"I Am Glacial Clear."

 
 
nathaniel gray hope project.jpg

“Nathaniel’s instruction is to "look back at the people who are looking at you," and I immediately avert my eyes because inside his camera lens, in its gravity-lacking absence, there are critics.

I see in that darkness my biological parents who waged a quiet domestic campaign of terror against my queer and trans identities when I came out as a teen — the threat of homelessness coded and constant, the roof over my head contingent on being good enough for Jesus.

I see those in my training audiences whose faces show open disdain because they think being in love with the same sex, or having a gender different than the body you were born in, is a conscious choice of sin or error.

I see my various LGBTQ+ critics for whom I am not masculine enough or too feminine for or both or neither… the sick body perfectionists aspiring to all things West Hollywood, who only see me if my pecs and ass and cock are big enough, my voice boring and bro-ish enough, who complain about using a they/them pronoun when the backbending tantrums they undertake to get attention are so contorted they usually land in my therapy office after hitting rock bottom.

I see all those who hate women and who hate me because I don’t.

I see the Santa BarbaraTM critics: passive-aggressive and nearly always on attack – sporting smiles that filter insults written between the lines, their suffocating pride in gossip and vagueness and forcing hugs on strangers quite shocking to my New Yorker self’s scrappy grit. When you’re raised in the snow, you don’t have time for bullshit. If you take too long to say what you need to say, you freeze to death.

Still. I have such fondness for Nathaniel, that I try. I look into the camera, and the humpback whale tattoo on my arm twitches. It leaps out of spiraling water or dives deep if you’re looking at it from upside-downward facing dog. So many times I’ve burst out of troubled waters and demanded the joy of open skies, then gleefully landed with a thick thwack on the surface of life, passing through into the darkness and dreams beneath.

Now, the half-smile frozen on my face disappears and whatever he says cracks me up, cracks me open. That darkness becomes the eyes of those who love me, who have chosen to because they look into my eyes and see—so they tell me—someone whose love is edgeless as outer space, who feels the pain of the overlooked and wants immediately to be a shield without thought for beauty or poses or branding and no care for an audience at all. In their eyes I see myself, a child, simply wanting to breathe, to be sat beside, to be quiet and close and in touch with all that can't be seen. And for one millisecond, I am.

I am not what others perceive me to be. I am neither man or woman. I am more than the language I was raised in, more than the boring binaries so many have eroticized and simplified and imprisoned themselves in. I am neither pink or blue--I am glacial clear.

I am unafraid of feeling in shades of joy and sorrow mixed. I am committed to speaking what I feel so I can better know how others feel in their hidden hearts. I am protective of the softness in others but not always protective of my own self.

I’m too old for this shit. I’m too young to give up. I’m struck by secret, peripheral illumination and wonder what the world would be like if we lived fully and unafraid. I sing everywhere I go because if I don’t, I will be erased and used and colonized – and melody reminds each person they once existed before words.

I’m afraid and a survivor of intimate violence in my family of origin and in intimate relationship, violence that still lives today if I expose myself to my abusers -- so I don’t. Mostly though, I am defined by those I am in loving relationship with -- whether animal, plant, or element. I am, in relation.

This is why I am a somatic psychotherapist, an adoptive caregiver, a mentor of LGBTQ+ youth. This is why I taught preschool for ten years. This is how I see the world: in direct relation to itself, its nervous system our human and animal networks, that we can train to thrive on more than current and historical habits of violence.”

- New York - Santa Barbara

 
 
Nathan Williamson