Albert Einstein, when hypothesizing about how our universe worked, would do things referred to as “thought experiments.” Essentially, he was just daydreaming, but since these idle daydreams birthed absolute brilliant information about our universe, we now refer to them as “thought experiments.”
In a profound act of arrogance, I’ve adopted the term for when I am brainstorming on an idea or using my imagination to think of how someone looks naked. In my latest thought experiment, I wondered if there was a parallel universe, if there was a place where everything is beautiful and does nothing, but improve. It’s a place where love spreads infinitely, and you can’t decide between looking up because of the beautiful clouds or at the ground because of the beautiful flowers. Then, you remember the sky will eventually get even better, and turn into stars and a blood moon. In this near identical dimension, parallel to our own things get better, more beautiful, and even more astonishing with the passing of time. There is no deficit, only improvement.
I ponder this fantasy-riddled thought dipped in quantum physics. As my phone begins to ring, it’s my friend. His voice was still sweet even though what he had to deliver to me was extremely sour. My friend wanted to kill himself. He said, the weight of the world was too heavy and he’d rather just break, or rather push the brakes on the vehicle helping him travel through life. He’d wanted to die. All I could think was how I never dreamed he’d leave in springtime, but I understood his want for a permanent sabbatical from this material world when being black and queer can begin to feel like a perpetual cruel winter.
He spoke earnestly and I listened as I drank the clouds from my coffee because I didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t lie and say that it gets better. Hell, in this radical world that seems to be made of chaos and oppression for the queer and black, it might just get worse. For us, it may not get better. I didn’t know how to tell him to not ease his mind by blowing it out and leaving pieces of skull, brain, and yesterday’s problems on the wall. I didn’t know how to tell him not to let go of it all.
All I could think of, selfishly, was to tell him that I needed him. All I could think to tell him was that I loved him. I could only think to tell him that he reminded me of the love songs that were on the radio. I could only think to tell him that his existence on this earth let me sleep better at night, and kept me warm. I could only tell him that he didn’t need a candlelight vigil to see the light of who he is and how much he matters, and all the people he has touched.
I admit I love him selfishly. I loved him because I was him and he was me, and without him I thought I might die too. I realized in that selfish moment, that community drenched in compassion is where black queer folks have to go. I realized that that for us, it just might get worse. Mothers might continue to beat the gay out of their babies, and leave them as a pulp of lifelessness that isn’t gay, isn’t joyful, isn’t happy, just dead. It might just get worse; you might find yourself tired from a long day’s work and someone who you didn’t know was watching you decided to feel your flesh get cold. It might just get worse; if a harmless ‘John’ decides that you’re cheap and he can afford your life.
I can’t lie and say that in this queer black life I have found crystal staircases, but I have found blood diamonds pumping through the veins and golden hearts that beat despite the unfairness of the world attempting to suffocate all life from our bodies. I found that in this community I cherish deeply. What I mean to say is support and community isn’t a luxury for black queer folks, it is a necessity. We must love, support and listen to one another religiously, habitually, on purpose. It’s not just a utopian idea, it’s a survival strategy. We don’t need to lose brilliant queer black minds to suicide, especially when it sometimes only takes an open ear or shoulder to prevent the steel from meeting the temple.
My friend is alive and really it only took me saying that I was just like him, I feel the same pain, I need him, and I desire to make his life easier as well in any way I can. I really believe that a compassionate community is vital for queer people of color and our survival. That’s because unlike the world and its circumstances, we do have the capacity to get better and better, infinitely. The parallel universe that I spoke of earlier lives inside of us all, and I wish we would tap into it for the sake of us.