"Though I do still feel that minding your business will keep your skin clear and credit score high, I still had to learn to be vulnerable . So this year I said I'm gonna reveal parts of myself that I don't like to show but I'm going to anyway, simply because some people have the same experiences, and I want them to know that they’re not alone. I’ve been called pretentious for it, I’m sure, but it’s worth it in the end. I get a lot of messages from other people saying that it has helped them in some way, and that’s all I’m trying to do.
20... Youve lived and flourished two decades
Yes! It was a very weird transition going from 19 to 20. Simply because literally going from a teenager to an adult was very strange. My mom just turned 50, so we were both like flipping out at the same time.
Omg, did you two celebrate together?
Yes, definitely! I really enjoy being 20.
I feel like a cross between a 14 year old and a 35 year old. From moving houses, to getting a new job, paying bills, etc, it’s been a trip. Especially job wise. I miss slinging soap at LUSH, but I’m happy to be out of messiness.
I really love your emotional honesty on your social media presence. I know many people aren't as real as you are. You're so vulnerable, it's really inspiring. I think what I love was at the end of your most recent post you said, “I'm genuinely happy.” And genuine happiness is so hard to come by, or at least it's this odd construction which society tells you to chase after, or very superficial at times, but to see you reflect on the past month after you went to your first pride and then you just graduated high school as well. There's so much happening.
I always start off with, as QTPOC I feel like we're constantly labeled, bombarded with identities that people project onto ourselves. So I'd like to give you this time to introduce yourself however you want.
Well, I am Christopher Simmons. I’m born and raised in Tulsa Oklahoma. I've been here all my life. I have a love-hate relationship with it. I like it because I love the fact that there’s so many diverse people. But this city is where I have been through traumatic experiences that have kind of put a bad taste in my mouth when it comes to my own space and area that I've grown up and lived in. I, as a queer person of color am very proud of who I am. I've been out for like 6 years.
Thank you! School was difficult for me all my life. People would ask me why I'm so flamboyant and why i'm basically being myself. I felt very disheartened and it damaged a lot of parts of my spirit. And now being 20 I'm learning to heal from things. I’m black. I guess you can say I’m mixed, but I’ve never felt white in any degree. My parents always wanted me to be proud of my heritage. I kind of carry that over into my queerness as well. I am gender fluid, black gay person in this world. I really don’t hide my gayness from anyone, but gender is something I’m just now figuring out.
Through middle school and high school, I was being ridiculed, getting really pulled down, went through a lot of sexual assault and dealt with a binge eating disorder, depression and anxiety. There was a lot of mental anguish that I, at 14, 15 didn't know to really comprehend or organize. I think that's why I'm very vulnerable when it comes to social media. I didn’t feel like I'd be able to do it and I don't feel like a lot of people have the courage to really throw it all out there. I wanted to be that for some people because for me, I've always been very closed off and very private. Both of my parents are some of the most private people I’ve ever met.
Though I do still feel that minding your business will keep your skin clear and credit score high, I still had to learn to be vulnerable. So this year I said I'm gonna reveal parts of myself that I don't like to show. Some people have the same experiences, and I want them to know that they’re not alone. I’ve been called pretentious for it, I’m sure, but it’s worth it in the end. I get a lot of messages from other people saying that it has helped them in some way, and that’s all I’m trying to do. They say “this is what i needed to hear today.” I'm just kind of doing me and if people want to come along for the journey and be a part of that, I'm here for the positivity, but you know I'm just trying to make amends with my spirit and my soul and if I can help people along the way with theirs too, I'm down.
I'm so team Christopher and so proud of you. I’m learning to love myself.
Thank you, thank you.
Your wisdom is phenomenal. And thinking back when I was 20, I was not anything like you and I wish I could have been, or had people in my own life. I guess I have so many thoughts looking through your work. Very intrigued by your poetry if you consider it poetry or writing. LOVE your lyrics and wondering if you could just talk more about that.
Yeah totally. I guess as someone who was going through those experiences, I kind of felt a range of emotions and I kind of always used writing to throw out those feelings. So there are some that are more violent and there are ones that present themselves as more calm and peaceful.
I went through stages with frustration of my work. I would write one thing and one thing turns into something completely different, and by the end you feel as if none of it makes sense. I experienced writer's block for the first time. I stopped writing for a while and kept my feelings by the side while I figured more things out about myself. And so I started writing again. I just went on my Notes app and started going in. And at like 13, 14 thought I was the shit. I just went and started writing, God help me. Not great. I still have some of those writings in my notes app. Thanks, iCloud.
Everyone starts somewhere. Now, I'm sort of able to talk about my feelings a little more accurately and show my experiences in different lights. Music is something that I've always wanted to do. So, I’m writing and kind of getting some music together, slowly but surely.
There's so many things I'm interested in, so it’s hard to choose what to put my focus on. Whether it's writing music, my love for technology, or activism. I just love being able to show how I feel in different aspects and getting people to understand how I feel about things. My writing comes from a place of not only hurt, but joy that I have been so blessed to feel. For instance I have really amazing friends and family. I have amazing people behind me that took a very long time to find. For instance, my mother is the most important person in my life ever. I have always been close to her ever since I was a child. She's always been unconditionally loving. I remember coming out to her. At first she was very much apprehensive. She was very religious at the time like I couldn't even watch Harry Potter when I was a kid. I just watched all the Harry Potter in like the past 12 months. Which is the shit by the way.
That's a really religious experience.
Yes, it is! I think man, if I was younger I would have loved it even more, but I still love it and still got my life. Anyways, going through many arguments and many rage filled discussions took a small toll on our relationship. It made everything have lowkey tension. Yet, we have still made amends. Being 20 now, it's not even a thing. I do me, she really doesn't care. I still see not only her, but my father pulling the “why are you doing ____” card on my brother, trying to get him to be more masculine. I always say, “Don't do what you did to me.” So kind of like pulling back and making them realize, "Hey let's not do this a second time.” He doesn’t need to feel the same pain as I did.
Such a good sibling!
Thank you. My mom and I have always been close and she's given me the type of love that I don't know if I can find anywhere else. I think that's what makes it hard for me to find and get into relationships and like find other people. Because to me, I've already felt like so much love from others. I feel like I experience feelings times 10. So, anything I feel is so extra it's hard for me to be in new relationships and find new people to talk to since I'm so clingy. I match energy with others but I’m still myself at all times, so when people don’t like who I am as a person, I take it to heart.
My main thing right now is learning to be alone and being in solitude. Not searching for other people's approval, because at the end of the day it just doesn't matter. So my writing comes from dealing with the love of my mother. The frustration of dealing with my father and him being verbally abusive when I was younger, and having to move from that and starting a new relationship with him, to breaking personal barriers, to talking about the friendships that go sour. Some of it is very on the surface and some of it is very deep, but through it all I really try to find growth in it.
I think that's what keeps me going. It’s that knowing that I don't ever have to stay in one place. I can always turn a negative into a positive, and I think that's what my writing helps me do, basically. I've really really enjoyed it. Whether it's good whether it's bad, I love it, so I continue to do it.
One thing I really love about your writing is that you don't hide violence. I think as QTPOC many of us grew up in hostile environments. I really appreciate your vulnerability and I know one of the greatest violence we go through is self hate, and I was really really touched by the image you posted looking back 3 years ago. You said you hated every back roll, every part of my body, and now I'm starting to love myself. And you also mentioned an eating disorder in the beginning. I feel like many QTPOC go through that. I was wondering if you could talk a little more about that. I think self care is a word nowadays but we don't really know what that means. What does self care look like for you?
I feel like self hate in our community is so prevalent. Simply because from young we don't know how to love ourselves because we're so different. We don't see versions of ourselves in big pictures and lights. Whenever you are so many minorities, how do you find someone who is just like you? I find that I almost had to search for people that were like me, and that doing things and the amazing person I wanted to be. Honestly, I still think that I’m searching for someone like me to look up to. I think that's where a lot of self hate comes from. You don't know what to do with who you are. You're figuring out so many things all at once at such a young age.
So we end up growing so fast. I believe that’s why we all have so much knowledge about life from such a young age. I knew that I was gay when I was 4. I knew I wasn’t completely cisgender when I was about 11 or 12. I realized, that nail polish and heels really did appeal to me. It wasn’t a “I’m gay” thing, it was because I genuinely felt beautiful when I had more feminine things on. Little things like that. I've made a point to make sure to at least understand I can love myself and there is a future for that.
I think that's what has kept me going. A lot of people go through so much negativity and so much around them that it's hard to love themselves. Especially whenever you're a POC because your family is so different. I have friends of all different spectrums and hearing their stories and comparing it to mine, I realize that I didn’t have it extremely bad at home. Hearing how some families watch everything they did. They’d go through text messages to see what was being said between them and their friends, they’d go through their rooms, etc. Just to have control over their lives.
I feel like a lot of POC want control because a lot of our ancestors didn't have that control. No one had control. We still don’t have a lot of control. I feel like that's where a lot of self hate comes from too because a lot of us don't have control over things. I feel like everyone should be able to maneuver their lives the way they want. When it comes to self care, there are times when I have to make a list before. Whatever it is. Just to force myself to take care of myself . Because it's still a struggle. It’s still hard to do basic hygiene for myself sometimes. We all as POC have to remember that we deserve to slow down and take care of ourselves, because this world doesn’t care to do that for us. I’m very blessed to have like a space where I can go home, shower, be alone and have my own bed and even have a car to drive to be right here, right now. I see and comprehend my privilege in that. A bunch of queer people don’t have those things. Especially queer people of color. Especially trans people of color. A lot of us are homeless. A lot of us are in a situation where we can't come out or do things of that nature. So self care is limited or feels very limited to a lot of people. The only thing I can in that situation is to do what you gotta do. For me, I have to make a list. It sounds ridiculous, but it gets the job done. Reading, taking a bath, running, cooking, etc. Whatever you have to do. We all, not only as humans, but as QTPOC have to realize that we have to put ourselves first and though family is important and friends are important, we are the most important. Your body is very important. Your spirit is very important. If you don’t have your mind and spirit right, it’s so hard to take care of anything else.
Who are some people you've looked up to? Or artist or books, etc?
Janet Jackson. #1. My mom and I bond over her. She was obsessed with her back in the day, and she just passed on the stanning onto me.
Janet has given true, genuine love for the LGBTQ+ community for a very long time. There's itemized receipts for it. That's always something I've always loved and looked up to her for. She’s open for all the right reasons and keeps the rest private. In Rhythm Nation she took a stand for justice and continued that into her self-titled Janet album in 1993. I also love how raw she is in Velvet Rope. That album is just so intense. She's one moment talking about how she lost her one of her best friend to AIDS and the next moment she's talking about her sexual assault. It's just very real. She's extremely multi-faceted.
She can dance, sing and act. She can do almost anything. That makes me think, all the things that I wanna do, I can achieve. I learned that from her at the age of 5-6 years old.
I also really really love Lupita Nyong'o because I feel like as a dark skinned woman she has been on the come up, and she doesn’t give a shit about anyone’s racist or colorist feelings.
I also there are 2 people I absolutely love from this podcast I listen to.
Oh, which podcast?
YESSSS That's on my Itunes podcast.
Yes! I love The Read. I love Crissle and Kid Fury. I watched Kid Fury since like 2011 and like he literally like helped me grow as a person. It's funny because Kid Fury is Jamaican, as am I. And, Crissle is from Tulsa.
Woah I did not know that.