TJ is a writer living in Portland, OR.


Other than announcements about projects I'm working on, I'm still not sure what I want to say in my blog. I'm not interested in turning myself into a product. I find my own life uninteresting and I'm tired of trying to construct something meaningful from it. Old essays that I thought had promise have been set aside. I'll pick them up later, for now I've been writing a lot of fiction.

And then the shooting in Orlando happened. It got to me. More than I thought it would. The number of dead was staggering. A few people reached out to tell me that they were thinking of me, people I didn't expect to, and their acknowledgement of my pain, even though I did not tell them I was hurting, meant a lot. I talked with a few friends about it, but only queer friends, friends who understood the pain and anger I felt. I stayed in as often as possible, distracting myself from feeling something with books and video games. Then on Saturday I listened to an episode of The Memory Palace about one of the oldest gay bars in America while grocery shopping and almost broke down in tears in the dairy aisle.

I tired to write an essay about all this, to make something meaningful, but I couldn't. But I wanted to say something to straight people:

I'm angry and tired and sad. All my life I've lived in fear of the violence that hangs over queer people. I grew up a boy who was never masculine enough in a conservative state. Matthew Shepard was left on a fence to die when I was in high school. His death scarred me. That's when I realized that the hate I was experiencing for being gay (even though I was closeted, suspicions were enough to incriminate me), the hate that I'd witnessed against other gay people, could kill us. It was terrifying to realize. How many more have died since then? How many more have been beaten? I still see that violence every day in my life, in the news, in the streets from strangers, and in the law. I have not been physically attacked before, I consider myself lucky, but I've been insulted, threatened, and intimidated. I've seen men talk about how they 'hate faggots' in public not realizing I'm one of them, I have to hear about people who hate me all the time. Even if they never physically touch you, bigots want you to know that they could hurt you, that you deserve to be hurt. Every queer person I know has stories about violence and threats of violence, some of us have a lot more than others. America talks about how far we've come, how enlightened we are as a country, how love wins, but I don't know any queer person who feels 100% safe, even in Portland. When I date someone, I always consider if I will hold his hand or kiss him in public, because I am afraid. Even alone, I constantly think about how I am presenting to the outside world, if I might attract the attention of some homophobe. What killed those people in Orlando, was homophobia, the belief that our lives have less worth. A belief that people still openly espouse, that has been espoused since before I was born. A belief that makes us hate ourselves, that drives us to depression and even suicide. This wasn't just some freak tragedy, the murder of queer people is inevitable when our lives are constantly devalued. This was just a bigger number than us. Queer people live under the shadow of violence, we adjust our lives around it, unconsciously, because that's all we've ever known and it's fucking exhausting.

The list of victims


80 percent of LGBT people killed are minorities

LGBT Latinos Demand To Be Seen In Wake Of Orlando Attack


Our Fires - Episode One

Our Fires - Episode One

Tillamook Burn

Tillamook Burn