I live a colorful lifestyle. Instead of corporate riches, I have chosen the wealth of freedom, bohemianism, liberty of knowledge, and learning hardcore street smarts. In the span of things, I am a bohemian at this point in my life, fleeting and flowing around without many things bogging me down, trying to find my place in the world. One thing that I have learned for absolute certainty, is that when there is a lack of resources, there is a wealth of what could be deemed “authenticity”.
Many years ago, for a university class called “Feminism Gone Wild”, I wrote a paper evaluating the concepts of authenticity, credibility and respectability with regards to African-American cultural values. I chose to evaluate Lil’ Kim (authentic and credible as a female rapper derived from both her hardcore lifestyle growing up in Brooklyn and inherited from Notorious B.I.G.), Oprah (respectable for being an American powerhouse, authentic for having lived through true hardships of the American South, and credible for representing female Black power in America) and Kobe Bryant (his reputation called into question due to rape allegations, but his ultimate solidification as a figure representing authenticity, credibility, and respectability within the African-American cultural dynamic allowed these allegations to have little negative affect against him) which resulted in a very entertaining college paper. Hopefully, I will find it again some day. Writing this paper expanded my alertness concerning reputation, behavior, and the values of a certain group one is operating within.
Over the course of the last month, in a post I hope to follow up on, I have gone through some intense personal experience, trials and tribulations of the very definition of a person and what it means to be human. As a bohemian, as to be expected, I am not a part of the elite class, but a part of what could be referred to as the underclass, the outlaw caste, and/or the fringe. Some of the people I have been friends with could be identified as “hardcores”, in the sense that when they fuckin’ do something they fuckin’ do it and they don’t fuck around about it even (and especially) if they are fuckin’ around. I am quite certain there are those who would refer to me as hardcore as well due to my high tolerance for chaos, fringe culture, strange experiences, and ability to carry on through extremely bizarre circumstances. To a degree, I always knew I had this in me I just did not know how it would manifest while I was growing up.
One thing I know for sure as a result of finding all these beautifully unconventional people is that, identity cannot be bought. No matter how much money you may or may not have, you cannot don another outfit and become another person. You cannot escape the wounds of moments past and turbulent emotions to flee into another version of one’s self. An orange is an orange, it is citrus, a bursting flavor of cleanliness, and it is vibrant in it’s color, so much so in the English language it is simply identified as an “orange”.
There are three types of people in the world: unmovable objects, unstoppable forces, and essences. It should be fairly obvious to one’s self what one is, and if one is strong in one’s identity, others should have no problem identifying it.
There is a fantastic documentary called “Paris Is Burning” about the Vogue Scene lived among the Black gay community in New York City during the 1980s and 1990s. Madonna took voguing from these people, a certain style of attitude, dress, and ultimately dance that she turned commercial and benefited astronomically financially while the founders were living in varying stages of decrepit urban hardcore living. These people were not elite, not rich, but wealthy in life and in struggles. Many were banished from their families and became their own families as a result. This is an extremely common experience for those of us among the fringe, an extended family beyond the bounds of blood, something forged must deeper of the mind. People who have not been a part of fringe movements may understand this in theory, but to actually feel like one is coming home to a family that was not created out of blood but mutual identity is a contrary familial experience to blood bonds. Neither one is richer or more rewarding in and of itself, but both have features that are both advantageous and disadvantageous. The documentary is a rich and insightful glimpse into how these people made it work, something of a catchphrase among American gays. Many of the people featured in “Paris is Burning” probably also suffered death from the AIDS epidemic, the name of which President Reagan refused to uttered until millions of Americans had died, because who cares about queers and junkies right?
The thing is, there are those of us who care about the people on the fringe. We care because they make the world infinitely more interesting. The people who live on the outside, who live in mystery and shadows, the people whose faces you look at and you see a vast novel behind the visage, the pages in the mind’s eye hidden in the pupils, those are the gems in the dust.
What is a house?
Does a house end when the wind whips your breath from your nose? Does a house end at it’s roof? Are the people within the house part of the house? The warm smells in the house, is that part of the house? Is the laughing, the crying, the sorrow, the seizing excitement, the shouts, the stealthy silence, part of the house? Where does the house end? Do you carry the house in your heart when you step into the world?
This corporate society can sometimes get me down. I don’t like measuring peoples worth based on their monetary value. I don’t like to see people as worth more than others simply because there is a financial system that has been rigged to keep few extremely rich with money and many extremely careful about money. The solve for this problem is beyond me, minds far wiser and of more education and intelligence have tried and failed, debated and philosophized about this matter. Simply, those of us who have infinite worth but are money poor must be proud. We must be proud for the beauty of our poverty, how objects take on new worth, how the sentimental value of something is beyond what the financial measure. We must also pity the extremely wealthy, those who have poverty of knowledge in the beauty of objects, who have become so jaded to the things that come with financial wealth, those who are tied like a chain to the monetary system and those who fear it’s collapse because “What if I’m poor?!?!”. The worst has already happened to us, we are poor, but we are fierce and we are more brave than those with a thousand rooms in their homes.
We find home with each other. We can go home wherever we are.