Join Prism Book Alliance® as Brandon Witt goes Outside the Margins today.
I’m at the airport, again, waiting to return home to Denver from the deep south of Louisiana. My boyfriend’s family is from here, and I love them. I also love the beauty of this place. The live oaks heavy with Spanish moss, the rainforest-like call of the birds, gray and green lichen growing on every possible surface.
It’s also a bit exhausting.
I grew up in the Ozarks, which, culturally, is similar. At least enough that I understand the why of nearly everything here. Except for the sucking of crawfish heads. I simply don’t have that in me. Though I’ve seen many top chefs on the food network rave about how delicious that is, so I know I’m the odd man out.
Still, I’ve become a city boy over the past twenty years. A liberal city boy. A gay liberal city boy (as opposed to the closeted conservative Christian fag of before).
I often hesitate to even broach my experiences with being a ‘minority.’ I’m lucky and I know it. First off, I’m a white male. No matter what other aspects follow, I am in a privileged position and I know it. To top it off, I’m a white male who can ‘pass’ for ‘normal’–unless you’re another white man who tries to talk to me for more than a minute, in which sports or breasts comes up in the conversation (directly or indirectly), both of which I’m unable to even fake a modicum of awareness. Unless they’re interested on my view of Quidditch and if I prefer my mermaids have a shell bra or long thick hair. The very fact that I’m a white male, who can pass, offers me protection, at least if play my part.
I am safe, as long a s I fake it. Which, gives me privilege and an advantage.
And, I’m thankful for it, as unfair as it may be. I’m not sure how I’d cope otherwise, because even though I’m safe, I’m exhausted.
I am aware every second of every day, even at in Denver, save for those few places I frequent the most. Here, in the South, the feeling is on overdrive. And it’s not simply due to my prejudices. I grew up in a similar place. There are always things that trigger my awareness to maintain my safety. If I see a cross or an ichtyus or an American flag (and no I’m not a terrorist). If I hear the words ‘Brah’, ‘Bro’, ‘Dude’, and even the over abundance of ‘man.’ These are clues that I need to be more aware and watch my step. That’s true for anywhere, however, those things act like breeding bunnies here in the South. They’re everywhere. (BTW, I’m not saying that those things are bad or wrong or shouldn’t exist. My experiences have simply taught me to connect them to a more risky situation where I may not be safe.)
My boyfriend and I only see each other every few weeks due to his job as a travel nurse. That’s not a bad thing, it works perfectly for us. However, when one of those trips is where we aren’t safe to touch like we do in our safe places in Denver (unless we’re behind closed doors) or simply be how we are normally, it’s emotionally and relationally exhausting. It often takes a bit to figure out what the pressure is we’re feeling and then it clicks.
And it’s not just in the south. It feels more pervasive over the entire country at the moment. Hear Donald Trump praised and lauded is also exhausting and a huge warning that you’re not safe. (This isn’t meant to be a political post, but I’m just being real. Politically, I’m much more worried about Cruz and Kasich—and my boyfriend’s parents are democrats, where my own are voting for Trump.)
As normal, I don’t know the exactly point of this post. I often just use the blogs to vent and for cheap therapy, so thank you!
My only thought on this if I’m constantly exhausted by having to be aware, I can’t fathom the level of exhaustion, frustration, anger, and resentment by all those unable to pass as white straight man who can stand and piss in a urinal.
I’m looking forward to walking into my little bitty house tonight, locking the door and cuddling with my puppy.
About Brandon WittBrandon Witt resides in Denver, Colorado. When not snuggled on the couch with his two Corgis, Dunkyn and Dolan, he is more than likely in front of his computer, nose inches from the screen, fingers pounding they keys. When he manages to tear himself away from his writing addiction, he passionately takes on the role of a special education teacher during the daylight hours.
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