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In light of the tragic death of Mark Aguhar, a Chicago-area pissed-off queer artist and friend (calloutqueen.tumblr.com//markaguhar.tumblr.com), we receive and post a short submission on her death. Naturally, this is not a happy essay. There is a trigger warning for explicitly talking about the pain of Mark’s death, “suicide,” eating disorders, disease, death, our complicity in society, and the pain that comes from the absence of redemption.
With total hatred and total love,
“Please, scoff at the wretched layers of my memory and that of so many others; stare intently into such a reality without seeing the shadow of society in its every wrinkle and wound. I envy blind bliss; what joy must come with believing that each individual death carries no greater meaning than the technicalities of the departed body. To see this utterly morbid world without the red tint of hatred is not seeing it at all, though I cannot claim to be grateful for what my eyes have captured. It is with a sagging and anxious heart that I fight against all that drains the life out of itself. I fight not because I think we will emerge victorious, but because it is the only thing worth living for, the only thing that will relieve this fear of impending murder— through addiction, through cancer and suicide. “
-Delete Me, I’m So Ugly
It’s difficult to even begin to deal with the murder of another fierce-as-fuck gender rebel by this world. And let’s make no mistakes about the nature of this death, Mark Aguhar’s death was murder. Murder of the slowest, most agonizing variety. Murder that the fucking pigs of this world dare to call suicide, although in other cases we might know it as addiction, schizophrenia, or AIDS. In this way, Mark’s fate cannot be separated from the steadfast rhythm of trans women being murdered by police and gender-pigs, from our grandparents being murdered with capitalist cancers, from our parents drinking themselves to death or to the times we’ve spent agonizingly throwing up our dinner as the water runs in our bathrooms. These moments are the stench of death in civilization, the result of the processes that try to mangle and mutilate our monstrous bodies in hopes that they might one day be the disgusting properly-functioning, beautiful bodies that we spend our lives obsessing over, simultaneously desiring and wanting to destroy them.
Most of the time I’m afraid we’re accustomed to ignoring these (impending) murders, trying to harden our hearts and keep going, hoping that no death will stain our bodies and souls if we move fast enough. This week, I tried to do just that with Mark’s death. The news exploded like a bombshell, yet I said, I think, “Wow, that sucks” to the friend that had told me of Mark’s death, and promptly walked away. I didn’t even permit myself to think about it for the slightest second and buried myself in work and television and the internet because I knew that it would smash my weak and pathetic heart. And here I am, in a puddle of my own tears reading her words, looking at her art, totally disgusted with myself. I paused upon a piece that they had made called Not You (Power Circle) 2011, upon which, in lipgloss, the words “Who is Worth My Love, My Strength, & My Rage?” were scrawled. I couldn’t agree more with her; I’m so ashamed of myself. I’m so ashamed of all of us really, for not having destroyed this horrible civilization before it took Mark’s life, for allowing it to take so many of our friends and family while we spend our time trying to be numb or trying to ignore the systematic murder all around us. The painful truth is that we helped murder Mark Aguhar. We couldn’t possibly tell ourselves that we’re ignorant about the murderous reality of this world, and we couldn’t possibly fool ourselves into thinking that our consent workshops, pronoun charts, and DIY mental health meetings could ever stop a wholesale slaughter of this magnitude. The shameful weight of so many murdered generations of friends and families and lovers truly does weigh on us, begging for a redemption that remains so painfully absent. I’m rather sure that I will never see such a redemption, but I do know that we cannot allow the deaths of our loved ones to pass without the world feeling the pain in our hearts and this very moment.
However impossible it may be, I want everyone to be forced to stare the reality of this murder in the face. I want all of the apparatuses that have taught us to hate and murder ourselves and each other to be sabotaged, punished, destroyed. I want disgusting and painful and gorgeous art just like Mark’s to saturate every city block until everyone feels all of our suffering. As Mark herself said, “I don’t need to be strong, I need for the world to stop being so fucking weak, that my sisters are being swallowed up before my eyes.” We need to understand that the grief and the pain and the weakness inside each of us is not our only way of grieving, and that together perhaps all of these weaknesses and inadequacies and disgusting pathetic bodies might be enough to punish this civilization for what it has done to Mark, to Deoni, to Agnes Torres, to so many others whose names escape our tongues. I beg you, do not let Mark’s death pass without remembrance and vengeance. Go forth and bring to the world the “mutual annihilation” that Mark so gracefully believed in. Let no murder of our comrades pass quietly and without answer. May our memories of Mark stoke the flames of our hatred for everything that makes us monsters and pushes us further toward destruction every day.