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I've written a memoir, y'all!
PANSY: A BLACK AMERICAN MEMOIR coming Fall 2024
You are so right. Today is not Wednesday. But friends, I have news! After the better part of a year toying with traditional publishing…
PANSY: A BLACK AMERICAN MEMOIR (2024) will be released independently by me.
…Hopefully, with the help of lovely people like you, yes, you.
The manuscript is complete. I believe it’s the best thing I’ve ever written. (I’m proud, y’all.)
But I want to share this book the right way. Professionale, okay? So I’ve launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the entirety of the project.
Whether you’re able to donate funds, services (gratis graphic design, marketing, etc.), or even just share the campaign on socials, all is appreciated. There are perks, by the way: shirts, signed books, original poems, and more.
So click on through—just *boop* right under this sentence—to learn more.
Below is the intro to PANSY. If you’re into it, just know there’s a whole ass story like it to come. Please, enjoy.
INTRO TO PANSY
By Jasper Joyner
I won’t be telling you my birth name. She’s dead to me.
And I do not hate her. No. She’s cute or whatever, it’s just that… she. She served her purpose. Carried me through childhood (girlhood if you’re nasty) in various countercultures of the infamous southern city of Memphis, TN.
Sputtered out of me like an upchuck on my first day of third grade when my first friend ever, who didn’t know she’d be my first friend, asked, “What’s your name again?” at lunchtime. This friend hadn’t been there when I whispered my name just hours ago in homeroom, so quietly then. Well, often, that was the case. Quietly spoken. She was so delicate on the ears. Like a sweet kiss, perfectly inoffensive yet memorable. I never forgot how sweet she was and how sour I felt holding her even when my hands were full of other things.
She was always kind. Rarely got mad when I’d inevitably announce I hated her shortly after any of the various discussions involving thoughts of her existence.
“What do you mean you hate your name?” Ma would ask. Flabbergasted!
Like it’s the first time she’d heard such a thing. It wasn’t. It never was, except the first time, which was ages ago.
“Too girly!” I’d declare.
All scrunched up and befuddled. Mad as all get out about a thing I couldn’t quite explain beyond its aforementioned “girliness.” For a while, I didn’t even know what girly meant. Didn’t care that my predilection for hair styling and obsession with the color pink made me a mighty fine candidate for “girly.”
Because it wasn’t some elusive girlie or boyishness that made her and I worlds apart. No. It was more complicated than that. I didn’t have the language for that dissonant feeling of a wrong name bestowed on you like a funny-fitting shoe. You simply want to take it off. It is uncomfortable. You’d rather go barefoot, but there’s too much dirt and debris on the ground and ain’t nobody tryna sludge through all of that with no protection. What if there are nails?!
She’s retired now, thrown up the old jersey in the proverbial Name Hall of Fame, and I thank her for her service. She’s beautiful, still. She always was. But I haven’t been called by her in years. I bask in the unfamiliarity of her. A distant whisper of a soft kiss. No hard feelings. Unless you asked my body…
My body is less forgiving than I am. When I’d say that I am fine, you might wait for my silence and listen, closely, at the cries of my own body. Rarely silent, like me. It would tell you that I am hurting. That in moments when she and I fought, I’d disappear.
They disappear often, my body will say.
It might tell you that sometimes the pain it feels does not belong to me. That my ancestor’s pain has found home in my bones and so we all live together. It is crowded in here. Sometimes there is no space to breathe. They will tell me to try. They will speak to me through poetry. I will learn to listen. They’ll say that I, like many of them, come in a more ambiguous shape. That once before, there was no shame in shapes like ours. But that today, I will need armor to exist as I am.
They’ll tell me that I will be confused by what’s required of my existence because though somebodys made the rules against our living, and tried to erase the proof of our people, and told us that there are no genders but The Two, they will also try to destroy the proof of our gods, who already broke their rules long ago. And they will make more rules against us, which will make it difficult to even have armor at all.
It’s by design, they’ll say. And it will take me years and years to understand this.
So no, this will not be a story about my armor, though it is vital to my existence. I need it so that when I am greeted in this world, I am not called a liar without even so much as opening my mouth. So that the alarm bells don’t sound, alerting beasts that I am one of them, in need of elimination.
And I will work like hell to protect myself. I’ll replace the makeshift cover made of bandages with permanent top surgery. I’ll remove some of my own flesh. I’ll grow a beard and relax my own vocal cords, and I will take my own father’s face to be free of this dangerous siren. But this will not be a story about my armor.
This is a love story. With the rockiest of roads and pit stops at everyone else’s doorsteps but my own, until finally, I understand the constant shape of me. I’ll draw you a picture of it, and I will color outside of the lines. It will be messy. But it will be beautiful and true.
My name now? Jasper. Sometimes I go by Jaz. It means “bringer of treasure” in Persian. A gemstone symbolizing nurture, protection, tranquility, and wholeness. All characteristics I hope to represent one day or today, whichever comes first.
Anyway, nice to meet you. I hope that upon reading this story, you will see why a soft whisper of a kiss of a name doesn’t suit me at all, really. Not now, not then, not ever before. And so here I am, whole. It is my only way to exist. Curling, curvy, hard, then soft, square and wavy. Still so feminine and masculine in ways both aren’t often called. Still flowery and effeminate and pink, and sometimes green and blue, always Black. On my best days, full of love and on my worst, timid to the core. A pansy, if you will. A soft and vibrant pansy, hence the title of this book.
Support making PANSY a reality.
We’ll be back to regularly scheduled Wednesday posts on November 8th.
See y’all then!
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