Sometimes you have a choose a side, sometimes you have to fight even if you hate fighting

I’ve always been a fighter. I didn’t have a choice. But this isn’t about me.

This is about those who stay out of it, who don’t fight. Long I have admired this tendency among some people to avoid confrontation or fighting, because life is short, friends are precious, fighting is bitter and ugly, we need more joy and beauty.

That said, it is from a position of privilage you did not fight. You had a choice.

Some of us do not have a choice.

If I had a black face you’d agree, you’d be nodding right now.

But you don’t think other causes are as worthy as BLM which you will post about and defend. And they are, they are as worthy, they are as important and that doesn’t diminish BLM.

I’d like to stay in a place of tranquility too but I have never been able to. Maybe you think it’s a choice of mine to be gay but it isn’t, it’s something I knew quite young in life and wished I didn’t have but I did and so I made the best of it.

Is it harder being black and having racism? I think it’s the same. Any form of prejudice is BAD and HURTFUL and WRONG and by not seeing it as being as ‘bad’ you are saying without saying, that it’s not as important.

Since I live with the outcomes every day, I disagree. It’s every bit as important. Ask any black queer and they’ll agree. Being queer can hurt every bit as much as racism. It’s a different pain, but it’s just as real.

So forgive me if I talk about something that isn’t important to you because it doesn’t affect you. And whilst you are not black and being black doesn’t affect you personally, it’s universally talked about and BLM is in the news, so you protest it. Would you defend me as much if gay-rights were? I would hope so.

We choose what ‘matters’ and we pick our fights. I didn’t have a choice when I picked the fight to be treated decently despite being gay. Nor when I noticed how survivors were treated, nor women, nor Jews – and so the list goes on. But this is not about me.

This is about how people have grown tired of certain ’causes’ and the ’cause-du-jour’ influences what they say and how much they do, far more than the value of the cause. Realistically all causes are equal. But we don’t treat them as such. We pick and choose because it’s exhausting. But we also go with the flow, so if BLM is the ’cause-du-jour’ as valuable as it is, in real life, we also respond to the majority and that’s less authentic than we realize.

People don’t talk about Jews anymore, nor do they defend them despite crime and violence against Jews being worse than it has been in 40 years. That’s because it’s unfashionable, there are less Jews, their voice is quieter, they had their allotted time, we’re bored of hearing about it, we’ve moved on. And before you doubt me, think about it, really think about it.

Same with gay-rights. Didn’t gays get the right to marry? Then quit complaining! Black people are still being racially attacked, let’s focus on that, let’s forget the gays. The only reason you are harping on about it is because you are gay, but what about the blacks?

What about all of it? And when is all the hate and all the discrimination too much so we put our head in the sand and we try to deal with just us, because it’s all too much.

The other day I found out in three separate unrelated incidents, that my being gay was an ‘issue’ enough to cause prejudice and unkind words about me. I was used to it but you never get used to it. I realized that I had stopped fighting because I was tired of fighting but we don’t have that option. We never have that option. Not as long as women are raped, children are molested, men are gang-banged, girls are circumsized, Jews are made unwelcome, black men are shot, black women are not taken seriously when they are exploited, Hispanics are treated like second-class citizens and so the list goes on.

I can see how it’s much easier and nicer to just opt out.

I can’t opt out.

So I opt in. Because defending others is what I have always done and will always do. I wasn’t defended as a child, so now as an adult I CHOOSE to defend those who cannot defend themselves. It’s maybe what I most like about myself.

I realize friends can’t always pick a side. Maybe we never should. But sometimes we really have to. If someone for example, supported Hitler and the extermination of 6 million Jews, would that be reason enough to unfriend them, to support the others? What is enough? What counts? What doesn’t?

I don’t babysit because at the back of my mind I worry the parents will think I will abuse their children. It is ridiculous but since it’s been said about lesbians, I have that reflex. Those things poison you. They poison your freedom. Just as black people have historically apologized for things they did not have to be sorry for, and felt the need to blame themselves for their oppression, when it was not their doing.

I’m gay. I was born gay. I dated a couple of men it did nothing for me, it was before I ever met a gay-woman, and since then I haven’t looked back. If I were not able to be gay I’d probably be a serial killer or a monk – because there’s nothing else for me. I can’t be bi, I can’t be straight, I’m queer. It has impacted my life negatively and positively. The negatives are that my own family of origin wasn’t happy about it, and it may have been one of several reasons they didn’t approve of me. I lost friends. I lost jobs. I was accused of flirting with a woman just by talking with her. I’m seen as a pervert, unnatural, etc, etc.

On a positive side, I have been lucky enough to work with AMAZING women who are not only pro-LBGTQ but pro-woman and pro-equality of all peoples. Not paying lip-service to, but really BEING.

So excuse me if I think it’s a bit lame you are on the fence. I don’t think if someone were racist you’d be on that fence. I think it’s because it’s my queer fence and it doesn’t mean that much to you. Let’s call it what it is. And if that’s ‘drama’ then truth is drama. And I don’t think truth is drama. I think truth is truth and it’s a fucking rare thing these days.

When I began SMITTEN I was so proud. But I got a lot of flack too. When I had my page I was beseiged by men writing ‘you’re too pretty to fuck girls what’s wrong with you?’ – I don’t recall people really being outraged by that but if I were black and I were called the N-Word I’d be defended. I think it should cut both ways, in all matters of prejudice otherwise we’re saying – this doesn’t matter AS much.

If you are bored of me talking about being gay, I can only say, try being gay yourself and see how long you last before you want to speak out about how hard it can be. One time I was in the closet and everyone assumed since I am very feminine that I was straight, I saw the other side of it, and it was ugly as hell !! People disparaging queers so much I was sickened. THAT is reality. If you think that reality is okay, check yourself.

I’m so grateful that the majority of my jobs are with people who support who I am but I am dismayed when someone doesn’t really care enough. I think there is a right and a wrong. It is wrong to hate someone for being gay just as much as it is wrong for someone to hate someone for being black. Why is this still under debate?

I’m beyond apologizing for who I am. The other day I posted two queer-themed things on my FB page, one about a transsexual Indian woman who was talking to Obama about what it was like for her to live in India where it was illegal at the time to be who she was, and one about ‘corrective rape’ in India. I hardly received any responses but if I posted something about BLM I would have. I find it sad that there should be any difference. Okay we can argue, BLM is in the news now, but what about when gay-rights were, I don’t see people giving as much of a damn and the paranoid part of me says it’s because they’re not quite as ‘tolerant’ as they think they are, and they wish I’d just shut up. Sad that you would not think that about causes that ‘matter’ to you but you do with mine.

Nothing anyone can do to me now will hurt anywhere near as much as other things have, I literally have been torn apart and put back together, so I’m fearless when it comes to being judged. Go ahead, if it makes you feel better, I’ll still be here. And I will still speak to gay-rights and the quiet disapproval we feel every single day JUST like racism and its disgusting quiet poison. No I’m not trying to join in to get pity and get on the bandwagon of BLM for attention, I’m simply speaking my truth. I don’t need attention or pity, but I will fight for mercy and goodness, every single day.

Well I’m not going to. And I ask anyone who truly feels a little funny about gays to unfriend me, because that’s who I am, unapologetically and I don’t want or need people who have any kind of issue with it, in my life. Yes I actually CAN live with the fall out, I’ve done it before, I’ll do it again. Do you know why? Because I am a SURVIVOR in so many ways, and moreover, I have gone through worst shit than even those who think they know me, can possibly imagine. So whilst I empathize with your need to live a quiet life, and not have drama, there are times we really, really, really need to pick a side.

National Indie Excellence Awards

If you purchased a copy of Indie Blu(e)’s SMITTEN and you want a gorgeous gold sticker to recognize that SMITTEN won Finalist position in the National Indie Excellence Awards, please PM Candice Louisa Daquin or email her at ( letting her know how many stickers you require and your physical address & she will send them out as soon as possible.

If you already sent your address, expect your sticker in the mail any day unless you live abroad, in which case probably 2 weeks time. If you can kindly take a photo of you with your new FANCY SMITTEN with her sticker – !!! That would be so appreciated! We want to keep the enthusiasm for this amazing, now award winning publication going!

*** If you have not yet purchased a copy of SMITTEN, consider buying a copy of this award winning beautiful Anthology of female poets talking about love between women, it’s available nationwide & internationally & all new copies automatically come with the award sticker on the front cover. A perfect gift. An ideal companion on your shelf. ***


Thank you to everyone who supported this successful & meaningful project. I hope to work with you again very soon. #supportindieauthors #supportpoetry #supportequality


Why stay out so long?

You hear the complaint quite frequently; Why do you have to talk about being gay all the time? Can’t you just leave it be?  You can see the point in theory: Who would need to announce to virtual strangers that they were any kind of ‘minority.’ Isn’t that just inflating a point and shoving it into people’s faces, which can increase existing or potential resentment?

We could argue that even needing to ‘be out’ and admit to being gay isn’t necessary and causes negative-attention, but if this is your observation think on this: Everyday people get out so that others can, causing a chain-reaction, until eventually, what was once considered unnatural, is considered natural. That’s because exposure to things that are unfamiliar, resolves underlying anxieties more than any academic discourse achieves.

I am often asked: When you can’t physically hide being a ‘minority’ you have no choice,  and if you do have a choice, what’s wrong with taking it? I lived in the closet on-and-off for a variety of reasons for several years and got so used to not being harassed and tormented that it became a false comfort. It resolves nothing and the shame when you understand the absence of honesty, runs deep. Change comes from a desire to engender change, in the words of Eckhart Tolle: “To love is to recognize yourself in another.” Gays need to exist openly to give non-gays opportunity to see we’re no different.

When we look at racism, studies show racism actually reduces when African-American’s moved into previously exclusively white neighborhoods. But it didn’t happen immediately. The immediate response was one of resentment, anger and prejudice, and white Americans resented the influx of African-American’s initially. But in time, that resentment gave way to acceptance and even integration. It took the courage of those black families deciding to move into neighborhoods that didn’t warmly welcome them, it took the courage of their staying put and not letting prejudice run them off, to effect change.

Much of this is about gays being able to hide, whilst other minority groups like African-American’s cannot. There is a reason why gays should not hide, because in hiding we are one less face fighting the good fight. Why a fight you may ask? Because if a gay person were to really ask for equality they still would not get it, if gays were to ask to be accepted for who they are, some would, and some would not. And as long as that inequality exists, our voice must protest its existence or nothing changes.

As gays we may not run the risk being led-away in chains in the US today, but go to another country and there’s no guarantee. It doesn’t mean as gays we can walk the streets proudly without fear of reprisal, and that would include any city in America. Sounds a lot like Benjamin Franklin’s famous perspective: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” In other words, we should ask: Is it brave to hide and weak to protest? And if so, when did that become normalized?

As long as any type of inequality exists, all gay people remain a minority who have somehow to justify ourselves. People roll their eyes, espouse that we should shut up and stop talking about it and things will surely get better, but as history tells us, this rarely happens. For example, every time women make this choice, they take a step backward, same with any minority. Exhibit a; the increase and normalizing of pole-dancing to keep husbands content. Would the original Women’s Movement of the 1970’s have approved or thought this progressive?

If you are not convinced, look as the relative silence of Hispanics in the US as a good example of why they do not have the voice of African-American’s despite being in greater numbers. If you don’t speak for yourself, who will? If you don’t believe in equality for yourself, who will? And most of all, if nobody will defend you, who is left but yourself? I think of the quote by Jiddu Krisnamurti: “It is no measure of health to be well—adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” Better by far, to change what ails, surely?

Ask any Hispanic in America and they will relate stories of equal eye-rolling when they talk about a necessity for equality, ask any Jewish person in America and they will relate stories of equal eye-rolling when they talk about the Holocaust. When did our society become so intolerant to historical truths? Perhaps it’s the old adage, those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it? Our lack of patience for realities, past and present, says more about our lack of compassion. Is it because until we experience things for ourselves we cannot see the value of anyone else’s perspectives?

In an increasingly selfish society, change comes best when people see it and are forced to live with it. Parents of gay children, people with gay friends, tend to become slowly more habituated and tolerant of gays even if formerly anti-gay. But ask yourself, is it enough to be ‘tolerant?’ True change is where we stop seeing differences as potentially negative.

During the years, like many others, I’ve been told I’m a pervert, I’m psychologically ill, I’m a man-hater, I’m afraid of true relationships, I’m just reacting to childhood abuse, I’m in a phase, I’m disgusting, I’m obviously a child-molester, and many other things. I’ve had female friends who are afraid of me, thinking I will molest them, and male friends who want to “sex me up” to help me learn the value of heterosexuality. I’ve done things I never thought I would do just to be, who I am. So if we talk about having to explain who we are, it’s really the gay person who is pushed to justify why they are gay, especially as it’s still considered by many to be a choice.

Being gay has always existed. Penguins can be gay. It is one of those things you wouldn’t wish on anybody in the way it’s currently handled in societies throughout the world, but you can’t really say you would wish it away, because it’s like saying you wish you weren’t who you are. Even in this so-called-world of liberated values, gays are killed every week, in certain countries I would be put to death, in others I would be set upon, in others I’d be spat at, in others I’d be jailed.

Just think about that for a moment. When it was illegal for blacks and whites to marry those that did get together, had children who were shunned by both groups. How is it very different for gays who continue to lie to families who would otherwise cut them out of their lives, or lie to their employer so they would not be squeezed out? Or are unable, despite the length and value of their relationships to marry, whilst heterosexuals who have just met, can marry at the altar of Vegas.

Being gay isn’t all hunky-dory just because there are some laws that protect us. In fact often after the passing of a law, anti-gay sentiment rises up, out of frustration. See France as a recent example of this and the anti-gay under-current that exists in relatively liberal Canada. For every step forward, there are many steps back. Think how it would feel to know mass protests occur because people hate you and think you are unnatural? In many countries and states, gays cannot legally adopt, we are treated as inferior, unequal, unnatural and still can’t be the normal we know we are.

Even those who profess to be comfortable and accepting, often aren’t quite so and this makes it very hard to trust people and know how much you can share with them. I didn’t sexually desire my female friends, and most gays aren’t more lascivious than anyone else but if you watch the news, most anti-gay rhetoric labors the point that gays can’t be Boy Scout Leaders because they are sexual deviants and other stereotypes that are so wide-spread as to be commonly accepted by the majority. Usually gays suffer higher rates of depression due to these subtle undercurrents that undermine personal value and security.

Ask yourself; if you were gay would you feel comfortable walking hand-in-hand or kissing in public as you would if you were heterosexual? Let’s not forget when everyone’s relaxed, how funny jokes are that involve gay-themes, but imagine how those jokes would be received if they were racist? Why is one widely accepted and the other not? What is difference in the root of prejudice of both? Not having equal rights under law, is like the law saying you are not worthy of equality, and as the Supreme Court when reviewing gay-issues recently questioned, maybe it’s too soon for equality for you! Since when is equality ever too soon?

It is just as hard being a person of color, being a woman, being disabled and a plethora of other things, but few would feel it were justified to say a black person had no right to bemoan his or her inequality, and if they did say that, there are laws to protect that person and labels to explain their prejudice. Few would be proud to admit to being racist, but many would think nothing of being labeled a homophobe, it’s almost a badge of honor.

That said, many inequalities exist, and that does not justify the existence of any inequality. I am often told, well there is still inequality for people of color and women, as if somehow that justifies inequality of any type. Surely like any chain-reaction, equality should come from every sector and merge together to create a strong river of change. That’s one reason all minorities should see the value of others.

Let’s not forget people who worry, equality for gays will open the door to equality for polygamists, pedophiles and other deviations. They argue that such predilections could be eventually sanctioned on the same basis as gay equality. I disagree on the grounds that being gay does not harm anyone and multiple marriages can.

We could argue this forever, but ultimately it comes down to the validity of a harmless relationship versus one of unequal power. Yes all relationships are subject to abuse and we’re going to see negative portrayals of gays, things we’d never sanction, but that’s no different to the negative portrayals of heterosexuals and speaks more of human fallibility.

Currently there are no laws to protect gays. We can be fired for being gay, we can be imprisoned in certain countries for being gay, we can be thrown out of our house and lose everything including the right to make medical decisions and attend the funeral of our partner. This happens, it happens far more than anyone realizes.

When the family of one gay person is anti-gay and that person gets sick and needs constant care, the family can remove that person and deny access to their partner, no matter how many years they have been together, this isn’t protected in those places where gays are not able to marry or have a civil union. Should we really be grateful for some equality when the only equality that truly matters is full equality?

I ask that if you can’t see why equality doesn’t yet exist and should exist including all forms of equality (such as being able to marry in a church regardless just as blacks have demanded the same rights in marrying in formerly racist churches or ones who would not permit interracial marriages) adopt and many other things, you consider now.

Initially I saw no reason to ‘force’ churches to accept gay marriages because I felt they had the right to choose whom they wanted to marry. I realized that if I were a black man wishing to marry a white woman it would be wrong for a church to turn us away, and validate the negativity of prejudice, and that’s why the law protects such racism. Surely this must equally apply to gays or we’re saying our right to avoid prejudice isn’t as necessary.

We can’t stop with just the first step of equality; it has to exist as much as for you, and you, and you. For all of us. For all those who will come after us, so one day a child is born into a world that hopefully doesn’t know what inequality is. Yes at times that will be repetitive, even boring, but it’s necessary in every struggle for equality, and if we make it fashionable to keep our mouths shut and just hope for the day things change, we will be waiting a very long time.

Poets of SMITTEN Interview Series: Hoda Essa

Hoda Abdulqadir Essa is a New Orleans native with roots hailing from East Africa. Hoda is a maker, writer, lover, shapeshifter and soul traveler, searching for heaven or hoping to construct it with her own bare hands.

How does being a poet inform your views on expressing emotions through writing? 

As a poet, I’m consistently working from a place that many people call “emotional intelligence” – in other words, I am dreaming out loud when I open my mouth or put pen to paper. So, for me, being a poet comes with a subtle responsibility to always tell the truth. Poetry is not a soundbite nor is it a news-clip. To me, poetry is the rhythm that lives in each person individually. It’s important to express that and writing is a powerful medium to do so.

When you found out SMITTEN was about women who loved women, without the emphasis on erotica that is usually the case – could you immediately think of ways to express that love through writing? 

Absolutely! My friend and I talk about bringing intimacy to life and to me that is what art is. No one has ever written ballads about an intellectual conversation they’ve had but we pause to capture the gentleness of a lover’s brush against your own skin – to me writing is a way at grasping moments that we ultimately have no language for. The erotic, especially, can be more greatly understood as we wrestle with it on the page.

What does it mean to you to be part of something like SMITTEN and have your work alongside other women who love women? 

To me, this is a declaration of the time’s we are in. Standing together in creativity unity is the most empowered place for many women, myself included. It means to me that I have graduated into a time space reality that is being carved out by the very people writing and experiencing love for and from a woman.

Why is love a worthier subject than erotica to write on? 

To me they’re intermingled. You have to love a moment to be inspired enough to write about it. Erotic writing is being so in love with an intimate moment that you want to recreate it for others. The two are closely related as far as I am concerned.

Have you ever been SMITTEN and if so, do you feel it’s possible to summarize those feelings in poetry? 

I am smitten and often. As often as possible. And I love this word as the title for the anthology (kudos to you all) because that word encompasses how wistful it is allowing oneself to be overtaken by simply being fond of another. I’ve tried my entire life to bottle this feeling and give it to the world so yes! It is absolutely possible to summarize these feels in poetry, until we can market the sensation of course!

Your poem in SMITTEN was excellent, why did you choose this particular poem and what did you hope it would convey to readers?

I chose this poem because I was inspired by a woman who took my breath away. She was beautiful, inspiring, deliciously sad in all the right places and talking to her moved me. We never formally met but my hope in writing “WOMAN” was to zoom in on how explosive this connection was without any physical intimacy. I am not even sure if I felt romantic ideations towards this person up until this day – I just knew that I wanted her inner-flame to be safe. I wrote this poem to honor her fire; to protect it.

SMITTEN is available by ordering it in your Barnes & Noble, purchasing it online at Barnes & Noble or Amazon or asking your independent bookstore to order it via Ingram. SMITTEN is available on Kindle and in print form.

For updates on SMITTEN visit the Facebook SMITTEN page.

This is a huge project of 120 female authors – an anthology that is testimony to the power of love and connection between women. Support SMITTEN by purchasing a copy for someone who supports LGBTQ equality, women or poetry.



The song of her

white and black mountain
Photo by Nikhlesh Tyagi on

My fantasy was placed in a velvet box,  buried at garden end where the ivy grew heavy

those were the days gone now, or perhaps forgotten, where fantasy was all you had

walking into bars, confronting realities better spared

shadows in corners, leaning, lurching, enveloping, retreating

you did not exist, we did not exist

our images were not part of the collective, the minority, the clique or the open space

wide and tumbling with questions, a loneliness at the core, the petals red

filaments of each others minds like fire flies without dark to make of it light

had you existed then, I would have traveled continents, just to know

feel your long black hair trace my need to be, closer than possible

only books, only songs, only walks on moors with other people’s dogs in tow

I imagined meeting you, what you would say, how we would get to know each other

and somehow shape the magic to follow

but it was only ever like the rain, predictive in falling but without control

impotent magicians we, beseeching the moon her unearthy feminine

pieces of me, pieces of you, strewn in directions not able to connect

I stayed young in getting old and before you know it, you’re no longer there

hunched over youth, abundant in dream, filled with need

chewing the heads off time, gnawing the bones of ancestors who disapprovingly gaze

instead you have learned to bottle your desire that the world create girls who love

from marigolds and pieces of ourselves cast to the wind

put it somewhere you won’t be ridiculed, join the line of other pursuits, a job, a direction, all taking me away from fantasy becoming true

the lines on my face, the fall of my skin, these things that shock and horrify

only remind me of what I once was, bright teeth, shy smile, large heart, empty pockets

how I longed for you to take my mittened hand in yours and

drag me out of myself, let me know you don’t have to fit in with the crowd

to feel love

in petrograph, in Kodak camera moments, in the unmade bed in the corner of my desire

I wanted you before you could put words to desire

I was born alone in my 1 or 2 percent of the world

a girl who loves other girls

yet it wasn’t plural, it feels when I touch it


as everything I did and everything I lost

returns to this moment and winds around my wrist

showing my scars, developing an image in chemicals

of two girls even if they had to wait

after the storm and before the calm

did I mention I would stay here forever if I had to?

It is my wish we could rewind time and begin again when both of us

were new and shining

but such things are not always possible, and fantasy is rarely permitted her turn

in you I find proof of life

miracles, however tired exist in your eyes

they have fine lines like you are ever squinting against the sun

I find myself tracing the shape of you

over and over

until my fingers are numb with joy

maybe born too late, but oh we were born

in this aching world of few and far between

I listened closely and you gave up your song

SMITTEN Poets READ: The Girl Who Always Cries – Crystal Kinistino


SMITTEN is coming out late October, 2019 via all good book stores. Published by Indie Blu(e) 

Please consider supporting this project of over 120+ talented poets and authors by purchasing a copy of SMITTEN for someone who appreciates beautiful poetry.

SMITTEN Poets READ: Walking By Hot Topic While Announcing Queerness, or So I Hoped by Kelsey Hontz


SMITTEN is coming out late October, 2019 via all good book stores. Published by Indie Blu(e) 

Please consider supporting this project of over 120+ talented poets and authors by purchasing a copy of SMITTEN for someone who appreciates beautiful poetry.

SMITTEN Poets READ: Ephemeris | Morning Senses by Cristina DeSouza


SMITTEN is coming out late October, 2019 via all good book stores. Published by Indie Blu(e) 

Please consider supporting this project of over 120+ talented poets and authors by purchasing a copy of SMITTEN for someone who appreciates beautiful poetry.

SMITTEN Poets READ: Friday Karaoke by Kindra M. Austin


SMITTEN is coming out late October, 2019 via all good book stores. Published by Indie Blu(e) 

Please consider supporting this project of over 120+ talented poets and authors by purchasing a copy of SMITTEN for someone who appreciates beautiful poetry.

SMITTEN Poets READ: After the Fire – by Kim Harvey


SMITTEN is coming out late October, 2019 via all good book stores. Published by Indie Blu(e) 

Please consider supporting this project of over 120+ talented poets and authors by purchasing a copy of SMITTEN for someone who appreciates beautiful poetry.