Rain: A Romantic Short

The window was cracked just a bit, and I could hear the rain falling from the sky, that steady safe woosh of an endless shower of water, falling and falling from the sky, soaking the ground and the grass and the pavement. Water that falls and seeps into everything and finds it’s mark and nourishes.

It was a gray day. I couldn’t remember what time it ought to be, though it was probably the afternoon.

We were all alone. We would be for a few more days. The blinds were raised to show the view of Henry’s back yard, a lush green valley of grass that needed mowing, and in the distance at the bottom of the hill were the trees that led into an expansive forest. Their property extended somewhere into the woods. Usually we’d be out there, even in this rain, soaking wet, up against the wet bark of a tree. But we didn’t mind.

I could smell the rain in the air. It smelled like home, like something safe. The gray light cast down to the boy who lay in my arms. My eyes washed over him, drinking in the sight of his soft, white skin. He’d always been somewhat pale, but right now his whole body was flushed pink. His arms were pulled close and his hands rested on my chest, his fingers making slight movements against my naked chest that sent shivers through my body.

His eyes were closed, his moppy dark brown hair obscured most of his face. It was still damp from sweat. Beneath the covers, our naked legs were intertwined, and my still sticky cock was pressed against his thighs. His member was hiding somewhere, because he was curling up slightly and facing toward me.

I brushed a strand of dark hair away from his face. He took a staggering deep breath that told me he was falling asleep. I pulled him closer and felt his heart beating in his neck and his back, still thumping a little harder than normal. A few minutes ago we’d come together and collapsed, and I had pulled the blankets above us to fight the oncoming chill of the cool afternoon air.

No one would be home for several days. We were all alone. This was our time. We were lucky to have it. We’d been in love for years. Our parents thought we were just friends. We couldn’t tell them the truth, or anyone else. Not even our friends new. Though we both knew they suspected it and we didn’t deny it.

Sometimes we met up underneath an old abandoned bridge in the woods. Sometimes in the dense forest behind Henry’s house. And sometimes, when there was a blessed hour or two when no one was around, we could pull our clothes off, breathing quickly, hearts thumping, and fall into Henry’s soft queen size bed, and we would roll and giggle and kiss and bite and embrace and thrust and pull and we would make mistakes and accidentally hurt each other, and our bodies would awkwardly clap together and make silly noises, and sometimes there was a mess and sometimes there were unpleasant smells and sometimes one of us would have a runny nose and it would get on the other. Being in love is a messy business. Being human is messy. Touching is messy.

We didn’t mind. We treasured everything. Every moment and every touch, every taste and smell. He was the only person I’d ever loved, and I never wanted to love anyone else. The world was empty but for Henry and his moppy hair and his shorter height than mine, and his adorable round butt that made me instantly hard every time I saw it, and the way he laughed at stupid things in movies that made me roll my eyes, and the way I could feel him harden in his pants when I gave him even the most gentle kiss. The way his bright blue eyes would look up at me, because he was always lower than me, when we stood he was lower, and when we were in bed I held him against my chest. It’s strange that it was my arms around him that made me feel so safe.

When his head was laying against my chest, with his soft, wet breath against my skin, I was more than one body, his entire being was an extension of mine, with his own individual thoughts but we shared one beating heart that led us to come together again and again, our mouths sloppy and wet, our cocks throbbing with the intense beating of our hearts, our heads swimming and hot with something that couldn’t be expressed out loud, the whimpers that passed between our lips and the gentle moans and the loud gasps of pleasure only hinted at something so large that it filled up our chests and when we burst, bloody and warm, all over each other, we just kept growing until we filled the room and I think we might fill the whole world.

With my outer hand I explored the familiar contours of his body. The gentle down of hair against his butt, which he hated but which I thought was incredibly sexy. My fingers passed through those hairs that were so light they were almost blonde, perfectly splayed along the cheeks of his butt. My finger found it’s way between them into the warm crevice that seemed to beat with his heart for just a moment against my fingertip. He was nearly asleep but he noticed, and he squirmed gently, but it was a happy gesture. He was exhausted, but I knew that if I pushed my fingertip further, he would want more. I ran my fingertip up along the crevice between his cheeks and then my nails gave a gentle tickling scratch up his back to his shoulder, and he breathed the tiniest sigh of relief. I wanted him to have this reprieve, I knew that in an hour or so we’d be at it again.

But in this moment, with the lingering smell of our bodies and our sweat and our fluids still sticky and drying against me and inside of him, we were safe, and we were whole, and it was quiet. My head was swimming and I found myself getting sleepy too, but I kept my eyes open, and watched the rain outside the window.

This moment might come again and again in our lives. We might have a million of these moments. But this one would never be replaced, and none afterward would be the same. When we were older, we’d both look back on this moment and yearn for it, even if we still have the happiest of moments then, this one will never come again. This one is perfect.

I am more perfectly alive than any other person in the world. Anyone who yearns and tries and searches, it is this that they are searching for. It is this moment in the rain, with Henry pressed against me, and the utter safety of knowing that I don’t have to get out of bed if I don’t want to, and I don’t have to let him go.

I place a finger, the same one that was just giving his entrance a gentle prod, beneath his chin and with the slightest pressure I raise his face up, and his lips form the slightest of smiles. I lean down and my lips reach forward and find their home upon his, and his lower lip is in my mouth and I suck it gently, and a soft and gentle groaning for more comes from him chest and his throat, vibrating against my mouth. He wants more. He’s insatiable. I love him so much.

I kiss his closed eyes, my lips touching those soft eyelids, and his lashes flutter just a little from the surprise, but he’s smiling again. He opens those eyes and they look into mine, and they are blue and crystal and bright and full of everything I am, and he leans up to give me a kiss himself, one a little rougher than mine, his lips pressing hard against mine, and now my eyes are closed, and my pelvis instinctively thrusts forward as my cock begins lazily thickening, and finds its tip pressed against his erection. He lays his head against my chest again and his eyes are closed, and as I glance at his face I place a kiss on his temple.

Everything is worth this. Any pain is worth this. As long as I have this, I can be anything. As long as Henry is pressed against my chest and his lithe body is squirming in my arms, readying itself for more of our passionate and emotional connection, as long as I have the heat of his body to protect me from the sweet chill of the rain outside, I am alive. He is everything in my heart, and the world is a bright landscape upon which he walks, and his destination will always be in my arms, where I need him to be, where I can have safety and shelter. He is rain and forests and beds and moments.

His voice is a soft, crackling whisper, saying that he loves me. My vision becomes blurry. He’ll notice in a moment and ask me why I’m crying. But for a fraction of a moment, this is my reality, forever and ever, and I am so happy that I can’t express it, but my body is trying anyway, with my hard cock and my salty tears and my expectant lips when they come close to his.

And there is no world, no home, no life, but for this feeling, and even though in a few moments it will subside, and transform, and become something different, it’s here. And this is enough. This is enough.

Why I Love Kesha

My relationship to Kesha is a curious one. She appeared at a weird time in my life.

On the surface, Kesha seems to be everything I hate about pop music: trite unoriginal pop songs with simple melodies and attention-grabbing hooks but otherwise little substance, cliche or vapid childlike lyrics, shallow subject matter that deals only with partying, sex, vague relationship woes, and verse-rap bragging peppered in between overly-synthesized and overproduced electro pop that is substantive enough to be entertaining but not enough to be unique, and lackluster vocals that are autotuned to the point that no one could have seriously thought the artist was ever really a decent vocalist to begin with in the first place.

I get that. I get the problems with Kesha. I get the reasons that people don’t like her. The above paragraph might lead you to believe I can’t stand her, but curiously nothing could be farther from the truth.

I started out hating her for all of the reasons mentioned above. Like everyone else on planet Earth in 2009, I too was subjected to endless repetitions of her breakout single Tik Tok on the radio, and like everyone else I was annoyed by it’s vapidity but secretly just a little bit entertained by it. But really, I genuinely didn’t like her. She sounded plain trashy. She clearly looked like a hot mess. Her aesthetic has always been “rave girl who hasn’t showered in several weeks and rolled around in garbage and glitter.”

But the truth is, Kesha is not what she appears to be. And the weird thing about is, she isn’t the OPPOSITE of what she appears to be either. She makes frivolous pop music, and she MEANS to do it, she means what she’s saying. She WANTS to be a pop star, and she isn’t making pop music ironically to try and expose the flaws in the medium. The pop music she’s making is genuine.

There are a group of listeners who consider Kesha to be another drop in the bucket, overly-autotuned pop singer cranking out tunes mostly made by producers, with little talent for songwriting or for singing. This is not the case. Kesha isn’t vapid or dumb. She’s incredibly intelligent, she has a genius IQ and received nearly perfect SAT scores. She’s driven and passionate and knows what she’s doing. However, don’t let that lead you to believe that Kesha is in fact an architect and student of Victorian literature whose lifelong art project has been to deconstruct the mythos of the pop star by playing one, laughing pretentiously in her study at night over a glass of sherry at plebeian pop fans who’ve bought into her charade.

The thing that makes Kesha unique among a slew of pop stars is the fact that she’s entirely authentic.

She comes from a humble background. In a life story that seems almost too perfectly fitting with her dirty rave girl aesthetic to be true, Kesha’s mother got incredibly drunk at a party and doesn’t remember the hookup that led to her becoming pregnant, and nine months later gave birth to Kesha Rose Sebert without the slightest idea (or worry) about who the father was. Kesha was raised by her single mother, a wonderful hippie songwriter called Pebe, and together with her brothers the family seems to have lived in an open, accepting home environment. Kesha definitely has hippie elements in her personality, and she speaks with a gentle slur that makes it sound like she’s always intoxicated, and a Californian accent that immediately calls to mind the movie Heather. I think. I’ve never seen Heather. Moving on.

Kesha moved to Nashville to become a musician, and spent many years writing her first album Animal. She made a lot of friends in the business, including fellow newcomer Katy Perry, and her first major role in the pop world wasn’t in her own song but as an extra in Katy Perry’s I Kissed A Girl music video. Go watch the video and near the end there are several sexy blonde girls sitting around a pool with Katy, and there she is, she even has her own close up shot for a moment. Kesha also wrote songs for many other musicians while working on her first album. The first song to put her on the map was Flo Rida’s “Right Round,” a simplistic and artless reworking of the classic song You Spin Me Round by Dead Or Alive into a sugary pop-rap tune with almost no substance whatsoever. When Flo Rida was working on the song, he decided he wanted to try out having a female vocalist on the chorus, and Kesha was working nearby in the same studio, so she was pulled in and recorded some vocals for the chorus. Because of some legalities, or the absence thereof, when Right Round became a worldwide smash hit, Kesha received absolutely no royalties for the song, and continued to live the life of a starving artist scraping to get by, while her voice was playing on every radio in the country and she remained unknown and unpaid.

This is where the infamous dollar sign in her name comes from. Her name is almost always stylized as Ke$ha, leading to some cute jokes in which people pronounce her name Kee Dollar Sign Hah, but it was conceived as a joke about the irony of the circumstance Kesha found herself in: everyone would assume she was rich, being in a worldwide hit single, but she got cheated out of any share of the money. As time would tell, she was cheated out of a lot by the music industry and the shady characters therein, and I’ll come back to that in a bit.

So, enter me. A ninenteen year old gay kid living in the south, struggling desperately to deal with a tumultuous life, and just coming out of a rather powerful bout of Christian zeal. I spent about a year of my life completely devoting my time and energy to being a Christian, and I took it very seriously, and I even achieved some small level of peace, but ultimately I realized it was a coping mechanism, and this time when I came out of Christianity I left it behind for good.

I was fairly aimless at the time. I’d hated school my whole life, and I’d graduated a year earlier. I did not want to go to college because I just hated school and didn’t want to experience any more of it, but I didn’t want to work either, both because I hate the tedium of boring and strenuous minimum wage jobs, and because I’ve been dealing with debilitating anxiety since I was sixteen, complete with rolling panic attacks that for all intents and purposes never really end or begin, but just go on forever. I wasn’t medicated whatsoever at the time, and I was struggling with severe agoraphobia that was developing in my life.

I was in a relationship that was both abusive and incredibly unsatisfying. I was entirely aimless, I was sad, I was lonely, I was horny, and I was frustrated in every possible way. Spiritually, sexually, emotionally, and mentally, I was frustrated to a breaking point. But I’d never had any suicidal tendencies (yet, that would come later) and never self-harmed, so I had no outlet, no real way to truly break down.

My boyfriend and I took a trip to Virginia and spent the night at some friends’ house. These friends happened to be another gay couple, and they threw a party which involved two more gay couples. One of those couples left once the drinks started flowing, leading to there being a grand total of six of us in the house. We got drunk, we got horny, and I, having never actually been drunk before, was eager to use the “oh it’s my first time being intoxicated” excuse to put as many dicks in my mouth as I could before everyone started to say no.

Does that sound a little rapey? It probably does. I can’t say I was in a good state of mind.

At any rate, there was a lot of sexual activity that night between just about everyone, pairing off for a few minutes with one another at different points. The radio was on, and Kesha’s hit single Tik Tok was booming through the house and I put my tongue into several orifices of several guys, and then spent the night in a cuddle sandwich with my boyfriend and one of the others who had broken away from the pack and basically let us fondle him the entire night.

All in all, it was pretty fun.

The next morning I had something of a hangover, which is honestly quite rare for me.

On the way home, Tik Tok was playing on the radio.

I don’t know why, I don’t understand it, but suddenly, I just got it. I enjoyed it. I had fun with that song. It was great. I didn’t want to stop listening to it.

Now, I know it sounds more like a joke than a real story: I never really liked Kesha until I participated in a drunken six-way gay orgy with some delightfully Virginian, slightly trashy gay guys. But it happens to be true.

When I got home the following day I honestly felt like I was still drunk. I sat in my bedroom, my head swimming, and looked up Kesha on iTunes, listened to the samples from Animal and read some of the reviews. I was disheartened. The reviewers were all mostly saying the same thing: the music was samey and average, the lyrics were so juvenile they sounded like they were ripped from the diary of a sixth grader dealing with boyfriend drama for the first time, and her singing voice was terrible and autotuned to the point of ludicrousness. I agreed with all of these assessments and quickly decided that Tik Tok was in fact a guilty pleasure, and that in general I still disliked Kesha.

But I couldn’t quite get that song out of my head.

My dysfunctional relationship progressed, as did my anxiety. I dove headlong into a Tori Amos phase from which I have never resurfaced, and mostly forgot about Kesha. I did torrent Animal at one point and gave it another cursory listen but I wasn’t terribly impressed. I fell in love with Imogen Heap, Florecne and the Machine, and many others, and continued to keep Kesha mostly out of my mind. When I finally broke up with the aforementioned boyfriend it happened to be right at the same time that my agoraphobia and anxiety had gotten so bad that I’d developed the curious symptom of alternating between sharp pains on the entire life side of my body or being completely numb in the same places. I was finally put on medication, and like magic, my panic attacks just disappeared. I was riding the first wave of stimulants I’d ever experienced, since I’d never done any kind of drugs before, and I was riding high on the antidepressants which elevated my mood and let me have gloriously peaceful and undisturbed sleep at regular intervals, and the relief and freedom of being done with an abusive relationship and having the freedom to love and to fuck whoever I wanted, provided I could find someone.

It was then that Kesha returned.

I don’t exactly remember what caused it. I just remember being high on my antidepressants, feeling adventurous and excited about going to gay clubs and finally getting my young adult life started, and I went back to those downloaded audio files from Animal, and turned them on, and I became completely hooked.

I listened to Animal front to back, non-stop, for several weeks. I didn’t listen to almost anything else. I fell absolutely in love with the music and started to learn a little more about Kesha. I still understood a lot of the complaints: some of the lyrics were trite, but there were also a lot of hidden gems that you wouldn’t have guessed existed. Tik Tok and Take It Off were big hits all about partying, but other songs on the album lamented the darker aspects of being a party girl, of trying to find solace in living in the moment and enjoying the night as much as possible because it’s all you truly have. Hungover, Blind, Animal, and Dancing With Tears In My Eyes are all very emotional songs about the loss of love and the difficulty of trying to live day to day in a haze of partying. There’s a longing in these songs for something, an emptiness, and a willingness to be up front about the good and the bad, to be unapologetic about sex and fun and relationships, to call things like the way they are.

My little sister joined me on this adventure and loved listening to Kesha with me, and was actually nice enough to buy me a physical copy of Animal with some money she’d been given, which I still have. Later on, when Kesha started to release singles for Animal’s companion EP Cannibal, I downloaded them all as they were released and ordered a copy of the two combined into one two-disc album (Animal + Cannibal) that came with a cute little “K$” temporary tattoo which I intended to put on my cheek at my first concert, and which I have still never used but remains in the case. When I attended my first real concert last year, the Dresden Dolls at Coney Island, I was sad when I realized I’d forgotten to bring along my Kesha tattoo for my first concert. But at least I still remembered. That’s something.

The companion EP Cannibal was a great nine-track romp that fit the atmosphere of Animal perfectly while managing to expand on it. The songs were still about partying and having fun authentically and unapologetically, but there was a song called The Harold Song which absolutely broke my heart and still continues to be one of my favorite songs. It’s a beautiful and melancholy song about the loss of love that really affected me at the time because I was dealing with a terrible breakup, and this song was a companion in that pain and darkness for me. At first I thought that Cannibal deliberately mirrored the songs on Animal (Grow A Pear has a chorus very similar to Tik Tok, elements of Tik Tok are incorporated into Cannibal, Animal itself is included as the last song in remixed form, and many other songs seem to borrow elements of songs directly from Animal), and I’m still not sure if it was done intentionally or if the song structures were just all very similar and working from the same pop framework.

Kesha is honest and authentic, and I think that that’s what makes her special. I think this is also the reason that people like Kanye West, but I just can’t bring myself to think that guy is anything but a self-absorbed douche. Kesha delivers pop cliches with a slight wink because she knows it’s cliche, but she’s doing it authentically. And she isn’t a bad vocalist either. The thing that confused me the most about Animal was the fact that Kesha’s voice is very unnecessarily autotuned in many of the songs.

Kesha is an incredibly prolific songwriter, and there are literally more than a hundred demos for Animal that never made it onto the album. One song, a completely acoustic breakup song called Goodbye, is a really great glimpse into an unfiltered Kesha with all of the pop trapping stripped away: her voice is soulful and unique, and her intonation is similar to Alanis Morissette. Her vocal ability is surprising, it doesn’t completely blow you away, but it’s not at all what you’d expect after hearing so much autotune and vocal effects on her album. She also released another EP between Cannibal and her second album Warrior called Deconstructed, which contains simplified emotional mixes of several of her songs, including The Harold Song, with her vocal ability really put on full display.

I still don’t really understand why she chose to allow herself to be autotuned so much when she didn’t really need it, although considering the dynamic between herself and her producer Dr. Luke that came to light later, it’s not difficult to imagine that maybe he made the decision for her. I don’t really know.

And with that we come to Dr. Luke. Kesha came forward and filed a lawsuit against Dr. Luke for raping her, and for abusing her. I don’t really know if there was physical abuse, and I’m not going to look it up. The thing is, I’ve purposely avoided learning the details of this lawsuit. Kesha’s entire career came to a halt because under her contract she was unable to release any music unless she dropped the lawsuit against Dr. Luke, and he vehemently denied ever having abused her, despite many other women in the music industry coming forward to say they’d suffered abuse at his hands as well. Honestly, my heart was just too broken for Kesha to read the details. I couldn’t handle it. I was having a hard enough time holding my own life together, and to know that someone who I had come to greatly admire and respect had been hurt so badly, and who was being treated unfairly by an unfeeling system, it was too hard. It’s why I still don’t know all the details. I do know that eventually Kesha was forced to drop the lawsuit so she could continue to make music, but I still don’t know many more details. I know that during her absence she appeared at a few live events, and at one of them gave an incredible performance of When It Happens To You by Lady Gaga, a song about surviving rape.

Kesha also briefly had her own reality show which I watched the majority of online and greatly enjoyed. It really showed her beautiful personality, and the general carefree and honest way in which she lives her life. It made me smile to watch it, and it gave me hope.

I used to have this poster on my wall, and alongside the topless poster of Lady Gaga, I imagine that anyone looking at my room was probably really confused about my sexuality

Kesha inspires me. Her strength, her dignity, her willingness to create. There was a moment during Kesha’s reality show where her little brother was attempting to write a song, and she was giving him writing advice. The advice was this: “You have to be willing to let yourself suck.” As a musician and a writer, this has been one of the most important pieces of advice I’ve ever absorbed. What she meant was that when you start out at anything, you’re not going to be incredible. With drawing, composing music, or writing, you start out as a novice, and even your best, most polished efforts, are still going to be less than perfect. You’ll probably experience a few flashes of incredible creativity and accidentally stumble upon expressing yourself honestly and with style, but you have to be willing to let yourself create something that is less than perfect. Kesha’s hundreds of demos are a testament to that. Many of those songs are not that great, but they’re all honest and authentic, and that’s the thing about Kesha that I admire so much.

You have to be willing to let yourself suck. You have to be willing to create whatever is in your heart, and sometimes it’s not going to be great, but you have to be willing to do it. Lady Gaga has said something somewhat similar, which is “You have to respect your vomit.” She was referring to one of her songs, and about how the lyrics come in a rush, and she just word vomits them out, and that she then chooses to respect her vomit, respect those words for being authentic and in the moment. This proverb doesn’t inspire me quite as much but it’s worth mentioning in conjunction with Kesha’s advice from above.

And so, in a surprising twist, I ended up loving an artist who I thought represented everything I hated about manufactured pop music. While, yes, the element of pop manufacturing is there, Kesha’s honesty and brazen authenticity still shines through, and even though some of her songs are a bit cliche, her music is a surprise. Her personality is a surprise. Everything about her is a surprise, if you assume that the dirty glitter party girl you see on the cover is as shallow as her surroundings suggest. I don’t know how much irony she injects into her style, but Kesha is a worthwhile person and a worthwhile musician. She’s an activist for animal rights, she loves the gay community and has immense appreciation for her fans, and she approaches life with the kind and passive attitude of a hippie but the fortitude of a revolutionary. Her voice is real and true, even though there’s sometimes a layer of autotune.

Opposing Islam

I’m so tired, so very tired, of being told I’m ignorant, racist and bigoted for speaking up against Islam. We’ve reached a point now where when you point out that the central doctrines of Islam include making war on infidels, mutilating children, subjugating women, and murdering apostates, people scramble to say “No, no, that’s just a few EXTREMISTS, #NotAllMuslims are like that!” Well yeah, I never said all Muslims are like that, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to ignore the clear call to violence inherent in the religion that causes people to murder others. There’s literally a gay holocaust being carried out in Chechnya right now, and the leader of the country said he will, quote, “wipe out the gay community by Ramadan,” but everyone is pretending like Islam has NOTHING to do with it.
I know that there are good Muslims in the world. There are also good Christians in the world. But that doesn’t erase the calls to violence, slavery and subjugation that are present in the Quran. I try to speak out against women wearing burqas because they’re commanded to keep their flesh covered so that they won’t tempt men, and people tell me that I’m being bigoted, and then somehow have the nerve to do such mental gymnastics as to say that burqas are actually LIBERATING garments and tokens of feminism. I try and say that we should be taking seriously the homophobia present in Islam that contributed to gay people being put into concentration camps in Chechnya, and people tell me I’m just being racist, that I’m ignorant and don’t understand that Islam is a religion of peace.
And the weirdest thing is that the people arguing with me are NEVER Muslims. Not one Muslim has come up to me and told me I’m wrong, it’s always non-Muslims who are being offended on behalf of Muslims, because it’s become politically correct to defend Islam. Well I’m not playing that game. Religion kills people, religions poisons people, it stops conversation and free inquiry, and if the only thing I can do is to stand up and talk about it, or even shout about it, then that’s what I’ll do. But Islam is a philosophy, not an ethnicity. So it doesn’t make me racist to call out Islam for it’s very real prescriptions to violence, misogyny, homophobia and subjugation.
A man will murder someone and shout “I’m doing this in the name of Islam!” and people will all respond “Well clearly that guy wasn’t a REAL Muslim, he’s misinterpreting Islam.” No, take him at his word! He’s doing what he was told to by Islam. And it’s the same thing when Christians lynch black people or murder gay people, and then say they’re doing it because it’s what the Bible says. People respond by saying “Well they’re misunderstanding the Bible, they’re not TRUE Christians.” No, take them at their word, they’re doing it BECAUSE of what the Bible says to do! It’s the same with Islam.
Protecting people from profiling and hate speech is important, I understand. We don’t want to create a culture in which all Muslim PEOPLE are treated as reprobates. And I don’t want that either. And I don’t think that of Muslim PEOPLE. But I do think that Islam itself as a philosophy is abbhorent. And to even say that out loud now results in me being labeled Islamophobic. Maybe I am Islamophobic. The word itself would imply fear of Islam. I am afraid of Islam! I’m afraid for the world. And it isn’t just Islam that I’m afraid of, I’m afraid of Christianity too, and any religion that tells it’s followers to kill and enslave others. But if I speak out against it, people roll their eyes and say “No, that’s just the actions of a few extremists.” Yeah, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s there IN their religious texts. You can say gay men aren’t being killed in Chechnya because of Islam but because of homophobia. But the homophobia comes about BECAUSE of religion. And if we’re going to have an honest dialogue about the murder of gay people, we have to be willing to call out the philosophies that lead to it.
So yeah. I’m tired of being called a bigot because I see something terrible happening and I call it out and say that it’s wrong. And I know that the blog and Facebook feed of one American white boy isn’t going to fix the world, end homophobia, or stop religion from murdering people, but I can’t just sit here and be silent when people are dying.

Hope: A Welcome To Night Vale Fan Episode

If you haven’t heard of Welcome to Night Vale, it’s a podcast that tells the story of a creepy desert town where Lovecraftian horrors exist alongside everyday people, and the madness that ensues. It’s normally told through radio broadcasts, narrated by the voice of Night Vale, radio presenter Cecil Palmer. While listening to several episodes, I was really amused by a lot of the humour, and just started writing down some notes for jokes of my own that I thought would fit into an episode, and before I knew it I had a brief little fan episode written out. So I thought I’d share it with you. Enjoy!


Roses are red. Violets are red. Red is everywhere. Everything is red and there is no going back.

Welcome to Night Vale.

Good mourning Night Vale. Good morning to you, and to all the other mourners in the procession of mourning. Mourning is a good thing. Only through mourning can we heal and grow and find the strength to live.

City council has announced that the ancient temple on the outskirts of town, hidden deep and unreachable within a cluster of trees whose oaken trunks are older perhaps than time itself, will be demolished to make way for a parking lot. The parking lot will not be attached to any businesses or attractions, and will also be unreachable. As always, any attempts to park cars in a parking lot will remain illegal.

Wednesday is currently lost. Because of this absence of a day of the week, a time vortex has opened in the town square, which threatens to engulf the entire town. The sheriff’s secret police have promised a reward for the safe return of Wednesday, or any information leading to the recapture of Wednesday. Remember that if you find Wednesday, it is be to returned to the sheriff’s secret police alive, or else you will be unable to claim the bounty, and the time vortex will consume us all.

The body shop is offering a two for one sale for a limited time. Any body you purchase will come with a second body of equal or lesser value.

The Night Vale PTA bake sale has raised just a hair over $300. Really. The bake sale brought in $300 and a long stand of hair. Dark hair. Hair that looks suspiciously like the dark hair of that girl you met in college. You know the one. You shared an intimate night together and forgot to get one another’s names, and the next day you saw her on the front page of the school paper, momentarily excited to learn her name before you realized that the story was about an annual memorial for a girl who had been hit by a bus years before, and who you discovered had in fact lived in your very dorm room.

The bake sale continue tomorrow, but city council would like to remind you that there will be metal detectors. Anyone found to contain traces of common bodily metals will be detained indefinitely.

Listeners, I don’t often talk about the details of my personal life, being a radio professional and all, but since Carlos vanished into a desert otherworld, he’s only been able to communicate by occasional phone calls, or by drips of strange blue liquid, leaking from my ceiling, landing on the kitchen floor in rhythmic drops resembling Morse code. And frankly, I’m feeling a bit down about the whole thing. With Valentine’s day just around the corner, I know that many listeners will be feeling lonely as well. After all, Valentine’s day can be difficult for those of us with significant others, as we are required each Valentine’s day to sacrifice whoever or whatever it is we love most in the world to the creature in Grove Park, only to have them returned to us the next day, changed in unspeakable ways. But this year I won’t be able to make my offering, because the person about whom I care most is currently trapped in a desert otherworld.

I crawl into bed at night, look over to my nightstand where, amongst my collection of antique doll heads and bone-hewn knives from the Before Times, sits the stethoscope that Carlos gave me on our anniversary. I myself don’t quite understand how to use a stethoscope, after all who has the time to bother learning how to properly throw stones at passing birds with a stethoscope, as is customary in science, but I always enjoy listening to Carlos explain it to me. Sometimes it’s nice just to hear his silky voice, even if I don’t understand what he’s saying. Carlos, if you’re listening to this broadcast, know that I miss you, and I eagerly await your next coded message, dropping in blue rivulets into an undulating quivering mass on the kitchen floor.

The absence of Carlos has caused me to spend a lot of time thinking about hope, dear listeners. Hope is a fickle thing. When it is absent, we despair and long for its presence, lamenting that we’ve lost something we didn’t at first realize we had. And then, over time, we find that we had hope after all, only it was a tiny hope, a little flame that burned in our chests, growing larger and larger, photosynthesizing the sunlight of our thoughts and pumping out the will to continue. When we wake up one morning to discover we have hope, it can be alarming. After all, after you’ve lived so long without any hope at all, how are you to deal with finally having it?

Being able to see a light at the end of a tunnel is, in its own way, more difficult than giving up, and accepting the endless darkness of the tunnel. But hope is a responsibility, a responsibility to ourselves. It is a gift we are given by that little flame within us, which always burns, no matter how small it becomes, and we must hold hope, burning and sometimes singing our weary fingers, and carry it with us. It can sometimes be a burden, in the vast vast darkness, it can illuminate our path, while we wait for the sun to rise. The night is long, listeners, and hope may sting our hands, but still we hold the flame aloft, and let it guide us through safer paths, to shelter, to safety. When the morning comes it begins with a chill, and then as the dew settles in on the wet grass beneath us, we see the sun reaching its bright tentacles up over the distant mountains. And we have morning.

Morning is how we heal, how we grow, how we find the stength to live.

Be safe. Keep hope alive, even when it stings.

And good night, Night Vale.

Good night.