Marissa’s struggle with violence is far too common

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In this dramatized but very real tale of LGBTQ youth homelessness, Marissa, Luke and Bobby are three struggling queer teens. Against the odds, they formed a genuine family bond after their own families rejected them. But now that Marissa has made national headlines and Luke’s past is coming for him, can anything ever be all right again?

Marissa’s story, that of a young transgender woman of color abused and exploited, may feel overdrawn to some. But if anything, I’ve toned down her life’s brutal reality. Her story is why reflexive opposition to transgender people must end.

Bobby interrupts. “Is this the lady you told me about? That pastor’s wife?” His voice is cold and thin and hard. He sounds way older than 16. …

I’ve done it, and I’m just beginning to understand how

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“Girls are icky, Mary!” Not a photo of Howie, but damn close. Image licensed from 123ref.

Me biphobic?

I’m one of those gay guys who ALWAYS understood how sexual attraction exists on a spectrum. That understanding seared into me when I was a gay teen in love with a boy who wanted girls as badly as he seemed to ache for trysts with me.

Oh, my tender heart!

I didn’t feel any attraction to girls or women (and never have), but I felt deeply with him. I didn’t doubt my friend’s bisexuality then, and I’ve never since had reason or desire to dismiss bisexuality or find it objectionable.

Me biphobic?

Why, I’m a modern, woke, progressive, academically up-to-date paragon of queer sensitivity. Cough. So how come in a conversation yesterday with Medium’s own sexuality guru and pansexual Elle Beau ❇︎ I suddenly recognized patterns of behavior that must over the years have caused hurt to many bisexual people? …

How it feels to struggle for parental love

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Illustration by Ann_etc licensed from Adobe Stock

Reading about a shocking anti-LGBTQ legal case from Indiana last week, I flashed back on my struggles to become a gay dad. My partner and I had to fight because authorities didn’t understand queer families and didn’t have the tools to evaluate us equally. More on Indiana in a second, but for just a moment, let me show you how it feels to be LGBTQ and fight for parental love.

There’s a lot of love in this room

My boyfriend and I, along with our not-yet-official foster son Brent, suffered a lot of prickly nerves and sour stomachs before the senior case manager’s words let the air out of our tension. …

LGBTQ storytelling from Prism and Pen — November 22, 2020

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by James Finn

Prism & Pen storytelling plumbs change and fear

This week’s edition of P&P trends dark, with writers like Chuy G. Gonzalez, MS, Dennett, and Valentine Wiggin exploring queer loneliness and isolation. But change is a big theme this week, and theoaknotes hits a powerful, positive piece out of the park. You won’t want to miss their perspective on the transgender experience.

We present quite the rainbow cross-section this week, even if some of it lurks behind storm clouds. Let’s get started with three editor’s picks!

If you’re not a Medium member, please click on the underlined links to read for free. …

LGBTQ youth on the street

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Image licensed from Adobe Stock

I don’t think I could have taken much more. I was about done, honest to God. I had no family and exactly two friends in the whole world. It looked like the cops were about to take Bobby away, and Marissa was about to get killed or worse.

Tomas was a mean mother fucker. I’d seen his worst with my own eyes.

So, I was about to break. If I’d been standing on the Manhattan Bridge right then, I probably would have jumped off. When Dan asked me why I was crying, I didn’t even know I was. …

Ironic reminders of historical falsehoods and religious privilege

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Images licensed from Adobe Stock

What a Thanksgiving!

Yesterday would have been hard no matter what. My father died in August, and after moving to rural Michigan where I spent three years caring for him, facing a major holiday alone was always going to be rough.

A big-city mouse all my adult life, there’s nothing like clattering around an empty country cottage to demonstrate that even loving choices can have painful consequences.

As Remington Write would say, life isn’t fair, and that’s just the way it is. We can either deal with reality … or suffer. I consoled myself with the knowledge that millions of Americans were missing their own loved ones due to covid-19, and my own small suffering is nothing in the face of our collective national pain. …

How homeless LGBTQ kids survive

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Releasing my serialized novella “Running toward Hope” on Prism & Pen, my primary goal was timing to highlight Marissa’s story on Transgender Day of Awareness.

In this tale of three homeless LGBTQ teens, she’s the hero, although all three characters are powerful and take responsibility for their lives with strength beyond their years.

In this chapter, 16-year-old Bobby tells his story, and it’s heartbreaking. This is the most personal chapter for me and was the hardest to write, because I was there.

Yes, this story is fictionalized, but it’s very true. The hustler bar here is real, and so is Bobby. …

Feeling weird and not watching a movie tonight

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Amazon Prime’s movie offerings for me tonight

Hey, Amazon Prime, no hard feelings, and I hope you understand. I know you don’t owe me anything, but I sure would appreciate a little empathy. Can you give me a second to explain?

I don’t watch a lot of movies. I’m autistic and movies are hard.

Part of my autism is an extreme sensitivity to visual stimulation. On a bad day when colors are too bright and things I see move too fast, all I want to do is retreat into a dark room and put a cool cloth over my eyes. I don’t say that to elicit sympathy. Hell, I rarely admit it. …

Couple claim religious discrimination

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Adobe Stock photo of parents reading Bible stories to their children. Photos of the couple suing are available, but this story is about much more than them.

Prospective foster parents in Australia just sued an agency that refused to work with them because they say they would try to “overcome” the sexuality of children in their care. The couple are using legal arguments popular among conservative Christians in the United States, and their lawsuit illustrates the dangers of religious privilege, demonstrating the moral and intellectual weakness of conversion therapy proponents.

When I was a teenager, the pastor of my church offered to send me to a program to “heal” my homosexuality. My jaw dropped in shock and my heart exploded into overdrive.

When the youth pastor and I stepped into the office, I knew something was wrong, but I had no clue the youth pastor was about to out me as gay, something he couldn’t know for sure. …

Sometimes the only people who can save us are us

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When I was young, I knew a lot of queer kids living on the margins. Homeless doesn’t mean what some of us think it means. It’s often not about park benches and grubby shelters. It’s about fear, sexual exploitation and desperate loneliness.

I’ve been telling Luke’s, Marissa’s, and Bobby’s stories as they walk a knife-edge path of survival. If nobody will help them, can they find the strength to help themselves?

Bobby’s in the hospital after a brutal assault, and Luke faces an impossible choice.

Luke shouts, “Fuck that, man. Fuck you! We’re out. Bobby, hurry up!”

Dan sighs. “Luke? Buddy? Remember me? I’m the guy who helped you get the meds you needed to get over that pneumonia. And hooked you up with the clinic for those other meds. I’m not one of the bad guys, OK? It’s my job to help people.” …


James Finn

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot.

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