Activist Reflections

by Derrick J

I miss my gays.

At the time I write this, I have stayed up all night, exhausted by the mental energy I’ve exerted negotiating via e-mail with the little boys in men’s suits who are seeking to put me in a jail cell.

I didn’t know what I was getting into when I came to Keene to be an activist. I wanted to stand on the right side of history. I wanted to live and breathe total liberty. I wanted to show the world the limitless joys their imaginations don’t permit them to envision. I wanted to be famous. I dared to dream.

Now, exactly one year after my arrival in Keene, men who call themselves “the State of New Hampshire” have intertwined themselves in my production by bringing 12 charges against me. I have lived my dream of complete freedom, and I will be punished. I can’t talk about the details of my plea negotiations yet, but I have to unburden myself of some ruminations which have kept me awake all night.

Life was never like this in Philadelphia. All I knew was work, drugs, clubs, and gays. It was all so vain, and I loved it. I miss the recklessness and debauchery of a careless existence. But though I dreamt of freedom, the overwhelming intrusion into my life by those who call themselves “the state” tugged at my heart and kept me from fully enjoying myself.

My friends tell me that if I’m landing myself in a cage, I’m doing something wrong. That I’m too bright and precious for that. That there’s no shame in acting under duress. That it’s okay to bow to power. When I was younger, I heard about the girl at Columbine who was asked by her murderer, just before she was shot, “Do you believe in God?” I was a Christian then and would stay awake at night asking myself what I would do in that situation. Would I be honest and lose my life, or would I deny my reality in order to live another day? Though I’m no longer a Christian, this question still plagues me. If following my heart gets me pepper-sprayed, chased, beaten, and caged, is it worth it?

I must humble myself in order to accept what is the reality of my world. My friends remind me that seen or unseen, I am living under duress. Attitude is everything, and whether I follow my heart or deny it to live another day, I choose to stay positive. I will persist planting seeds. My impatient nature expected overnight results. Now I see that my vision was a fantasy–that lasting change takes longer to realize.

My activism style must change if I am to persevere. The loss I am taking (of my freedom and my time) is a signal that my strategy must reflect a longer-term solution. I must lay the groundwork and be patient. I need not show others my dreams being ripped away but instead educate and inspire them to dream themselves–to challenge their own imaginations.

The future is bright, and everything’s going to be okay in the end. This is another step on the journey. In contrast to the gayborhood of Philly, I’m walking through a nightmare, but nothing great was ever achieved without great sacrifice. If I hope to partner up and live my life with a man of principle, I must be true to my own.

“I took the path less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
– R. Frost

Reposted with permission from