At a nightclub in Beijing, a man leaned over for a kiss. And the first thought that formed in my head was ugly, a bulbous mass sprouting horns and dripping slime. I knew the man, the friend of a friend who had become, you know, like a friend. I pulled away, instinctively and other thoughts replaced the initial ones; they trooped in wielding gavels and donning dark robes and wigs and screaming hypocrite and dishing out life sentences under a wave of fury.
When I think about the incident, I tend to explain it in biological terms: the first batch were produced by my amygdala, a brain region that evolved to produce the emotion of fear and aggression, in under one-tenth of a second. The second batch of thoughts were the work of the prefrontal cortex, the part which springs into action a second or two later to regulate the amygdala. The first because I am straight, the second because I have argued, more times and with more people than I can remember, that not being straight is not an anomaly. So why was I being judged by my own neurons?
Because, like most people, I believe that my convictions should always match my emotional reactions. But this is not always the case. For example, if you put a white, cosmopolitan liberal into a brain scanner – and this is an experiment that has been done – and show them the picture of a black man, the first reaction is usually fear, before it is replaced by the prefrontal cortex’s no, this is not who I am.
This month, in honour of Pride month, Sef Adeola illustrated queer couples for the cover. If you still feel shocked or offended by images of queer people, this is me reaching out and saying you are not alone. The better news is that these images are not going away anytime soon, so we all have a lot of time to adjust and make room for the rainbow.
In other news, we are launching an Equity Spread program designed to compensate our contributors. The short explanation is that we are printing our own money. For the long explanation, please send me an email. (solomon.elusoji [at] qmarker dot com)
Also, we will be adding some structure to our content in the August issue and publishing a PDF, for the first time. Feels about time, no?
Here are the stories we published this month: