A Letter to LGBTQ+ Youth

There is a story out there for you to follow.

The story of the gay kid who has always known they were gay, and is afraid to come out, the kid who stays closeted for a while and then eventually comes out to their friends and then to their parents, and finds community among other gays and gets into a great, loving romantic relationship and lives from then on to the tune of “out and proud”. The story of the gay kid in the conservative, religious family who gets disowned by their parents, goes to live on a friend’s couch, comes to accept themself and then throws away their religion in exchange for happiness. The story of the trans kid who has always known they were trans, and spends much of their life feeling insecure and miserable in their body, but then finally transitions, which they always wanted to do, and after transitioning, happily ever after.

These stories are out there for you to follow – if you want to.

But it’s okay if none of these stories are yours.

It’s okay if you didn’t always “know”. It’s okay if “born this way” doesn’t quite sit right with you. Because what do these things even mean?

In the fight for LGBTQ rights and equality, people on one side will often say that there are rising numbers of LGBTQ folks because it’s “trendy” and teens are being influenced, and people on the other side will often say that “we were born this way” and the rising numbers are just because the environment is safer and more welcoming now for people to come out. But aren’t both true, to some extent? In some ways, it is safer and more welcoming to come out now. But precisely because it is safer and more welcoming, people are talking about the community more – there are more news articles, more organizations, more stories, more events – and a lot of people out there who didn’t know it was okay to date another girl, who didn’t even consider it was a possibility to be asexual, who don’t have severe gender dysphoria but gravitate to words like “androgynous” and “non-binary”, are having their eyes opened to this new world and these new possibilities. It’s okay if you feel like you were “influenced” into choosing any particular label for yourself, because what matters the most is your happiness and peace – and what’s wrong with being “influenced”, anyway? We are all “influenced” everyday by everyone and everything we know. As long as you give it some thought and end up in a place where you’re genuinely happy, there shouldn’t be a problem.

It’s okay if you aren’t sure how you identify. It’s okay if the label/s you use to define yourself change over time – even if you change your mind twice and go back to what you were using before, that’s okay.

At the end of the day, labels are just words – and words are just words. They don’t inherently mean anything. As time passes and language evolves, the socially-acceptable labels come and go, and their socially-interpreted meanings change. You shouldn’t feel restricted into living a particular way because of a word. That’s not to say that words don’t have power, or that labels don’t have power, but I’m just saying it’s fine to sit with “gay” and then decide “bisexual” feels better, or maybe “pansexual,” and by the way maybe “non-binary” is nice too – but then, as I thought, I like “gay”… oh, there’s also “queer” now, what’s that? And it’s not just the words that change – people change, too. Your preferences, how you identify, can change over time. Maybe for a while you enjoy dating women, but a few years later you come to enjoy dating men better. Or for a few years you use she/her pronouns, but later prefer they/them. What’s wrong with that?

It’s okay if you don’t feel the need to “come out”.

Personally, I’ve always felt that sitting people down to say “hey, by the way, I’m in love with XYZ or I like XYZ” is a bit strange. It doesn’t feel right to me. I’m not hiding anything – I’ll explain how I identify or who I have a crush on and so on if it comes up in normal conversation – but I just don’t feel that it’s right or necessary to dramatically “come out”. Nobody should have to do that, and I feel that for me, it’s better to normalize it. It makes room for flexibility and change and thoughtfulness.

It’s okay if you don’t have a super emotional “coming out story”. It’s okay if you didn’t struggle with depression and self-acceptance. It’s okay if everybody accepts you and your life is just good.

Based off the mainstream stories of LGBTQ life, I feel like it’s tempting to seek out one’s own dramatic sob story – i.e., to feel bad if everything goes right, because the stories say everything is supposed to go wrong. But not having a dramatic, romanticized, marketable sob story doesn’t make your life any less valid or valuable. If everything went right, then great!

It’s okay if you’re religious.

For a lot of folks, it can be hard to be both LGBTQ and religious, because a lot of religions are or have been used as justifications to discriminate. So, it’s okay if you used to be Catholic but after coming out you don’t feel comfortable or safe enough to step into a church anymore. But it’s also okay to still be religious, because being LGBTQ and being religious aren’t mutually exclusive. There are a lot of religions that are safe and tolerant and welcoming – and even among religions that have been used for discrimination, there are many people who live that religion, who preach it, who teach it, who are also supportive of LGBTQ folks. It doesn’t necessarily have to be one or the other.

It’s okay if you don’t act a certain way, or talk a certain way, or dress a certain way, to match up to expectations of your label/s.

There are a lot of stereotypes, especially for gay men and trans folks, regarding how you should dress and talk and act. It’s okay if that’s you – but it’s also okay if that’s not you. You don’t have to go out in drag and glitter sparkles screaming pride and extroversion to be a valid gay man or trans person. Like I said earlier, labels are just words. Sexuality is a spectrum, so is gender identity, so is gender expression – and there are a lot more complexities involved here, too. You shouldn’t feel the need to act a certain way so that people will consider you “gay enough”. Label yourself however you want, and just be your authentic self.

It’s okay if you don’t feel the most safe or find the best community among other LGBTQ folks.

The LGBTQ community isn’t a utopia. Racism, sexual harassment and violence, and other problems exist – and when you take each person one at a time, you realize that everybody is carrying their own individual baggage, their own histories and biases and struggles. People who have experienced a lot of trauma tend to carry pretty complex baggage. So, it’s okay if your best friend isn’t also an ace. It’s okay if you don’t feel great walking into a gay bar or going to a pride festival. It’s okay if your same-sex relationships don’t always go right. That being said, community does exist – sometimes you have to work a little to find it. Just remember to take people one at a time.

It’s okay if you don’t know whether or not you want to transition – and it’s okay if you end up not doing it.

Transitioning is huge. Not every person who identifies as trans wants to do it. It’s okay if you feel safer and happier not transitioning, and it’s okay if you aren’t sure and put off the decision until later.

It’s okay if your post-coming-out / post-transition story doesn’t abruptly stop with “happily ever after”.

So you came out to everyone you know, or you transitioned, and you’re living “out and proud,” as they say – what now? Life is complicated. It’s okay if things don’t automatically go right. It’s okay if you have a bit of regret about coming out or transitioning, it’s okay if you come out multiple times using different labels, it’s okay if you aren’t magically super happy.

It’s okay if how you identify with regards to sexuality and gender don’t make up a huge part of who you are.

At the end of the day, sexuality and gender are just two aspects of your identity. It’s okay if, for you, those two particular aspects are relatively large and salient; but it’s also okay if you don’t really care that much, if other aspects of your identity mean more to you, if living with the constant adjectives of “gay man” or “trans woman” or the constant focus on being “an out and proud member of the community” doesn’t feel quite right to you. We are all complicated human beings, and not everything matters equally to all of us.

In sum: write your own story. Seek out your own happiness. Everybody is different; you be you. Don’t let mainstream storytelling convince you otherwise!

Kohaku Toran

Source: personal experiences and thoughts, influenced by various news articles and books and discussions with friends. Wrote this after thinking about a conversation I had with a younger friend who’s a bi-romantic ace.

「winter lovers’ serenade」

alive again ~these winter waking dreams~

searching for you, I walked
       these empty moonlit winter streets
              as snow enveloped me in silent sheets
       masking the scent of waking dreams
that chased the weakness in my heart.

if you could feel my love,
would you answer me?

“we will meet again,” you said…

if I could hold you one more time,
would I live again?

reaching for you, I walked
       past the edge of this eternal night
              blinded by the shining white
       protesting this internal fight
that I could give no reason for.

if I knew I was destined to lose,
would I still keep running?

“we are going to make it,” you said…

if you really believed that,
would you have let me go?

yearning for you, I walked
       the traces of our broken past
              supported by a glowing cast
       the memories of those who last
still alive within my winter dreams.

all the things you said to me

don’t tell me you aren’t beautiful
don’t tell me you aren’t smart
don’t tell me you weren’t meant to be;
if only the world could see
       if only you could see
what I saw every time I glanced over at you
and looked into your eyes

every time you made me laugh
every time we laid in bed
       and traced our foreign days together
what was that if not beauty?
every time you spoke for hours
       about the aesthetics of life and love
what was that if not intelligence?
all the things you’ve said to me
so blindly self-deprecating
and it hurts when you believe it;
you took that to the end

you were born a shooting star but never shot
never streamed across the northern skies in your private colors
and will the world know why?
you chased a dream you never saw
       the dream of being yourself, of being happy
and for once,
       if you could have been happy for once
would you still have left me?

if I could hear your voice again,
would I follow you home?

the dream you left behind

trampling through fields of dead roses,
       with a mournful serenade gracing your ears
you hold your head up high, gazing at me
       locks of your brown hair falling to the ground one by one
       tracing our shattered destiny on the maps of time
I didn’t know what I was leaving behind.

the shadows of your fingers entwined in mine,
I still remember
       the words you said to me that day
       the strength of your loving embrace
but you knew, I knew, I had nothing left to give
       and so you walked away without looking back
knowing that I was just waiting to die.

breaking the endless lines with your bare hands,
       to the soundtrack of a selfless hero
you climbed the walls we had built together
       and tore through the eternal night that was nothing but an illusion
              nothing more, nothing less than a single night’s dream
       the dream I could never see
the dream you left behind for me.

before that night was over

the night I tried to show you the way
the crescent moon pierced the sky like a farmer’s blade
and as the wind tore down the willow trees behind us
you gazed into my face and cried
still believing that there could have been another way
another way for you to stay
to ground yourself against my flat chest
and never have to break that first-year promise
but I watched the air before you burst into flames
reflected back to me in your stormy eyes
and before the night was over
before the moon and wind and stars had won
you released my hand and let me go.


waiting for the end, we walk
parallel to the edge
as if we were just walking along the shore
basking in the glow of who we used to be
we try to love and end up in tears
we try to live and they kill us
before we can kill each other, they
grasp our hands and we cover our ears
we jump off and they catch us
they promise the light at the end of the tunnel
but when we get there we realize it’s death
throttled by the dreams of people who believed
we used to believe, we used to dream, but
it was never enough to say we loved each other
because they didn’t want us to mean it
they wanted us to become the liars they were
waiting to catch us in the act they forbid, they
claimed we were going to live and still, they
stabbed you in the back while we embraced
and I couldn’t even cry a single tear for you
they already had me in their death grip
so I lied and said I never loved you
I lied and said I wanted to live
and now I walk alone
parallel to the edge
just waiting for the end.

demon/s in the mirror

“someday” was a promise I’ll never see
because she, you, I lied to me
this demon in the mirror spiraling out of control
neon pink fringes bursting from our heart
I won’t let you win, I’ll die
to see this tragic farce all the way to the end
when the rain flows upward and he shatters his guitar,
drunk against my bloody face
determined to do everything it takes to make it
I will win, you’ll live
even if it was never meant to be, I don’t believe
drowning you in endless seas of love-blind fantasies
because this mind of mine was never mine
except to blow up on a heart-held trigger
except to walk the line between life and death,
pretending to be sane enough to hold your hand.
don’t lie to me again. 


don’t give up on me, you said
but you gave up on me

and it was never enough

the old days were so simple
coloring books and pinky-promises on the playground
afternoon naps and carefree hugs
and kisses I don’t remember
we walked hand-in-hand through the days, silently
our faces written with love we never understood

why can’t we go back?

to a time when giving up meant nothing
even if there was nothing to give up on?

you sang me the song of your future
but I never had a future
not even with myself, I thought
the days were too easy but I couldn’t get out of bed
the work was too simple but I couldn’t stop crying
and eventually you walked out
you gave up on me

I thought promises worked both ways
but I was never worth the other side of it anyway.

blown-glass trains and fleeting dreams

gazing into a sea of blackness
I fall asleep to the sound of falling rain
the city quiet except for the midnight train
still suspended in my blown-glass dream

again I hear your soothing voice
but my restful sleep is fleeting
we can’t spare a chance at meeting
only now can I turn back time

yet in the rain we are both blind
reaching out vainly for your hand
it disintegrates to fine storm sand
I will wait on the tracks until that day

caught together in this moment
as the spirits’ tears come flood the streets
as the seasons change in rhythmic beats
I hear your words again

this goodbye is not forever…
we will meet again.

Enough For Me And You

breathing quietly beside you,
       I gazed up at my own dark sky –
so different from yours
       even though our dreams were the same
       even though the promises we exchanged
              had been knowingly impossible… 
if I could have understood then
       what it feels like to love someone
       who can’t love you back…
that day the seas rose and fell
that day the sky split open
       and shattered our silent dreams into a million pieces,
              glass shards we grasped in our hands despite the pain
you asked me for a reason –
       and I blurted out so many
       but it’s only now that I realize what the right answer was.
“I don’t need a reason,” I should have said.
“Isn’t ‘I love you’ enough?”

Nocturne of a Dreamer

sitting at the edge of dawn,
waiting for who knows how long
the first bird shares her siren song
       and we –
in this intangible moment we
       go off into infinity
stepping into the unknown that is our life.

as though we could have stopped them,
       and made this place our own
as though we could have met them,
       and bent our fates anew
we chase each dawn from night to day,
each following our own loving way –
       then searching for the words to say,
words that might still change the world someday.

reaching into open arms, we gaze
       at these reflections of our own blind eyes
       at our opposite horizon lines
and we say, “we will not go.”
we say “this is not the end.”

because here, the sun is rising –
       hear, the sun is rising –
and today
with nothing else to do
       and no other path to take
we follow it into eternity.

Love Letters to the World We Made (VIII)

Previous: VII

I will always look after you.

It was a promise I made to myself long ago – a promise that began to form on my lips that day I sat beside you in the gym, that day you gave your awkward self-introduction and I thought, yes, I can make this work. It is a promise that I make again now, every day, every week that I check on you, every conversation we have, every bit of advice I give. It is a promise that I make again every time I see your familiar face because as the years have passed, I have come to understand this sad yet simple fact: that in this world we live, human beings cannot survive without each other – and if not me, then who?

You may not understand the cyclical nature of this yet, but someday you will. Someday, standing in the rain, gazing at the imprint of your shadow on the carpet, you will think: I will look after you. You will realize that I was able to take care of you because other people took care of me – and so by taking care of you, I am making it possible for you to turn around and pay it back. You will realize that you needed your queer seniors and mentors, that they were there for you in a way others could not be, and you will recognize that the next generation will be just like you – yearning for advice and validation and love, and from who? For what?

Time doesn’t always work this way. Love doesn’t always work this way. But we must do our best, and our best is all we can do.

When you scribbled out your letters to me, when you choked out an awkward, embarrassed “I love you,” I renewed my promise. When we talked about who we are and how we are seen to be, I renewed my promise. And when I left you, when time and distance and personal choice drove us apart, I renewed my promise. We aren’t the closest of friends – we never were. But my promise was never conditional, and someday, in the future, yours won’t have to be. Someday, you will stand against that brick wall to be photographed, and you’ll watch as you allow your own promise to be made tangible. Someday, someone will write you an awkward, embarrassed “I love you,” and you will remember that lesson from long ago arguing that time doesn’t have to be linear. I close my eyes and cry, you close your eyes and cry, I offer you love and you give it to someone else. Don’t get caught up in their lies, I told you once. Don’t limit yourself. I hope you will take that to heart one day. 

But it’s funny, because we’ve both already failed. I promised to take care of you, but when we were both drowning, when we were both struggling for air, desperate for someone, something, to save us, we were too afraid to reach out for each other. We faced each other, watched each other, and stayed still and stone-cold silent. And why? She went out for a smoke, you went out for a breath of fresh air, and I closed the window. For days we spoke without talking, suffered without crying, died without screaming, and I can’t help but think I’m a failure. One promise will never be enough.

It will never be enough, but sometimes it’s the best I can do. You will learn this, too, one day. You’ll stand on the roof horrified as you watch her fall, and a tiny piece of your heart will say, you did your best. Too often, it’s an excuse. But sometimes, it’s the truth – and sometimes it doesn’t even matter if it’s the truth, because it’s just what you need to hear, what you need to know, what you need to believe, to keep on living. 

I promise that I will look after you – and I will keep on living. In this world, our wills can coexist.  

Next: IX

Love Letters to the World We Made (VII)

Previous: VI

If only I could remember you.

If only I had not been so self-absorbed in my depression. If only I had noticed the hundred clues you left behind. If only I had known then… if only. The tiny hairs on the back of my neck stand up as you whisper into my ear. All I have left are the drawings, the paintings, the stories you made for me – and the memories I cannot recover. Jagged fragments of a time long gone.

I can’t help but wonder how things might have turned out differently, if only those nameless days had come to be.

You speak into the phone slowly, hesitantly, embarrassed. You tell your story as I reconstruct mine. You admit with a life-changing, world-altering, unfamiliar phrase, “I was in love with you,” and I can’t help but think: this wasn’t what I was asking for.

It’s not fair to ask for it now.

I just want to remember what it felt like when we held hands. I want to remember what it felt like when you kissed me. I want to remember what it felt like to be loved, even if I didn’t realize it. But none of that will come back to me anymore. I know I can’t spend my life chasing my shadow – but sometimes moving forward means coming to terms with what you’ve left behind.

I just want to remember you.

I want to know why it is that today, when I write, when I watch these movies, when I flip through old things I have saved, I can’t help but think of you. I want to know why the absence of so many memories, so many emotions, leaves me in tears. I want to know why, out of all the people, you found me – me, who was depressed and damaged and broken, me, who was never worth your time – why you found me worthy enough to save.

Most of all, I want to know why I didn’t give that love back to you. Now, the waves wash in against my feet and I refuse to write your name, I refuse to let you go. But I don’t know what there is left to hold onto. I don’t know if I’m reaching for something that isn’t there, trying to hold onto the shadowy traces of a hand that, having been offered without reciprocation for too long, already pulled away. You say you still think of me. You say I was your first. And I still think of you, too – but I don’t remember you, and this contradiction leaves me in anguish. It keeps me up at night, tossing and turning as the moon cycles through the darkness. I close my eyes and it makes me want to cry.

Growing up in this world, we aren’t taught to deal with contradictions. But when I think about it, my entire life has been one continuous series of both-and relationships, and I can’t, or won’t, come to terms with it. I can’t, or won’t, learn to survive it. I can’t, or won’t, but I will always come back to you.

“If only I could remember,” I say, and you reply gently, “I have to go.”

I have to go – but I will always come back to you.


Love Letters to the World We Made (VI)

Previous: V

We are going to make it.

You may not believe me now, but we will. I know that we will because every time, every year, we come back to each other. Every year, we live our separate lives in a shifting, reflective parallel, and this parallel is of the kind that only people like us can see – people like us meaning the artists and the authors, the full-hearted queer and quiet spirits, all the sensitive, tragic, broken-but-not people who, even after all they have suffered, still find ways to live and love, still find ways to make it. “I’m not one of them,” you say. “I’m not enough.” But you will always be enough to me.

It doesn’t have to be that we don’t talk except for the random nights you call me on the verge of tears, desperate for help, desperate for advice and validation and love. It doesn’t have to be that our only interactions take place on the wrong side of the railing, on the firelit edge of a bridge. It doesn’t have to be that some people must live their lives this way. But in this world, this is how we live.

I lean against the railing and call out your name, and the beauty in your heart rages up within your words, fired in the kiln of pen and paper. Every time, you take your suffering and you pour out love. You might not recognize that it’s love, because we are trained to think that love must take a direct object – but love cannot be limited. I trace the scars on your arm and your stomach and you turn them into delicate masterpieces worthy of an art gallery. I brush away your tears and you capture them in sails of broken glass. I soothe the pain in your voice and you use it to heal my heart – and every time, every time, I can only think: it doesn’t have to be this way.

It doesn’t have to be this way, but this is how it is. And we are going to make it.

Always, we make-believe like children that our meeting was coincidence. We pretend that the intersection of our lives, the parallel nature of our highways, was never meant to be. We say that it could have gone any another way, and while it’s true that our histories could have been different, it can’t be denied that our parents, our goddesses, our hearts, lifted us up onto a tandem bike and set us free.

I don’t know how to ride a bike. And, I think, neither do you. But together we are going to make it.

One of these days, I promise to myself, I will take you to the ocean. As the sun sets above the sea, as the waves crawl in to graze your feet, as our shadows embrace in the glowing golden light, I will show you how beautiful life can be. I will show you that it doesn’t have to be this way. And when you lay your head against my chest and start to cry, I will cry with you – and then we will keep pedaling, riding on our separate but parallel highways, headed towards a future that we cannot see, but one we are both determined to meet. If it takes all my life, if it takes all of your life, if it takes the world –

It’s still okay.

All that matters is love. And we are going to make it.

Next: VII

Love Letters to the World We Made (V)

Previous: IV

You will never understand.

How much you mean to me. How much I treasure our sparse memories. How much my heart aches reaching across the great divide in search of you, desperate for something, someone, who makes me feel normal and valid and loved. You will never understand because my feelings, my complexities as a human being, can never be accurately reduced to the written or spoken word – and we knew this when we sat down to write our story together for the first time. We knew this, and still, we wrote. And still, we loved.

Sometimes, I step hesitantly into the water and in my mind burns an immediate image of you – submerged, your eyes closed, your hair drifting, the current hiking up your shirt to reveal that beautiful tattoo. This image is pulled out from the deepest recesses of my memory by a flickering goddess who breathes sparks upon it and gives it life. For a time, it takes up residence in my heart, and I cherish it like I would an abandoned child. I will never be the same.

Your name lingers on my tongue like a dream of a falling star. I am mortally terrified of the day I will forget it.

Every time you took my hand, every time you wrapped me up in your embrace, every time I cried on your flat chest, that goddess of memory captured my emotions in her perfectly cupped hands, poured them into a glass box, and stored them safely away. I am determined to keep these special boxes safe and free – determined in a way I have never been, determined in a way that is not possible. I know that it’s not possible. And still, I try. Still, I love.

If only, you whisper. Unworthy. Damaged. Broken. Unlovable.

You won’t believe my will to prove you wrong.

Because all of the man-made tragedies we’ve suffered have transformed our bodies and our minds, but we will not let them transform our hearts. That is one thing they cannot take from us – one thing they cannot take from me. Although this world is as it is, I will not relinquish my heart to a falling star in a nameless effort to survive it. I pray that you won’t relinquish yours. I know that my prayers go to imperfect goddesses who cannot always grant them – but still, I hope. And still, I love.

I will not give up my heart for them. I won’t let you give up yours. We cannot let them win because if they win, our children will lose. If they win, our futures will crumble into pieces, and any possibility of human healing will go down the drain, and you and I –

“You and I” will no longer exist.

We have to exist. We have to make it to the end of our story. And I will love you until we get there.

Next: VI

Love Letters to the World We Made (IV)

Previous: III

Don’t tell me you aren’t beautiful.

It hurts me when you say these words because I know that you believe them. I know that you have been brainwashed into believing them, and I know that they are lies. They could only ever be lies.

Do you trust me?

You hear me when I tell you that every time I turn to look at you, your fiery orange hair is burning your love through the sunlight and your eyes are sparkling in all the colors of the sea, and everyday your voice dances around my scars and carries me gently to a home I had never known before. And still you say “I’m not beautiful.” Still you say, “I never will be.”

Such has been our childhood – growing up back-to-back in a world that shoves countless falsehoods down our throats until we either swallow or choke, and when the floods began and I tried desperately to save your fading ghost, my eyes were opened to the radical act that is believing – not in the words of others, but in yourself. I wondered innocently why such an act, an act of survival, an act of humanity, an act of the pursuit of happiness, must be considered radical. I wondered why it must be radical to love.

But as time flowed back and forth between us, I began slowly and shamefully to understand. I found the answers to my question in the eternal moment you decided to close the curtains of your life and shut me out. I found the answers when you chased me through the park, your feet kicking up the imperfect white sand, your expression breaking into the rarities of a smile and a genuine laugh. I found the answers when you lay beside me in bed and talked about how much you wanted to die.

Human love is radical because it is powerful. It transforms us ordinary animals into spirits and even goddesses. We take it from our hearts and hold it within our hands, and with it we decide who gets to live and who gets to die, who gets to move forward and who must be held back. The pure magic of it, dismissed by close-minded people who call us mundane, wreathes around our broken bodies and pours out into the world, building magnificent places and times and beings and then leaving behind empty, equally magnificent acres of hell. We collectively call this magic “love” because our languages, our words, too often fail us in our attempts to make sense of our journey towards death, but if “love” is the only way I can heal you, I will accept it. I will say it, I will breathe it, I will do it, until you grow nauseous and expel the thousands of lies they have force-fed you, until your unique mind begins to turn, until you set your sea-colored eyes upon the shifting horizon and even one, one miniscule fragment of your shaking soul opens up to the very possibility that you are beautiful. I will love you until this moment, and forever after. You may not believe me when I say these words, but that’s okay. I’ll do the believing for now. And one day, someday, your heart will see.

You might be wondering why I have changed. Over the seasonless years, the lessons of current and past suffering have taught me that the passive support I gave you for so long was not enough. I was trying to conform, to remain within the safe confines of what the world considered acceptable, and I’m sorry that I may have understood this too late. But now I realize that passive conformity, passive safety, will never be enough to bring out the beauty contained within your blown-glass soul. There is no other option but to be radical, which means there is no other option but to love. And so I will love you, even if it tears me apart.

They may not believe me – but there is no longer any other way.

Next: V

Entry #31 – Feeling Normal; Recent Music and Art Projects

移り行く世界は 片隅の君に会えて嬉しい
溢れそうな思いを 言葉にできなかったよ
いつかまた会えたら もっとうまく伝えられるかな

– L’Arc~en~Ciel, 「GOOD LUCK MY WAY」
lyrics from JpopAsia

Hi everyone, it’s Kohaku. Hope you’re all doing well.

A few days ago, one of my dear friends got back in touch with me. They aren’t always around working internet nowadays, so it had been a while since we really talked; I’m incredibly happy. Simply put, they make me feel normal again. They make me feel like myself, and once we had both poured out onto each other all of our recent activities and hardships, I had a sudden sense of relief and a lot of the emotional burdens that had been making me feel not like myself just vanished. So, I’m glad to say that I’m feeling a lot better compared to the past few weeks. What about you all? Who, or what, makes you feel like you – and have you connected with them recently?

Right now, I’m listening to LUNA SEA’s newest album, CROSS. I listened to it once soon after it came out, but honestly didn’t pay all that much attention; I’ve never been a huge fan of LUNA SEA, so I was just casually checking it out rather than really taking in the art. However, this time I’m listening to it much more closely, and I have to say that it’s growing on me! Some tracks are really very nice, and as far as my limited experience with the band goes, the whole album has a very typical calm, dreamy LUNA SEA vibe. My favorite tracks are probably「THE BEYOND」and 「悲壮美」.

Also, it’s pretty unrelated, but one of my friends has been having me listen to BTS’s new album lately, since they’re a fan of the band. It’s not my kind of music, for sure, and I’ve never listened to much K-pop before… I guess I’m broadening my musical experience though, which is always good!

In the past week or so, I’ve been exploring ways to actually use my art, connect with other artists, and put my creations out into the world. I’m thinking of sending my paper cranes to an organization I’ve recently come across called Tsuru for Solidarity. Built on the memories and lessons of Japanese American WWII internment, Tsuru for Solidarity is a social justice project that brings strings of thousands of cranes to protests across the United States to peacefully stand against the detention of immigrants and refugees and related issues. I think their intentions and achievements have been incredible, and since I keep making cranes but have nothing better to do with them, I’ll probably string them and send them along to this org!

As for my writing, I saw a flyer some days back calling for QTPOC (queer and trans people of color) submissions to an art reception at my local Cross-Cultural Center. The deadline for submissions is in three weeks. I’m planning on sending in Love Letters to the World We Made – once it’s fully completed, of course. Hopefully I’ll have it done by then. The writing itself isn’t that hard, and each part of the collection is pretty short, but it’s emotionally heavy and I don’t always want to work on it. It’ll be really exciting if I can get it in for this event though, so I’ll do my best.

Alright, that’s pretty much all I had to say. Have you all been doing anything interesting lately? I feel a little more secure now that I’m moving forward, and I’d love to hear what you are going through, too.

Take care of yourselves and see you next time.


Love Letters to the World We Made (III)

Previous: II

Someday, the world will treat you right.

Someday, I know, you will be free. Free to chase your dreams across the damp white sand, free to leap into the starry night sky to reveal yourself, yourselves, to the dying constellations the way you revealed yourself to me. Someday, this one borderless humanity will care about you. Your fellow human beings will finally see past the superficial markers of “uneducated” and “unemployed” and foul-mouthing “white trash,” to embrace your gentle heart and sharp mind and all of the colorful, joyful adjectives that truly make up you. Someday, people will see you by the side of the glass-strewn road and think, here is someone I can love.

In the darkest depths of night, in the anguish-filled seas of depression and insomnia, I close my eyes and listen for the familiar sound of your voice, carried by the timeless wind across hundreds, thousands of miles to my bedside. You call my name and I’m swept back into the dreamscapes of years past – the years when we could talk every day, the years when I could hear your voice without reaching, without strain. I imagine what you must look like now, what you must sound like in “real life” – as if the connection between us was anything but real – and I don’t know why I’m crying.

Maybe it’s not so much of a stretch to say that the floods that tore you from your home were caused by man. After all, it was always you who could breathe my hidden pain.

Now, the broken years still come and go and the red thread between us is pulled taut. But you don’t have to worry about me forgetting you, because your name is tattooed on the inside of my eyelids, italicized to bring some small form of beauty to the suffering under which we gave. I have always felt like a wanderer, scouring the world for a nameless, timeless home I could never find; it wasn’t until recently that I realized that I wasn’t looking for a place but a person – and that person was always you. I will forever be searching for you. Until the day I slip and fall off the edge of the world, I will be chasing that form that is your shadow, chasing that dream that is your face. And the truth is, I will never reach them.

You may ask me what I mean by saying I will never find you, and I will struggle to reply. But my wordless answer is contained in the vastness of the surging, rising seas, stitched together by overlapping waves of arrogance and ignorance and pure human hatred that still, still refuses to let us live. “In this day and age,” you begin, and I reply, “I will never let you go.”

I will never let you go.

No other promise has meant more to me, but the truth speaks for itself when the look in your brimming eyes tells me it’s a promise I cannot keep. The phrase was condemned to the depths of hell from the start – just like you and me. I choke on the words bitterly, pleading to the stars for more time, more time, but it’s useless. In our lifetime it has always been useless.

I see the constellations reflected back to me in your tears and I know: the stars do not rule this earth anymore.


Love Letters to the World We Made (II)

Previous: I

They told us we were never meant to be.

Never meant to be because we’re queer. Never meant to be because we’re older than our years. Never meant to be because we survived our attempted suicides; never meant to be because, amidst all our tears and tragedies, all our courageous fantasies, we made the grave, treasonous mistake of daring to be human.

Of course, we were born human, but they never cared to know that. To know us.

It might sound like something to take pride in if I said at least we knew each other. But there was never any pride to be taken in that, because from the start we were born together and apart; from the start our wrists were handcuffed together but the chains could not be short enough, would not be short enough, to let me see your face. All I wanted was to break down your walls and have you let me in, but I never realized that I was already inside – that you were already beside me, reaching for my hand to give me the memories that gave me life.

When I stood on the edge on the wrong side of the bridge, the midnight-blue waves surged up and carried me away, away, to you. To the little private beach where you drove your kayak into the sand. To the thirteen-story apartment building where we labored up the stairs in relay. To the boat where you turned around, breathing hard at the thrill of the chase, and hurled your shoe into my face. And to the walking path around that river, now halfway around the world, where you fearfully spoke your truth, where I struggled to find the right words to say, where we gazed at each other with new eyes and you took my hand and I realized –

I realized that we were not so different after all.

It’s a shame that they would never understand.

The years have gone but they, and we, have not. And as time now cycles through the rain I can’t help but yearn for that feeling, that nameless emotion that once made tangible our suffering and our love all at once. This emotion is carved into these memories that never gave, these memories that dragged us out from the darkness and spun us around and asked in silent, writhing pain: Why? And all for what?

From the beginning they’d set out to make us die, but we promised we would die together, on our own terms, we would jump into the sea of human happiness and drown ourselves in it. Determined, I stared through the mirror at the room where I watched your tears fall and I shattered it with an open fist. And as the blood, human blood, streamed through my fingers I reached around your body and held you close. Closer than we had ever been. Holding, crying, and closing – three acts of the infinite array that make up love, the one word they said was never meant to be.

Never meant to be, and maybe so – but they are only human, and so are we.

Next: III