Be Kind

And the legacy of the name-called and downtrodden

by Corey Saucier

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I am standing in front of my bathroom mirror. I have two 100-watt “Ultra White Natural Light” light bulbs just above my vanity, so that I can see every blemish. So there I am… bathed in waves of particles so bright I feel like I’m in one of those movies where the main character is in his early forties (sympathetic, and mildly attractive, but overwhelmingly flawed) and finds himself face to face with Destiny, or God, or some silly anthropomorphic entity played by Jim Carrey. And so they do that thing where the screen fades to white, and the leading everyman, with his wild red burly beard and a smile like a forest fire, is arms wide in an empty echoing soft white room. And love is everywhere, and God is smiling, and the charming lead with root-colored skin gets a chance to start again. And everything resets. And the director screams: “ACTION!” 

And I am back again staring at myself in the mirror. And my wings are broken and bandaged, and my halo is off-center and cracked, and the rhythm of the beat of my heart is now more like a Viennese waltz instead of its former synthetic dubstep party anthem…and I’m a little worse for wear. But across my mirror in cheap red NYC lipstick, are written the words: 

“You are loved”

“Live long, and prosper.”

and “Be kind.”

I imagine some wiser version of me wrote it there on one of my stronger days,  knowing that I would someday need to hear it. Or maybe it’s always been there; lingering from another soul’s lifetime—reincarnated from someone else’s story—some kind of karmic residue written in my own sloppy handwriting. Or the least likely: The words traveling from a loving universe of random order, crawled consonant-over-vowel onto my tiny bathroom mirror like my personal Charlotte’s Web. A  message written by some magical protector doing her best to help save my life. 

And I read them out loud to the ether, just to see how it sounds to my ear:

“You are loved”

“Live long, and prosper.”

and  “Be kind.”

And it was like an army of a hundred million men. Affirmations are meant to reverberate, magnify, and transform. And like so many who have stumbled and lost their step—who broke into pieces once upon a night‚ or cried alone in a doctor’s office—and then despite the odds that were stacked against them decided to never give up! Add the name Corey Saucier to that list. 

Last week at a foundation for AIDS, where I get my healthcare, I had a doctor belittle me, deny me care, and act as if my story didn’t matter. And I know this happens a lot. I know I’m not the first. And because I’m an addict, and a whore, and a [email protected], and a [email protected], and an on again off again lunatic who is infected with AIDS, some people tend to count me out. They tend to paint me into a narrow box—they tend to judge me off-hand, hold my name at the side of their mouth, and shake their heads at me…. And every once in a while I come across someone with perfect teeth and a 401k and a halo that has never been broken and tarnished in the mud. Someone who looks good on fine stationery paper—who knows all the tricks of the game, and plays their upper hand. Who despite their power, and their privilege, and the fact that they are supposed to help you, is just plain mean— 

Who’ll dress themselves in respectable titles, hold their chin as if they don’t sin, and yet when they have you in the room alone, they are all talons and sharp teeth pressing you hard against brick walls. “Because who is going to believe the AIDS-infected Black guy who’s been ridden more times than a rusty Ferris wheel? Who will stand for the welfare queen who can’t handle his drugs; and believes in magic and metaphors?” Who will save me when I am vulnerable and struggling and seeking to be seen (again)? 

Me. 

The answer  is me. 

I have to save myself. WE have to save ourselves! An old Black blind woman once said (she probably wasn’t blind, but it sounds better), “No one can give what they don’t have.” So don’t ask a person with no clothes to borrow their shirt. Or in this case I can’t ask those dwelling in ivory towers to help us still fighting in these trenches. And how can they? They have no idea how beautiful we are! And they seem to have forgotten that, [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected] are sometimes sacred words when you are dealing with HIV. Foundations that Care for the AIDS population were built from the legacy of Black Trans Quaalude-addicted Prostitutes who cruised the leather bars at night, and during the day fought bravely against a system of stuffy white ties and “acceptability politics” until our Doctors were forced to treat HIV clients with dignity and understanding, no matter their external circumstances. Because there will always be more of us then them! And though my wings may be wounded and splashed with a little dirt. “I deserve to be treated with respect!”

Oooh. I think I’ll add that to my mirror.

Love & light.


Corey Saucier is an artist and writer living in Los Angeles. He is a Lambda Literary Fellow in Fiction and Non-Fiction and is currently penning his first novel. His musings and wanderings on Love, Life, and Nonsense can be found at www.justwords.tumblr.com.