We Will Not Be Silenced – available now

The Anthology, We Will Not Be Silenced: The Lived Experience of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Told Powerfully Through Poetry, Prose, Essay and Art is now available via Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Will-Not-Silenced-Experience-Harassment/dp/1732800006/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1543429811&sr=8-1&keywords=we+will+not+be+silenced+the+lived+experience+of+sexual+harassment

PLEASE consider purchasing a copy or several as proceeds go toward sexual assault awareness, education and prevention and you will be actually making a difference with your purchase. We worked hard to get this project completed by the holidays so it would be timely given all that has happened this year.

All four editors of this Anthology met on WordPress and many of the contributors to this amazing publication write on WordPress and call it home. I really hope I can count on my WordPress friends and family to show some support of this much needed Anthology. ____________________________________________

We Will Not Be Silenced: The Lived Experience of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Told Powerfully Through Poetry, Prose, Essay, and Art is the brainchild of Kindra M. Austin, Candice Louisa Daquin, Rachel Finch, and Christine E. Ray. The four indie writers and survivors felt compelled to do something after the strongly triggering Kavanaugh Confirmation Hearings. Ultimately, they decided to advocate, educate, and resist through art.

They opened submissions for only two weeks to women and men around the world. The response from writers and artists was overwhelming: the final anthology includes 166 pieces of writing and art from 95 contributors around the globe.

The editors decided early on that this was a project of passion and compassion, not profit. 70% of the royalties raised above the publishing and promotion costs will be donated to organizations that provide services to sexual harassment and sexual assault survivors. The editors have prioritized making the book accessible to as many individuals and organizations that could benefit from it. The retail price is only a few dollars above the publishing cost to keep the 300-page plus Anthology as affordable as possible. They have also created a Wish List so that individuals and organizations such as rape crisis centers, gender studies departments, and public libraries who might not otherwise be able to afford copies might be able to receive one.

The truth matters, our stories matter, and you can help.

We Will Not Be Silenced is available in print and Kindle editions.

 

Special thanks from myself to WordPress’s own fantastic mind Merril D. Smith for her incredible foreword to this publication.

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Compulsion

I just watched the amazing film Bohemian Rhapsody. Let me ask you something … if I begin this post with; “And I wanted to talk about being gay” How many of you would stop reading? Ask yourselves, what does that really say about you?

I want to talk about being gay. Watching the story of Freddie Mercury it struck me (again) how the tiny minority of people who are gay (not bisexual) still struggle. You may ask why or point to more worthy causes to talk about …

Imagine being 1/2 percent of the population. Maybe you already are. That’s how many women are lesbians and men are roughly 2/3 percent. Bisexuality is far more prevalent, however 85% of women who are bisexual end up married to man, which begs the question, is there such as thing as ‘true’ bisexuality’ or is there just a desire to play both sides until you settle down, invariably with someone of the same gender?

Either way, ‘true’ queer women are rare. For men, those who are bisexual tend to end up being with men. It begs the question – do these stats indicate being a lesbian is not a life style many people choose or want to adopt? Or simply, that most women have a tendency toward heterosexuality as their preference?

My unscientific viewpoint for what it’s worth is; Men who have sex with men tend to be with men maybe because to ‘go there’ is almost indelible? Whereas sexuality for women is more fluid, and whilst they may like having sex with another woman and find her attractive, it’s not enough of a hook. Is sexuality and gayness a preference? I don’t think so, which means the ‘true’ number of gays is smaller than we even credit.

I personally don’t understand why more men are gay than women, as I am biased and see a lot more to be attracted to in a woman than a man (although they are harder to go out with because they are more demanding and selfish and less romantic). Irrespective, a man who is attracted to men, doesn’t go back and forth as much, a woman who is attracted to women may well end up with a man as other considerations come into play. To me, this isn’t being gay – it’s just having fun. Maybe I’m saying being gay is massively different to being bisexual.

I would imagine the negatives about bisexuality are; judgment from both sides, and that’s about it. If you are totally gay then the negatives include persecution, ostracizing, not fitting in, having no role models, no representation and most of all – feeling weird because 99/98 percent of the world doesn’t ‘get’ you and where you are coming from.

How many times have I been told by a woman that they find other women attractive but they can’t really understand wanting to be with a woman for any length of time – interestingly not because of sex, most women like oral sex, but because of the high maintenance being with a woman entails and how nice it is when a man romances you. It is true, it’s rarer and finding it with a woman, well you often end up having to do all the work and while men are good at that, women aren’t as much.

Hence why of those relationships that last, the classical butch/femme roles tend to work out best because the lesbians who are butch want to imitate a man and romance the woman and the femme is happy. I realize that’s a negative stereotyping of female-female relationships but there is also some truth.

Thinking about the AIDS era (which has never entirely left us and now that there are new drugs that people can take to reduce their likelihood of HIV exposure, where’s the incentive to continue to practice safe sex?) and how many gay men (and others) died and the terrible things that were said about them and how generations exist now that know nothing of this and how it will be forgotten …

I remember I was very young but I heard people say things like; “AIDS is killing the queers its divine justice” That told me early on that gay people were not equal and would never be treated equally behind closed doors. At one point in my life I was in the closet because it was easier and unlike a person of color, a gay person can often be in the closet to avoid prejudice. I’d not been in the closet before and suddenly I was privy to the things straight people said about gays when they didn’t think one of them was listening. I realized that this had all been said of me when I wasn’t in the closet but behind my back.

Then the other aspect to consider is the gay community and how judging and excluding it can be and how for many queers, fitting in with their own gay ‘family’ doesn’t always come easy or at all. I personally tend not to get on with gays, I have found them to often possess the worst traits of heterosexuals which deeply disappoints me. Lesbians judge you for not being queer enough, or act like swaggering men. Gay men can be such divas that they own the sarcasm and bitchiness in the room.

Does it mean you’re a ‘bad’ queer if you don’t feel in with ‘your people’? And yet … why assume just because you share one thing in common, you’ll get along? I’m sure I share something in common with Trump as well … point made.

The female gay world is divided into sections, either you’re a successful, educated career person in which case you go to exclusive things and judge those who are not on your level. You only date those who are like you, and you have high expectations as well as demanding those women you date are athletic, social and above all, status and financially successful.

The other group are the more neighborhood based gays, and the clubs teem with liars, frauds and fakes alongside players, druggies and alcoholics. If you imagine being heterosexual and reducing the number of options you have from roughly 48% to 1/2% you probably wouldn’t find someone you liked either. And let’s for not forget, if you’re straight and you see someone in the street or anywhere, you can essentially flirt with them without fear. But how can you tell when someone may be gay? Contrary to popular opinion, the gay-dar doesn’t work THAT well. So you are further restricted to mind-reading, falling in love with heterosexuals or going to gay clubs where the worst reside.

Boo Hoo right? A hard life. But not nearly as hard as many others. Combine that with a co-morbidity of higher rates of depression/anxiety (no wonder) and all the accompanying aspects that may accompany homosexuality and a life time of being shamed, ridiculed, the odd one out, and it’s not simply one issue, it’s everything.

There have been times I wished fervently not to be gay. I got fed-up of having a crush on my straight friend who wouldn’t like me if I were the last person standing, I saw how well men can treat women, I envied the heterosexual world. That’s why being gay is no choice, as most who had one, wouldn’t choose it.

That said it’s not all negative. Some of the best parts of my life have been as a result of being gay. Watching the film on Freddie Mercury really affected me profoundly because it reminded me that only a few years ago in my city there were stickers condemning gays having the right to marry, that my own life has been severely disrupted/destroyed for several reasons related to being gay, and how many gays have suffered over the years.

I may not be a huge fan of this modern world – 2018 onward – and I may hark beck to ‘better’ eras as I perceive them, BUT I know things are improving for gays and I hope one day, being gay is not something that will pull you down and give you pain. It will be what it is meant to be, a natural minority who see things differently but are in every other way part of us all.

Spare a thought for gays even as you think they have all their rights now and should stop complaining. It is not as simple as possessing rights. Gays are still more likely to commit suicide, have addictions, mental illness, be ostracized from family and be beaten up and murdered. Gays can often be very isolated, their pain not taken seriously, and feel alone even among ‘their kind’ and it really does make a difference to us when someone, irrespective of gender, befriends us and likes us for who we are, without being uncomfortable around us.

A friend for a gay person has twice the value because we never take it for granted and we always feel so lucky. After all, most of us living, remember a time when admitting you were gay would guarantee nobody would be your friend. Therefore, thank you for all who show kindness to us, and remember, compassion is the only thing that compensates for the erstwhile damage human beings have historically wrought, both on minorities of all kinds and our planet.

I dream of a world where it will be okay to walk down the street and not worry about holding hands with the person you love, when it will be comfortable to kiss someone you’re with, in public, without fearing being beaten up. Just as women worldwide, dream of walking down a street without being raped. I believe this day can come, if all of us have the patience to see the value of talking about this and not saying ‘I’m so fed up with the gay agenda or the feminist agenda’ and switching off. Until we have true equality, the only thing we can do is bring awareness and hope in turn, it produces change.

Oh, and to those bisexuals? Yeah. Sorry. But on the other hand, I’ve got a point. Can’t you sometimes choose the girl? 😉

Go see Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s incredible.

TLDR is bogus / we should read, we should care and take the time

TLDR is now in the dictionary (which I think is pathetic). Unfortunately this post is going to be too long and you don’t have time to read it fair enough but I’m writing it anyway because I have to.
Today I found out a very lovely girl I recently met (nothing is random) has Gastroparesis. It really affected me. See I had put all the awful horror of last year and the early part of this year into a box and avoided it. That’s what you do when you feel traumatized and are just trying to get your life back. How lucky am I to even have that opportunity?
Seeing those who continue to be sick, year in year out, through no fault of their own, makes you so grateful for any renewed health. After getting suddenly and violently ill last year in March with a suspected Noro virus, I got better quickly but remembered the awful feeling of unending nausea. I had two more brief bouts in May and June the last one sent me to the ER for the first time in my life because I had what felt like heart palpitations. Then in August of last year I got violently ill out of the blue, half way through the day, and didn’t get better for nearly a year. One of the hardest parts is how badly let down you can be, by people you thought cared about you, but on the upside, you also find out who really loves you and who doesn’t and that can be powerful and freeing.
I had to quit work for the first time in my adult life, I went into massive medical debt and I was suicidal for the first time in my life. I’m not saying this to make anyone feel sorry for me,I feel lucky. I’m saying this because I didn’t know ANY of the stuff surrounding this before, I was taking my health for granted, I thought being healthy living meant I would avoid bad things, it doesn’t always work like that.
It is thought Gastroparesis and other similar extreme illnesses are primarily caused by either Diabetes, complete breakdown of your autoimmune system, physical causes like gastric-bypass surgery or something you are born with, but most commonly is considered to have NO CAUSE. However if you do some research it becomes clear that VIRUSES cause the latter onset. Why women get it 9/1 over men and why pre-menopausal young, fit, healthy women get it, is also unknown, although studies show having a full Hysterectomy can reverse it so it clearly has a link with ESTROGEN.
I was told after being so violently ill for months without ANY cause found that I must have Gastroparesis. Gastroparesis is actually very rare but has become a catch-all umbrella term for anything the medical industry doesn’t understand. Supposedly the ‘gold standard’ test for this is the gastric emptying test but I found it is very unreliable and can vary from day-to-day. I was put on REMERON which is supposed to help a bit, if anything it made me worse. Fortunately for me, the city where I was at that time living in, San Antonio has one of the best Gastric Research Centers in the US I was able to see them and what I was told was life-changing.
My doctor told me I definitely did NOT have Gastroparesis and that in his experience 8/10 people diagnosed with non-diabetic Gastroparesis don’t have it. I had an EGG which showed my stomach was literally flipping and lurching and not emptying fully because it was ‘dumping’ too fast – this is called Gastric arrhythmia and is almost the opposite of Gastroparesis. I was horrified that they could have got it so wrong.
I was put on a very low dose of a medication that slows your stomach down. I’d lost so much weight it was dangerous, I couldn’t eat, I was throwing up all the time, I had constant diarrhea (which interestingly most Gastroparesis patients don’t have but they completely ignored how illogical it was to have constant diarreah despite this being almost the opposite of what you’d think of when you imagine a ‘frozen’ or non-working stomach which is the definition of Gastroparesis). The medication changed my life.
I had been suicidal for the first time ever because I decided if this didn’t get better I would not want to live. It was too awful. I didn’t have any family support, I felt so alone day in day out, that’s the worst part about something like this. That’s why my heart bleeds for those who are going through it. I had so much medical debt and couldn’t work and was nauseous (really, really severely not a little bit) 24/7 it ruined my life. The medication changed everything I’m still sick but I can finally work again, I can eat normally although my appetite never came back and I have to force myself which sucks. I have put on more weight than what I weighed before I got sick (as a precaution) and I am on the road to recovery. BUT I keep thinking of those who are still going through this.
I feel finding out today this lovely friend has what they thought I had, not only means I must do more to help others, because I KNOW how they feel, and what they suffer, but because we need to find out why this disease and others like it, are happening so often now when they used to be super-rare. It isn’t because people aren’t eating organic, most of the people I know with these things did eat well. Many of the doctors dismissed the link to Epstein Barr Virus and it was my PCP who finally decided to test me. My results showed I had EXTREMELY high titers of EBV in my blood. I worked out after contracting the Noro Virus last March I must also have either had a reactivation of EBV from childhood (90 percent of us get it as children or young adults) or I had never had it and got it for the first time.
Either way I realized EBV TRIGGERS Gastroparesis and Gastric arrhythmia. Somehow the autoimmune aspect of all Herpes Family viruses (like Shingles too) trigger various illnesses. The most common you think of with EBV are ME, Chronic Fatigue, MS, Fibromyalgia, Stomach Cancer. But more and more doctors are seeing stomach issues like Gastric Arrythmia and Gastroparesis. The medical industry says Gastroparesis is incurable. I don’t believe it is. I have read that if you can get your EBV down you can get over Gastroparesis. Many times if this is the cause then beating the virus beats the symptoms.
The only current treatment for EBV is high dose Vitamin C. I could never handle the acidity of Vitamin C. I found that Dr. Mercola made a Lypoic version that doesn’t hurt your stomach and I began to take 4000mg daily. Ideally if you can then IV Vit C works even faster and better. Once the EBV is reduced in your body the symptoms of the Gastroparesis may abate. The information online is awful and inaccurate, it basically says you will have it for life, but I have known people who overcame it, through diet modification, managing stress (which can exacerbate any serious illness) , adequate rest and treating the CAUSE which doctors never talk about because they want to treat the symptoms.
During this time many things changed in my life, at first I thought those changes were bad but I have come to see sometimes you have to force yourself to change, and what you think is a bad change, actually is a blessing in disguise. This illness forced me literally to reexamine my life, I realized I needed to make changes, which included moving and living elsewhere, as well as redirecting my energies into things I’d neglected such as teaching dance again and not giving up on my writing. I had let the awful experience dampen my hope and the truth is, when you survive something that awful it gives you a chance to find your joy again which I have in so many ways. I’m still on the road to recovery, I still have pretty bad days, but I am mindful of how far I have come and that along with support from loved ones makes all the difference.
If anyone you know is having severe stomach issues and they need help please give them my details because I want to help people. So often people are isolated and uncared about when they are sick. I have known many who have chronic illnesses and they are neglected by their families and invisible in our society. I felt totally alone when I was at my sickest it was the worst feeling in the world, which happens to most who experience long-term illness. The hardest part being since serotonin and other brain chemicals are actually made in the stomach, when you have severe stomach problems you get extremely down and anxious. On top of that Gastric arrhythmia produces a physical anxiety that had me crawling out of my skin, something I never had before.
I am truly blessed for having a chance to recover, but I believe in paying forward and I also believe if any of you know someone suffering, some of this information can help that person. The doctor I saw was in San Antonio, Texas and he was really, really good and I’d even say flying there to see him would be worthwhile, he is the clinical director of the National Gastroenterology Research Center in America.
If it wasn’t for him, those who love me and doing research I KNOW I would have either killed myself or spent the rest of my life suffering. I want to help anyone else get as well as they possibly can. I truly believe viruses are the cause of most things (cancer, etc) and we can fight them. You are NOT alone. Pass this on please to anyone you know who may be suffering. Thank you for reading if you did. We need to bring awareness to rare diseases like this that are growing in number and striking healthy young people in their prime. Never give up.

Of Being


In the lowing keep

When shelter becomes more than solidity

Something bright in darkness

Warmth when cold

In the clasp of your arms

Timbered voice, felling fear

All around us animals stir, unseen 

The switch of their fur, and meadow smell

As if time had laced herself backwards

We drift beneath spells

Your mercy is a red fruit at my throat

Throbbing against the thin trickle of hope

My eyes are dim in this evening

Where shadows appear to turn light footed 

Swaying in our attachment to the finite

When all around, creatures cease without word

And new are born to cover the empiness before she knew herself lost

We have no prescribed place, or capture

It is as if nothing has roots and like the tumbleweed

Rolling beneath the smoky clouds with hushed song

Lets go of all that can harm, the vast solemnity 

Of being

Something we used to be

When snowflakes melt

They melt from the outside, in

When people dissolve

They dissolve from the inside, out

You may not even know

That person standing next to you on the bus

Has nothing inside but icing

We are, after all, consummate sleepwalkers

And act, as if we wrap up everything, it will thaw

Even as the emptying of layers reveals it was 

Only shadow muffled

Something we used to be 

Before it became too hard

And the deception

Feels like a fickle lover, you can’t quit

A lung full of poisoning

A bed without dreamers

Only then the clock reveals

All its missing time

You spent putting bows on hollow boxes, with empty routines and unpolished shoes

When you could have been

Watching snow fall

Like a blanketed mirror of another world

Where you didn’t cut your finger on fears edge

And slip unconscious into hedging your bets

Where you found your long lost mittens and hat

Red against virgin snow, sledding almost vertical

We choose our closed doors with care

Would that we gave such attention to those standing slightly open

Offering a way to cut through resisting ice

Restoring wonderment 

Crescendo

Is it an astigmatism or

The blur of a questioning heart

When things are disordered, the very edge 

Clutching bitten sides as hollow city dwellers

Imagine faces looking downward into fast moving water, seeing drowned doves

A predilection for extremes

Where daughters cut their ropy hair

And open like heart chakras beneath festive lighting in department stores

Accents donating starry landscape above

Informing choices as snowbound relatives learning to talk over cold soup

Girls in A-line skirts, boys hiding erections behind glossy schoolbooks

And the heat of asfalt, curling like collars made of beaver

High gloves, no verbs, learning how to dye mouths like hair

Standing on unstable chairs, wobbling with frail grace

Where is moral nerve? Where negotiation? 

Responsibility for one’s life, defines self respect into a set of bronze rings hung from pinched hips

Whatsoever the plan, pinned to walls to hide the cracks

Tension strung like artificial silk, Protection sitting among lotus words

Flattering our need only leaves a sick emptiness

As when your mother left and the heavy latch 

Never fell back

Locking you in

Toys and books and closed looks

Guests who leave their fingers uncurled, will be claimed

As shadows whisk the corners of sobriety, in sating stain

When all is said and done, back to earth we come

Folding our weary necks against soft shove

If you take anything, take the memory of

That first summer before the shimmer rubbed off 

And everyone was golden beneath August, like hot dancers 

Turning their pliant necks to the orchestra’s

Swelling crescendo

You got out

(Part of a new series of poems about people whom I have met, who profoundly moved me).

They said

no it’s not a person, it’s a trash bag, or wad of clothing

as I turned the car around

knowing it was a girl, curled into herself

it was for her, the end of a long night

for me, an early morning drive

into rising sun

indigo girl

her limbs thin enough, to resemble twigs

hair colored black, face still-water of a child

she waved us off

no, no, no, I’m fine here

in the fetal position, on the cement

lying by the side of road exhaust

as predator number 10, idles his car and asks

do you want me to take you home

baby?

I press myself to the window glass

no, don’t get in the car!

he looks angry when she says

I’m just taking a nap, goodnight

his lust drives off, leaving fuel staining like road kill

I wonder

what he would have done if

all 90 pounds of her, in tiny shorts and torn top

had accepted his bearly, concealed hunger

how many predators comb

early morning side walks, hoping

to pick up lost girls?

she’s got sense and she also, doesn’t know

but I do

I was her once

crawling out of an abandoned warehouse

knife wounds, waltzing on my throat

cold semen in my belly

clawmarks designating, my survival

bearly

the car that stopped then

a light in darkness

they took me away, from near death

when so easily

I could have been picked up, a second time

a third,

by hands with bad intention

when you are fallen

people often crowd in, to help you

fall again

like wolves who smell

the coming of blood and

vulnerabilities, we think we hide

I told her

don’t get into a car with a lone man, or group of men

they may not show their fangs but

you are a little piece of goodness

sometimes people who prowl, want to hurt

that shining within you

we drove

she was looking out the window

with her unslept eyes and the residue of last night

still high on her pain

and for the first time in my life

I no longer felt a victim

but one of the imaginary horses, I used to ride

speeding away from slick, sales-man, cough

of curb-side prowler

I wanted to make her better

but sometimes you can only

patch and release

to maybe nothing safer than hope

with a few words

wishing, that when she’s sober

waking without assault

she remembers

you were her once

and you got out