Letter Twenty-Three: Altair to Whelan

Whelan,

I am sorry it has been so long since I wrote to you. I could tell you that there have been things I must take care of from the Throne of Night. I could tell you that I have not had time to sit and write anything that is not official correspondence.

I could make up any number of excuses, but the truth is I was afraid. Your last letter frightened me. I did not know what to say. I did not know how to respond.

I hope you can forgive me. You did not deserve that.

I do love you. I don’t know when I fell in love with you, but it happened, and I have never loved another Elf before. I never even had lovers in my youth as so many of my fellows had.

I hope that I did not make you wait too long. I know that loving you will be complicated, but I know that you loving me might be even more so. I wish there was a simple answer.

Write to me if you are not too angry. I have missed you…

Yours,

Altair

Image by Monsterkoi from Pixabay

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Has Died and I’m Pissed Off

Yesterday was just another normal day. I was doing what I normally do. Writing, working, getting things done. Then, in the early evening, a friend sent me a message on Facebook. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died and my whole world tilted on its side.

As my head began to spin and my mind reeled, I was overcome by a multitude of emotions. Grief, sadness, fear, heartache, but most of all, and somewhat surprising at first, rage.

I was angry. So angry that I could not find the words to express my anger.

For 27 years, Ginsburg served on the Court. She was only the second woman in the history of this country to do so, following Sandra Day O’Connor. In that time, she became the face of women’s rights as well as the rights of other marginalized communities in the Supreme Courth.

She famously authored the Court’s decision in the 1996 case United States v. Virginia in which the Virginia Military Institute was being sued for their discriminatory male-only admittance policies.

During the case, Virginia proposed starting a parallel program called the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership for women at Mary Baldwin College, but Ginsburg struck down that notion, noting that–as we’ve seen in every other case of separate but equal policies–this new program would undoubtedly fail to offer equal training to women who joined the program.

She wrote: The VWIL program is a pale shadow of VMI in terms of the range of curricular choices and faculty stature, funding, prestige, alumni support and influence.

Then there was Olmstead v. L.C., a case which dealt with the employment rights of those deemed mentally ill in which she upheld that mental illness was protected under the umbrella of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

And of course, there was her support of the LGBTQ+ community when she voted in favor of marriage equality in Obergefell v. Hodges. It was a landmark decision.

Now it goes without saying, other Justices stood with these decisions, but Ginsburg was notably consistent and often let her displeasure in majority decisions be known by reading her dissenting opinions aloud from the Bench. It is a rare practice and undoubtedly a power move that was wholly effective on her part.

But all of this is academic. These are sterile facts, and while they played into my emotional upheaval, they were not entirely the reason why I was so angry.

You see, for myself and so many Americans, Ginsburg had somehow transcended her position as a Supreme Court Justice. She had become a symbol, a guardian, a protector of rights, and a force to be reckoned with when equality was threatened. She was not perfect, but damn it, she was on our side.

Her lace collars became her superhero’s cowl and her gavel, Mjolnir, and for the last four years, it seemed she stood at the gates of the Hall of Justice, daring the current administration’s regime to pick a fight with her.

It is no wonder she looked so frail. She was fighting two cancers simultaneously. One attacked her body; the other attacked her country. I’m sure there were days when she wanted to simply sit down and rest, but she seemed to not have that in her. She had grown up a fighter and she continued to fight until her final breath.

So why am I angry?

I’m angry that she had to do it.

I’m angry that we live in a country where women like RBG had to stand up and repeatedly say, “No, this is not right. You are corrupt, and this will not stand in this republic.”

I’m angry that in 2020, the equal rights of so many hang in the balance.

I’m angry that we live in a world where science and reason are pushed aside by self-righteous politicians and their agendas.

I’m angry that the world is dying around us while corporations and lobbyists look at massive fires, unprecedented hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and disease ravaging the population and choose to shrug their shoulders and look the other way because it doesn’t fit into their narrative and isn’t profitable.

I’m angry that, even now, there are conservative politicians wringing their hands with glee at the thought of her death and who will try to push through yet another far-right lapdog like Kavanaugh onto the Bench which will influence court decisions for decades to come.

I’m angry at American apathy in the face of a fascist regime.

I’m angry that many of those Americans will make countless insipid Facebook posts about wanting equality and equity in this country but won’t get off their damned couches to show up to vote against the people who are steadily stripping their rights away.

I’M ANGRY THAT THERE ARE COUNTLESS PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY WHO ARE NOT FUCKING ANGRY.

I’m angry at so many things, and while I can normally keep my anger in check in favor of reasoned arguments, the death of Justice Ginsburg brought all of that rage to the surface and I cannot seem to tamp it back down to be “reasonable.”

The last four years have been one turning point after another, and this country obviously has the wrong map.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died, and my heart goes out to her family, her friends, and the people she held dear. We may never see another like her on the Supreme Court in our lifetime, and that is yet another reason to be angry.

J.K. Rowling, Self-Absorbed White Gays, and Other Reasons I want to Bash my Head Against a Wall This Week

The world has tilted in the last couple of weeks.

Peaceful protesters took to the streets to voice their outrage over the death of George Floyd and countless other black citizens of our country at the hands of police officers only to have their protests stolen by white supremacists and other “anarchist” groups–none of which are labeled as terrorist organizations, I might add–intent on causing as much damage as possible.

The blame, of course, was laid firmly on the heads of the protesters despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary and we saw the police rise up and become a force of evil straight out of an Orwellian nightmare.

Meanwhile, the supposed leader of our country tear-gassed peaceful protesters in order to stage a photo-op in front of a church and threatened to unleash soldiers to use deadly force against anyone and everyone.

In the wake of all this, I confess I have found myself at a loss for words more than once, and as anyone who knows me will tell you, that is unusual indeed.

Subtle racists have outed themselves crying #AllLivesMatter every time anyone dares mention #BlackLivesMatter. Meanwhile, people who only a couple of weeks ago stormed government buildings while fully armed to protest that their rights were being stepped on because T.G.I. Friday’s wasn’t open and they couldn’t get a haircut, have climbed firmly onto their high horses to tell people if they’d just listen to the police and do what the government said, they would be all right.

Coronavirus: Armed protesters enter Michigan statehouse - BBC News
White protesters in Michigan screamed in the faces of police officers and walked away without a scratch.

It is important to note that not a single one of those heavily-armed men left those buildings with a scratch on them. Meanwhile, police have intentionally targeted the media, shot rubber bullets at and tear-gassed unarmed peaceful protesters at the George Floyd and BLM marches, and destroyed medical supplies and arrested anyone attempting to offer medical aid to their victims.

I took part in a live broadcast to discuss recent events on Facebook a couple of nights ago and one our panelists said it feels like the entire country has become JoBeth Williams in Poltergeist, constantly flailing about as more and more bodies surface in the backyard, and honestly, it’s the best analogy I’ve heard so far.

In the midst of all of this, I thought for sure that my own community would show up en masse to show support for protesters.

Well, I hoped anyway…

Honestly there were groups from the LGBTQ community who took part in the protests including one group that was attacked by the police right outside the Stonewall Inn just a couple of days ago.

But, there’s one group that has been more silent than others which has spotlighted a problem that doesn’t get talked about enough within the LGBTQ community: Racism and narcissism are rampant among white gay men.

Quite frankly, that enrages me. Take this dude for example:

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“I so wish I could attend your protest but I just haven’t been feeling up to it…also look at my ass while I pretend I’m being reflective and confronting my own inadequacies.”

Seriously, dude?

I wish I could say this kind of thing was an anomaly, but sadly it is not. One only really has to spend a few minutes on any of our “dating” apps to see rampant racism and fetishism for people of color.

“No Blacks. No Asians. No Latinos. Sorry, it’s just my preference.”
“Gimme that dark chocolate.”
“I love Asian men. They’re so exotic!”

No, sorry, you’re a racist.

This is to say nothing of the internalized homophobia that has created statements like “No fats. No fems. Masc4Masc.”

These folks have forgotten where our fight for civil rights began. They have forgotten trans women of color like Marsha P. Johnson who picked up a brick and demanded that the cops leave them alone. They have forgotten, in their privilege, that they too are marginalized.

A long time ago, the powerful in this country figured out a very simple formula that has been highly successful. It goes something like this:

“You’re gay, but at least you’re not black.”
“You’re black, but at least you’re not gay.”
“You’re gay, but at least you’re not trans.”

They’ve used this effectively to keep marginalized groups focused on hating and dismissing other marginalized groups with the result that we do not unite to overthrow the power hierarchy. Thus far, it is working like a charm.

As a white gay man, I believe I can say without fear of successful contradiction that there are few groups on this planet so judgmental and mired in privilege as white gay men and quite frankly, it makes me sick.

Take for instance groups like Twinks for Trump and don’t even get me started on the Log Cabin Republicans. Deluded that they’ll find some sort of acceptance, they throw their support behind politicians who want nothing less than our destruction and pretend they’re some sort of martyrs when they can’t get a date on Saturday night because no one wants to kiss anyone whose lips are otherwise firmly attached to the ass of the man currently residing in the White House.

What I’m saying is it’s not surprising that so many white gay men have been silent throughout these protests. Yes, it is angering. Yes, some of us are doing our best to be of help, but that must include calling out the silence of others.

Then, just when I thought I was out of angry for the week, everyone’s favorite fantasy author turned TERF decided to open her mouth on Twitter yet again today.

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I’m not sure what she’s thinking. I’m not sure she is thinking. One thing is certain. A woman worth billions of dollars should be able to afford a little education.

Rowling has become more and more vocal about her exclusion of the trans community. Her prejudice not only extends to trans women, who she does not recognize as women, but now she’s thrown her hat in the ring denying that trans men are actually men.

News flash, Jo: I know several men who menstruate. They are men. They are valid.

In fact, the only thing invalid is the opinion of a straight woman who has turned her back on the lessons she appeared to be teaching throughout her own book series. You hide behind the mantle of feminism in an attempt to camouflage your own prejudices, but we see you. We’ve seen who you are for a while now, and it’s an ugly, disgusting thing.

The world is a terrifying place. It has been for a long time. Some people are finally waking up to that point, but others keep their heads buried in the sand.

I only hope that they will finally face facts, wake up and decide to be the allies they should be.

Oh, and Jo? Shut up and read a book. Thanks…

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Letter Twenty-Two: Altair to Whelan

From: High Prince Altair
To: Prince Whelan of the Realm of Waters

Whelan,

Thank you for your honesty and your openness.

I care for you deeply. I may even love you, as well. I don’t know. I have not been in love before.

I need time to think. I’m sorry. I know this may not be the answer you wanted, but I just need a little time.

Please understand,

Altair

Image by Martyn Cook from Pixabay

Letter Twenty-One: Whelan to Altair

From: Prince Whelan of the Realm of Waters
To: High Prince Altair

Altair,

It was so lovely to have you as a guest for our autumn festivities. It mean so much to mother and father.

It meant so much to me.

Altair, you may never speak to me again, but I feel I must be honest with you. I know that the ruler of the Realm of Night and all of Avalon must marry someone of the Realm of Night when the time comes, but Altair, I love you.

I think I’ve loved you since the moment you blushed after stepping on my foot on Feast Day all those Moons ago.

Every time we are together, I fight myself not to reach out to touch your arm, and dancing with you at the autumn concert was almost too much for me.

This may seem sudden, but love has always come hard and fast for Water Elves. I don’t know what you will say reading this. I think you feel the same way, but I could not wait any longer to tell you.

I hope I’ll hear from you soon,

Whelan

Image by AliceKeyStudio from Pixabay

Letter Twenty: Whelan to Altair

To: High Prince Altair
From: Prince Whelan of the Realm of Waters

Altair,

I am sorry to hear that you have been so troubled.

I do know of what you speak. Titan, my brother, exhibited such behavior when he was a youngling. He was constantly in trouble, constantly creating chaos, mostly in a bid to gain attention.

It was not until he discovered not only that he liked training and leading as a soldier, but that he was quite good at it, that he began to settle down. Perhaps, all that Marchan truly needs is direction.

Then again, there’s also the chance that he is a spoiled brat who will continue to wreak havoc for the rest of his life. I hope for you, and the Realm of Night, that it is the former rather than the latter.

Life here is peaceful at the moment, and for that I am grateful. As I write this letter, I am gazing out into the depths, watching schools of shimmering fish swim by just beyond the walls.

I do not know if you know this, but in the autumn each year, there is a concert here at the Watery Keep. It is our way of marking the change of seasons. It is a night of music, singing, dining, and dancing.

It would make me happy if you could attend. I know it may be irregular for a High Prince to take part in such festivities, but even so, I hope you’ll consider it.

The concert takes place on the next full Moon. Write to me if you can attend and I will make arrangements for you to stay at the Keep overnight as the dance often goes into the wee hours of the morning.

I await your reply,

Whelan

Letter Nineteen: Altair to Whelan

To: Prince Whelan of the Realm of Waters
From: High Prince Altair

Whelan,

I must apologize for not replying to your previous letters. It has, indeed, been a trying time here at the Palace of Night.

Perhaps you’ve never met my cousin Marchan, but I must tell you he has been a thorn in the foot of our family since he was a youngling. If there was trouble to be found, he would not only find it, but roll around in it like a white hound in mud.

When he was younger, it was endearing, but the older he has gotten, the more he acts out, and the more he endangers his own life and the lives of those around him.

Since I have ascended to the Throne of Night, he has become worse. He is petulant and spoiled and rash, and well, I’m sure you see what I mean.

I cannot even begin to tell you things he has done recently but in these last few weeks, I have had to threaten him with exile on more than one occasion. I fear that someday I will have to put threats aside and make it so.

His mother, my Aunt Portea, spends a great deal of time in my chambers begging for me to have mercy. She insists that because his father crossed the veil so early in his life that it has changed the way he views the world. Perhaps she is right, and perhaps, I am simply impatient. He is not a youngling anymore, and his games are no longer funny.

When he speaks at me, he looks as though he has been forced to sit in horse dung with his face drawn up in disgust and sometimes I fear what his moods will inspire him to do.

Enough of my troubles. How are you? How is life in the Watery Keep?

I must tell you, I do love the peace of the water. Perhaps, if someone were to invite me to dine with them, I could take time from the Palace and experience that peace sooner rather than later.

Thinking of you,

Altair

Image by DarkWorkX from Pixabay

Letter Eighteen: Whelan to Altair

To: High Prince Altair
From: Prince Whelan of the Realm of Waters

Altair,

I’m sorry to write again, but it has been almost a full Moon and I heard that there had been some kind of trouble at the Palace of Night.

I do hope all is well. I hope that you are well.

I hope that whatever happened has been settled, but if there is anything that I can do to help, do not hesitate to contact me.

Perhaps I should not worry so, but I do.

Be well, Altair, and know that I am thinking of you.

Whelan

Image by augustfinster from Pixabay

Letter Seventeen: Whelan to Altair

To: High Prince Altair
From: Prince Whelan of the Realm of Waters

Altair,

As you might imagine, a Prince of the Waters has little reason or occasion to visit the desert. We have, upon occasion and on the request of the Plains Elves, provided rains when they have gone too long without, but otherwise, we rarely stray into the sands.

If I am honest, its vastness and dryness makes me uncomfortable. I can look out onto the rolling seas for hours from the sandy shores of the Peaceful Cove, but when there is only sand for as far as the eye can see, I find it almost crushing.

I suppose I am a Water Elf to the core in that way.

You mentioned viewing everything from afar. Do you not ever sneak away from the Palace of Night for you own adventures and exploration?

I confess I have often escaped from the Watery Keep when I find it particularly oppressive and when I wish to forget that I am a prince born to be responsible for all time, if only for a little while.

It is healthy, and if you have not, I implore and encourage you to try it.

What did I scratch out? Nothing. I simply made a mistake and scratched out the mistake as one does.

I know it may be some time before you are able to write, but I very much look forward to your next letter. Perhaps, when everything is settled we can dine once more at the Palace of Night, or you would be welcome here.

Write to me when you can, and in the meantime, be well, Altair.

Whelan

Image by Karl Frey from Pixabay

Letter Sixteen: Altair to Whelan

To: Prince Whelan of the Realm of Waters
From: High Prince Altair

Whelan,

I am glad you enjoyed the gift. I cannot say why, but I thought of you when I happened to see it on display among the Fire Elf shops.

I am sorry it has taken so long to respond to your letter, but as you know, by now, we are once again at conflict with the Dark Elves from across the sea.

Their ships have raided several vessels traveling from the docks at the Realm of Night carrying goods to the outer realms of Avalon.

All of this was to fill requests made by the leaders of our various clans that were taken during the tour and now we must start all over again while simultaneously preparing to place more soldiers of the Night Guard on each ship.

I do not know how they always seem to know when the ships with the most bounty leave our docks. It is almost uncanny.

As you can imagine, my days have been filled with angry ship captains and angrier merchants whose supplies were destroyed in the raids.

Your letter was a welcome oasis in the chaos.

I intended to write you while we were visiting with the Plains Elves, but it was a very short visit. Queen Alhambra rarely asks for much and we were only there for one day.

Tell me, has the Prince of the Realm of Waters spent much time in the desert regions? You may find it strange, but I have never been. So much of ruling from the Throne of Night is seeing from afar rather than experiencing life in person.

The Plains Elves will be moving over the river from the grasslands soon and I find it fascinating.

What did you cross out in your last letter? I would very much like to know what you were thinking.

Altair

P.S. It is unnecessary to apologize for not saying thank you for a gift when your eyes and smile spoke so eloquently.

Photo by Amos Bar-Zeev on Unsplash