Category Archives: Current Affairs

This is stochastic terrorism. It is deliberate. It is by design.

It is easier to get a gun and body armor in America than it is to get medical care, and that is by design.

Tucker Carlson can get on TV every night, spout racist lies about a paranoid conspiracy, and inspire his viewers to commit acts of violence against innocent people. There will never be a meaningful consequence for his actions. This is by design.

Republicans have done everything possible to put weapons of mass murder into the hands of paranoid people they have agitated with racist lies and conspiracy theories.

It is not a coincidence that the latest white supremacist mass murderer is 18 and a heavy consumer of Fox News and far right online forums.

Republicans have not just made this possible. They have encouraged it. Oh, they’ll scold any of us who say it out loud, but we all know it’s true. They love it when Black people suffer and die. They love it when the people who killed them get away without any consequence.

This is all by design. Don’t let them wring their hands and offer their thoughts and prayers. This is what they want. This is the plan. This is all working EXACTLY the way they want it to.

Republicans want the rest of us — the majority — to live in constant fear of their violent, heavily-armed, racist followers. From encouraging them to brandish their assault weapons in public to allowing anyone to carry an instrument whose only purpose is to kill people. See that angry dude in the MAGA hat? See him ranting and raving at some innocent BIPOC who just wants to live their life? I’m going to think twice before I jump up to support my fellow human, because that MAGA guy is likely armed and will get away with murdering me, because reasons. Maybe I’m considering volunteering to work an election. But then I remember my neighbor who was doxxed by MAGA terriorists and had to flee for her safety because they were showing up to stand around outside her house with their guns.

This is all deliberate. This is what they want. It’s stochastic terrorism. So when they pretend to be horrified by this, don’t believe them. They’re celebrating in private. They love this.

Tucker Carlson shares responsibility for the mass murder in Buffalo yesterday, as do his producers and the advertisers who have continued to support his show while it has dropped all pretense of not being openly white supremacist. He’ll be back on the air tomorrow night, and somehow this will be Hunter Biden’s fault.

The entire Republican caucus in both houses of congress have even more blood on their hands today. They will experience zero consequences for their role in the racially-motivated murders they inspired and enabled. If they haven’t already, the MAGA fascists will be fundraising off of this by the end of the weekend.

I’d say don’t let them get away with this, but they already have, and they will again. And again. And again. And again. Until somehow the Democrats get their shit together and make ending gun violence a priority the way the Republicans have made controlling women a priority. It’s going to take a long time, and we need to get to work.

I am a New York Times Bestselling Author

Yesterday, around noon, I posted on my Facebook:

I’ve been doing these very long days of press and promotion for Still Just A Geek. It’s a lot, and it’s exhausting, but it’s awesome and I’m grateful for all of it. I haven’t had this much fun doing late nights followed by early mornings since I was in my 20s.

I’m also still doing Ready Room, so today is a day that featured me getting up at are you fucking serious o’clock, putting myself together for a webinar I was part of for Microsoft, then going straight to the set, where we did a couple episodes for Strange New Worlds (OH MY GOD I WANT TO TALK ABOUT STRANGE NEW WORLDS SO MUCH IT IS KILLING ME THAT I CAN’T).

I am so happy, y’all. I am content, I am grateful, I am proud of the work I have the privilege to do.

… and I am so physically and mentally exhausted. I feel like I’m going to cry.

I’m taking the rest of this day off for religious observance, and I really hope I can find a nap in there, somewhere.

After I posted that, Anne and I had lunch together, and then I went into my gameroom, where I could sit quietly and just … not do anything.

Some time passed. I’m not sure how much, but it was enough for me to start feeling sleepy. I leaned my head back, closed my eyes, and did one of those long exhales that starts in your shoulders and rolls down your body.

Then my phone rang.

Okay. In 2022, few things make me as suspicious as my phone ringing. Nine in ten times, it’s bullshit. This time, I saw that it was my lit agent.

“Hello?”

“Do you have a minute to talk?”

“I do.”

“Okay. I am connecting you to a conference call.”

Over the next thirty or so seconds, literally everyone at my publisher announced themselves. Then my manger announced himself.

Oh fuck. I thought. I’m in big trouble. I dont’ know what I said or did, but I must have REALLY fucked up.

You’ve seen the title of this post, so you know that I was mistaken. My editor told me he had news. Still Just A Geek is on the bestselling indie bookshop list, and it’s on the New York Times hardcover nonfiction list, AND it’s in the top ten on the combined hardcover and ebook nonfiction list.

OMG

Wait. What?

Yeah, I heard it correctly. Still Just A Geek, one week after publication, is on THREE bestselling lists. OMG.

I thanked everyone for being part of this. It’s a blur, but I think I said something like, “it’s important to me that everyone who can hear my voice right now knows how grateful I am for your support and for everything you’ve done to help me get here. I know this isn’t the first time for you, but it is for me and I just don’t know what else to say or to feel.”

I called Anne and told her. Then I called my sister and told her. Then I texted my TNG family and told them. Then I walked around in a circle for what felt like an hour while I tried to process what this all means. I’m still working on putting it all together.

When I wrote Just A Geek in 2004, I knew it wasn’t ever going to chart, but I still held out hope, you know? Like, maybe if this book charts, it will Prove To Everyone and so forth. So there was this disappointment baked in from the very beginning that was identical to the disappointment I allowed to infect everything I did back then. Feeling like you aren’t ever going to be good enough for your dad will do that to you.

So when I wrote and did all the work for Still Just A Geek, I redefined my expectations, and my conditions for success.

I decided that I woudn’t have any expectations, at all. I just hoped that we would somehow communicate to anyone who would be interested in my story that it existed. I wasn’t going to let sales or reviews define for me whether it was successful or not. Just getting to tell my story was enough for me.

But I’m not gonna lie: I’ve been joyfully walking around for about 18 hours, obnoxiously reminding Anne and Marlowe that they now live with a New York Times bestselling author. I have every intention in the world of signing my friends’ cards and stuff, “New York Times Bestselling Author, Wil.”

This is objectively cool and exciting. It is a big deal. I get to update my bio, and for the rest of my life I get to carry this achievement. I love that, and I love that this means my chances of having another book published went up. But more than anything, I love that this can be amazing, and wonderful, and exciting, and such a beautiful gift, without it affecting how I fundamentally feel about myself or my work. I was already proud of the work, and grateful I was supported while I did it, and I am so incredibly happy that I didn’t need this to happen to get there.

When I turned in the final draft, what feels like forever ago, I wrote myself a note that says, in part, “Whatever is going to happen when this is published has already happened. You just haven’t observed the results. What is important and what matters is everything you did to get here. Don’t fall into the trap of letting someone else’s definition of success affect how you feel about your work. No matter what is in our future, we did something special that nobody can take away from us.”

I am so glad that past me consistently looks out for future me. It’s such good advice! I love that guy.

May His Memory Be A Blessing

Late yesterday afternoon, I saw that Howard Hesseman passed away. I didn’t know him, but I worked with him once, and he was wonderful. It was in the 90s, when Anne and I were still dating, in a tiny movie a classmate of mine wrote, produced, directed, and starred in. We filmed it up in San Francisco. Howard and I played rival drag queens. Oh, how I wish I could find a photo of us. It was magnificent.

It was so long ago, I can’t recall much about the movie, but I loved the story and I loved getting to do full-on drag (in a Peg Bundy wig, 10 inch platform thigh-high boots, showing way too much flabby belly God it was glorious) and I loved the unvarnished grind of making an indie movie in the 90s. I’m pretty sure Howard and I were in the same scene at least once, but I can’t recall if our characters interacted at all. I don’t think they did.

I also remember that one day on the set, we were sitting in cast chairs, talking, and the subject of jazz came up. I confessed that my familiarity with jazz musicians was ten feet wide and half an inch deep, but

I enjoyed Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, John Coltrane, Chet Baker. He asked me if I had ever listened to Charles Mingus. I told him that I hadn’t hear OF him, much less heard him play music, so Howard walked to his car, which he’d driven up from Los Angeles, and came back with a cassette of Mingus Ah Um that I still have today.

“You will love listening to this while you burn through the 5 on your way back to LA,” he said.

I loved the image of burning through interstate, just setting it afire and letting it turn to ash behind you before it blew away, having served its (your) purpose. It was so much more romantic and rebellious than the reality of trudging through mile after mile of “are we there yet” and cattle yards during seven monotonous hours.

“How can I get this back to you?” I asked him.

“You won’t want to,” he said. “I’ll get another copy. Forget it.” I can still hear the glee and enthusiasm that was in his voice. He was giving me so much more than a cassette tape.

Anne, Nolan, and I listened to Mingus Ah Um on the way home, and Howard was right. We loved it. I still love it. And I have Howard Hesseman to thank for it.

Rest easy, Howard. Thank you for being kind to me and my future family. May your memory be a blessing to others, as it is to me.

one year later

January 6 is going to be one of those Never Forget days for me, for a long time. Maybe for the rest of my life.

One year ago today, a violent mob of domestic terrorists, inspired and commanded by an impeached fascist who lost a free and fair election, overran the United States Capitol in an attempted coup.

The coup failed in part because the defeated president was and is surrounded by people who were and are as incompetent as him, but by the end of the night, the fascist movement he leads had successfully assumed complete control of what had been called the Republican party, finally bringing into the open its enthusiastic embrace and promotion of white nationalism after keeping it hidden behind dog whistles for decades.

That was the most shocking thing for me, when I think about it. After all that violence, after the horror of it all, after we all watched our Congress come within a doorway of the unthinkable, they still stood by him. I mean. Wow.

I remember, in the evening of January 6 last year, listening to Lindsey Graham — Lindsey Graham, of all people! — declare from the floor of the Senate that he was done with Trump. Lindsey Graham! I listened to Mitch McConnell — the Senate Minority leader — remind everyone, for the Congressional record, that Trump bore responsibility for the attack. I remember watching two powerful, privileged, coddled men who were clearly shaken by what they had experienced. They seemed like people who had felt, maybe for the first time ever, a real threat to their lives, and they knew who was responsible for it. I remember feeling the faintest hope that, now that it was personal for them, the appalling violence of the insurrection would give Congressional Republicans an opportunity to actually put America first (not in the fascist slogan way, in the patriotic way), and purge Trump and his supporters from government. The McConnells and Grahams in the party got a lot out of him in four years: disatrous, unpopular tax cuts for billionaires, the most cruel and inhumane immigration policies imaginable, three SCOTUS seats, countless unqualified political operatives confirmed to lifelong seats in the federal judiciary. They got so much, moved the Overton Window so far to the right, surely they’d celebrate their victories and cut out the malignant cancer that was rotting not just their party but the entire political system in America. Regroup, and come after the Democrats in the midterms with a message that was aimed at the suburban voters who were appalled by Trump, but remain inexplicably cool with all the GOP policies that created him. A clean break was so easy and right there for the taking. I remember thinking, “If Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell are saying this on the record, it’s finally over. Thank God. It’s finally over. They are done protecting him. They’re still repugnant, but at least they aren’t full-on fascists.”

WELP.

As it turned out, instead of forcing Trump and his fascists back to the fringe of their party, those Vichy Quislings put him in charge of the whole thing. It’s almost like they never had a problem with the appalling behavior that repulsed so much of America and the world: his embrace of white supremacists, his embrace and celebration of autocrats and dictators, his cruelty, his corruption, his belligerent refusal to do a single thing to protect us from Covid. It wasn’t until he almost got them killed that some of them were like “Hey, wait a second,” and even that only lasted for a few hours before all was swept under the rug. 147 Republican members of Congress, just hours after hiding from a violent mob that was there to kill their colleagues and hang the vice president of their party, stood with that mob and refused to accept the election results, as commanded by their defeated leader. When he was rightly impeached (becoming the first president in history to be impeached twice) a few weeks later, so-called “mainstream Republicans” [sic] had their clearest opportunity to reject the violence, the man who instigated it, and his movement. It would be a heavy lift with a lot of their voters, but they could do it. They EXCEL at coordinated, disciplined, communication. They could reasonably claim that maybe they got out over their skis a little bit, but now they could at least bring the country back from the brink of civil war. They could have made a vote to convict all about the Constitution. They could have made an argument to his supporters that they still thought he was awesome, but laws are laws and we all have to follow them. They could make the very reasonable argument that instigating that kind of violence and lawlessness was a bridge too far, even for them. It would have been tough for some of them. Some of them would likely face difficult conversations back home with people who believed the Big Lie, but the future of the country was at stake and like John McCain telling that lunatic woman that President Obama wasn’t a terrorist, show real leadership.

But all of that is predicated on what turns out to be the entirely incorrect presumption that there is any daylight at all between Trump and so-called “mainstream Republicans” [sic]. It would require us to believe that Trump and Trumpism was an outlier, not the logical and anticipated consequence of fifty years of Republican policies and Southern Strategy lies. Holding Trump accountable presumes that Republicans respect their oaths of office, that they hold some fundamental values other than the preservation and expansion of their own power, that they are willing to do the hard work of governing a diverse nation during extraordinary times with a commitment to improving the general welfare.

We all know how that turned out. All but seven Republican Senators — forty-three of fifty members in the upper chamber — protected him and embraced his Big Lie. In the year since, they have doubled down on it, and they have not stopped insisting that we did not see what we saw one year ago today with our own eyes.

Depending on one’s point of view, it’s either a bug or a feature, but FIFTY-NINE PERCENT of Republicans still believe the Big Lie. Fifty. Nine. Percent. The next mob is all primed and ready to go. They are even asking when they get to use their guns to go shoot Democrats. Years ago, it was Republican pundit David Frum who said that when Republicans couldn’t win votes in a democratic election, they wouldn’t change their policies to win over more voters, they’d just reject Democracy entirely. That sounded nuts at the time, but holy shit was he right.

I hope that the people behind the coup attempt will be meaningfully held to account, so this never happens again. I hope they’ll go to prison, all of them. Hannity, Meadows, Bannon, Eastman, Gosar, Boebert, Cawthorn, Hawley, all the Trumps, all of them. They are all traitors. I hope that all the Democrats, including the execrable Joe Manchin and the loathsome Krysten Sinema, do whatever it takes to secure free and fair elections in America at the federal level while they still have the chance. Because if they don’t, the next coup, which is already in motion, will succeed.

So on this one year anniversary of Trump’s failed coup, as we continue to hold him to account, do not forget for one second all the Republicans who enabled and continue to enable him. They’re evil, not stupid. They won’t fail a second time.

Dehumanizing people in the service of “jokes” isn’t okay. It literally gets people killed.

Last week, I was looking at the news while I had my coffee. You know, like you do. I saw that Netflix had this massive comedy festival coming up, and Netflix had invited Dave Chapelle to headline.

Real quick, for context: Chapelle has repeatedly, proudly, unapologetically, hurt people I love and care about, and when the people he hurt spoke up about it, he and his supporters doubled down, hurting them all over again.

When someone I love is attacked or threatened or bullied, the part of me that’s rational and thoughtful gets shoved into a box and tossed into a locked shed while the part of me that will fucking tear your throat out and bathe in your blood takes over. Lots of us who are trauma survivors have this extreme response to things we perceive as threats (even threats that aren’t directed at us, but toward people we care about) because the fight or flight reflex that helped us survive when we were in the midst of whatever our trauma was is sort of set up to be run by an automatic system that, in my case, slips past my rational self and detonates a hydrogen bomb that doesn’t care who it vaporizes. It just knows that it is protecting me or someone I care about. Or at least, it thinks it is. A younger, traumatized version of myself needed this reserve of fury. If you get it, you get it (and I’m so sorry). I don’t need it any longer. I haven’t needed it for years. But it’s still there, and on occasion it yanks the controls out of my hands and I don’t have any say over where it’s going to go before I am in control again.

I’m not sure this makes sense outside of my head. I hope it does. Put another way, I will, on occasion, have a reaction to something that feels appropriate in the moment, but like fifteen minutes later reveals itself to be entirely not appropriate at all.

And that’s what happened the other morning. While I was reading the news, I saw that Chapelle, whose bigotry disguised as jokes has hurt, and will continue to hurt, people I love, is being rewarded for his hurtful behavior. My friends don’t deserve to be mocked because of who they are. My friends are people who at the very least deserve to exist and be happy in this world, and Dave Chapelle has made it REALLY clear that, as far as he is concerned, they aren’t people who deserve the same love, respect, and right to exist as he does. He’s made a cruel punchline out of my friends, whose fundamental existence as human beings is constantly under attack, and Netflix doesn’t seem to be bothered by that. After weeks and weeks of transpeople begging the world to listen to them about how much this hurts and how it increases the risks to their lives, Netflix didn’t only ignore them, they gave Chapelle the headliner spot on their massive comedy special.

I found this to be deeply offensive and morally bankrupt. It disgusted and infuriated me and before I knew what was happening, that hydrogen bomb went off. I stepped WAY out of my lane and suggested that comedians who were part of this festival should withdraw unless and until Netflix kicked Chapelle off the bill. I do not apologize for getting angry. I do not apologize for speaking out in support of people I love. But I deeply regret going way overboard and giving garbage people an opening to distract and deflect from the fundamental issue: Netflix is supporting a bigot at the expense of the entire transgender community.

After the mushroom cloud settled and I looked out at the smoking, radioactive wasteland in front of me, I had a few moments of reflection, and I regretted making that suggestion. It’s so easy for me to sit here at my desk and issue declarations and edicts about what people should do, and that’s just … that’s obnoxious. I can absolutely make the choice to personally boycott this festival, even though friends of mine and people I think are great are performing in it. But it was not okay for me to declare that any of them should make the same choice I would make.

Surprisingly quickly, a few C-list right wing personalities grabbed hold of my post and said I was trying to cancel Chapelle. I mean, it’s adorable that anyone thinks I have that kind of influence over ANYTHING, much less an internationally famous comedian (who I still think is a bad person), but I’m just not that important. Still, I saw how easy it was to draw that conclusion, and I decided it was best to delete that post.

So I did, and in its place I wrote something that I hoped would give context to why I reacted the way I did.

Trans rights are human rights, y’all. Don’t forget that. Dehumanizing people in the service of “jokes” isn’t okay. It literally gets people killed. Don’t forget that.

Here’s what I posted on my Facebook. I want it here for the record:

For anyone who genuinely doesn’t understand why I feel as strongly as I do about people like Chapelle making transphobic comments that are passed off as jokes, I want to share a story that I hope will help you understand, and contextualize my reaction to his behavior.

When I was sixteen, I played ice hockey almost every night at a local rink. I was a goalie, and they always needed goalies, so I could show up, put on my gear, and just wait for some team to call me onto the ice. It was a lot of fun.

One night, I’d played a couple hours of pickup with some really great dudes. They were friendly, they were funny, they enjoyed the game, they treated me like I was part of their team. They welcomed me.

After we were finished, we were all in the locker room getting changed into our regular clothes.

Before I tell you what happened next, I want to talk specifically about comedy and how much I loved it when I was growing up. I listened to records and watched comedy specials whenever I could. One of the definitive comedy specials for me and my friends was Eddie Murphy’s Delirious, from 1983. It had bits that still kill me. The ice cream song, aunt Bunny falling down the stairs, mom throwing the shoe. Really funny stuff.

There is also extensive homophobic material that is just fucking appalling and inexcusable. Long stretches of this comedy film are devoted to mocking gay people, using the slur that starts with F over and over and over. Young Wil, who watched this with his suburban white upper middle class friends, in his privileged bubble, thought it was the funniest, edgiest, dirtiest thing he’d ever heard. It KILLED him. And all of it was dehumanizing to gay men. All of it was cruel. All of it was bigoted. All of it was punching down. And I didn’t know any better. I accepted the framing, I developed a view of gay men as predatory and weird, somehow less than straight men, absolutely worthy of mockery and contempt. The culture that surrounded me, that I was part of, reinforced over and over again that gay people were not normal, like I was. Always good for a joke, though.

Let me put this another way: A comedian who I thought was one of the funniest people on the planet totally normalized making a mockery of gay people, and because I was a privileged white kid, raised by privileged white parents, there was nobody around me to challenge that perception. Everything around me, in my suburban bubble of privilege, reinforced that perception. For much of my teen years, I was embarrassingly homophobic, and it all started with that comedy special.

Let’s go back to that locker room.

So I’m talking with these guys, and we’re all just laughing and having a good time. We’re doing that sports thing where you talk about the great plays, and feel like you’re part of something special.

And then, without even realizing what I was doing, that awful word came out of my mouth. “Blah blah blah F****t,” I said.

The room fell silent and that’s when I realized every single guy in this room was gay. They were from a team called The Blades (amazing) and I had just … really fucked up.

“Do you have any gay friends?” One of them asked me, gently.

“Yes,” I said, defensively. Then, I lied, “they say that all the time.” I was so embarrassed and horrified. I realized I had basically said the N word, in context, and I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to disappear. I wanted to apologize, I wanted to beg forgiveness. But I was a stupid sixteen year-old with pride and ignorance and fear all over myself, so I lied to try and get out of it.

“They must not love themselves very much,” he said, with quiet disappointment.

Nobody said another word to me. I felt terrible. I shoved my gear into my bag and left as quickly as I could.

That happened over 30 years ago, and I think about it all the time. I’m mortified and embarrassed and so regretful that I said such a hurtful thing. I said it out of ignorance, but I still said it, and I said it because I believed these men, who were so cool and kind and just like all the other men I played with (I was always the youngest player on the ice) were somehow less than … I guess everyone. Because that had been normalized for me by culture and comedy.

A huge part of that normalization was through entertainment that dehumanized gay men in the service of “jokes”. And as someone who thought jokes were great, I accepted it. I mean, nobody was making fun of ME that way, and I was the Main Character, so…

I doubt very much that any of those men would be reading this today, but if so: I am so sorry. I deeply, profoundly, totally regret this. I’ve spent literally my entire life since this happened making amends and doing my best to be the strongest ally I can be. I want to do everything I can to prevent another kid from believing the same bigotry I believed, because I was ignorant and privileged.

So this stuff that Chapelle did? That all these Cishet white men are so keen to defend? I believe them when they say that it’s not a big deal. Because it’s not a big deal TO CISHET WHITE DUDES. But for a transgender person, those “jokes” normalize hateful, ignorant, bigoted behavior towards them. Those “jokes” contribute to a world where transgender people are constantly under threat of violence, because transgender people have been safely, acceptably, dehumanized. And it’s all okay, because they were dehumanized by a Black man. And the disingenuous argument that it’s actually racist to hold Chapelle accountable for this? Get the fuck out of here.

I love dark humor. I love smart, clever jokes that make us think, that challenge authority, that make powerful people uncomfortable. I don’t need a lecture from some dude in wraparound sunglasses and a “git ‘er done” tank top about how I don’t understand comedy and I need to stick to acting. I don’t need a First Amendment lecture from someone who doesn’t understand the concept of consequences for exercising speech the government can’t legally prohibit.

Literally every defense of Chapelle’s “jokes” centers white, cishet men and our experience at the expense of people who have to fight with every breath simply to exist in this world. Literally every queer person I know (and I know a LOT) is hurt by Chapelle’s actions. When literally every queer person I know says “this is hurtful to me”, I’m going to listen to them and support them, and not tell them why they are wrong, as so many cishet white men do. If you’re inclined to disregard queer voices, especially as they relate to this specific topic, I encourage you to reflect on your choices and think about who you listen to and why.

Too many of my fellow cishet white men are reducing this to some abstract intellectual exercise, which once again centers our experience at the expense of people who are genuinely threatened by the normalization of their “less than” or “outsider” status. Thirty years ago, I centered myself and was appallingly hurtful as a result.

I was sixteen and didn’t know any better. I still regret it. Frankly, a whole lot of y’all who I’ve already blocked on Facebook should feel the same shame about what you said TODAY that I feel for something I did three decades ago when I was sixteen and didn’t know any better. But you don’t, and that is why people like me need to keep using our voices to speak up and speak out.