disease Free, U B 2” on their shitty online hookup websites and I’m angry that we are all so isolated in our communities that we have to seek intimacy through our computers because I’d rather seek intimacy in warm, encircling, loving arms.
I’m really fucking angry that the shame that I have been taught to have about HIV led me to toss in the towel, give up and become a full-blown meth addict, one that used every day and fell apart. Just fell apart. Oh, and I’m really angry I started shooting up. OH GOD. I am so angry about that. I’m angry that I now have hepatitis C because of that and I now have to quit drinking because my liver enzymes are through the roof. I’m angry that now I’m going to have to inject myself with goddamn interferon to treat it, something that I’m afraid of because needles are triggering and because it will likely make me sick and that’s just a mess that I don’t want to deal with but have to or else I’m really fucked. I have to go back to sticking a needle in my skin, even though I get super anxious and traumatized during blood draws just because there’s a needle in the room and oh yes, now I just have nightmares about shooting up that make me wake up yelling and crying and the person who occasionally sleeps next to me has to wake up and tell me that it’s all okay and really I would just like to let him sleep but I can’t. I’m angry because I’m in something of a cool, new relationship right now and he has to deal with all this trauma and insanity because I couldn’t take care of it before I met him. I’m angry that my addiction did this to me and that addiction still exists because we won’t treat it like the disease it is, no, instead we criminalize it and lock it up and fuel the trade that it feeds on.
I’m really fucking angry that I was a full-time meth addict that was out of control and had no control and never had control and that led me to having sex with someone I didn’t want to, and when I wanted to stop it I couldn’t because I was too fucked up and hey, men are always ready to have sex so why would I have wanted to anyway? So I said nothing, even though I was horrified at what was happening to me. I said nothing because I was too goddamn fucked up to know what to do and too stupidly worried about disappointing that random sex partner I’ll never see again. Men certainly can’t be raped or assaulted or however you want to call it and if it happens they certainly can’t admit to it. Except I was and now I am and I’m really fucking angry it happened to me. So angry that it makes me cry.
I’m angry that while all this was going on I was so busy trying to survive and not succumb to desperation and was so busy just trying to not die that I wasn’t sending my brother any letters, because did I mention he got arrested when I was 18? Yeah, he was there for eleven years in prison, and when he got out I talked to him on the phone and I said “I love you, Jon, and I’ll see you in a year on the outside, because I want to come and visit you because I miss you.” And then, of course, six months later he keeled over dead because he’d been eating shitty prison food for eleven years (because who cares what slop they feed criminals? Got to keep the budget low when feeding those reprobates), and I will never see him again. I’m angry that the real criminals, the ones who fed him shit for years, the ones that decided that prison food should be a for-profit business, don’t have to deal with this pain. Capitalism ended up in our prisons, ladies, gentlemen and genderqueer persons, and didn’t you hear about capitalism and property? Property is motherfucking theft, and my brother was made the state’s property and he was goddamn stolen from me and so I haven’t seen my brother since I was sixteen and that makes me so fucking outraged and furious and angry and raging because I’ll never see him again and that is. So. Horrible.
I’m really fucking angry that here I am, years later, assaulted and bereft and guilty and shamed and weeping and sad and I just hate it. I hate it that patriarchy, imperialism, prison, all of it has fucking wrecked my life every day and it just doesn’t quit. I still get called a faggot on the street and that pisses me off and then I have to threaten these assholes’ safety in order to get them to leave me alone and that really fucking enrages me because I really honestly just love most people and hitting someone is the last thing I want to do. I’ve had lovers and strangers both do it to me, and I hated it! Why would I want to do it to someone else? But they make me have to threaten them to get them to leave me alone and that fucking infuriates me. After everything I’ve survived, I have to deal with this petty shit almost every week I’m alive and why should I? Why does it still happen?
What’s really insanely infuriating is that my story is not unique, far from it. My story is actually really fucking commonplace. All around us the systems that we have bought into and plugged into and taken stock in do this to people around us each and every day. Strangers, people we love, people we hate, this is all happening to them and it seems hopeless because it’s a never ending cycle of poverty, violence, rape and exploitation. It’s not hopeless, though, because we can challenge them, but do we ever? Do you ever?
That’s the worst. You know why I’m really fucking angry?
Because you’re not angry enough.