Rainbow Bloodstains

by: Q. 

I never knew
That the way I felt
Had a name

I just knew that
I had loved
Hers
&
Hims
And even a few
Theys

I just knew that
If the one I
Loved
Didn’t look like
A
Him
Then it needed to be
Quiet
Love

Lingering
Subtle
Touch
Love

Best friend
Sleepovers
Braid each other’s hair
And kiss napes of necks
Quickly
Love

The
Fear
Has always been
Palpable
For me

Coming out is
Terrifying
Even when you can
Love
“Normally”

“You’re just confused”

And I thought I might
Just
Stay
Quiet

But then after a day of
“Ally” activities of
Pride

I hear about
49
Heartbeats
Gone

49 lives
Taken

During
Their
Quiet
Pride

And I am wrecked.
And in such grief

I am outed.

The
Fear
Has always been
Palpable
For me

This
Fear
Will always be
Palpable
For me

Where is the resolution?
Where is the revelation?
Where is the revolution?

:: untitled ::

By: H. D. 

I wanted to talk about a major issue I have with the gender neutral bathroom debate Re: men using the opportunity to assault women. I’m troubled by a lot of what I’ve been reading. I’m sorry for every single girl among us who has felt like her story wasn’t truly heard, and for anyone who feels they didn’t get a chance at justice.

So it is bizarre and frankly a little frustrating that when it comes to rape, THIS is the line people are drawing in the sand as “too much risk”, THIS is the one incredibly rare scenario where people are speaking out in protest and actually advocating for the potential victims. I noticed there’s a distinct and surprising lack of the usual doubt, scrutiny, victim blaming and rape apologies and after a lot of thought and reading, I came to a troubling theory why: Obviously first and probably foremost, it’s because this is an easy cover for people to justify their transphobia and if there’s anything that makes ignorant people uncomfortable, it’s the thought of transgender people among them. (Don’t worry amigos. It used to be the same with openly homosexual people just a generation ago.) But secondly, and this is the one that really bothered me, it’s because it supports the comfortable narrative of what rape “is supposed to”[sic] look like: The menacing male villain in an act of random insanity or perversion preys upon a stranger-an innocent and sober girl with nothing questionable or sexual in her background who was just minding her business in the well lit place at the wrong time. Anything outside of that and they eat you alive. So these phantom rapist hypotheticals are not only perpetuating hate and prejudice against trans people, they’re furthering the stupid and enduring myth that what rape REALLY looks like is a dramatic and violent jack-in-the-box attack by a stranger in a public place. I’m not saying that doesn’t happen, because it does. But people are generally very quick to blame even a hypothetical woman if she’s raped outside those circumstances and when all of a sudden the usual allegations of the woman making it up, leading him on or dressing like a whore are gone, you have to wonder why. What changed?

Think about it: in all the posts I’ve seen regarding a cis male allegedly raping a woman who knows him, the responses are always predictably critical of the woman, scrutinizing her every move and motive, and generally the lucky rapist has more than a few Devil’s advocates on his side. They seem to ask questions not to glean insight or to hear her side, but to go down the “legitimate rape” checklist, seeing if her rape fits all the criteria before they even consider blaming her attacker. Well were you drunk? Didn’t you text him the night before? Well if you didn’t want to have sex, why was he in your bed? In the case of the hypothetical man pretending to be trans to rape a woman, the victim is nothing more than a crime scene who did all she could against an unprovoked madman. This is problematic because it removes all human elements from the victim and from the story, and frames the definition of rape to be an exclusively obvious act; an outright assault on an innocuous woman who, as a requirement, did literally NOTHING to perpetuate it and absolutely EVERYTHING short of death to stop it. If there’s any less effort on either part, then the rape is now out of the comfortable narrative and she is met with contempt and suspicion. It also dehumanizes the rapist, making it seem like the only men who rape are hulking, imposing, criminally minded cave men who one day snap on a random woman. This is important because it means the opposite traits prove he is NOT a rapist, and if he’s not a frothing, deviant, perverted, intimidating guy-if he was a clean cut youth minister, or a young handsome baseball player for instance-then he couldn’t be the bad guy could he?

Now, the cut and dry image of “legitimate” rape has become the only acceptable circumstances if you seek justice, and only qualified women may apply. Drunk? Your fault. In his apartment? Your fault. Have a lot of sex before? Your fault. Didn’t get his blood under your nails in the fight? Your fault. Took a shower after and messed up the rape kit? Your fault. Too scared to report him immediately? Your fault. Because thanks to the spread of the “respectable rape scenario”, all your classmates realize the boy from school you said hurt you so badly couldn’t possibly have done it-not when you willingly met him for drinks and even flirted with him over texts. Not when he plays rugby and has a beautiful girlfriend. Everyone saw your arm around him at that party. All of a sudden, your story has human elements to it-he’s not a mindless beast, and you’re no ingenue-and thus, it becomes a tall tale meant to stir up trouble for the young man. The “man pretends to be transgender woman to access bathroom and attack women” scenario is tilting at windmills in the worst way possible, because it’s obscuring the uncomfortable truth of what rape actually looks like with a ridiculously far fetched smear campaign against trans women- and that’s much more dangerous than a phantom bathroom assailant.

A man pretending to be a woman to sneak into a bathroom to rape an unsuspecting woman is not the enemy here. The culture that allows THAT to be the only type of rape that gets recognized or planned for is the enemy.
Look at the football player who assaults several women but is allowed to remain on the team because no one is paying 80 dollars a ticket to watch a woman receive justice.

What about the man who learns from media influence that a woman’s agency is just a lock on her vagina, and he can wear it down with the right combination of drinks, half truths and contrived lines to finally get past it. Who can she go to to for comfort when he finally forces himself inside her over half hearted protests and quiet resignation? Who will believe her when her story is so, so, far from the knife wielding stranger in the bathroom?
When a college fraternity brother drugs and rapes another student, the problem isn’t the act itself, vile and unforgivable as it is. The problem is that he’s surrounded by a culture where roofies and rape and coercion and women being used for sex are all punchlines, and a woman saying she was raped is met with disbelief, disgust, contempt, ridicule, and above all else, permanent skepticism. How can anyone ever be expected to stand up and say “my story has more to it than being overpowered in the bathroom by a stranger, but what this man did wasn’t right”, knowing that what will invariably be discussed is not the actions of the rapist, but her performance as a victim to make damn sure that she got as violated as she feels.

Forcing trans women to use the men’s bathroom is not keeping men OR rapists out of the women’s bathroom, it’s keeping WOMEN out of the women’s bathroom, and it’s perpetuating an ideal crime that invalidates other people’s stories. A woman’s safety, inclusion, and right to basic human dignity (Mystifyingly defended in the context of a public bathroom but not her own bedroom) does not come with ANY stipulations.

What Happens in the Knowing

By: Anonymous

I’ve said it before, “You don’t know me.”
You shrug your shoulders and smirk, “Of course I do.”

You see the problem is the fault in our language. You perceive knowledge to be appearance. I perceive knowledge to be knowing. Really knowing. The knowing that occurs when souls tear down walls and reveal naked truth. The knowing that sheds wet bullets from eyes glazed over by pain of the past. The knowing where hope and dread go hand-in-hand as you utter those words across parted lips you swore you sealed.

I’ll say it again, “You don’t know me.”
This time your eyes flicker with uncertainty. Your smirk is wiped off your face like black streaks on a dry erase board.

Hands trembling, feet quaking, I stand at the crossroads of our lives. I realize the severity of the phrase, but cannot find the courage to step over the threshold line. You seem to know where my compass is pointing, but our truths do not converge as one. You see knowledge as death. I see death as life.

“I’m gay,” I finally say.
“…” your silent reply screams its accusations into my soul.
“I’m in love with her,” I breathe out.
“What did she say,” you demand.
“She loves me, too.”
Chaos ensues.

2.5 years of built up trust, life, love, and family bonds stronger than steel is ripped apart in four words. You paint violent portraits of destruction and evil with words so carefully sharpened and thrust at marks only you know are exposed. 2.5 years worth of ammunition unleashed in a single night. 2.5 years of home burned down by your wrath.

It’s been over a year since I revealed myself to you, as you demanded the truth, “DON’T YOU LIE TO ME!” you screamed as I smiled with hopeful release.

Oh, how I took that bait and oh, how you gut me like a dead fish for market.

But, here’s the real truth:

I’m still gay.
And.
She still loves me.

I guess the joke is on you and the life you pretend to live.
True Knowledge is power. I hope you find yours someday.

What if?

By: Faith Rivers

What if
What if what they always thought to be true
Was actually the bible being misconstrued?
They say homosexuality is an abomination
And this nation is being led by moral degradation
But what if they are the ones contributing to the demise
By believing the lies that judgment and hate
Should out rate love
What if God is more concerned about the heterosexual, distant union
Than the homosexual union characterized by profound love and communion
People so in love, they would be willing to suffer through the hate and rejection
A reflection of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross
The message of the bible gets lost
Entangled in tradition and fears entrenched in years of norms
What if Jesus is hearing all the prayers of those who mourn
And is tired of seeing His loved ones take their lives
For an issue that doesn’t even cause Him surprise
Because His eyes don’t see gender, but rather people surrendered to
To motives that are pure, love that is sure
What if they are wrong?
And all along God does not abhor those that fall in love
Whether the same sex or different race
As long as you can trace their fruit back to the Spirit
What If they are the ones deceived
And the enemy has convinced them to believe
Fear, judgment, and tradition supersede
Love, honesty, and purity of heart
Yes, a stark contrast to what lesbians, gays, and bisexuals are told
Made to feel their love is cold and impure
A sin for sure
And then to be lured into the lie of self-hate
Fed by the intolerance of those who can’t relate
So homophobic they try to determine people’s fate
What if lesbians, gays, and bisexuals can be in God’s will
Following and serving Jesus still
What if instead of condemnation
God feels elation for his creation
Experiencing love enduring the test of time
True sacrifice and service that binds,
A beautiful picture of God’s plan
Experienced in flesh, first hand
What if what God cares about in the raising of children
Is not the gender of their parents, but whether they have the fruits of the Spirit
What if the measure for what is right and wrong
Was not a few culturally bound scriptures
But rather a picture of the love of Christ flowing
What if they are helping the enemy without knowing

[volume]

By: Jenuine Poetess

they will never go back
will never relinquish
will not diminish
any of the space they have decided
is theirs to take up

she will stop stooping
and cowering
and making herself small
she will not step aside
fold herself into pockets
shrink under the magnitude
of your not enoughness
evident when you name her,
“too much”

he will not cater to
care for
kowtow because your journey
to consciousness is humbling
because your path to awareness is painful
because checking your privilege is
uncomfortable

she will not take on
take up
take over the burden
of your brokenness
with unceasing apologies—
because no,
she is not sorry for existing
not sorry for surviving
not sorry for having wounds in need of healing
not sorry for feeling, everything
not sorry for having the audacity to thrive

they will not tone down
shut up
calm down
cheer up
they will not make themself anything
other than authentic
just to suit your desires
your pleasure
your sense of entitlement

he will not make himself
less
timid
dim
to accommodate
your inadequacies
your insecurities
your incompetence

they will not ever fit back into the box
into the quiet
under the rugs
inside the shadows
into the corners and closets
where they were for so long
relegated

there is no reining in
no rewinding
no undoing
no erasing
who she is become

there is no more stifling
once we have
unsilenced

Unsilent Blog Monthly Spotlights

The Unsilent blog will consider non-fiction narratives (in the form of poetry, prose, personal essay, memoir, etc) on any subject at any time.

Sometimes people like to plan ahead or have a theme/goal to work toward.  Somtimes courage needs a little heads up.  To that end, please peruse the loose schedule of spotlighted topics for each month throughout the year (if we’re missing any important themes please be sure to let us know)!

At the start of each month, we’ll post a call for narratives and list the themes spotlighted for that month.  Again, we will consider and publish non-fiction narratives on any theme or topic at any time; you don’t have to wait for the month.

JANUARY
• Codependency
• Slavery & Human Trafficking
• Psychological / Emotional Abuse

FEBRUARY
• Black Lives Matter
• Teen Dating Violence
• Intimate Partner Violence
• Bloodstories

MARCH
• Womyn’s Herstories
• Deaf Culture & Experience
• Self-care & Radical acts of Self Love

APRIL
• Autism Acceptance
• Arab-American Experience & Identity
• Child Abuse
• Sexual Assault

MAY
• Mental Health
• Lupus/Invisible Illnesses
• Asian-Pacific Experience & Identity
• Spiritual Abuse

JUNE
• LGBTQ PRIDE
• Belief/Faith stories of inclusion/exclusion
• Eating/Feeding Disorders

JULY
• Abilities/Disabilities Acceptance
• Migration Experiences
• Body Image
• Illness and/or Injury

AUGUST
• Survivor Stories
• Parenting & Child-Free Identities
• Community Violence

SEPTEMBER
• Latinx/Hispanic Experience & Identity
• Suicide
• Self-Harm

OCTOBER
• Cancer
• Domestic Violence
• Infant Loss & Miscarriage
• Bullying

NOVEMBER
• Police Brutality
• Racism
• Indigenous/Aboriginal/First Nations Experience & Identity
• PTSD

DECEMBER
• Family
• Trans* Experience & Identity
• Peace & Global Violence
• Grief & Loss

To sum up: please for sure do send in your truths.  Any time.  Any topic. As often as you need to.

Your “Christian” Refusal to Affirm LGBTQ Lives Is Really About Prejudice and Privilege

By W.

Because of the circles I am in, I am constantly listening to white straight religious men discuss the morality of same-sex marriage. Maybe there is a place in Christianity for the affirmation of LGBTQ people, they say. Maybe. They aren’t really sure. Probably not. It’s hard to find a good biblical argument to support it. They feel torn up about the issue, because they have friends on both sides of the debate.

I calmly state my opinion, and hold back my rage.

Why is it I am always holding back my rage?

I reason with myself that these are good men. They are trying to be loving, and kind. They are sincere. They don’t mean to be prejudiced or bigoted; they really don’t. I have seen them in a hundred scenarios be generous and thoughtful and caring. It’s just this singular issue where they seem to be stuck.

One of the men says with a sort of sympathetic authority that before you can ever affirm same-sex relationships or any variety of gender identities, you have to wrestle with the following arguments, which he lays out for our consideration. He speaks from a place of soulful conviction and authentic deliberation. His words are well-reasoned; his arguments logical.

My answer to him, were I able to eek it out past the screaming in my heart, would also be well-reasoned, logical, and full of soulful conviction. But I cannot make myself grant him the pleasure of an equally measured response, as if this were merely a friendly intellectual discussion.

Because we are not debating a mathematical equation. This is not an academic classroom.

We are tinkering with people’s lives, and it’s not a game. What I want to say would come out in a fury, and it would sound like:

You have the luxury of discussing this in your ivory tower. Meanwhile, your LBGTQ brothers and sisters bleed on the street.

You may think you are so torn up about this as you try to decide your position. You have no idea what torn up feels like.

You may weep as you do your best to “follow your conscience” and lovingly say no to the beautiful couple in front of you who has asked for your blessing to their marriage. That thing you think is your conscience speaking? It’s your prejudice. I know that sounds harsh, especially because you want so badly to be loving, but I am telling you, it is your prejudice. That part of you that feels queasy and uncomfortable and afraid—that’s the devil talking. Love doesn’t sound that way in the ear of the heart. It just doesn’t.

Do you know how I know it’s not your conscience speaking? Because it’s not your damn life! The conscience doesn’t speak to you about whether other people are right or wrong. The conscience speaks to you about you.

Do you know how many gay and lesbian people can tell you that their conscience KNOWS God loves them, God approves them, God make them this way? Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds.

Who are you to think you don’t have to listen to that?!

I feel like the women who ran to the disciples saying they had found an empty tomb. “No way,” said the men. It wasn’t their experience, so it must not be true.

Damn it. Listen to them!!

Could you set aside your privilege for five seconds and listen to someone who is different from you? Stop reading the opinions of other straight white religious men to try and help you make a decision about this topic. Read someone else for a change. We’ve been listening to the likes of you for millennia. Listen to us. We are people too.

What is it going to hurt you if gay people get married? I’ve racked my brain and came up with nothing. What is it going to hurt gay people if you deny them their worth? A hell of a lot.

Stop wavering! The only reason you have the “time” to waver and balk before making a decision is because your privilege allows it. Your privilege protects you. Your privilege means there is no consequence to you if you don’t listen to the cries of the oppressed. You are NOT the one hurting over this “issue.” Because it’s not an issue. It’s a person. It’s people. You are hurting people.

Why won’t you go ahead and affirm your LBGTQ brothers and sisters? What are you afraid of? That you will stand before God some day, and God will say to you, “I wish you hadn’t been so loving. I wish you hadn’t been so merciful and accepting and kind? I wish you hadn’t been so empathetic and understanding?”

That can’t possibly be it. You must be afraid your peers here on earth will call you weak, call you wrong, call you wishy-washy.

Stop being a coward. Stop hiding behind your privilege. Stop telling the oppressed what they have to prove to you before you will accept them. Stop. Just stop.