Walking the Path with Jay Walker


Jay Walker, the first Isis Storm “Man We Love” blogger, is “reaching out to the world through his poetry, speaking on world issues and reflecting on all the aspects & events of his life and his art.”  His forthcoming book, “Where I’m Coming From is not a love letter to Rhode Island; it’s a declaration of the status of his emotional journey to the ultimate destination of peace, love & nakedness for all.”  Click here to learn more, read reviews and to order Walker’s latest release.

March 5, 2011

Liberty and Justice for All

Walking the Path, part III
A blog on IsisStorm.com
By Jay Walker

RHODE ISLAND – In case you didn’t already know, I’m bisexual; I call myself hetero-preferential, because I have always had a stronger affinity towards the opposite gender, but I have been with a few men in my time &, as long as I’m still single (or reasonable facsimile therein), I’m not ruling out the possibility of being with another man in the future. A woman I’m seeing has this concept (although it’s not the first time I’ve heard it) of a top 5 list, the 5 famous people that your spouse would allow you to sleep with & it not be considered cheating; I haven’t finished my lists, but I am creating two: one for women & one for men. In case you’re wondering, Alyssa Milano & Charlize Theron make my women list, while Johnny Depp & Antonio Banderas are on the man list. I don’t have a lot of poetry about my trysts with men & don’t often recite what little I do have; I don’t even really bring it up, unless the conversation goes that way. However, when it does come up, I don’t shy away &, when asked, I never deny. If I ever settle down, I see myself doing so with a woman, but I fully & strongly support the efforts of my LGBT brethren to be able to do so with whomever they choose. I’m writing this on Tuesday, February 8, 2011; tomorrow, there will be a rally at the RI State House at 4 PM, supporting equal rights for same-sex couples. Now, I may have had & still have some impressive titles – DJ at a local radio station, actor at Trinity Rep, host of different spoken word venues, head or member of different committees in different arts organizations, even a Universal Life Church minister – but I don’t know if I have enough status or clout in the general community, never mind the LGBT community, to actually be allowed to speak at this gathering. If I did, though, this is what I’d like to say:

Ladies & gentleman, I’d like to talk to you about a very important issue & the reason we’re all here: equal rights for everyone. This is not an issue of politics, nor is it solely, mainly or primarily an issue of religion; this is first & foremost a human issue, for we are all humans – Christian & pagan, white & black, man & woman, hetero or homosexual – & we all have basic human rights. The opposition has been running ads telling you to call Gov. Chafee & your representatives, to tell them they can’t redefine marriage for everyone without getting the public’s opinion; this is a campaign of propaganda & lies. We’re not looking to change the rules or the equipment; we’re just letting everyone play the game. We’re not looking to redefine the term; we’re just looking to make sure it can apply to everyone. I’m sorry, but that’s not something we need permission to do, because this country was not founded on the ideas of majority rules. Yes, that’s how we pick our representatives & that’s usually how our representatives make laws, but the founders of this country wrote its founding documents & built its structure with checks & balances, in order to ensure that majority rule didn’t overreach its bounds. Our country was founded on the belief that every individual on the planet – not just in this country, but on the planet – has certain individual rights that always trump majority rule, no matter how big the majority is, & that our government would recognize & protect these rights for everyone, not just Christians or men or whites or what we call straights. These rights are inalienable, meaning they can never be taken from you.

These are not good Christian morals but just good morals. Yes, most of our founders were Christian, but some were Jewish & a few were even atheists, & they all recognized two very important facts about their fellow man: our fallibility & our flexibility. They understood & accepted that America operated through slavery; some of them even had slaves themselves. However, they knew that this was wrong & believed in the inherent goodness of Man, believed that America could change & grow away from & out of slavery, & crafted our founding documents & built the structure of our nation, so that it could change & grow right along with our society. Now, did they mean this to extend to women, as it did through the Women’s Suffrage movement? Possibly. Did they also wish to extend this to same-sex couples? I don’t know. I believe, though, that they had the wisdom & foresight to craft these documents & build this structure, in order to account for the changes even they couldn’t predict. It has happened with Women’s Suffrage; it happened with the Civil Rights movement & it’s time for it to happen again. Our government & its policies need to grow & change, just as our American society is growing & changing; it is as much a part of nature as whom we love.

The opposition has also said that being a part of nature doesn’t necessarily make your behavior OK; they liken homosexuality to alcoholism, a disease which can be genetically or environmentally hereditary. Some would even liken it to the fictional vampirism, through the example of a “family” of vampires who deny this dark part of their nature & feed only off non-sentient, predatory animals, like bears & cougars. This is just more propaganda & lies. Alcoholism has ruined & taken lives in many different ways, as would vampirism, if the Hollywood version were legitimate, but whom does homosexuality hurt? No one. People aren’t hurt by being queer or associating with queer people; they’re hurt by the bigotry & hatred of an unaccepting world. It’s not the homosexuality that hurts; it’s the hatred. Therefore, we shouldn’t stop the homosexuality; we should stop the hatred.

The opposition claim that this is an assault on the sanctity of the sacrament & institution of traditional marriage. This is not just propaganda & lies; it’s hypocrisy. How many spouses have celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor & Larry King had? How public was Brad Pitt’s departure from Jennifer Aniston to Angelina Jolie, or the debacles of golf pro Tiger Woods & custom-bike building bad boy Jesse James? How ridiculous are all the dating & wedding reality TV shows these days (seriously, “The Littlest Groom”?)? How many decades has the national divorce rate sat squarely in the vicinity of 50%? I don’t believe that same-sex marriages can do any more damage to the sacrament & institution than traditional marriage has already done since the beginnings of the concept.

With all these excuses exposed as the propaganda & lies that they are, one has to wonder why anyone still opposes this movement. The only reason I think is left is fear: fear of change, fear of that which is different, fear of what is truly inside us. A wise man & former President of this great nation once said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Ladies & gentlemen, I ask you to please remember that this is why we’re here today, not to strike fear in the hearts of those who would oppose our movement, but to alleviate the fear in their hearts already & remind them of these great tenets that are the basis for our whole existence: that there truly is nothing to fear from that which is different or from the peace & love that is truly inside us all; that we grow stronger from our differences & our ability to compromise between them; & that we all deserve a chance to live & love as our hearts wish.

I remind you all of our nation’s Pledge of Allegiance. Our grade-school teachers would lead us in this rite every morning, but it became much like the prayers & songs of the strictest churches, more rote than real promise, so much so that we forgot what the words actually mean.

I pledge allegiance: I promise to be loyal & true to the flag of the United States of America & to the republic for which it stands: to this symbol of our country & its people & the ideals it represents one nation indivisible: one country, one people, standing together, inseparable, united by a common cause (the “under God” was only added in the 1950’s to thwart communism; atheists, feel free to omit) with liberty & justice: with freedom & fairness for all: for everyone, not just Christians, whites, men, heterosexuals or even just Americans … everyone.

Thank you.

***

I think this would get a great response, if I were allowed to read it. I just hope it will move even more people here through this post. Be kind to each other.

***

February 24, 2011

Behind the Name

Walking the Path, part II
A new blog on IsisStorm.com
By Jay Walker

OK, when this movie came out, how many people were floored?  It wasn’t just the effects that blew people’s minds, it was the story.  Now, some say the themes & theories have been discussed in philosophy for some time & others say the storyline was even stolen by the Wachowski Bros. from someone else, but that’s not really the point.  The point is that I was one of those whose mind was blown by it, especially because of all the ways it touches upon real-life, whether we’re truly in a matrix or not.  There are so many universal truths & life lessons to take from this film, but this one has resonated with me deeply, which is why I chose this particular clip.  There are times when I feel like I’ve known the path for years, even decades, but have yet to start truly walking it.

I’ve always been a sensitive person & considered myself highly spiritual.  During my grade school years, my belief in God & Jesus Christ kept me from slitting my wrists or, as another family member attempted, popping too many pills; in college, my open mind led me on the path I walk now, that of the seeker, open to all belief systems.  When I went to catechism, it was one of the few times I was popular; I would ask the instructor a few deep questions about the lesson plan, which meant that she didn’t call on most of the other students, & they were happy about that.  The real thing of it, though, was that I was asking deep questions about the lesson plan; I actually did the reading & the thinking about it, even at that young age.  I’ve been writing poetry since high school, about relationships & other struggles of life.  While I was in college the first time, I was always getting great marks on the philosophy work I completed (although that wasn’t much); I even passed a logic course just from my notes, having never opened the workbook & barely opened the course book.  This is how my mind has always worked, being on the path to balance.

Unfortunately, real-life experience hasn’t always worked that way.  I was born a Libra & am very proud of it, but one of the misconceptions of the sign is that we represent balance, with our symbol being the scales.  No, we represent the SEARCH for balance.  Just because we strive for balance, it doesn’t mean we always achieve it.  Sometimes, weighing all the options makes us wait too long, & in life, either you make a choice or it’s made for you; there’s no in-between.  Sometimes, our fight for the middle ground puts us at odds with both sides, making us loners.  Sometimes, our overdeveloped sense of justice turns us into zealots for the cause, a cause, any cause.  Our ruling planet is Venus, making us sensitive, passionate & compassionate but also lured by beauty & pleasure; like the scales, this can go either way, being either very good or very bad for the Libra & everyone else involved.

My own personal struggles have left me feeling very unbalanced & unfulfilled.  I’m striving to make a living at being an artist.  All I want in life is to create & promote my poetry, acting, music & other artistic endeavors, to learn & grow as an artist & a person, & to inspire that type of growth in everyone, especially my son, while earning enough to support him & myself.  I would live in a van down by the river, like Chris Farley’s famous SNL character, if it meant I had enough paid artistic work to secure my son’s future; this has yet to be the case.  I’m grateful to members of my family for helping me through the hard times, while I attempted school after school, in efforts to get a better job, or started a new business endeavor, but this fire has been to date very slow in building.  Sometimes, it just gets so frustrating.

I make no effort to hide my seemingly lifelong battle with mental illness.  Sometimes, it physically weighs down on me & makes difficult my attempts to be self-sufficient.  Sometimes, the very people who keep me afloat are the very people who exacerbate the issue, which keeps me right where I am: just afloat, like with a life preserver, rather than driving the boat.  Sometimes, I wind up shooting myself in the foot, because I lash out at those who both hold me up & hold me back.  As a result, I’ve lost jobs, friends, & loves.  I know the answer lies in the ability to find balance, but it has to date eluded me.  How do I hold back what I feel is righteous anger?  How do I stand up for myself & what I believe, without standing against those who stand against it?  How do I fight for what’s right without alienating myself?

When I was just a pup in the spoken word scene, a beautiful young black woman let me borrow her copy of the Tao Te Ching, a popular book of Asian poetry; if I could remember her name or how to find her, I’d return it.  When I first read it, I felt that the individual passages were beautiful, but I quickly became bored with it, because all the pieces seemed to say the same thing over & over again.  Lately, my good friend & colleague Yunus has been reading it & it makes me want to dig it out from wherever it’s buried, so that I can read it again; I feel like I’m at an age & level of experience where I can better appreciate its wisdom.  It often speaks of the Middle Path, of patience & of balance.

Another trusted friend & colleague Rudy once posted online a spoken-word poem about how everyone loves the message & delivery of his pieces, both those he originates & his renditions of others’ works, but when he puts down the pen or steps off the stage, he goes back to being just like everyone else: stressed & fallible.  This piece really speaks to me.  I definitely write a lot about the things people should be doing, but I myself have problems towing the line.  I become so offended by callous behavior that I become callous in return; I am judgmental of the judgmental, intolerant of the intolerant, & impatient with the impatient.  I find that these reactions are counterproductive to their goals.  In the past, some have mistaken my reactions for anger, but I’m really just frustrated with an apparent lack of compassion & am struggling to reach a level of understanding.

That’s really the point behind this blog: taking the things that happen, in the world at large & in my own world, detailing my experiences & expressing my views, so that people can better understand me, & hoping that the comments left on each entry lead to a better understanding of you, by me.  This is my journey: to a more enlightened state, where I learn to stand for without standing against/on; to the peace that comes from & leads to forgiveness; to a mutual understanding of the All that Is.  This is the story of me walking the Path.

***

January 31, 2011

The Honor is Mine

Walking the Path, part I
A new blog on IsisStorm.com
By Jay Walker

PROVIDENCE, RI – One recent night, I was at AS220, ready to watch the Women of the World Poetry Slam®, when in walks Ms. Reza Clifton, co-founder of Isis Storm.  She sits next to me & tells me how happy she is to see me here, not only so that she can hang out with me but also so that she could share the news that she & Ms. Kalyana Champlain, the other co-founder, had just been talking about me & decided to make me the first man to blog on the IS website.  During the intermission, she insisted on buying me a drink; I had just started an indefinite break on alcohol, one of a few things I plan to avoid until I reach financial self-sustainability, so I asked for a ginger beer (no alcohol, just stronger than ginger ale).  She couldn’t get the bartender’s attention before the event organizers asked her to be a judge for the competition, so she told me to ask him to put my drink on her tab, referring to herself as “that girl Reza.”  When I was able to get his attention, I told him “that lady Reza” wanted to put it on her tab (Etienne’s my witness); I just couldn’t bring myself to call her a “girl.”

Every entry I’ve seen for the definition of the word “girl” references youth, lack of experience, of refinement & of maturity.  Now, I’m not calling these ladies old (in fact, I’m older than most of them) & they sho’nuff know how to let loose & have a good time, but don’t mistake that for lack of maturity or refinement.  They have a wisdom beyond their years & a presence that can be felt when any one of them enters a room, never mind the whole crew.  Indeed, every single person in this group must be referenced as at least a woman, if not a lady.

Reza is the fearless co-leader & the hardest working woman in RI, or so it would seem.  I don’t know how she does every single thing she does, especially since she doesn’t get paid for some of it.  As far as I know, her radio shows on BSR & WRIU are volunteer, & she uses her own money to put together some of the things Isis Storm does.  Kalyana, aka 5th Elament, is a dynamic presence striving to make a living solely off her art; she reaches out as an educator & is always performing in different venues.  When she takes the stage, she puts the show back in showmanship, at a time when it’s sorely needed in hip-hop.  J9 is a great mother, writer & activist, fighting for everything she’s got & winning the important battles.  B-Mor 7 has such an intensity in her performances & her lyrics, always striving to uplift the human spirit.  Michelle Cruz has a sound so distinctively hers, so sultry & seductive, yet approachable & comfortable.  I cannot speak highly enough of these women: Indigo, Michaelle, Monsurat, Nataly & the rest.  They have radio shows, books, CDs & are booking paid gigs left & right; they are reaching out to schools & communities; they are sustaining themselves financially, artistically & spiritually, at least to all outward appearances.

Furthermore, they have found each other, a collective of female artists who support each other through everything, without all the inner drama that can tend to tear groups like this apart; that’s so hard to do, especially when women are dealing with each other.  So often, women are taught to view each other as competition, so getting them together without things getting even the slightest big catty is rare; hell, I haven’t seen it done with groups predominantly male.   It’s been said that relatives have your blood, but family’s got your back; it’s no wonder then that they refer to each other as Storm sisters, because they come out to support each other every single time.  I’m such a huge fan; these women are the female version of everything I want to be & are doing everything I want to do.

So, here I am, the first male to be allowed to rep the Isis Storm … on a blog, at least.  It’s an honor.  I don’t know if they get how big an honor this is, to be associated with this group & its members.  I feel blessed that I can call them friends & colleagues & I’m touched to know they think equally highly of me.  I will give my best efforts to this blog, dedicating it to whatever issues I deem appropriate, whether the topic be women, art, media, community, family, health & wellness or just what I had for breakfast this week … y’know, as long as it’s relevant.  I just hope my words will do them justice … coincidentally, another lady.

Advertisements

One Response to “Walking the Path with Jay Walker”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Walking the Path, Part IV: What I’m Doing « Isis Storm - March 24, 2011

    […] Walking the Path with Jay Walker […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: