As this particular June comes to a close I am finding you amidst all of my memories. I have felt your guidance all month long as I navigate so many different emotions. It's as if your presence is alchemy, and together we are transmuting perception. This magic coursing through my bones, blood, and breath is a descendent of you.
Experiencing this truth helps me be more fully present to all that is unfolding, including all of the traumas and joys and suffering and celebrations and decay and pleasures and death and love of this cosmos. In this state of presence, all things are possible. And if all things are possible, then, as the Tao states, “naming is the origin of all things.”
So I want to name your presence this past Queer Pride month for if I do, you still exist. And you still being here is the queerest thing I think I have ever experienced.
May 31, 2022, and June 3, 2022. This year, your dear friend Billy passed away suddenly on May 31 and his Celebration of Life was on Friday, June 3. Mom was here visiting Billy’s family, and I went down the peninsula for his service at his daughter’s home. Sitting in Annie and Bobby’s backyard, it was jarring to see photos of you and Billy over the years during the slideshow of his life. I felt a pang of resentment as I looked around and saw everyone gathered only three days after his passing and remembering the six months it took before we could lay you to rest due to COVID restrictions. I cried next to mom not just for Billy but for you and for us. I wept for all we have lost and all we continue to lose.
You were so attuned to loss from the loss of your own father and in your passing you seem to have bequeathed it to me.
June 10, 2022. Two days before my birthday I transformed my community altar to you constructed last summer into an altar dedicated to Queer Love. I invited people to find or make objects that represented queer love to them. I moved your pocket watch from your altar to the new Queer Love altar and tucked your ashes away to a place of reverence.
You now sit between an iron bell gifted to me by my friend Mah-gret, the blank ruin given as a Christmas gift by Dan and Tomas, and a shark tooth earring I found on the ground in Santa Cruz. Behind you is a black ceramic skull purchased from Daiso and a shell from Ocean Beach filled with herbal medicine shared with me by dear comrades. Every time I look at you, I smile wide. Never as a child did I imagine you coming to rest among a community of queers.
June 12, 2022, 2016, 1976, and 1924. My birthday is also the anniversary of the Pulse massacre. I also shared a birthday with George H. W. Bush. Ever since I came out and fully understood Bush’s role in the killing of queer and trans folx through inaction on AIDS, my birthday has become a reminder of how government has failed our people again and again and again. And when the Pulse massacre unfolded, I was yet again reminded on the day of my birth that even within our own places of worship we are not safe from violence.
You taught me the sacredness of worship; it is because of you that I know queer clubs as our sanctuary.
June 12, 2022. 3000 panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, the largest collection of panels ever assembled in San Francisco, were on display in Golden Gate Park on my birthday, and I went with mom, John, Ash Tré Phillips, and Midori to see it. I was not fully prepared for its impact or for the deluge of memories. Standing over the panels, I was transported to 1994 on the University of St. Thomas campus. Cleve Jones and a few quilt panels came to campus. I cannot remember exactly what Cleve spoke about or even who invited him. I do remember being called a faggot for attending by my fellow seminarians. It was a combination of taunting and seeing Cleve Jones that helped me come out about a month later. Standing among these tributes with memories of coming out flooding over me, I sensed the deepest meaning of Queer Love: that we are a people who have always and will always radically transform our grief and rage and mourning and righteousness and trauma and fear into movements and art and liberation by us and for us and with us. Queer Love is fearless love, a willingness to change and be changed.
You loved me fearlessly even when you didn’t fully understand me. Wandering the panels, I see your queer love in the messages and memories stitched in fabric.
June 18, 2022. A day I sat and remembered officiating your Celebration of Life a year ago. I was the one who suggested we hold your it at Bennet Family Park. Standing near the pitcher’s mound, I officiated your service with a face full of make-up proudly your oldest child fulfilling the destiny of my name; Jason means healer. And this whole last year I have felt your spirit guiding my healing journey.
You were the reason we gathered. Your death made (and makes) community possible.
June 24, 2022. This is now the day the Supreme Court denied human rights by overturning Roe V. Wade, and Justice Thomas clearly signaled that he is coming for any rights that confer autonomy over our own bodies. This is direct political assault against queer and trans folx, especially Indigenous, Black, immigrant, disabled, and poor folx. Again, June is a reminder of the failure of our government in keeping me and my family safe. It is clear that, “All we have is each other”, is not simply a mantra but a clarion call for radical change.
Learning that it was you who kept me safe when I was 18 from physical and sexual assault from a boyfriend fifteen years older than me the last year of your life transformed my entire understanding of you. You are why I love so tremendously, and the reason I can sing the clarion call, “All we have is each other,” and know its truth in my bone, breath, and blood.
June 26, 2022. Pride Sunday is a day of protest, of making my politics aesthetic and taking my body into the streets. My last attempt to join the parade came in 2019. I painted a pink triangle under my nose that covered my whole mouth. My chin was the point. I wore sea foam green eyebrows, and I threw on my vest blazoned with “Faggot, Thank You” in silver puffy paint, which I painted after being called a “Faggot” on the streets of San Francisco not far from my home. When I got down there, I had a panic attack and walked home immediately. This year, I woke hungover and nostalgic. Memories of Prides from my youth swirled in my head and stirred all my old feels of intoxication and pleasure and protest. I sat in our backyard, depression pressing against my temples, and my husband asked me, “Is there anything I can do?” I responded, “Just let me be in a funk.” As I continued sitting there, I closed my eyes and dreamt of going down to the protest. Panic came back. I smiled because I wasn’t downtown. I was in the backyard with my husband, and I noticed it for what it was: an expression of queer love.
You, Dad, were there with me as I dreamt. I felt your hand on my shoulder with my eyes closed. You reminded me that you had not struggled and endured so much in life for me to struggle with not being who I need, want, or desire to be. You continue revealing to me how queer it is to live as one desires to live.
June 30, 2022. For four months, I had the honor of co-creating space for immigrant artists and their comrades to come together and share their works-in-progress, their finished art, and their needs and wants. It was four months of semi-weekly vulnerability and intimacy and radical belonging. This day now is the end of our first Virtual Salon cycle, and it marks a transition into new forms. What was will not be, and what will be is not yet formed. It is the ultimate creative space. Anything is possible.
You make all of this possible, Dad, and that makes me so incredibly fucking proud of you.
Happy Queer Pride,
Jason MICHAEL Wyman