I've been having a terrible time at starting this entry. You see, I happened to be oblivious to the recent shootings at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando while I was publishing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy on the very same day. When I found out, after the fact, I felt guilty - guilty for avoiding the news and current events as much as I do, guilty for going about my daily life in the wake of this tragedy, guilty for finding out about it through social media, and guilty for releasing an album on the day it occurred and promoting it the following day, when I should have been observing a moment of silence and processing this horrible event. When I did find out about it, I did that horrible thing of trying to put it furthest from my thoughts while continuing about my business, while all my queer family were posting about how upset they were and their reactions to the media's and other people's reactions. I couldn't undo releasing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and I still had an album to promote.
I also didn't know how to post about the massacre without making it all about me. All my friends were full of such righteous anger, and so was I, but it felt seemed so inappropriate to be expressing it on the likes of Facebook. But where and how is one supposed to express such anger? When I think about it, it seems like every outlet is inappropriate in some way, and ultimately hopeless. Someone is going to judge the way you choose to express it, and it's not going to do anything about all the hatred and injustice in the world.
One Facebook post I read quoted that most righteous line of Ani DiFranco's, saying, "silence is violence." So, if I wasn't supposed to be somber and observing a moment of silence, while speaking out seems exploitive and pointless, what was I to do? In the end, I felt I had to do something, as anger was bubbling up inside of me, fueled by the social media posts of others, and the conversations those in my immediate vicinity were having. I heard my parents discussing the most recent posits of the right-wing media, making the massacre into another ISIS terrorist attack instead of a hate crime. I saw the posts of dear friends making this another case for gun-law reform. Other friends were furious that attention was being drawn away from the fact that this was yet another hate crime against the LGBTQ community, while still others were making it an issue of general hatred and violence. I felt myself mostly empathetic with the latter, that this is a crime of hatred of human-against-human, not Islamic hatred for queers. One friend of mine (who, I have to say, I consider to be kind of a nut-job) ranted and raved about how this is evidence for the world that, as a gay man, Muslims want to kill him, and this is why we, as Americans and, more specifically, gay Americans, should hate Muslims. All I can see there is hatred fueling hatred. Fear creating fear. Violence feeding violence. Killing for killing. That painful, endless cycle that just makes me want to shout, "Wake the fuck up!" And, as I saw more and more of this, I felt I had to say something.
It's hard to speak out without making it all about you. It's hard to risk being judged as exploitive. It's hard to know when silence or screaming is appropriate. Every time I've thought about typing the words, "I had the misfortune to release my album on the day of..." I've cringed, because this isn't about my misfortune. My misfortune pales in comparison to the misfortune of those were at Pulse on that terrible night. And I can't take back releasing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy when I did. It's too late, the damage is done, and it's important to not dwell on it, because that is not what matters. What matters is that I do have some feelings to express, and that silence can be just as harmful as acts of violence. What also matters is that it is the fucking duty of artists to provide social commentary, because when you get right down to it, that's what art is. Furthermore, I've made myself into a public figure, and it's the duty of public figures above all others to speak up. So this is how I've decided to express my reactions:
This is my way of acknowledging that, yes, this is another heinous act of violence against queers, motivated by hatred, and all it has accomplished is fueling more hatred. Even now, people are using it justify further acts of violence, notably against the Muslim community. But this isn't about Muslims vs. Gays. This is about hatred fueled by xenophobia fueling more xenophobic hatred. And that's why I've chosen these songs to express how I feel. First, "The Creeps" and "Xenophobia" is about fearing and hating what is strange to you, what you don't understand. Whether you fear Muslims, or you're "tolerant" of gays but don't believe they should have civil rights, or you're a closeted self-hating queer, these songs are about you and the hatred you have or don't admit you have. The next two songs are to put beauty in hatred's place. "Horizons" is an optimistic look toward the future. "Solace" is to offer comfort.
Downloads are free. Share or don't, this music is to do with what you will. It's my voice. It's my way of speaking out. And it's my hope that, in some way, it makes a difference.