Where you the person behind the bear and cop show scam?
Chapter 2: Wrong
Summary: This whole situation was wrong. The king was powerless, broken and the White Bone Spirit was still around to enact her revenge. His family was gone and the others were treating him cruelly.
Sandy couldn’t put a feeling on it but clearly, something was wrong. If only he knew what.
TW: Description of a panic attack, small mention of vomit, s*icidal thoughts, mentions of death
A/N: This will turn shippy eventually but SWK needs to heal before then.
Word Count: 4,464
Nightmares were nothing new to Sun Wukong. He had them before, and he would have them again. It was nothing unusual.
He was used to it. It was what he deserved.
After his body racked with what he assumed to be its last sob, he sat up slowly and cautiously even as he quivered. The ends of the blanket rested on his lap.
In an instant, the sobs started up again, making his body lurch and shiver, and tears continued to roll down. Someone pressed a hand against his throat, only allowing him to let out choked gasps, lungs burning with pain, vision beginning to blur. He huffed and puffed, gasping for air, clawing at his chest to do anything anything to allow himself to breathe. He threw a punch towards his attacker, feeling nothing but empty space. There was no one, he was completely and utterly alone.
Thoughts of Fuck, fuck, fuck. I’m going to die. I’m going to die! Turned into Finally, finally, I’ll finally fucking die. This is deserved.
Sweat dripped down onto the blanket and his hands were clammy. Fingers clenched and unclenched in rapid succession.
His heart hammered wildly against his ribcage, he felt it was going to leap out of his chest at a moment’s notice. Thump, thump, thump. Blood pounded in his ears. Bile rose in his throat as he proceeded to gurgle.
For a brief second, he wondered how much noise he was making. He prayed that the others hadn’t heard him but even if they had, he doubted they would care. They would probably walk into the room with popcorn and wide grins, laughing hysterically as he panicked, contemplating, longing for when it would all be over.
Just let it end. Just let me die. The weight on his torso made him writhe and hiss, the covers twisted beneath his fingertips.
The smell of smoke hit his nostrils. After blinking, his vision cleared and he saw the corpse of a monkey laid before him completely charred.
“No, no, no,” he whispered, his stomach churned and he quickly grabbed a trash can to empty what little he ate. Looking back at the spot, Wukong no longer found the tarnished corpse of a subject, instead, in the corner of his eyes was blue surrounded by a pool of red.
Forehead resting on the plastic covering the can, he continued to gag. His golden orbs fluttered closed. He heaved, his mind grew hazy.
As he hyperventilated and waited for death, he thought about how no one would miss him, not his subjects and certainly not the kid and his friends. He was a failure, a failure of a king, a failure of a mentor, a brother, a friend, a disciple. He had failed at every role handed to him.
If the White Bone Spirit could see him now, she would chuckle and do a merry dance, smirking as he finally keeled over.
No matter how much he craved that fact, he couldn’t die. He is invincible, no sword or dagger or any other weapon alive could pierce his stony skin. Well, he was invincible so maybe, just maybe, during their trip, he would take a blow for the group under the masquerade of protection, selfishly fulfilling his desire. It would be a convenient excuse. TThe others would be happy and wouldn’t have to worry about dead weight. They could defeat the spirit on their own. He just needed to wait for an opportunity.
That was what made him take deep breaths. In and out. In and out. You can’t die yet.
Shaky puffs slipped past until it became one constant breath and the shuddering slowed. Wukong stood up, gripping the bedside to halt the wobbling, the pain flared. He made his way to the door to get some fresh air. He opened it and walked out, clutching the walls and his stomach, he groaned. Negative thoughts taunted him, he pushed them away as best he could.
The feather-light breeze drifted on his skin. The stars shone down upon him. The ache began to subside as he sat on the balcony, cooling air circulating throughout him.
The stars were beautiful, they managed to sooth his nerves. He felt a connection to them, possibly because he could control their course, possibly because he spent so long observing them while on the road, either way, it calmed him.
The stars glimmered and gleamed, his lips turned upward. Leaning with his palms on the ground, his eyes twinkled. While it helped a bit, the horrible thoughts bubbled back to the surface.
You should have let it happen. No… no… you need to wait. You need to wait for an opportunity so you can pretend to be the hero people think you are. Just wait.
He’ll wait for the chance. Until then, he’ll marvel at the lights.
Every once and awhile as he gazed, a horrible thing would cross his mind, his family’s disappointment, the horrific burning of Flower Fruit Mountain, the kid’s hatred, once again he shoved that all away in favor of forcing that grin to remain.
While the group wasn’t around for him to pretend, he did it anyway. All he did was act even if there wasn’t an audience. He loved to act that the cheery king from thousands of years persisted, he loved to act that he was stable, untouched by the loss of his family.
Was it a healthy way to process his emotions? Wukong knew it wasn’t but what was considered healthy anyway?
He was the one who was supposed to shoulder the burdens, be there for people, he didn’t need anyone to be there for him. And it was pathetic for the Great Sage of all people to need help. He had handled a million demons and for him to be affected by a little emotional issue would have made people mock him, see a weakness in his armor and he was already so weak. No one in the world cared about his issues and so he kept quiet, he didn’t even care about his own. His family wouldn’t have cared and the others certainly didn’t.
He preferred to be trapped and bound by the metaphorical chains on his wrist and the weight on his shoulders than admit how he felt.
At least if his family was here, he wouldn’t receive as much open scorn. The king questioned if he had been better, stronger they would still be here and they would have been, he knew that. They were seething from wherever they were, blaming him for their deaths and wondering if he purposefully allowed them to seeing as he worked so hard to protect them out of force yet allowed them to die centuries later when the journey was over. He was aware they hated him either way, he was such a bastard in the early days despite his development. He didn’t mean to, he would never mean to, he loved them with all his heart. He was aware they hated him either way, he was such a bastard in the early days despite his development.
It was wrong for them to not be at his side, hell, this whole situation was wrong. His powers were zapped and they were running from a demon he dismissed as lowly. All of it was wrong. Arms against the railing, the king whispered, “I’m sorry. Come back, please. I promise I’ll be better. I promise if you give me the chance, I’ll protect you better. I can’t do this without you. Please come back to me.”
“Monkey King?” The king looked in the direction of the noise, Sandy was steps away from him with that familiar cat on his shoulders.
Mustering up a smile, the sage greeted, “Oh, hey. Sandy, right? What are you doing up this late?”
“Yes, that’s me,” he responded. “I wanted to check up on everyone, I couldn’t sleep. Then I wanted to look at the view, it’s beautiful. I could ask you the same thing.”
“The view. You’re right, it is magnificent.”
After a couple taps of the king’s foot, Sandy said, “Monkey King, I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry for how the others have been treating you. It’s unfair to you. They have no right to act like that. I don’t even know why they’re acting like that, usually they aren’t cruel.”
“Don’t apologize.” He shrugged like his next words were nothing. “It’s justified. They can be mad all they want.”
Sandy stared at him like it was the wrong choice of words. “What? No, it isn’t.”
“Yes, it is. I left the kid when he needed me the most. I showed up last minute after whatever happened to your home. It’s justified.”
“It’s still cruel. Do you want to ta-”
“Look at the time. I better go back to sleep! See you, Sandy! Goodnight!”
“Wait, Monkey Kin-”
“BYE!” The king ran away, the demon ran a hand through his mohawk, sighing and his cat nuzzled his cheek in reassurance.
The king pushed him against the wall, hoping Sandy didn’t follow him. Taking a peek, the king found nothing. Why was Sandy concerned? Maybe because, from what the king gathered, the demon was relatively kind to everyone, even the undeserved. He didn’t need pity, he could handle himself.
The monkey didn’t feel like going to sleep since his mind was plagued so he decided to do the next best thing, train.
Taking off his shirt in the training room, he stretched his muscles and picked up a staff. Setting up a dummy, he began hitting it lightly, he didn’t want to wake anyone up, it was only a small practice to keep his mind off of the situation.
Minutes passed by, the king rested on the ground, the practice helped a little. He glanced at his fur and decided to pluck one out, testing the limit of his drained powers. He blew on it to create a small food item and… nothing. Not like he hadn’t expected but it was disheartening.
“Ya really are useless, huh?”
“Hm?” Pigsy leaned on the doorway, watching him with a smug smile. “I guess…”
“No guessin’. You are useless.”
He scoffed. “Your kid isn’t doing so well either.”
He concealed how worthless he truly felt about the situation by pointing out facts as he knew the others would lord more over how powerless he was, not in terms of actual powers but in spirit. Even when he was aware of how right the other was, he despised how Xiaotian was treated as if he had done no wrong when he chose, like the king, to keep secrets. Like mentor, like mentee, he supposed. Also he just wanted Pigsy to shut up.
“What did ya say about my boy?”
“I’m just saying he doesn’t exactly have his full strength either.”
“He isn’t the Great Sage.”
“Yea, but you don’t have to baby him just because you’re upset at me,” he pointed out.
“I’m not babying him. I’m protecting him.”
“Really? Because you act like he’s five instead of an adult.”
“I treat him like he’s an adult. And this is about you and your stupidity.” The pig’s brows furrowed, he scanned the king, face appearing red for a moment. “If it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t be in this situ-”
“I know. You can be mad at me, okay? I accept it but you don’t have to seek me out for it.”
“Someone needs to remind you what a dumbass you are.”
“I know. Jeez, it’s like you got a crush on me or something.”
Without getting flustered, the pig growled, “Shut up. Look while you’re on this ship, you listen to the rules and one of the rules is we can remind you of your stupid actions. It cost us.”
“I’m sorry it did.”
“Sorry isn’t going to fix it. Nothing you do is going to fix it. You ruined everything we ever had. No wonder your family died,” he muttered.
“What?” What did the pig say?
“No wonder we’re like this,” he voiced. “We’re lucky if we ever win.”
“We will win.” And I won’t be there to see it.
“I don’t get how we can with you on board.”
“Then kick me off.”
“And let you get away easily? No thanks.”
“Uh huh. Whatever. Now if you’re done stalking my every move, I’m going to sleep.”
He was about to leave when there was a tug on his arm. “One last thing, you better not be training to hurt my kid.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it. Night.”
A flash of icy blues popped up in the pig’s eyes, the smug grin growing bigger.
Storming into his room and flopping down on the bed, Wukong groaned at the conversation, both flared up his stress.
Tossing and turning, he grumbled to himself, reflecting on both. You did this to yourself. He forced himself to go to sleep rather it resulted in another nightmare or a pleasant dream.
Wukong woke the next morning, fur tousled and limbs spread. He got up, brushing down and running his fingers through tangled hair.
His stomach rumbled and he made his way to the kitchen to eat enough to quiet his stomach. Tiptoeing around, he took glances so he wouldn’t bump into one of the others. When he found no one, he dug into the cabinets and grabbed a random bag of chips. He opened it, taking a bite from one.
As he turned around, his tail went up into an exclamation point, a gasp slipping past his lips. Xiaotian stood in front of him, hands behind his back and little proximity between them. “Hey, bu- Xiaotian. Didn’t see you there.”
A creepy smirk on his face, he waved and said, “Hello, Monkey King. Good morning.”
“Morning? What are you doing?”
“I was getting something to eat. Also I heard you were in the kitchen, wanted to check that you weren’t doing something.”
“What would I be doing?”
“I don’t know. Dadsy told me you were training last night.”
“Is that a problem?”
“Not yet. I wanted to make sure you weren’t using it to attack us or something.”
Why did all of them think he was going to hurt them? “I wouldn’t do that, bud. Why would I give you the map then betray you?”
“You haven’t been reliable, Monkey King,” Xiaotian scowled. Jeez, the kid really hated him.
“I wouldn’t betray you but I see your point.”
“You betrayed people in the past. The Demon Bull King for one and Macaque as another.”
The sage raised a brow. He wasn’t sure why Xiaotian brought up Macaque of all people. The Demon Bull King he could get since their history as sworn brothers was well known but hardly anyone was informed of his friendship with Macaque. “What about Macaque?”
“He told me you used to be friends.”
“You talked to him?”
“He talked to me. We encountered each other while you were on ‘vacation.’ He told me all about your history. How you left him once you got enough power because he was weak and you weren’t.”
“You listened to him, kid? I didn’t leave him because he was weak.”
“Of course I listened to him. We have the same thing in common. You both left us. All because we were weak.”
Did Macaque manipulate the kid again? Was that the reason for the enhanced aggressiveness? Or was the kid just rightfully pissed as he should have been? “I didn’t leave you for that. I left to protect you which wasn’t the right thing to do.”
“It definitely wasn’t. You leave everyone, especially those who aren’t good enough for you. Macaque was a better teacher than you ever were. I’d rather be under his teachings than yours.”
Did he forget that the demon manipulated him, took his powers, and tried to kill him? “Did you forget what he did to you? He hurt you!”
“You hurt me,” he yelled with fists balled. “At least he was honest about it.” Wukong shivered as a chill swept into the room, it left as quickly as it came. “Maybe he should be here instead. He would have defeated the White Bone Spirit the first time.”
Crossing his arms, ignoring the sting that his successor would rather have a manipulator as a mentor, Wukong replied with a huff, “Then you should have continued your training with him. Look, bud, I’m sorry. You can be hostile all you want and I accept that but Macaque is not the person you want around you.”
“He’d be better than you. Anyone would be better than you. I went through too much trouble being your successor. I could have had a normal life. I could have stayed a completely normal fan than see how pathetic you are. No wonder your fami-”
“MK,” Mei called.
Xiaotian’s features returned to normal. “Hey, Mei!”
Curling an appendage around her friend, Mei asked, “Is the Monkey King bothering you?”
“No, not at all. I was reminding him of what he did.”
“Good. How’s your bump?”
“It’s going away. I wish I didn’t get it in the first place.”
“Me either. If only the king wasn’t so stupid.”
“I’m in front of you,” the sage reminded.
The two sneered. “Whatever, Monkey King. Let’s go play video games, MK. No need to waste your breath on him.”
Then they walked away from the king. The king sighed and went back to his room, taking little bites. Suddenly, he didn’t feel so hungry. Throwing the half-eaten bag into the trash can, he sat criss-cross on his covers, tears pricking the corners of his eyes. He despised this whole thing. He despised how powerless he was, despised being away from home, how he was treated, the White Bone Spirit. Wukong knew he earned this.
Nuzzling against his pillow, he began quietly sobbing, ignoring his loud stomach. He earned this, it was his fault that things were the way they were. All he wanted was his family and for everything to return to normal. Things were awry without them.
The only benefit was they weren’t around to witness this hell, they didn’t deserve it and he didn’t deserve them.
Sandy ran fingers through his mohawk, leaning against the control console of the ship, and reflected on his failed conversation with his brother. “It’s justified. They can be mad all they want.” His brother had said. How could Wukong think that?
The others were behaving cruelly and he knew they didn’t act like that normally no matter how furious they were. They were being weird.
A feeling hit his gut, a feeling that hit him when the trip first started. It told him that something had been askew. He couldn’t place what exactly.
He could attempt to talk to Wukong again, not to place his feeling but to reassure him more. Sandy hadn’t been doing a good job with that and he hadn’t even told him he was Sha Wujing. His brother didn’t even recognize him, although the fact they hadn’t spoken in centuries might have been why. The demon didn’t look that different but his personality was completely changed from how he used to be. Therapy helped him change into the man he was today and it might help his brother too.
The king needed to open up about his issues, it would help even with how the others were acting. Sandy needed to do better with the king, he missed him. Neither coped well after- after a certain event and it broke their family apart. He became angry and bitter while the king stayed on his mountain in defeat. They should have been together instead of wallowing in their own grief, things would have been better. Sadly, he couldn’t go back in time to change that and his therapist told him not to dwell on the past and to focus on the present.
In the present, he could improve everything, the relationship between the Monkey King and the group and the state of the city after they found what they needed. They just needed to keep going forward and not be discouraged.
Sandy should put together some bonding activities that would decrease the hostility. Picking up a pen to jot down what they could do together, Sandy spotted Tang in front of him. “Oh, hey, Tang!”
Staring with a sickly sweet smile, the scholar greeted, “Hey, Sandy. I didn’t see you at breakfast. Not avoiding me or anything, right?”
“Course not. Sorry about that. I got up early and ate before everyone. Wasn’t hungry after that.”
“It’s okay. I’m glad you ate. Your health is important to me,” he admitted then hugged him, head resting on his chest.
Sandy hummed in confusion. Tang was acting the weirdest of them all. During this trip, the scholar started to hang around him more and while it made his heart flutter, it was strange. Usually, their relationship was… not what Sandy hoped for if he was being honest.
Tang ignored him a lot even back when Pigsy and Tang were younger, when he first met them. The human loved to make comments when he hung out with the group. “Great. Sandy is here.” “Sandy decided to join us for once.” “Wow. Since when did you get here, Sandy?”
It left him the impression that Tang didn’t care or notice him. He was such an asshole back then that it was natural for the human to hate him. While he changed when they reunited, he was sure the old part of him left a lasting impression on the scholar and his past asshole personality wasn’t easy to get over.
He subtly tried to make it up to him by asking about various subjects the human was interested in and protecting him during battles as best he could but he would stick his nose in his book and ignore him anyway. It was fine. Tang didn’t have to forgive him.
He was used to being ignored. It wasn’t as if it hadn’t happened with- Stop. Don’t compare them. They’re nothing alike, the only similarity is that they hate you. Mas-
“You haven’t said anything for a minute. Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. Sorry. I was thinking. And I wanted to say your health is important to me too.”
Tang grinned from ear to ear. “I’m glad! I brought you an apple.”
He handed the fruit to him. “Thank you, Tang. I’ll eat this later,” he stated and put the apple aside.
“Okay! We should hang out together! Only the two of us!”
“Alright. Are you sure you don’t want to spend time with Pigsy?”
He found that Tang spent more time with him than Pigsy which again was odd. Pigsy and Tang had a great relationship throughout their bickering and teasing. The two had a special connection and he was certain they would end up together one of these days. It was only a matter of time. They were so oblivious, it was painful to watch. He wanted them to get together, be happy while he was stuck on the sidelines as he should have been.
“Why would I? I want to spend time with you! That’s why I’m here!”
“He’s your best friend.”
“Well, yea but you’re more important and you’re more than my best friend.”
“What do you mean by that?”
The other giggled in a way so unlike the snarky and somewhat calm scholar followed by a wink. “Wouldn’t you like to know?”
Blinking out of bewilderment, he answered, “I would actually.”
“That’s not important. Tell me about your day!”
“Uhhhh… okay? I haven’t done much. I’ve been checking the ship. That’s it.”
Tang behaved like it was the most amazing thing in the world. “Wow! What else?”
“Nothing else. What about you?”
“Reading, trying to find you. I missed you.”
“We see eachother everyday, Tang.”
“Doesn’t change the fact. You’re special to me.” Since when was he special to him?
“You’re special to me too. Are you okay?”
“I’m fine now that I’m with you! Did you miss me?”
Yes. I always miss you. “Yes, I did.”
Tang squeezed him tighter. “Yay! What should we do today?”
“I don’t know. What do you want to do?”
“Anything as long as I’m with you.”
“Okay?” Tang’s behavior was starting to creep him out. Again, a feeling twisted in his gut, he dismissed it. “What have you been reading?”
“A book about the journey. It’s bleh.”
“Not a good translation?”
“Yep. Why don’t I read it to you?”
“I would like that.”
“Okay. It’s in the kitchen! Can you carry me there?”
“Sure if that’s what you want.” He hooked an arm under the scholar and another on his back, lifting him up gently.
Tang caressed him. “You’re really strong.”
“Thanks,” he replied nervously. He carried him through the hallway, the scholar whispering praises and the fish’s cheeks flushing, the situation about his brother completely leaving his mind.
“I love when we hang out.” One of the many bizarre statements the scholar had said and a false one at that.
Did Pigsy and him get into a fight? Was that why the scholar decided to stay near him?
“I do too. Seriously, do you have a fever?”
“Nope. You keep asking weird questions. What’s up?”
“Nothing. I was concerned about your health.” Because you’ve been pretending like you give a damn about me.
“Awwww. You’re sweet. You’ve always been sweet.”
“Not always,” he muttered.
“To me you are.”
“Thanks, Tang. I’m glad.” They strolled into the kitchen where they picked up Tang’s book.
“I’m glad you’re glad! Your happiness means a lot to me. You mean a lot to me.”
That statement made his abdomen lurch. “What was that?”
“Hm? You mean a lot to me,” the scholar repeated.
And just like that something clicked. Why didn’t he realize it earlier? How Tang was acting, this wasn’t Tang. Tang didn’t care about him yet in this journey, he did. Alarms rang off in his head.
Why would he appreciate him now? Why would he spend time with him now? Why would he say he mattered to him when he clearly didn’t?
Tang spent time with Pigsy. Pigsy mattered to him, not Sandy. Those two were going to get married.
What would cause the human to care? And it wasn’t just his feelings towards Sandy. It was his attitude. The creepy smile, the uncharacteristic grinning, everything. It was the whole group’s behavior. Wukong and him were the only people acting normally.
He should have realized sooner. The scholar’s interest in him was nonexistent, that should have been his first clue. Sandy felt sick.
Whatever it was, it was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Something was wrong.
My girlfriend and I talk a lot about our different generations of queerness, because she was doing queer activism in the 1990s and I wasn’t.
And she’s supportive of my writing about queerness but also kind of bitter about how quickly her entire generation’s history has disappeared into a bland “AIDS was bad, gay marriage solved homophobia” narrative, and now we’re having to play catch-up to educate young LGBTQ+ people about queer history and queer theory. It gets pretty raw sometimes.
I mean, a large part of the reason TERFs have been good at educating the young and queer people haven’t is, in the 80s and 90s the leading lights of TERFdom got tenured university positions, and the leading lights of queerdom died of AIDS.
“Excuse us,” she said bitterly the other day, not at me but to me, “for not laying the groundwork for children we never thought we’d have in a future none of us thought we’d be alive for.”
“the reason TERFs have been good at educating the young and queer people haven’t is, in the 80s and 90s the leading lights of TERFdom got tenured university positions, and the leading lights of queerdom died of AIDS.”
thank you for giving me a good reason to finish my dissertation and try to make it in the academy
Wait, idk LGBTQ+ history, but they died of AIDS cause, what, hospitals refused to treat them or…?
Oh heck yeah.
When an epidemic happens, public health agencies spend millions of dollars trying to understand what happens: Why are people sick or dying? What caused it? Who else is at risk? Government health departments like the Centres for Disease control and private companies both invest hundreds of millions of dollars into preserving public health. This happened in 1977, when military veterans who all attended the same gathering began to get sick with a strange type of pneumonia, with 182 cases and 29 dead, and the CDC traced the illness to a bacterium distributed by the air conditioning system of a hotel they all stayed at, and in 1982, when seven people died of tainted Tylenol, and pharmaceutical companies changed the entire way their products were made and packaged to prevent more deaths.
Meanwhile, the AIDS epidemic took six years to be recognized by the CDC (1975-1981) because at first the only people dying were intravenous drug users, which is to say, heroin addicts; when it was recognized, President Reagan’s government pressured the CDC to spend as little time and money on AIDS as possible, because they literally didn’t think gay lives were important. So yes, hospitals refused to treat them and medical staff treated them as disgusting people who deserved to die, but also, there was very little funding for scientists to understand what this disease was, what caused it, where it came from, how it spread, or how to stop it. The LGBTQ+ community had to organize and fight to get hospitals to treat them, to fund scientific research, to be legally allowed to buy the drugs that kept them alive, and to have access to treatment. An effective treatment for AIDS wasn’t found until 1995.
And it’s ongoing; a lot of the difficulty of fighting AIDS in Africa is that it’s seen as “the gay disease” (and thanks to European colonialism, even African societies that used to be okay with us were taught to think LGBTQ+ people are bad). Even now that we have medications that can treat or prevent AIDS, they’re incredibly expensive and hard to get; in 2015, New York businessman Martin Shkreli acquired the exclusive right to make a drug that treats an AIDS-related disease, and raised its price from $13.50 a pill to $750 a pill.
Here’s one history on what it was like to have and fight AIDS, one history on how politicians responded to the epidemic, and if you can get a copy of the documentary How to Survive a Plague, it’s a good introduction, because it’s about how AIDS patients had to fight for their lives. A lot of these histories are imperfect and incomplete, because privilege played a big part in whose lives and deaths were seen as important–Poor people, people of colour, trans people, and drug addicts were less likely to be able to afford or access medical care, and more likely to die without being remembered; histories often tend to focus on straight people who got AIDS through no fault of their own, and then white cis gay men who seem more “respectable” and “relatable”.
I mean, people who will talk about how homophobia led to neglect of AIDS still find ways not to mention that AIDS isn’t just sexually transmitted; it’s hugely a disease of drug addicts, because sharing needles is a huge way the disease spreads. But because society always thinks, oh, drug addicts are bad and disgusting people and of course criminals, that often gets neatly dropped from the histories, and it’s still hard to get people to agree to things that keep drug addicts alive, like needle exchanges and supervised injection sites. But if you want my rant about how the war on drugs is bullshit used to control poor people and people of colour, and drugs shouldn’t be criminalized, you’ll have to ask for that separately.
They died of AIDS because
- Hospitals refused to treat them, and when they did get admitted, treated them like dirt so their will-to-live was eroded - refused to let long-term partners visit them, staff acted like they were disgusting nuisances, etc.
- Very little funding was put into finding causes or cures - AIDS was considered “god’s punishment” for immoral behavior by a whole lot of people.
- Once causes were understood (effective treatments were a long ways off), information about those causes weren’t widely shared - because it was a “sex disease” (it wasn’t) and because a huge number of the victims were gay or needle-drug users, and the people in charge of disease prevention (or in charge of funding) didn’t care if all of those people just died.
- Not until it started hitting straight people and superstar celebrities (e.g. Rock Hudson) did it get treated as A Real Problem - and by that time, it had reached terrifying epidemic conditions.
Picture from 1993:
We lost basically a whole generation of the queer community.
As a current AIDS survivor, this is really important information. I was diagnosed not only HIV positive in 2014, but I had already progressed to an AIDS diagnosis. Knowing how far we’ve come with treatment and what the trials and tribulations of those who came before cannot and must not ever be forgotten. Awareness is the number one goal. I often speak to the microbiology students at my university to explain what it’s like to live with, how the medications work, side effects, how it’s affected my daily life, and just raise general awareness.
Before my diagnosis, I, like many others, was clueless to how far treatment has come. I was still under the belief my diagnosis was a death sentence. Moving forward, even if only one person hears my story, that’s one more person that’s educated and can raise awareness.
I believe it’s time for us as a society to start better education of this disease. The vast majority of the people I’ve spoken to are receptive to the knowledge of my status, and I’ve received lots of support from loved ones, friends, and total strangers. It’s time to beat the stigma.
This is slightly off-point, but as for the cost, I wanted to mention that some pharmacies have specialties that let them get special coupons/programs and stuff to save money.
A bottle of Truvada (a month supply commonly used for treating this) is at least $3,000 out of pocket and insurance doesn’t usually take a lot off of that. But the pharmacy I work at is an HIV specialty and we always get te price down to less than $10.
If you’re on HIV meds and they’re ludicrously expensive, ask your local pharmacy manager if there are any local HIV specialty pharmacies that they know of. They might be able to help.
I think it’s important to emphasize that, while the diagnosis is no longer a death sentence, it is also true that people dying of AIDS because of homophobia is not history only.
My brother’s first boyfriend was kicked out/disowned by his parents for being queer, got AIDS, couldn’t afford treatment, and died. He died in 2019, at around 20 years old.
Barely more than a kid.
Of a treatable disease.
Because of homophobia.
Because his parents cared more about not being associated with a queer person than they cared about their son’s literal life.
AIDS is not just history. Neither is homophobia.
Back to history: When AIDS patients held die-ins, they went to hospitals, lay down in front of them, and literally waited to die.
If you’re young & either queer or queer-adjacent, think about the number of people out of the closet you know your own age & think about how many you know your parents age.
They’re not stamping us out of the mould any quicker these days than in the ‘60s, except in lockstep with population growth.
I think, growing up, my picture of relative numbers of queer people & straights was unavoidably impacted by the number of empty seats at our table. That might be the case for you too.
The number of elders you never got to meet.
Remember this when people talk about how small the LGBTQIA+ population is. That it’s “such a small percentage of the population to be catered too”. Remember this and tell them, “that’s because homophobia killed them”.
This picture of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus is often included with the “The men facing the camera/in white are the surviving members” but it leaves out something extremely important:
By 1996, all of the men facing the camera in the picture were dead.
By 1996 the obituary list was almost 50 names longer than the entire choral roster. All of the positions plus four dozen more, gone. The obituary list continued to grow, too. The cost and availability of any treatments in the mid-late 90s continued to cause more death.
If you were queer in the 80s and 90s, you knew someone who had it and knew people who died from it. Period. I cannot stress the impact this had on the queer community and those of us who were alive at the time, and I know the scope of it is almost unimaginable to younger people today.
By 1996, there were NO surviving original members of the SFGMC. You need to know that when you see this picture.
Dozens of the men turned away from the camera here in this shot were also dead alongside the men in white. It is vital to recognize that.
There is no hope in this picture, it isn’t a display of a lucky few who avoided death. There is no “Well at least some of them survived” because no, they didn’t, and this time was so fucking bleak and painful it’s astonishing that anything got done. They’d march one week and die the next. Their friends would bury them in the morning and march in the afternoon. This went on for years.
Bigotry and hate and ignorance killed generations of queer people. It speaks to the sheer resilience of the community that from that all but state-sanctioned genocide, we have gained so much ground in the last few decades. Much is owed to the people who refused to stay quiet and who fought even on their deathbeds, so please consider learning about LGBTQ+ history as a way of continuing the fight and showing respect. Many of us coming of age at that time didn’t have that opportunity, and made it a point to learn and get involved as teenagers and young adults because we saw what we were losing.
Sing for two.
My fave part of this post is the repeated usage of the word “queer”. In a discussion about the hatred of LGBT people and how they were left to die by the government, it’s always a great idea to call them all a slur. Can you switch it up a bit and use “fag” next time?
There’s a really obvious reason why we’re using “queer”.
When talking about LGBTQ+ history, often we have to be really careful with the language we use, because how we understand things now is not how the people we’re talking about understood themselves at the time. We end up using phrases like, “People who we would now understand as gay or lesbian” or “experiences which modern transgender people often identify with”.
In this case? It’s because that’s the word they used.
(Many of them also used the words “fag” or “dyke”, but “queer” is more inclusive.)
When I talk about “the leading lights of queerness” I mean Queer Nation. I mean the people who contributed to Queer Theory. I mean people who deliberately chose to use that word. I mean me and my ex-girlfriend. We exist.
During the AIDS crisis especially, homophobia was so bad that a lot of people didn’t want to be known by any word associated with the gay community: Not gay, not homosexual, not queer, not anything. Epidemiologists had to create the category of “men who have sex with men” because there was literally no existing term that didn’t carry the weight of a slur. The purpose of using the word “queer” was for people to say, “Let’s stop running from the things society is calling us; let’s pick up the weapons they’ve hurled at us and start hurling them back. There is no level of socially acceptable we can be that will make them suddenly decide our lives matter. We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it.” It meant very specifically embracing and defending their/our marginalized position.
Every word we’ve ever been known by has been a slur. We all have our own histories and flinch reactions. I grew up with “gay” and “lezzo” being used really hatefully around me, as well as “queer” and “dyke” and “fag”, and I have different comfort levels with all those different words.
/shrug emoji You can dislike the word all you like and ask that it not be used for you. But historically and today, a lot of us do use it for ourselves, and we constitute “the queer community” or “queerdom”. Which we don’t think is a bad thing. If you don’t want to join us, fine, but that doesn’t make us stop existing, and any other word you can call us would also be a slur, because our community is predicated on saying, “We are that thing you’re so afraid of. Get used to it.”
Speaking to the MSM point in the final addition.
Functionally a problem in trying to get studies going in the 80s and 90s that tried to figure out what in hell was going on was trying to get people into studies. To answer questions. Because you could lose your job, home, family, life if you incautiously admitted to being gay/queer/homosexual. So among the men who were terrified of being on any kind of record as being gay because they self identified that way there were a whole host of people who didn’t actually see themselves as gay.
Because it was just not something they could accept.
But what always fascinated me was in the studies we did (I’m out of Vancouver, BC and have been part of an HIV/AIDS research organization since 96, for context) at one point we had a staunch group of individuals who were predominantly immigrants from other cultures who culturally had definitions of behaviour that didn’t align with North American behaviour labels.
Insertive partners in some cultures are not gay as they were/are not mechanically different from “the normal male” sexual actor. Receptive partners were. Basically the thinking in some people’s minds is that women=receptive and insertive=male. And if your sex didn’t match the sexual position…
Now. To be clear. I’m not saying these things as a point of “this is what I think”. This is what had been captured in interviews and conversations and studies over the years. Some people aligned themselves these ways.
I’ve always seen it as part and parcel of the gender issues and misogyny that we’re still, 30 years later, arguing about.
As to the rest… I’ve written about this (and lectured and written and lectured and written) before. In this particular thread even. It will never stop amazing me the revisionism that happens around queer. Those of us who were in large protesting crowds, remembering “We’re Here! We’re Queer! Get Over It!” being told “it’s never not been a slur/been used by us” just…wigs me out.
What I remember? What I remember is my now husband and then friends (and myself) knowing that the straight culture we lived in equated holding hands with a sexual act. Holding hands in public as queer people was fucking. It was viewed the same. Today that seems ludicrous but it’s how it was. Our being was an act of aggression, of sexual acts, of a political agenda. A spiritual and moral violence.
And we knew. Like everyone has known: the fear behind that was potentially a tool we could use.
So standing in rooms with scientists and physicians who had decided we were dirty queers with sick fucking lives and minds, prone to acts of perversion and inhumanity? We wore shirts with QUEER in big bold letters so when they talked to us, met our eyes, it was over the words they were whispering in their heads. It was under the leather we wore, the sexualized outfits with no room for misinterpretation about FUCKING. And SEX. And in these meetings discussing policy and funding and science we stood there in our entirety on display, forcing them to look at us in all of this - to see we felt all of it was normal and not something we were ashamed of?
How could the idea that sex was enjoyable be a topic of debate that had implications on our fundamental humanity? Apparently people did, and do, think so.
This all put us in positions of power in those negotiations. Negotiations, do not ever forget often that were about whether or not their largess would allow us to live. So while people were embarrassed to be confronted with their prejudices that they were comfortable expressing out of sight and hearing of us, we stood and HELD their eyes and their attention.
Queer fuckers. Fags and perverts. And we refused to fucking die quietly.
(shrug) So to those that dislike the word, outside of the fire of my own history I will calmly discuss it and follow their instructions not to call them queer. But if you step into my history, into the graveyard of the men and women I know who are now gone due to apathy and disinterest and hatred and homophobia… you’re going to hear queer. In great swelling chants from the throats of thousands of people in the streets. You can like it or hate it but you cannot argue it’s existence and the lever it was that shifted the world we’re arguing in the middle of, today.
I know I just reblogged this but I just want to add: the queer community spent their, and still spends our, lives knowing that there are non-queer people treating our identities as horrible things, using them as slurs against us.
We don’t need other LGBTQIA+ people, who are mostly young and educated by TERFS, many of whom are actually not queer (who do you think started queer separation/lesbian separation? the majority of ‘political lesbians’ were straight transphobic women) doing the attacking for us.
the ‘queer is a slur’ LGBTQIA+ people compound the problem of queerphobia (and also leave us using an acronym which, even in its most inclusive form, is less inclusive, though I will use it if referring to people who don’t like the identity queer for themselves.)
We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it.
It’s also no coincidence that a lot of those people are like ‘eww your LGBT identity is too weird! Pick this one!’
tell me you learnt queer history from TERFs and non-queers without telling me you learnt quiet history from TERFs and non-queers.
Marcia isn’t just “George Lucas’ ex-wife.” She’s the one who edited the original movie into a coherent narrative that actually made sense both logically and emotionally, and went on to win well-deserved awards for movie editing at a time when women in the industry were even more looked-down-upon than they are now. Whether you agree with her opinion or not, she has MORE than earned the right to speak it. (Also, she’s right.)
writers before writing: “find a peaceful place, arrange the table, prepare some drinks and snacks, plays classical music, opens a notebook or laptop”
writers during writing: “stare to nothing, scrolls to social media, worrying about the work, got overwhelmed that results to sleeping”
if ur feeling desperately sad this summer, wait until it gets dark and half quiet and then open a window. cool air and passing cars are gonna heal ur heart. i promise
I’ll take “things people who don’t understand clinical depression say” for $500,Alec.
hmmm interesting theory considering how I’m on 40 mg of Prozac daily & see a therapist regularly bcuz I’m actively suicidal the majority of the time but sure, go ahead & be a dick on my light hearted post about something small u can do to momentarily relieve some of the crushing burden on ur life lol
!!!urgent need of help!!!
severe trauma/ptsd post
I am genuinely needing some help to be able to pay for therapy/medication at the moment for the next few months at least. I was almost murdered in a previous relationship by gun and the individual tried to break my hand on a metal bridge. It was injured badly but has been treated medically. I am very depressed and just finally got housed temporarily at least after living in a tent for 6 months. anything you can spare can help me and ide greatfully appreciate it tons. take care… <3
0/$250 (read comments for updates)
v*nmo @ butterflybeds
I know we always go “haha dude go touch some grass” but no like actually some of you need to disconnect for a bit. Go do something irl. Some of you are getting way too comfy telling people to kill themselves or you think they’re disgusting just because you don’t like them or they like something you dont. Have a chat with your family or friends. Go eat an orange. That’s fucked up to say, man. Dont do that. Block them or whatever. Go lay on your floor or something. Self care.
AU idea based off the fact that MK's age is unknown- Xiaotian is Wukong's son and before everything fell apart, he and Red Boy were childhood sweethearts. And now, for reasons, neither really remember each other but are drawn to each other.
okay this is really interesting to me because this feels like it could be one of those AUs that technically plays with canon but doesn’t subvert it like a normal AU
Like, One would think that maybe Red Son would remember after all it was Xiaotian’s fucking father that sealed his father away, but if they BOTH don’t really remember eachother lets take it a step farther-
(under a cut bc i got carried away bc i speant like all shift today thinking about this)
just found out it’s bisexual visibility month so does anyone want to help this 19 year old bisexual university student with some money this bisexual visibility month 👀 im trying to save for a new pair of glasses and a new laptop since my current one is sooooooo 😬 it’s not urgent! just appreciated!
the link isnt working for me for some reason so ♡ paypal.me/cupidfemme
thought maybe id put down a (tentative) goal just because i haven’t gotten anything for a little while. $13/$600 muah!
uhm i actually have no money rn bc i had to use the last bit in my account for groceries sooo 😳
One of my storyboards for the LEGO Monkie Kid intro
HUGE thanks to Sarah Harper for the incredible opportunity and for her guidance, and to 馬RS for the amazing music!
Here’s the animated version! Can’t thank the anim and bg team enough for making it so gorgeous!!