MADELEINE EVELINA GUEKGUEZIAN

I responded to most of the magazine with observations, questions, lines and stanzas of poetry (forming short and long works between multiple pages) these were written in the margins, blank spaces, and around the block quotes of the articles I responded to. The components of the piece were written on themes of disparate communities coming together into a larger queer community, responding through the lens of my experiences to what queer women went through at the time (focusing on self condemnation, shame, loss and disassociation, navigating identity and social expectations) and questioning what the place and role of transgender people was in this period.

Response to OUT/LOOK Issue #6

Change

Men feeling entitled to our sexuality;
Some things never change
–Certainly some people never do—
All in all, change may come slowly at best.

Can gay men and lesbians work together?

The question still persists
Accompanied by a social segregation,
It’s sad that it’s exceptional
That my best friend is a gay man.
Some things never change–
Certainly some people never do—
All in all, change may come slowly at best.

We cannot escape history
It’s abundant, it’s persistent,
Living with it demands work,
Demands intention
Some things cannot change
Cannot be changed

Attitudes and politics of power
Sometimes perm –attitudes of— eate
Some –politics of— times infiltrate
Every aspect of –power— ourselves.
Some things ne –attitudes of— ver change–
Cer –politics— tainly some people ne –of— ver do—
Some things can –power— not change
Cannot be changed

Change is necessary, healthy
Built from from difficult geography
Shaped by slow, steady, intractable earth-shifts.

Marriage

Q: Why should gay people seek the right to marry?
A: Because they will know we are human, one of them
Q: Since when is marriage a path to liberation?
A: It isn’t when our queer youth die or sell themselves on the street, but affluent or secure gays say “Love Wins”

Love Loses
A queer child:
Gay, kicked out
Trans, murdered on the street
Bi, gaslighted by an ostensibly accepting community
Ace and Intersex, invisible with a fight ahead and too few allies
Any Queer person,
homeless
uncared for
selling their bodies
raped to correct an imagined mistake
brainwashed or repressed into straight or cis
killed.
killed.
killed.
In all of these,

Love Loses

At any age, we are all God’s children, and
In all of these, love loses.
It   lost then
WE
It   loses now.
WE

Marriage Questions
In marriage, entwined in law, would we be made unqueer?
I want to say no.
Or else, how painful to be defined by our alterity.
In the context of the past, this makes little sense to my heart
Or to my mind.

Where is our center, then?
Surely more than marriage
and not assimilation chains
Or the right to be the same
And how do we explain the narrative
Of social politics and theory to ears
Receptive, rather, to “you can marry your partner”?

Of course, we wrestle with the right way to right;
I think that aspirational path wins,
The marriage victory is too recent to judge,
Only time can tell.
Maybe our true strength as a cohesive of people was begat from adversity.

Will non-marrying queer partners become the inverts of our body of queer?
She asks the question,
She hits the heart and fundamental heartbreak of our movement,
The sins of human-beings make themselves incarnate,
Of whom entwined in power could this be said otherwise?

The trap is always power,
CE 2016, a salesman’s model of inequity,
The maintenance of privation,
The failure built into sweeping success,
Elevation in a matrix of power,
Maintains fundamental injustices as lingua franca.

I’m grateful for marriage,
I have always aspired toward it.
I hope time tells me that it is unequivocally for the best.
A victory, more than moral, but transformative.
This is my hope, and
Shouldn’t progress inherently be so?
Isn’t it movement? Articulated in liberal or radical dialects of change?
What massive thing moves without transformation?
Let us not be an exception.

Letters

Community
Interlacing, filling, converging—
Connect the dots of people,
Dots of communities,
You find disparate lights making up our constellation.

In people, so many intricacies,
So many maps,
Overlapped would be a solid,
Overlapped would be a miasma
Of colors.

A rainbow can look like six or seven colors.
It is not.
It is a constant elision across all points.

Re: Alberto Acuna
I do not know about the berdache,
I do not have the article or the response,
Do not know the complexities that may surround this dialogue,
Nor do I know who is right here,
Who is wrong here,
If anyone is wrong here.

But I do understand dynamics of power,
Layers of oppression.
In this landscape, will white voices strive to overpower others?
Continually? Regardless of the value of other voices?
Yes, no amount of tradition,
No navigation of difficulty,
No amount owed to the first-person
Or third-person voices of people of color
Of any marginalized group or subgroup,
Will change the unfailing urgency of white voices
Aspirant to omnipresence.
I know this.
It continues to happen.
Even to dominate the ongoing conversation that we all engage in.

A Question
I wonder at the trans presence in the AIDS crisis.
Were they invisible or counted among gay men?
Dying, but in the clothes that showed who th(w)ey a(we)re.
Just drag queens, gay men in a gay plague.
Imagining it places my heart and head beyond horror:
De-selfed, dehumanized, dying, demographically displaced –and never
resettled.
Forgotten. Abandoned. Invisible.

Re: Adrienne Booth and Daisy Benson
Build together or fall. Apart.
The polyphony of queer, arranged together,
Looks from my distance like an outgrowth of humility, of despair.
A strong mother. An emergency C-section.

Causes

Repression
Like rubber on live wire,
Our bodies insulate our living selves
We repress, suppress,
More than we recognize.

Mamma Ain’t
Mamma ain’t raise no lady, neither,
And here I am.
A flannel-femme reassociating with myself
–In spite of an unwavering sickness, misery—
With my body.
My body that may really be mine now.

Mamma loves me, and
Impossibly difficult,
Impossibly mysterious,
To raise me.
No preparation to a clear resolution.

Mamma couldn’t raise no lady
Cause she didn’t know she was or had to or could,
And we learn and watch and raise me together.

Causes
How are we ever to know?
Genetics, Epigenetics, Imbalance of prenatal hormones to the brain?
God know. God knows.
Does God know?
Or is it a mystery to them as well?

Living Within the State of Things
I look at myself across the past and have to stop from thinking about how I got
fragments of teenage girlhood to be authentic, but how hollow that feels even
though it would be an impossibility a generation ago. No amount of progress,
of relative privilege, makes it better, I had no girlhood except in furtive longing.

I fixate on “Mamma ain’t raise no dykes”. I see pain, I’m nauseated by it, it’s
too real, it is the fear –remembered—which drove me back into the closet
–forgotten—time anytime again –remembered—and kept me from leaving it
and loving it. Clenched every muscle like a tense hand grasping at safety from
some incarnation of the unthinkable. I hunger for something forgotten and
unattainable.

Trans people –not only women, people; not only poor folks, people; not only
individuals of color, people; how dismal that SO still live invisible and hurt
and dehumanized
MANY
PEOPLE

And that that was almost omnipresent less than my brother’s lifetime ago—did
not really exist, not in the movement that
THEY helped to started, sure we were queer, but not part of it.
WE
WITH YOU
AS US

Transvestites at most; Drag Queens, Drag Kings at most.

The point is, what we did as kids, dressed all up in Mamma’s clothes, that was
kids’ stuff, something you STOP.
STOP when you get responsible and older. Just a game.
You’re older, I’m older, Queer’s older, –still—Doesn’t want us.
Mamma ain’t raise no tr——s,
Gay won’t accept us, not fully; What place do we call home?

Reach to a Better Past; Continue into a better future.
We all should always
Have At least so many gay and lesbian Had
A People in this country Place
To Aren’t Guaranteed Be
Welcomed A mental institution. Home.

It may not be universal, but fewer people are

ALONE.

SCREAMING.

Dispataches from a Revolution in Drag

When the language of the world is strictly set to binaries,
It is more than courage, I think,
Rather an act of war.

The transfolk, the kings, queens, and in-betweens, non binary people.
They are (we are, I aspire to be) soldiers and leaders and radicals because the
fight is the longest, and hardest, and least glamorous.

Made in God’s Image, Indeed
Holy Homosexual!? Why not?
Jesus is already queer.
Not only an outsider in his own time,
But a perpetual friend to them.
What’s more alterity to the King of the Oppressed?

Of course Jesus is gay.
He is trans.
He is everywhere on all spectra in between.

The idea is radical, maybe upsetting, maybe revolutionary, certainly
controversial, and absolutely necessary.
Equality is in the polyphony of the spirit, as well as in our living communities.

If you look at the universe as Creation, then we are children of God, too. We
are part of the Body of Christ. Of course Jesus is gay.

Coming In

Plague
When I get beyond the history,
Beyond numbers and politics,
Beyond even, the movement itself,
Into the stories and fragments of reality,
I am haunted, terrified beyond the scope of terror.
The unthinkable urgency of the disease,
Made epidemic,
Made plague
Made discrete communities form into a movement.
What will it take to do that again?
To bring Gay and Lesbian together with Bi and Trans and Ace and everything
else.
It is unthinkable, unimaginable.

This happened.
Simultaneously decimated and united us.
This was all real.

Was this not the anatomy of nightmares?
A nightmare passed to all who could be vulnerable and omnipotent and
invisible.
How did people live through this?
Body and soul annihilated.
Trans rape and murder,
The crises to which we (I) feel helpless
Can feel distant even when they’re present,
Even though they do not have our conscience reality,
The distance keeps the trauma elsewhere.
A forsaken world at a distance, there’s at least respite there.
AIDS seemed so inescapable.

Was this not the anatomy of nightmares?
Where was God in the 1980’s?
Not in the hearts of those who could have helped us,
Given care and attention before the outset of apocalypse.

Desert Hearts

Desert flower is apotheosis,
A wellspring of life in a land still-seeming
So profoundly as to seem lifeless.
This is nature, the cycles of the Earth,
An adaptive, fluid climate,
This is the spirit, music of stillness,
Holy of the slow unfolding,
There is God in the desert,
Old, timeless, a land of secret plenty
Where grace and patience are vital,
Desert flower elevates the lowest-seeming
And makes life in them.
Born out of secret and quiet, remote, and marginal made abundant of itself,
through itself.
Queerness as a place of community, identity, strength and support is the
flowering desert, a promised land made where we root.

Gays, lesbians, bisexuals, asexuals;
Trans, non binary, and intersex people
and everyone in between are queer
Not because we hold in ourselves inherent alterity.
We are queer because it is not universally understood that there is
Abundance in an ostensible barrenness.

Other, too, because fear lives in acknowledging
That queerness is a living, vibrant piece of human milieu.
To do so means that God is as queer as cis-hetero,
That deserts are not oversights,
But yield life, are part of life, are worthy and valuable, are part of us.

Shame

Shame Reflections
Her story, her shame, her condemnation,
All resonate with me, pure, long, and clear like the ringing of a bell.
So strong, with such frequency as to batter my heart, break my breath, crush
my ribs into dust, shatter my spirit.
Fighting myself, not allowing that grace of being’
Living in shame is realer than the pencil in my hand.
Queer liberation.
Queer unity.
Impossible if we can’t liberate ourselves from from our shame and
self-reflected prejudice.
Condemnation and seem vital, only through omnipresence in too many lives.
We are silenced and killed –often within it—and shove us into fights.
So much language of liberation is martial, not for reality and its politics,
But for despair.

Progress
Chisel the crack wider still,
And with the force of together
Although precariously perched:
On the hard and unstable victories of yesterday,
On shoulders, not of giants,
But of many people and many voices becoming gigantic.

The creation of this piece
MADELEINE EVELINA GUEKGUEZIAN

Madeleine Evelina Guekguezian is a senior at the University of the Pacific, Conservatory of Music pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in Music with minors in Psychology and English.

As a poet, her work explores themes of ethnicity, change/endings, and queer identity on self and externally reflective levels often explored through the framework of music, philosophy, spirituality, and so on. Structurally, her poetry explores the rhythm and musicality of lines, compound words, length and complexity of lines, the multiple meanings of words and phrases and how they differ between reader and listener, the role textual presentation plays on meaning, and poetry as an auditory medium.

When she isn’t working on poetry, Ms. Guekguezian enjoys music composition and exploring music theory, doing interdisciplinary research between music and other fields, performing on trombone and voice, engaging in service work, educating fellow students on healthy relationships, and advocating for the LGBTQIA+ community.

Thank You to Our Sponsors

Made possible in part by a grant from The Creative Work Fund, a program of the Walter and Elise Haas Fund that also is supported by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Also supported through UCSC by the Arts Research Institute, Arts Dean’s Fund for Excellence and Dickson Emeriti Professorship Award

SEE US ON INSTAGRAM
Follow OUT/LOOK

Homepage Image Credit
Queer Nation kiss-in at the cable car turnaround.
© Rick Gerharter
San Francisco, 1991.