by Kaylo X. |
Nic Alea, published in the Fall issue of Forum, wanted to readdress an issue briefly
mentioned in our interview. Nic casually responded “Hopefully not for committing
suicide” to my question “What do you want to be known for?” I appreciated the candid
answer and felt it should be brought to the public forum as it is all too often ignored and
silenced. We met prior to the release party to discuss the matter. Before the conversation
Nic read me the poem “Queer Kids,” which is available to listen to and read here on
Boeotia. My reflection of our conversation follows:
Kaylo X.: Do you have friends/people who have committed suicide?
Nic Alea: Yes. Both contemplated and succeeded. More who have contemplated which is intense in of itself.
I’d rather do many things right now besides talk about suicide, which is why I am just
typing this (weeks after meeting with Nic for the discussion). But, who really does want
to talk about it? Isn’t that the status quo of our society anyway? Don’t talk about it. My
family didn’t when my sister attempted. It isn’t a time or memory I want to think about
and so I don’t. And we heal and move on. Or do we? I shared with Nic my story of my
family surviving my sister’s survival. I find things too dreadful to speak are the ones
most imperative to be spoken for everyone’s sake. If it has happened to you, chances are
it has happened to someone else.
We didn’t talk about it that night, but Nic knows and has helped me with my own
struggles with suicidal ideation. Both queer individuals, we are familiar with
the “subliminal” message that society teaches us: destroy yourself. Or at least: you
are not worthy of a “normal,” happy life because you are less than. The word queer,
although I and many claim it as an identity, literally means strange or abnormal…kind of
weird. As a kid it was difficult to embrace such an identity for myself because of fear of
being alienated, ostracized, or even excommunicated. I am not alone in the sort of fear
and anxiety “being in the closet” brings as countless people I have spoken to and stories I
have heard speak to the dreadful experience.
Nic’s poem tackles the programmed destruction ever so eloquently. It allows the reader
or audience to vividly imagine an act of suicide in real terms. This kind of writing is
activism. It raises awareness and addresses that our ideology is controlled by the media
which promotes a culture of fear, hostility, and misguided anger—the kind of culture that
harbors lynching. In our top down society one is typically forced to choose a place, a
role, an identity. If the identity threatens, destabilizes, then it risks being destroyed and
what more convenient a way than brainwashed self-destruction.
Nic spoke of children’s malleability and the violence that exists in our language for them
to pick up on. Children, without knowing the meaning of their words, say things to each other that they have heard from some media outlet, from their parents, or other people in
their environment. A radical organization led by Fred Phelps “preaches” a message of
hate and often times with very young children as part of their pickets. The message in
three words tells so much more: “God hates fags!” When one little girl was asked if she
knew what the words meant that she was shouting along to. Her response: “no.”
Our society is indifferent to suicide. We ignore people when they’re going through
depressions. Mental illness isn’t taken seriously. Suicide is often glorified, especially in
the case of celebrities. We see famous people reach epic stardom postmortem over and
over again. Is the work of celebs who committed suicide (accidentally or not) brilliant
because they killed themselves, or would they have found as much success living? It’s a
question Nic asked me at the end of our conversation on the topic. It brings me back to
the question I asked Nic in the beginning: “do you know anyone…? Don’t you? Even if
just Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf, Romeo and Juliet, you’ve heard some tragic story
fiction or actual and so it must affect you. Each human life should matter to everyone as
we all exist together in this dimension of reality.
I recently heard news that hit me hard as such events do. A young, 22-year-old woman
was murdered in the nation’s capitol. I wrote a poem out of the anger washing over
me. The poem is called, “How to Say RIP | For Deoni Jones” and can be found here on
Boeotia as well.
Kaylo X. is Forum’s poetry editor.