The Princess

To My Beloved Royalty...

I was going to do some sort of "wrap up" for Marta and Felix, but I was moved.... called even.... to change my agenda by a few things. So I switched to Basanti. I've never explictly stated that she's of Pakistani descent. But, she is. Always was.

The first was the Sydney Siege. For 16 hours, a gunman took a cafe in Sydney, Australia hostage. During the siege, he forced two hostages to hold up an Islamic banner in the window. During this time, a hashtag started to spread. The story went that a Muslim woman started to remove her hijab out of fear for that she would be target, and another rider, not Muslim, said that if she kept it on, she'd ride along with her.

This struck me in the gut. I think a lot of us in the trans and gender nonconforming communities can relate to the fear. Of being different. Of being afraid. Of wishing, in a public space, someone would stand with us. At any rate, this hashtag became global. Some in Sydney gave bus lines they'd be available to escort fearful Muslims on. Others, far away, offering support, refusing to allow the narrative become one of blaming an entire people for the actions of another.

And then, the event in Peshawar happened. An attack on a school whose students were children of Pakistani soldiers.... the people fighting the Taliban on the ground. This made them a target. I won't spell out the event entirely, as I know all ages read this. If you're old enough and don't know, look it up.

Pakistan has suffered deeply in the past 13 years. If you look up the numbers who've suffered.... they're staggering. It's a land of many sorrows.  Another hashtag arose after the tag.... #IndiaWithPakistan. If you know your history, you'll know India and Pakistan's history has been one of bitter acrimony. But they observed a national moment of silence. The parliment, the school children took time to honor those in Peshawar. Prayed. It was remarkable. If you wish to look it up, I encourage you to do so.

Humanity's complicated. We have the ability to be savage and sublime. We hate groups of people for the attacks of a few, even when that group's victims are mainly their own. But out of the worst can come the best. Fred... Mr. Rogers.... said that his mother used to tall him at times like this to look to the helpers for hope. It's wonderful advice, and I've been following it.

Here is a link to a fundraiser to help build a new school to honor the students of Peshawar. On twitter, the hashtag for the initiative is #OurReplyToTaliban. I encourage you to open your hearts to these people in this season of giving.

Bless you all.

Speak Out


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Nestor Notabilis

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Guest post by "Nestor Notabilis"
That......ok that hit me harder than I expected. Thank you. It seems like everything that's been on the news/pop culture about the Middle East and Muslims has been negative for 13 years sometimes and that is really wearing.

Submitted December 19, 2014 at 1:21AM


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Guest post by "Seldon"
Well said.

Submitted December 19, 2014 at 3:04AM


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Guest post by "Palpatin"
I love how palpable her frustration and anger are in the middle panel.  This really helps one understand this perspective that the people who utter those generalized phrases don't even consider.

Submitted December 19, 2014 at 5:36AM


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Guest post by "alice"

Submitted December 19, 2014 at 10:56AM


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Quote from Nestor Notabilis:
Guest post by "Nestor Notabilis"

That......ok that hit me harder than I expected. Thank you. It seems like everything that's been on the news/pop culture about the Middle East and Muslims has been negative for 13 years sometimes and that is really wearing.


Other than a vague awareness of election night in 1976, when I was five, the first news story I was aware of was the seizure of the American embassy in Tehran, and the hostage drama whereby more than 60 hostages were held there.  I remember Walter Cronkite signing off the CBS nightly news, telling us how many days the hostages had been held. I remember that minutes after Reagan took office, they were released, and the rumors that circulated. Years later, the Iran-Contra scandal came to light, and Ollie North became a national hero. Meanwhile, the Iran-Iraq war had ravaged the middle east, and many of the weapons used were ours.


When I went to high school in the 80's, every Halloween SOMEONE went to school with a dishrag on their head and a robe and a toy uzi or homemade model of a bomb. We discussed Guddaffi's 'line of death' and our bombings as we awaited out moments of glory or humiliation in Gym Class.


I was raised by parents who took it upon themselves to educate their children about the history of the civil right struggle in the United States. My mother is from Mississippi, my father from Texas. They left when I was an infant in the early 70's. I remember mom sitting us down, showing us a book that told the story in text and photographs, explaining what happened. Showing us the documentary series "Eyes On The Prize". They wouldn't allow us to grow up to be bigots. That's where I get much of my morals from.


Of course, when the attacks on the World Trade Towers happened, I like everyone was horrified. I remember the flags coming out, everywhere. I was living in California by then, and I remember it was the little stores.... package stores or what-have-you, that always had a flag in the window when the owners were brown and came from a certain part of the world. They weren't all Muslim of course. The Muslim families kept their flags on display, but also one store, I know, was owned by a Sikh family. Another, Hindu. But they understood that Islamophobla was a fire that would consume them as well. This all happened during the early days of transition for me.


For the past few years, coping with anxiety, I've been in a bit of a bubble where no news could get in. Recent events have penetrated.


In my own life, of course I've had with my own civil right struggles (remind to tell you of "Transgender Rage" and the memorial event at the Castro Theater, inspired by Rita Hester). I have more questions than answers.... perhaps I have no answers at all. But it seems to me that fighting for civil rights is an ongoing process. Clearly, the past few months have ably demonstrated that.  And it seems that none of these struggles happen in isolation, because humanity isn't isolated one from another. Even when it seems like we are.

It’s always tricky to write from the point of view of a member of a minority group to which I don’t belong. But, in some ways, when I get started it’s less tricky than I think, because we all have those common experiences, common motivations, no matter how different it looks from the outside.

For Basanti here, I relate to her. I’m not someone who passes, who can take off an item of clothing and to some degree hide what I am. But I also know the power of being visible. I can relate to hearing, seeing these hateful things in the culture, and knowing (or hoping!) that in a small way, being visible in my walks through the world is by nature confrontational. It makes people confront their biases. And it’s hard. It’s really, REALLY hard and it can be soul crushing. But I think and hope that in some way, being visible makes things better. It feels like a curse to me sometimes, but I think in many ways, it’s a blessing.  A painful, hard blessing, but a blessing nonetheless.

I’m really grateful, Nestor, for your response.  If I’m able to reach out and say something true to people beyond my experience, that’s a gift I can’t take for granted.

You know, when I started my webcomics, I would have probably said I was an Atheist. Or a half-baked Buddhist. Over time, I’ve returned to the religion I was raised in. The problematic name “Christian”, that has caused so many wounds…. I’ve seen the goodness, and kindness in the words I read as a child from Jesus, and I can’t allow those who would use the faith to harm to have the final word.

In the #IllRideWithYou hashtag, I saw an islamophobic young Christian man harassing a Muslim woman. She referred him to Mark 12:30-31.

30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[a31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] There is no commandment greater than these.”

I told her she knew Jesus better than he did.

I know many of you are atheist, and that’s great too. I don’t think you should judge a person by what they profess to believe, you should judge them by what their beliefs guide them to do in the world, and I’ve know there are atheists who gave been guided to behave in exactly the ways I feel my faith calls me to behave. I’m grateful for your forbearance when I talk about these issues. I know people of faith are not always kind, and some of you have been hurt deeply, and I don’t mean to apologize for anyone who hurt you.

You are my neighbors. Muslims are my neighbors. Sikhs and Hindus, people from Western nations and those from the East. Those from the Northern hemisphere, and those from the Southern. Humanity is my neighbor, and what I take from the passage above…. And I know many will disagree…. Is that loving God IS loving my neighbors, and loving my neighbors IS loving God. We are all one people. We are all responsible for each other. We all have to choose to be guided by love, by what Abraham Lincoln beautifully phrased “the better angels of our nature”.

I guess I’ve rambled on, from point to point. Thank you to those who’s borne with me to the end. Please know that even when I fail to act lovingly, I love you all. Please give some love to someone else today.

Thank you.

Submitted December 19, 2014 at 3:03PM

Nestor Notabilis

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Guest post by "Nestor Notabilis"
In 2001 I'd only been living in the UK two years. I was evacuated briefly during the first Gulf war but my first real experience of living there was when I was ten. It never would have occurred to me that kids in other places might see the normal or even posh clothes I saw everyday as something to dress up as for halloween. I don't remember any of us talking about politics outright, about names and who was killing who, that was a background: people dying it being unfair and unsafe. According to my Mum the unrest in Bahrain at the time was so bad things were blowing up every weekend. We went over there for holidays and it must have just become background.

I don't think I can thank my parents for my views. I don't remember them trying to educate us about equality and some of my Dad's family are really....very racist. We grew up surrounded by people (mostly men) from India and Pakistan and Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. They worked in the shops and drove us everywhere (because women are forbid to drive) they were the guards on the gates and cooks and cleaners and baby-sitters. And they were treated, are treated, terribly. I think I connected that to being barred places for being female, having to eat behind a screen, getting told to cover up, my Mum getting turned away from hospital because my Dad wasn't with her. It....lined up.

There were terrible things about living there, there was beauty too. It breaks my heart because it often seems as though the rich and powerful there are going out of their way to kill what's beautiful.

I love what you said in your comment about Basanti and faith (even if I am not at all religious). I wish it was different back home in a lot of ways. Know your work is amazing and I recommend it to virtually everyone I meet.

Submitted December 20, 2014 at 2:55AM

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