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Queer, Ill, and Okay: Artists Write to Their Younger Selves on World AIDS Day

Kay Ulanday Barrett 1

Kay Ulanday Barrett, @brownroundboi

Poet, performer, cultural strategist, snack eater galore. Photo by Jess X. Chen.

Dear body, dear thing, dear pain, dearest laughter and wince,

you never asked for this. that's the truth, but like all your people, your cane is a drum song and you're no stranger to bullshit. what stories does your blood tell? we could say, howl, say part limping tree and part starlight? we could say that you're a survivor of systems that stretch you out broader than any creature of wingspan can imagine.  nevermind, the destruction, the parched throat, the pill cocktails, the sorry, there are stairs. adversity is a jigsaw of stethoscopes, racism, and whatever people think a real lady should be. you are slow, babyboi. you are okay. you are worthwhile of expanse. let them all fucking wait; you are breathing. remember, the best of stuff takes time to simmer, ruminate, to sit in the shape of things. your allies: bed, wakeful sunrise, peanut butter by said bed, heating pad, sometimes a lover, only sometimes. when they tell you, where have you gone?, ask instead, why haven't you stayed? when you can't do lighthearted small talk at events you can hardly make it to after all,  your nerves rampant screamers, this means your body in itself is a protest and a placard. what is more anti-empire? what is more bounty? do not fool yourself that everyone will understand the wonder of this, moreover, the draining of it. blessed is the stranger who watches you cough and doesn't flinch. blessed is the cloudscape greeting you at the windowsill for the third or sixth day in a row from your mattress view. holy is the wolf howl of your joints that murmur to a lull under the right temperature. holy is living or trying to.

the future brownroundboi

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