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This visual poetry project is dedicated to the victims of the Pulse massacre who lost their lives during a simple night out with loved ones and strangers, forever embedded and united in history on that tragic night.

On June 12, 2016, a horrific attack on the Queer and Trans communities took place at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, FL.  As a result, 49 lives were taken, culminating in the largest mass murder on American soil since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  I created the following poem and subsequent artwork in memory of the lives lost in this massacre.  Everyone named died too soon at the hands of an anguished gunman.  May they rest in peace and power and may their deaths not be in vain.



But It
Our Hope
So Came:

The Start
Of Change

Did we sin?
Feared by kin
We were in
Peace within.

Queer and Trans,
Black and Brown –
Hate entrenched
Scorn renown.

Dead queer bodies
With melanin
And martyred by
The fear within.

He terrorized
And fantasized
The genocide.

Loud, rattled and dazed
In dark, clouded haze
They hid as they gazed
Amidst their last days.

Queer, Trans, day-to-day,
Of our condition.
Now these bodies lay…

This drawing was created in memory of the Pulse victims.  Featured are 49 black shapes in memory of the 49 souls we lost in this massacre and 53 white shapes in memory of the injured survivors.  Together, these 102 shapes create the body and foreground of this drawing.  Additionally, featured in the background are other shapes presented in the colors of the rainbow, in honor of the queer and trans communities against whom this attack took place.
Unfortunately, as of June 12, 2017, two of the survivors have also passed away due to external circumstances.

Featured are the faces of the 49 victims of the Pulse massacre, with their images layered on top of one another to simulate the haze of this attack and in honor of the queer and allied lives we lost at that fateful night.

This is another digital composite of the faces of the victims, overlaid on top of the drawing I originally created for this project.

This image is a more somber tribute to the victims.  Similar to the two composite images above, the faces of the victims have been presented in grayscale, with the only color in this digital collage due to the drawing on which their images have been overlaid.


The following is a list of the names and ages of the victims of the Pulse massacre, provided by the City of Orlando:

Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old

Amanda Alvear, 25 years old

Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old

Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old

Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old

Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old

Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old

Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old

Cory James Connell, 21 years old

Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old

Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old

Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old

Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old

Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old

Frank Hernandez, 27 years old

Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old

Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old

Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old

Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old

Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old

Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old

Kimberly Morris, 37 years old

Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old

Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old

Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old

Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old

Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old

Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old

Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old

Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old

Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old

Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old

Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old

Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old

Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old

Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old

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Polly Tommey won’t judge parents who murder their disabled children. That’s part of the problem

Autism is not a death sentence and autism should not be the basis for forced euthanasia.

Left Brain Right Brain

Let’s just jump right to the video clip. Because it needs no introduction, it is just so wrong:

The speaker is Polly Tommey. Polly Tommey has a long history of bad autism advocacy. When people think of the autism parents who just do advocacy wrong, they are thinking of people like Polly Tommey. She’s been a voice in the “vaccines-cause-autism” movement for a long time. She’s worked with Andrew Wakefield (whose unethical actions in relation to disabled patients at his hospital lost him his medical license. To name one of his many failures). This in itself demonstrates bad judgement and poor reasoning. Recall that Andrew Wakfield fictionalized an account of a parent murdering her autistic child, framing it as an act of love.

But the low point of Polly Tommey’s advocacy career came when she and Andrew Wakefield “helped” a family in crisis. They were working on a reality…

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I Lack Of Smiles

You dare tell me to smile –when they and I can’t reconcile!
Because the others don’t see me as one of their brothers
But rather something that they soak and clean in lather
My soul fits in a bowl of shame
My heart’s tearing apart
My everything– it’s shattering
Why must I take precautions about unbeknownst conditions?
What is this curse that only seems to make me worse?
I do not understand this simple, shear lack of demand
To try to know just who I am and then giving a damn!
My soul is cold, is that the goal? 
To make my mind a hole?
I “never smile” – it’s been a while, but don’t blame that on me.
It’s evident, you see, that if it were all up to me,
I’d choose only to be happy since I’ve got nothing to lose.
But also see that happiness won’t cure the loneliness
The feelings deep inside of me are ones I can confide in
While those outside may wonder what is happening inside

I “never smile”- since happiness and I don’t coincide!

Finished as of May 30, 2014

from Blogger

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The Day

I want to see the day when
I can look at others in the eye.
I want to see the day that
I can actually be myself.
I want to see the day
where I don’t need to dream for comfort.
I want to see the day when
I can proudly say “Hooray!”
I want to know that
feeling of sincere security.
I’d like to finally help
myself so I can be of service.
I want to change the world
so those like me don’t have to worry.
I’d just like to know that
my existence is really worth the wait.
I like to think that one day’s probably going to be tomorrow
And I like to hope my
suffering will finally end today.
I just like to think that
maybe what I feel’s not really real
But I do like to take
denial as my full reality.
The worst part is that no
one else who’s there can even help me
But I feel as if I don’t
even have friends there anyway.
It’s as if my whole
existence is a trivial pursuit
And God just put me here
to suffer – hope that no one follows suit.
They claim that I’m either
faking or that I just want attention
And apparently I’m really
“well-off” when that’s just not reality.
I don’t get the words of
comfort – rather they just want me mute
And so what then?  Do I find a gun, aim for my head, and shoot?!
If they only saw inside my
mind – the darkness and the demons
Then maybe they would know
exactly why I want to hide.
If only they could see the
light, the pureness of my heart,
Then maybe they would see
I’m worth the effort after all.
Buts and maybes are not
real – to my dismay
Their acceptance isn’t
something for which I’m willing to pay.
I would rather live off
nature – away from this society.

But the truth is that
they’d like to see me there rather than here.

Originally written on December 26, 2013

from Blogger

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Closet Dreams

I feel as if there’s no escape for the closet that once
trapped me.
The pain that never goes away, it seems to add up every
It’s something that’s too much for me – no I don’t want
to let you see!
It’s everlasting either way no matter what you do or say.
Please, please allow me to be free for once at last!
Please just take me away – lest my acts leave you aghast!
In shadows I will hide as I have no one to confide.
And though our paths may coincide there’s nothing that
you can provide.
I know it in my heart that pain will make me so much
But I can’t seem to tell if I can take it any longer!
There’s too much loneliness I feel to act like I can
I wish that I could leave this place by the quick snap of
Since when I do – I know it comes with better, grander
There’s nothing more that I would like than basking in my
To rediscover everything, a worldprecious like diamond

Alas, I’d gain my right to freedom.  At last, I’d fly beyond
my wings!

Originally written on May 30, 2014

from Blogger

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If I Have Gay Children: Four Promises From A Christian Pastor/Parent

True Christians are just like this, wow. 🙂

john pavlovitz


Sometimes I wonder if I’ll have gay children.

I’m not sure if other parents think about this, but I do; quite often.

Maybe it’s because I have many gay people in my family and circle of friends. It’s in my genes and in my tribe.
Maybe it’s because, as a pastor of students, I’ve seen and heard the horror stories of gay Christian kids, from both inside and outside of the closet, trying to be part of the Church.
Maybe it’s because, as a Christian, I interact with so many people who find homosexuality to be the most repulsive thing imaginable, and who make that abundantly clear at every conceivable opportunity.

For whatever reason, it’s something that I ponder frequently. As a pastor and a parent, I wanted to make some promises to you, and to my two kids right now…

1) If I have gay children, you’ll all know it.

My children won’t…

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Learning Moment 1 – Struggling with Yourself.


Struggle a combination of confusion and the depression that comes with it.


Every day a part of me feels as if I have to put on a mask and portray a persona that makes myself seem alright.  I’ve told others things like this before and it seems to be a continuing narrative.  You know, the one where I’m always a victim and others are always winning while I never seem to get a piece of the damn pie that I only want because someone else has it – in fact, everyone else has it and not one of them considers that maybe I want it.  But here’s the truth, maybe I don’t want it.


I remember in elementary school when I used to believe in the Christian idea of God that I was always teased every day for being oversensitive and not one day that I can remember was without a single tear coming from my eyes because of the fact that everyone teased me for being different, from liking the company of girls to crying a lot (something even my teachers couldn’t deal with) and I felt so alone and one night before bed, I prayed and prayed that I’d be popular.  To me, even, it sounds ridiculous that I’d even do such a thing, that I’d believe in a God who would help me do something like that but then again, when you’re 9 years old – you tend to be selfish, especially when you feel like everyone’s always against you and you’ve always had that sort of social awareness about how things are supposed to be and yet, your life is burdened with the fact that your life wasn’t as perfect as it should.  I didn’t live a fairy tale, I still don’t live a fairy tale – I’m broke and my family’s not exactly “well off” and then I’m also gay and have autism in addition to a bunch of other disorders.  For some reason, I thought that people online understood but I’ve found that they care about as much as people did in real life.  To them, and to everyone else, I was just this kid who didn’t matter – pretty sure that’s how it still is.  And for some reason, I feel like I needed this attention to feel like I matter, I still do, and it’s really strange to think that after years and years of having to hide who I am from other people that I still don’t get the fact that attention doesn’t matter.  It’s like every day I progress a little and I regress just a bit more.


I have no idea if it’s my childhood issues or what that makes me the insecure person that I am.  What’s even more surprising is how unstable everything in my life has been and how much of a constant I seem to be.  I’ve always been told that I’m a hard worker, a good student, and really creative.  Anyone would think that even though I go to a community college, still, that I really shouldn’t be suffering.  The most surprising thing anyone should know about me is that not a month goes by that suicidal ideation isn’t present.  Most days it isn’t, some days it’s just terrible and I feel like I need to cry, like I need a hug, like I need to do something to take it away but being the person society thinks of me, I don’t get any help at all.  Anyway, I have no understanding for why these thoughts come into my head to begin with, especially knowing that I fully do accept who I am as an individual, both my qualities and the very person who I am.  I accept the fact that I’m gay and very much want to be as much of an advocate as I can be, the same goes with me being autistic, an Asian-American, and even as someone who society would suggest is “ugly”.  I guess it’s one thing to love and accept who you are, but it’s another to say that I feel as if others do so as well.  The truth may be that I don’t or that even if I do, it’s limited.  And so every day is another struggle, but every single one reminds me too that I’m a survivor: of depression, of oppression, of many of the malevolent things that others want to do to me.


I do struggle with myself, I will acknowledge that and even accept it.  But in life, it’s all about struggle right?  About going through stuff and then about facing it head on and being a success afterwards.  I have no idea when that moment will come for me, but I am looking forward to it and if you face this same kind of situation, I really hope you do too.  In the meantime, I suggest doing something you love to do, even though you’re the only one who’s willing to listen to yourself.  I mean, I love writing, but my friends could care less about what I write about or that I even chose to do it – all people want to be is happy and they want to pretend that showing this type of emotion is bad, we’ve basically cast any form of negative emotion as evil, even to the point that sharing your negative thoughts about yourself is considered a “plea for attention”.  That’s not how things should work, not in reality anyway.  I will tell you that for me, writing about my experiences and struggles is more reparative than anything else.  These last few articles that I’ve written (and probably this one) has had no comments, but I think that it’s important to write about these things because even though I know others will try, they won’t be able to capture it in the same way I do.  I’m not better than anyone else, but maybe I just stopped caring.  Oh well.


I’ve written these same type of articles since 2012 on this very blog (though with a long hiatus) and I’m still doing the same thing!  Honestly for some of us, it takes a few times around to realize a lesson that we learned.

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Different Minds. Different Kinds.




If you’ve read any of my other blog posts already, then you’d know I have autism. If you haven’t, then you do now! Autism is considered a psychological disorder of the neurological/behavioral realm. What that basically means is that our minds work differently from the norm. Instead of being “neurotypical”, we do think differently simply because our minds work differently.

Despite the reality that difference is not deficit, society as a whole still views us as mentally incapable. That means that when we don’t fit the given stereotype, we’re often told things like how we aren’t actually autistic or that we’re just complaining over nothing. In a sense, if we’re capable of walking and talking, we don’t need help. Now here’s the thing, those of us with autism who do need assistance should definitely get it, whether or not we can walk and/or talk. Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that individuals of all walks of life are affected. But whether or not we can contribute to society some great contributions or we need help from that same society, our humanity remains the same nonetheless.

Too often in any movement, we want to glorify our most outstanding members in order to make it seem as if we’re normal. We are normal, but we don’t have to prove to anybody that we’re human beings, they should already know it and accept it. As hard as it is for some to hear that their child has autism or that their friend may never be able to live without assistance possibly for the rest of their life, it’s even more difficult for the individual with autism to feel as if they’re a burden. If you’re a neurotypical, stop and think for a moment how it would be like if you needed others’ help for the rest of your life. What would YOU do? As much self-loathing as could come from such a situation, there’s also the opportunity to help these individuals lead successful lives. Autism is not a diagnosis for the purpose of putting someone with it in a box, it’s one that’s given in order to help such individuals gain accommodations in order to fulfill their potential. My autism diagnosis came with a hopeful note, that I am worth it and that those who disagree can basically screw off!

We need autism acceptance not because there’s nothing wrong with individuals with autism, but because what is wrong can easily be fixed without trying to radically find a “cure” or a “cause” for that matter. We have people like Jenny McCarthy believing that vaccines cause autism while groups like PETA use autism as a ploy to promote their agendas, in the case of PETA, their “Got Autism?” campaign is one that believes that a vegan lifestyle deters such a diagnosis. I’m a vegetarian, not totally vegan yet, but I doubt that going off milk will do anything more than make me spend more money trying to get nutrients in addition to what I’ve already cut off by refusing to eat animals. These perceptions are damaging, not only for kids who, due to their parents’ fears, will have to abide by that same ignorance, but also for individuals — the kids and adults with autism who want to be seen as equals, not a source of fear!

People with autism can contribute to society, directly or indirectly, if their neurotypical counterparts will be patient, kind, and optimistic. Autism acceptance is about two things, awareness of what autism really is in order to deter stereotypes or fear from allowing those with such a diagnosis live up to their potential, and acceptance for those of us who have autism.


(NOTE:  This post was previously published here by the same author)

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Why Gay Rights?

As someone who happens to be gay himself, I obviously have a good reason to want my rights respected and recognized. But let’s go back to you. You may not happen to be gay (it’s cool if you are) but why don’t you imagine a world where all straight people are just gay and all gay people are just straight? Confusing right? By this, I just want you to imagine being in the minority for once, when it comes to sexual orientation/gender identity that is, and having to fight for your rights to be recognized. You may be a straight Atheist, Christian, Muslim, and being gay might be against your religion, but the point is that you wouldn’t like it either if your right to express yourself, beliefs, and identity was suppressed — at least not if you’re in any sense human that is. That’s how we feel every day as individuals who live in the less tolerant “flyover” states here in America, and probably moreso at other places like the Caribbean, Asia, or Africa! “Traditional values”, to us, don’t matter when we have to fight to even our deaths just to make sure that those like us will finally be recognized as human beings and not the “sinners” or “demons” that rightist ultra-conservative groups like to label us as being.

For us, this is our civil rights movement, our anti-apartheid movement, our Arab Spring, our suffrage movement, our Civil War! And it is so important that we have our straight allies and allies within our own possibly oppressed and ostracized communities. And yes, we are gaining a lot of traction, a hella lot, more than many of us could’ve thought of and more than I could’ve ever dreamed back when I was in the closet just a few years ago! But still, we need more work, a larger effort, and more allies. We need YOU! Whether you’re gay or straight, cis or trans, man or woman, or whoever you are, we need you as an ally for our rights, EVERYWHERE! Why? Well, why gay rights…. because we are the new movement for the American ideals of “liberty and justice for all”! When you support us, we won’t forget, why else do you think conservatives always talk about there being a “gay lobby”? We do have economic power, not only for ourselves but also because of our many allies who refuse to buy from homophobic businesses.

Even so, the main reason why we need our allies is to change the establishment. I don’t mean antidisestablishmentarianism by most means, but I do refer to the fact that many religious organizations whose mission is supposedly to “love all of God’s creation” or something similar still see homosexuality as “sin” or “disease” instead of the simple polytypic difference that it is. The evidence that such groups have to apparently justify this position is often marked by cherry-picking their holy texts and a lack of understanding of the message as a whole. Think about it, in the Bible claims that the greatest commanding is to “love one another” while most right-wing groups use it to refer to the few texts that can be misunderstood as evidence for a criticism of homosexuality. No where in the Bible does it say to “hate homosexuals”! Still, we will face religious discrimination just because of the fact that we dare to think outside of the norm. And thus, we need people like you to stand up for us and all other discriminated and disadvantaged groups, in order to change these norms and accept differences to the reasonable amount of love and tolerance necessary!

We need you, because you can help, may be willing to help, and possibly WILL help! If that’s the case, thank you.

(NOTE: This article was previously published here by the same author)

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Why Body Image? The Importance of Awareness & Acceptance.

We’re well aware of the fact that we live in a society where looks matter. Despite how much you try to change the perceptions of others, and even your own, you’ll still find that you (and the rest of the world) judge others based on the way they look.

But it really is no wonder that we do this, we’re bombarded with this idea all the time! You know, the one where someone is ALWAYS supposed to look like this or else they aren’t even worth noting. We see it (most obviously) in advertising where the idealized member of a target group can be found promoting a product, and so the end result is that any insecurity that’s festered up inside makes you buy it (or at least feel enticed to do so). It’s found online, not only for the ads that screw up our visual stimulation but also for the fact that the “trends” we find are often related to how people look. (#selfies anyone?) Finally, take a look at your friends’ faces. The people you interact with are most likely those who you feel comfortable with, one factor determining this probably being the way they look. Unless you share EVERY single interest with another person, chances are that if they look “better” than you do (of determination by society) or the other way around, because of various expectations/stereotypes, a relationship will probably not be formed unless you see each other way too often that it’s impossible not to. You might think that’s a high school thought, but really, ask yourself this — and be glad that you have friends despite how they look!

But really, some of us don’t exactly have friends, don’t share selfies, and will never be on advertisements since unless society stops idealizing its own members (never gonna happen), we won’t fit the mold to even be considered average. Body image matters people and it needs to be positive! That’s not just a theme for a song by Lady GaGa or something that you should only read about on Twitter with some random person trying to gain sympathy from the anonymous masses, it’s something that’s actually important, here’s why:

  1. We can’t all agree on who or what made us or specifically, who or what makes us human. But we can all say that we are human, so why do polytypic differences and traits matter? You won’t like everyone, but at least give them the decency to see them for more than their appearance.
  2. Life sucks. Why make it suck more? When you criticize someone like me for looking like they’re aliens, well, you alienate them and dehumanize them. As tempting as it is to tell someone how surprisingly __________ they look, ask yourself, does it really matter that they look this way? How are they as individuals, and why are they like that?
  3. That leads me to this next one: If you’re asking why a socially “ugly” individual has a bad attitude, let me tell you why. They’ve become misanthropes. Know how I know? Because to some degree, I’ve become one myself. Despite my humanitarian tendencies and visions, I can’t help but scream sometimes when a**holes stare at me like I’m some kind of monster. I’ve even heard a little girl point at me one time and calling me a monster just for the way I look! (By the way, it’s against everything about me to call a little girl an a**hole — but you get the point) No further elaboration needed right? It doesn’t get simpler than I’m an a**hole because you were!
  4. Related to the last two points is this: the fact that life already sucks and yet you’re willing to criticize someone for the way they look and still wonder why they have such a bad attitude about it really begs the question of why we accept these standards anyway. Why do we? What social good is it that we make “better looking” babies or that we “weed” the population of people who are unwanted just because they look different from your ideals?
  5. Finally, after you ask yourself those questions, do the same with this last one: Why can’t we just accept others for their unique qualities, physical, psychological, mental, emotional, or whatever?

But then again, maybe the reason we can’t is because as a society, we’re all too insecure. Why else would we feel the need to fit in or be like everyone else? According to anthropology, the reason why humans tend to group is because there’s safety in numbers. And when someone is different from the general group think, we tend to exclude them. It’s a vicious cycle really, someone is booted from one group, meets others like themselves who were booted, then boots someone else who seems different, et cetera, et cetera…. but it is what it is: reality.

Still, maybe it’s time to make groups more inclusive? As great as it seems to be elitist by labeling someone different as not being good enough, we really just waste potentially great friends, neighbors, acquaintances, teachers, and so on, and so forth…. all because we didn’t like them for the way they look? I mean, really, you can apply this for other things people are judged upon like sexual orientation or even the way they think, and still you will find that it’s all so ridiculous how petty differences influence how perceptions on who may be “good” and who may be “bad”. It’s something that even I’m guilty of, but at least I acknowledge it and do my best to hinder such leanings.

If you’ve read this far, you probably have noticed that I’ve gone with a lot of social commentary on this piece. But if you really need to ask “why body image?”, you are right to do so, since we have human rights, war, famine, political corruption, public health, and so many other very much pressing issues to talk about. But on behalf of myself, this is the last reason: it’s just that important to me. I know, it might be extremely biased, but in a cruel world of misunderstanding and uncertainty, I just want to help shed a little bit of light on one of the issues I personally face, which does happen to be a low amount of self-esteem due in part to a negative body image. And really, when you’re positive about the way you look and accept that you’re flawed, you feel positive, take care of yourself both emotionally and physically (also mentally), and become the bright shining star you were meant to be! We need more light in the world right?

(NOTE:  This article was published earlier here by the same author)