Empowerment – The Fire Within (A 2013 Throwback)

The following piece was written back in 2013. While 4 years have passed, the underlying message is still quite relevant today.


As members of the LGBT community, it’s sad that we still live in a world that cannot see beyond our sexuality. How appalling is it that the masses fail to realize our worth or accept us wholly and completely? When faced with hatred, discrimination, and stereotypical imagery in media and entertainment, we can’t help but feel a bit of shame, guilt, and anger. So many misconceptions and stigmas continue to cloud judgment, perception, and understanding. But for what? Our sexuality is one of so many parts of who we are. While it doesn’t define us, we can’t ignore it. And it’s obvious that public officials, conservatives, and organizations (that shall remain nameless) are obsessed with our sexuality more than we are.

Did the powers that be, holy rollers, and haters forget that we’re human too? We desire, no, we deserve the same things as our heterosexual brothers and sisters – family, friends, love, happiness, success on our own terms, good health… I could go on, as the list is endless. But you wouldn’t know this reading or viewing some of the media and entertainment created daily. How hypocritical can a society be that prides itself on freedom, but shames, victimizes, vilifies, and silences those who don’t fit the preferred, traditional archetype? We’re well past the time to lift the veil on the alienation and isolation that comes as a result of living in such a heteronormative society. But let us not be defeated.

Validation from the outside world may not come in the time, manner, or fashion we desire it to. However, we shouldn’t let it hinder us from living or having what we want in this life. No matter what the outside world says we must remain steadfast in knowing ourselves and trusting what we believe in. No matter what the world says, we are beautiful in every way. We are not less than. We are warriors.

Sometimes we have to forego or question everything we’ve been taught or led to believe as truth to find out who we really are. There’s so much that we deny ourselves when we feed into to the B.S. aimed at refuting our existence. We have to shut ourselves off from the noise and the hysteria to make way for what’s real – to make way for peace, serenity, and truth. When we’re able to free ourselves individually and collectively – the change we see within and around us will be miraculous.

As Audre Lorde said, “Life is very short and what we have to do must be done in the now.” We cannot wait. While we should celebrate the recent Supreme Court rulings in the DOMA and Prop 8 cases for being a step in the right direction for gay marriage, the movement doesn’t stop there. These rulings should only intensify our fight for justice, equality, and freedom for all. And everything we need for this fight lies within.

The key to finding what’s within, the power within, is loving ourselves. We talk a good game about loving ourselves, but how many of us actually do? How many of us can say we truly love ourselves? It’s impossible for us to love ourselves if we continue to allow internalized hatred to ruin our progress. It’s impossible for us to love ourselves if we continue to tolerate the abuse, ill-treatment, and foolishness we encounter daily.

We must not let fear run our authentic selves away. We must be brazen. Stand up for those who were/are not able to stand up for themselves. Realize that in doing so, we’re empowering ourselves and challenging everyone to (always) strive to be and do better.

When we find the love within, the power is never too far behind. When we find our power… When we realize our power… When we utilize our power, its intensity will inspire action and breed the change we need in our families, communities, and the world.

Ours is a power that not only changes lives, but also saves lives. As James Baldwin said, “The world is before you and you need not take it or leave it as it was when you came in.” So let’s find our power and wield it lovingly, strongly, boldly, and unapologetically. It’s our world. Now let the power within—that internal fire—lead the way!

Let’s Love

Love Selfcare Createherstock 4

Come on, let’s make love until
the moon and sun are emanating from
our cells
Let’s let that love light shine eternally
combating the darkness that once shrouded our joy
Let’s stay in love like Minnie
And don’t let anything get in our way
Let’s be love and love until pain is just a
faint memory
Let’s love like there’s no other
Let’s love cause we don’t know any better
Let’s be love cause like being yourself
it’s the only way
Let’s love cause love is right
Let’s love cause it’s our right
Let’s love cause there’s no such thing
as too much love
now, is there?

© 2015 BuddahDesmond

A Love Junkie Consumed

Image courtesy of KrazyInLove.

Image courtesy of KrazyInLove.

Couldn’t hear the roar—
The crowd was playing call and response with me.
Couldn’t respond to their spirited yet pleading call;
I succumbed to the beat of a percussionist at another show,
worlds away from this one.
Physically present, yet my mind and spirit had shifted elsewhere.

The being had a control of me stronger than a Midnight Magnet.
Otherworldly and unreal this thing was—
Wouldn’t want to be released even if my power could’ve freed me.

That jones ain’t got shit on you.
Make a hit of me.
Take me on tour.
Treat me like your setlist.

Play me out, play me high, play me soft, play me low, play me fast, play me slow—
Play me loud, play me hard, play me all day and all night long—
Just play me.

I’ll be all for you and more.
Just take me and make me anew.
They’ll say without 12 steps you’ll be through.
And again, I’ll say—just take me and make me anew.

Consume me so I can benefit from you.
Consume me so I can benefit from you.
Consume me so I can benefit from you.

Consume me because nothing and no one else will do.

From the chapbook, Exotic Shifter.

© 2014 BuddahDesmond

Black Magic

Image courtesy of http://beautifulbrownies.tumblr.com/

Image courtesy of http://beautifulbrownies.tumblr.com/

Blackness in full view
Open and vast
Varied and rich
Not hidden in the cloak of
your lies and shame
Blackness doesn’t need your acceptance
or validation
It just is
As it is
And my, what our blackness is!
Full-bodied power
A vivid cultural mosaic
Intricately woven
Connecting our past, present, and future.

My experiences are too often judged, rarely understood
If I let you tell it –
my story simply wouldn’t be
My existence – my truth –
buried, annihilated
At the other extreme, you’ve tried to tell
my story as if you know me better
than I know myself
Praise to the gods that there never is and there never will be
a substitute for the real thing.

My story – our story –
more hype than virtual reality
Afro-futuristic dreams—
we live them every day
Casting spells before you
can comprehend
#blackgirlmagic
#blackboymagic
Rocking it like no other before, during
or after.

Forever an enigma
Keep ‘em guessing, as Mom always says
And just when they think they’ve figured
you out – flip that shit!

My blackness is unapologetic
Will not turn down
for your comfort
It’s everlasting
Just like the storied journey passed down
from my ancestors
Label it haughty or narcissistic
It’s simply self-love
Black love and BLACK PRIDE.

The strength and resilience
of my blackness is unbreakable
as the blood I share with my brothas and sistas
Forever catching our fires like Sonia
Yielding the fire within
Bringing beauty and beyond to the world
And making history every day
Now, that’s BLACK MAGIC!

© 2016 BuddahDesmond

The Escape (from ‘Exotic Shifter’)

When you started calling every 5 minutes and
demanding every beat of my time,
I should’ve known you were another brotha beyond
the OCD tip.
Possession’s only sweet to those committing the act.
It’s one of love’s nut job rellies that
shouldn’t share a bloodline.

When the life you live isn’t enough that you have
to encroach upon and suck the essence out of another’s—
it’s way past your meds and time for an intervention
They don’t make straightjackets tough enough for
the pained love you inflict on your prey.
A love that needs to be checked
by family, your crew, or law enforcement is a love
I wants no part of.

Thank goodness I woke up in time.
Cause there’s no guarantee that a kiss from
Prince Charming would’ve saved me
if the entrapment lasted one moment longer.
Thank goodness I got away.

Exotic Shifter can be purchased through the 2 Pens & Lint website on the BuddahDesmond author page.

“Exotic Shifter,” a Chapbook, is Out Now!

exoticshift_samplecover(adjusted_2)

I’m happy to announce that my latest project Exotic Shifter is available for purchase! Published through 2 Pens & Lint, this chapbook features 20 poems primarily about love and relationships.

As described in a previous post, “Love changes things… Well, love changes everything. It’s impossible that we go through life loving anything or anyone (ourselves, others, our communities) without being changed. The poems featured in Exotic Shifter examine the transformative power of love (and/or how we can be transformed once we learn to love ourselves and others better).”

Exotic Shifter serves as a prelude to my next full-length volume, which is tentatively titled From the Inside Out. This project will take an even deeper look at love and relationships. I’m pushing to release this project in late 2015/early 2016.

Exotic Shifter can be purchased through the 2 Pens & Lint website on the BuddahDesmond author page. The chapbook is $5.

If you like/love Exotic Shifter, please tell a friend or two (or three or four) about it. And if you have feedback, please feel free to share it with me!

Thank you for your support. Peace, Love, and Many Blessings!

Surrender (From the Forthcoming Chapbook, “Exotic Shifter”)

come to me
let me show you the way to my heart

come with me
let us escape to an intimate place where we can express
our love without restraint

stay with me
never let me spend another night alone

lay with me
so that our bodies, souls, and minds can unite as one

let us let go and let the wonderful beauty of this
bond take us where it may

let us go deeper than any lovers in the history of loving
have ever gone
let us go beyond giving each other our all
let us surrender
to the unwavering, insurmountable power of love

© 2014 BuddahDesmond

“Exotic Shifter,” My New Chapbook, Coming Soon

BuddahDesmond_ExoticShifter_SampleCover
Good news: my latest project entitled, Exotic Shifter, will be available soon! In a previous post, I mentioned that I’d been working on two new projects. The first being a chapbook, Exotic Shifter, and the second being my next full-length volume of poetry (with a tentative release date some time in late 2015/early 2016). Well, we’re in the final stages of the editing process and the chapbook will be heading to the printer any day now.

Exotic Shifter is primarily about love and relationships. As my grandmother says, “Love is a metamorphosis.” Love changes things… Well, love changes everything. It’s impossible that we go through life loving anything or anyone (ourselves, others, our communities) without being changed. The poems featured in Exotic Shifter examine the transformative power of love (and/or how we can be transformed once we learn to love ourselves and others better).

Exotic Shifter will be published by 2 Pens & Lint, whose tagline is, “A New Direction In Poetry.” As their website states, “2 Pens & Lint strives to create an atmosphere where poets can build and maintain financial stability through the art of poetry while simultaneously using their poetry as a catalyst for change in their communities and broader society.”

2 Pens & Lint is a company that is completely supportive of the art of poetry and ensuring that poets have the resources they need to continue enhancing their artistry, their platform, and their business (which in essence will impact their communities and the world). This is why I decided to pursue publishing my chapbook with 2 Pens & Lint.

Exotic Shifter will be available for sale on the 2 Pens & Lint website and from me at upcoming events. Stay tuned for more details!

As always, I thank you kindly for your continued support. Much Love!

Exotic Shifter Cover Illustration: Patricia Swann (my grandmother, who also created the cover illustration for Prevail)

Janet Mock and The Power of Defining Ourselves For Ourselves

janet-mock-amos-mac-opmagImage courtesy of Amos Mac of OP Magazine and janetmock.com.

If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive. ~ Audre Lorde

There is freedom in knowing ourselves and defining ourselves for ourselves. There is freedom in living in our light and telling our stories–oft stories that need to be told. When we allow ourselves to be defined by others, our lives are muted, shortchanged, and disregarded. There is no power like that of naming yourself and claiming your truth. This is what Janet Mock has done and continues to do as a fierce writer, advocate, and creator of #GirlsLikeUs, a movement which encourages trans women to live their lives openly and visibly.

In late February, I had the opportunity to attend an intimate talk by Janet Mock at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, DC. This event was part of a book tour in support of Mock’s New York Times bestselling book Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love, and So Much More. The ever-engaging Helena Andrews, journalist, pop culture critic, and author of Bitch Is The New Black, facilitated the talk.

In 2011, Mock came out as a trans woman in the misgendered Marie Claire article, “I Was Born A Boy.” At a very early age, Mock knew what her identity was and that it did not match the sex she was assigned at birth. She always knew she was a girl, even though the world tried to refute, devalue, and silence her true identity through gender policing, heteronormativity, and transphobia. It was a struggle, but Mock was adamant about who she was and was determined to live her life authentically. In no truer words, Michaela Angela Davis told Mock, “You got your girl. You saw who you were and you got her.” And that she did!

Aside from an affirming family, Mock credits community as being pivotal in her path to womanhood. In seventh grade she met her best friend, Wendy, who was also a young trans woman. Mock says Wendy connected her with a community of older trans women who she bonded with. Through them she had examples of what trans womanhood was, which further shaped her identity and what she wanted her womanhood to be.

It was in this community that Mock says other trans women began calling her “Baby Janet” because of an uncanny resemblance to Janet Jackson. During this time, Mock admits being completely enamored with Jackson’s critically acclaimed album The Velvet Rope. The Velvet Rope is a collection of deeply introspective songs, many of which unveiling pain that Jackson held inside for many years. The album touched on depression, self-love, self-worth, sexuality and social issues like homophobia and domestic violence. Mock saw many parallels between Janet’s heartfelt music and her own life. So how fitting is it that she, too, would ultimately name herself Janet.

During the talk, Mock also discussed the notion of privilege and “passing.” In this society, we often place too much emphasis on beauty and attractiveness. Often times, beauty can overshadow a person’s skills, gifts, talents, and experiences. Mock acknowledges privilege in being attractive, but she does not let that define who she is. She says, “I do the work. I will not let people reduce me to a pretty face.” Mock also scoffs at the notion of passing, for she is a woman who is simply being herself.

When it comes to telling your story, Mock says you have to do it first and foremost for yourself. Tell yourself the truth about your experiences. She recommends finding someone you trust to share your story with. When you feel ready, share the story publicly. For young trans women, she says “Shut out all the noise. Tap into your own truth. Find your advocates.” For many of us, it’s crucial that we find our families in the spaces we’re in.

As her journey continues, Mock hopes that her work speaks for itself and that her story is one that opens minds, shifts language, and inspires others to be their authentic selves. When asked by Marc Lamont Hill on HuffPost Live about the message she hopes people take away from Redefining Realness, Mock said, “I think my biggest thing would be to empower girls who grew up like I did. To give them language and access to explain and understand their experiences. For so long, I…blamed myself for a lot of the hardships that I went through and I would like to free them from that. And I hope that the book frees a lot of people to understand these issues more.”

And what can we expect from Mock in the future? More writing, of course. She’s planning to write a book which addresses the beauty myth from the perspective of a black trans woman. She’s also looking into TV as another platform for storytelling.

Janet Mock, thank you for doing the work. Thank you for being the beautiful spirit that you are and for sharing your powerful story with us. Trailblazer, keeping shining!

I believe that telling our stories, first to ourselves and then to one another and the world, is a revolutionary act. It is an act that can be met with hostility, exclusion, and violence. It can also lead to love, understanding, transcendence, and community. I hope that my being real with you will help empower you to step into who you are and encourage you to share yourself with those around you. ~ Janet Mock

PicWithJanetMockII(2252014)

I Was Too Blind To See – Latest on MUSED

Young man thinkingImage courtesy of MUSED Magazine.

Ever been in a situation, be it a relationship, friendship, or job, that was no good for you?  Everyone other than you knew you could do better and encouraged you to move on.  But for reasons that were oblivious to you at the time, you remained.  I’ve had my fair share of experiences such as these.  In my latest article for MUSED, “I Was Too Blind To See,” I talk about a past relationship that had run its course.  I ignored all the signs.  Yet, I stayed… And paid dearly for it.  But as I say in the article, “I’m grateful because that experience was crucial to bringing me forward.”  To learn more, read the article on MUSED.

Major thanks and props to Drew-Shane Daniels, Neo Huxtable and the MUSED family for featuring the article!

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Peace, Love, and Many Blessings!

~ BuddahDesmond