Never Forget Where You Came From



I’ll never forget the day when people filled the streets of Tehran

People who looked like me, demanding for freedom

I watched from above, oceans away in another country

We can never forget where we came from.

They could never win this battle without us

Our freedom of religion, press, assembly and expression

Are all tools we can use to help them

We chose to leave, and they chose to fight

Remember the important things in life

Never forget where you came from.

I am one of the lucky ones.

My dad chose not to risk his life fighting Saddam

And chose instead to go to the United States and get an education

The people have started a revolution

Demanding for democracy, freedom and social justice.

We cannot just sit and wait and hope for the best

While our country, our home suffers under a religious dictatorship

Those are our brothers and sisters being detained for simply asking where their vote is.

We can do so something

Raise awareness. Use the rights we have that they don’t, to make a difference

We are the same people. The same roots. The same blood

We can never forget where we came from.


The Alexandria

By Libby Howard


People always ask, how exactly I define my sexuality.

I never answer this question if the person asking has never answered it for themselves. But of course I have an autopilot response. The “yes-I-kiss-her-in-the-comfort-of-my living-room-and-want-to-get-married-in-my-home-state-but-leave-the-edible-panties out-of-it” version.

Mine is this: I have been romantically and sexually attracted to women. I find femininity to be powerful and stupid sexy. I still, every once in a blue moon, find myself side-eyeing a dude. But once I begin to unpack the men I would I sleep with and unbind the women I do sleep with—my elusive attraction for what constitutes a man and what constitutes a woman shifts. I ask myself about bodies. The sharp edges of shoulders and the soft curves of thighs. I ask myself what makes a body, one I want to wake up next to. What makes a heart, one I want to know. Am I the sum of my body or the description I write upon it? “Feminine,” for me, is someone who listens, who is domestic as fuck, someone who whispers like twine around the tea kettle. “Feminine” is someone who will cry with me when the horse dies—and the horse always dies—in those good-old-American movies about a boy and his horse. “Masculine” is someone who will throw me down on the dining room table and fuck me, who drinks IPAs, someone who argues with me and will let me little spoon whenever I want to. But this has nothing to do with male or female bodies.

But everything I say now is in a language I didn’t know at 18. Being a young queer body is like being illiterate inside of The Alexandria. There is no language of self. When I was growing up, all I knew was that everyone else seemed to be getting by just fine, and I seemed to be “getting by fine too,” so I guess, maybe, this is just how everyone feels when they kiss people: slightly bored, somewhat unconvinced but really, really trying to feel good. Desire is just you, alone, dripping honey underneath the covers with the lights off. This is just your body.

Until you kiss that girl.
And your heart makes noise.
And the dictionary in your mouth burns.
Things make sense.

I came out when I was seventeen on the first day of spring. So I guess today is my lesbian-birthday–finally turning three! I’m a twenty-one-year-old human and a three-year-old queer babe finding my way through this queer, shimmering world.

I am topless in my best friend’s shower, after having drawn serious fearlessness from Hedwig and The Angry Inch (who, “hell yes!” you can answer, you would definitely fuck). Sam grabs the clippers, the two of you toast Blue Moons, and listen to Coco Rosie while your hair gathers around your feet in the bathtub. You are a woman. You have fuck-the-world-hips and freckles to match. Red lipstick and a pair of Calvin Klein boxer briefs. A flat-brim baseball hat hovering over black lingerie. Top button and heavy on the eyeliner please and thank you.

And if Hedwig can do it, then goddamnit so can you.
Welcome to the dark side, the most light you have seen in your life.

So call me a femmebot, call me a prince, a tomboi, a queen, a bad, bad bitch. Call me fierce. Call me too soft for my own good. Call me adorable and terrible until the two words don’t make sense without each other. Tell me I am the boyfriend you want to come home to every night and the only girl you will let make you jasmine tea in the morning.

Tell me to take it off and put it on for you.
Make me chase you until worship.
I am exactly the kind of woman my mother always wanted me to be.

I Ain’t Second To None

By Vince Singer


I’m pretty sure I live first with myself
I mean
I’m here
Standing upon my alabaster podium of pride
Ignorant pride
Of something not understood

Lost in directionless reality

They said I am supposed to breathe easy now
To take off my shoes and put my slippers on
To enjoy the view
To love standing
As yet another descendent to this podium

But the moment my mind comes to settle with the darkness and waves
I notice the cracks that ooze milk blood
Pouring like hot vinegar into the water around me
Looking closer I see that the wound takes the form of a scratch
From the hands beneath my feet

Beneath my podium
Looking to find the grip to stand where I am standing
To enjoy the view

Feeble hands shake like fish on empty shores
And sweat begins to coat my water-glass face
I never enjoyed dark water

But I notice my legs moving from where I have stood so comfortably so long
Dipping feet to be taken, embraced, or exiled
I have nothing else to give
No cloaked service
No aid
No job
No life to be constructed
Not when you’re in the water

You can keep nothing close

All I can do now is step down
Leaving everything I’ve stuffed in my jacket, shirt, or pants pocket
All the lives and livelihoods that hang around me like crimson daisy chains

I must understand what it is to swim in the shadows
To thrash and scream to keep just a portion of my head above
All so I can learn to love, live, and swim again

Both in life
And in death

I must have in my pocket both this pearl-white podium
And the consuming water in consumption

To bring reincarnation of the sunrise
Packaging clarity and direction

And once we can finally see what we have around us
And Direction is restored
We will dump every color of every body into the heart of this podium

Scoot and squeeze
Move and mingle

Until we are wonderfully cramped
All slipping off our shoes
Looking to enjoy the view of humanity’s sunrise

and sunset

Black Noise, White Girl

By Libby Howard

Hip hop is as American as

apple pie. Hip hop is a storm

at the doorstep, waiting to unfold

onto your body. This music is

the movement from object to subject.

Like most white middle-class

kids in the 1990s, I grew up

with hip-hop close to my heart,

far from my body. Say black noise.

Say white girl.

When I was nine years old I despised

the piano. My hands, dignified spiders

taught to censor throb and desire.

Nothing made sense to me in that

white rulebook of sheet music.

Until, I heard 2pac Shakur’s

“Changes” shake a piano for all

of its money. Jerk elegance

by the pant leg to give it

something to dance about.

Deviance was a bull breaking porcelain in the corner of my big heart.

My mom calls it “gangster rap.”

She listens “for the beat.” That

sounds stupid. But I knew hip hop

was resistance and I—the nine year old

antithesis of ladylike, had so much to resist.

When I first heard the word

feminist, it was an answer.

It debunked the mechanics of

what my femininity needed to look like.

Like hip hop, feminism didn’t ask anyone for permission.

Feminism told me that hip hop exploits women.

I was confused.

how my hero, the son of two noble

Black Panthers, an A-minor man

made of bandanas and roses,

could become my enemy so quickly.

I guess 2pac wasn’t the white—

I mean the right kind of feminist.

I should respect myself, know

that woman is a brand that marks me

regardless of if I identify with 2pac.

Hip hop has its own ideas of

what women can and should

look like. But so does this type

of feminism, wearing history with

a sinister innocence.

Historically, you take the blackness out of feminism and you have feminism.

Take the whiteness out of feminism and you have nothing.

I don’t care if you identify as a feminist,

hip hop is not the mug shot of misogyny.

I don’t care if hip-hop is your religion,

gender equality is not optional.

These movements are not mutually exclusive.

I will not choose between loving myself and loving this music.

One thing I will never abandon is

resistance, sitting inside me like

a fuming bull with porcelain horns,

the sound of a piano