I Thought It’d Be Easy to Fix My Bad Posture—I Was Wrong

Several years ago during lunch, my sister told me, “You’re doing turtle neck.” As I considered how you “do” a sweater, she clarified that I was thrusting my head forward, making it stick out in front instead of in alignment with my top vertebrae. I looked like a turtle poking its head out of its shell. The more boring official term for this is forward head posture or scholar’s neck or text neck (a sign of the times). It’s one of the most common causes of poor posture.

I started paying attention. And it was true. I kept pushing my face forward, like I was constantly trying to smell a flower just out of reach. Adjust. A few minutes pass. Check in. I was a turtle once more. My body didn’t understand its transgression, it simply reverted to what it knew as normal, what I had taught it.

For 30 years, I taught my body to be smaller, to look different, to protect my ruby egg of a heart. My body is only trying to be my friend by holding on to that lesson. My default became lifting my shoulders to my ears and curling my back, like I am trying to hug my body into a compact ball. But recently this has been causing me pain, and often pain initiates action. So I set off on a mission to straighten up, testing treatment options and talking to experts who could help me navigate my way out of my turtle world.

Stonewall & Beyond: 3 Older LGBTQ+ People on Witnessing Change

When did you know?

Oh, how many times a straight person has lobbed this rudderless question at a queer person, expecting us to hit it home. It’s an existential inquiry any person might find quite difficult to answer. How do any of us come to know who we are? A baby touches its little button nose while its mother presses her own and says nose. The baby absorbs all the faces it sees, all the stories it hears, and gradually inches towards understanding that it has its own nose, it’s own story and soul. We learn who we are through each other.

When I was a child, I didn’t know a single LGBTQ adult that was open and out. I definitely didn’t know any trans people of any age. I had no example, no proof of myself, no context for my existence. As Maya Angelou and many proverbs have put it, “If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you’re going.” When I had the opportunity to sit and talk with three LGBTQ elders, it felt like getting to know both at once.

From Homelessness to Hollywood: Trans Star Ava Grey on Her Journey

“Let me pick your brain” is a played out expression, but I like it. It’s recognition that questions can be the keys we turn in another’s mind to unlock their precious perspectives. This is how I felt when I spoke with 24-year old actor, model, and activist Ava Grey. As she shared how she broke into the modeling and acting worlds, a journey rife with challenges for a trans woman of color, it felt like briefly getting to see what is behind her mind’s door. As she opened up, I asked what she imagined for herself as a child, what excites her, what makes her the most proud. She didn’t have to dig too hard—her resume is robust.

The Best Way to Spring Clean Is to Make Peace With Who You Are

Today I said goodbye to a shirt that has lived in my wardrobe for three years.

It was a good shirt, subtle and plain, white with short sleeves, a mandarin collar, and cream buttons. It had been sitting patiently in my closet awaiting its debut since the day I bought it, but the hanger is all it’s ever known. I have never worn it because, apparently, I failed to try it on before buying it. It has survived three years’ worth of closet sweeps, dodging both the Goodwill bag and the “maybe this time I will get more than $6.36 at Beacon’s Closet” bag. Every time I try it on again, after another year filled with losses and gains and shifts, it still doesn’t really fit, and I still hang it back up.

I Know I'm Dependent on Weed But I Don't Want to Quit

At my fifth grade graduation from the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, I stepped to the podium sporting a blue button-up shirt, braces, and uneven bangs, and played the flute. I can’t remember exactly how D.A.R.E. had molded me into an eleven-year old who believed that doing drugs was a crime and a sin, but it had succeeded. Some weeks later, I caught my teenage sisters smoking weed behind our back porch during a dinner party. In a brainwashed fervor, I cried and screamed at them, “Well I hope you know you’re going to hell!”

At fourteen I took my first hit, lay back, and said, “This is heaven.”

Weed is complicated for me. It has been an escape, a ritual, and a medicine. And it has been a trap, a habit, and a source of pain. I’ve gone from glass bowls and bongs to grape Swisher Sweet blunts to spliffs in RAW papers. I smoke with friends and by myself, while I’m making music and while I’m watching TV. I smoke when I am sad and when I am overjoyed. I smoke a lot. I know I’m too dependent on weed, but I don’t want to quit.

I’m Scared to Come Out to My Mom...As a Meat Eater

I am afraid to come out to my mother, even though I have done it twice. In ninth grade, I told her with confidence, “I’m gay.” Two years ago, I told her with a heavy kind of joy, “I’m trans.” Now I have to tell my sweet mother, who raised me as a strict vegetarian, “I eat meat. Please forgive me.” And this time I’m scared.

Ordinary Things That Bring Me Extraordinary Joy

My roommate left multiple cabinet doors in the kitchen open this morning and it made my eye twitch. On my way to the gym, a man almost ran into me because he was texting while walking, which brought me very close to smacking his phone clean onto the sidewalk then stomping it with my boot. On my way home, some middle schoolers were having a “You’re gay!” screaming contest and I almost found myself fighting some 12-year-olds.

I don’t know if it’s just winter or a cold front inside of me, but lately, when I read the world, it seems like someone highlighted the worst sentences. In better times, all the annoying and petty and performative pieces of life just blended in with the rest of the page, but now they’re popping neon pink. And everything is… annoying.